By Mike Taylor and Ryan Schlehuber
There was a time in America when the automobile reigned supreme; before catalytic converters, before unleaded gas, before pay-at-the-pump “convenience” stations. The automobile, more than any other single element, helped shape the development of this country.
Without the tons of rolling iron that exited Detroit’s assembly lines in the 1950s and ‘60s, there would never have been suburbs, interstate highway systems, or lyrics to 95 percent of the music ever recorded by the Beach Boys.
The 1968 Dodge Charger, ’69 Fairlane Cobra, ’50 Buick Eight are names that still send chills down the arms of classic car aficionados. These classics, and hundreds of equally iconic models, receive their due every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at H&H Plumbing & Heating and Classic Car Garage in Greenville, where owner Mike Kamps offers up a weekly free classic car show. The garage is located at 6781 S. Greenville Road, near Greenville Cinemas.
“I started doing this last year when I opened up Classic Car Garage,” Kamps said. “I wanted to give local people a place to do a cruise-in. They used to do it around here at Rosie’s Diner (in Cedar Rock) but that closed up. I thought it would be fun to get the car guys together to talk cars, get the cars out, and have fun.”
The event has grown steadily over the past two summers and now attracts as many as 100 cars weekly, depending on the weather. Many of those showing cars are Classic Car Garage customers who have had repairs or renovations done there. Others become customers after taking part in the shows.
Buck Jones, of Rockford, said he loved having his 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air parked outside in front of the H&H building during last week’s show.
“I actually brought here to get it worked on but it made sense to have in the show, too,” said Jones, who also brought his 1987 Chevrolet El Camino to the show.
The retired wood shop teacher dedicated two years into restoring his Bel Air, a project he began in 1991, when he purchased the car after his son encouraged him to “get into a hobby.” Jones said he usually just drives the two-door hard top to shows within a 40-mile radius of his home.
“This is a fun little show,” he said of Kamps’ weekly car show.
The purpose of the weekly shows, Kamps said, isn’t to drum up business for his garage, but to have a good time. With old tunes filling the air within the parking lot and onlookers and antique car owners mingling over hot dogs and sodas, Kamps provides a nostalgic feel, all for free.
“Everything is free,” Kamps said. “The whole concept is to give people who are into classic cars somewhere to show them without having to spend a lot of money. I figure they spend enough money fixing up their cars; they shouldn’t have to spend more to show them.”
For Rand O’Leary, Kamps’ car show is just his kind of event.
“I’ve been to many shows and have enough trophies. I just like going to shows now, letting people see my truck. I like just talking cars with people,” said O’Leary, of Long Lake, who brought in his 1953 Ford F-100 flatbed truck to last week’s event.
The show features a variety of both classic cars and modern muscle cars.
Those showing cars receive free hot dogs, soda and other amenities during the show. Kamps also offers free weekly giveaways, raffles and other fun events. Raffle winners are announced at 8 p.m.
According to H&H controller Sandy Reed, Kamps offer plenty of incentives to entice car lovers to attend .
“There’s no fee and those who enter get free hot dogs and pop,” Reed said. “We do a drawing for a coat, a T-shirt and an oil change. There’s lots of fun stuff.”
The first show of every month also features participation by the Greenville Corvette Club, which regularly holds food drives throughout the community.
The shows run, weather permitting, through September.
“We encourage our community to come and see these awesome cars,” Reed said. “Everyone is welcome.”
For more information about the Thursday classic car shows in Greenville, call (616) 754-9382.