( By Dick Hakes, Special to the Iowa City Press-Citizen Published May 12, 2019 )
Bob Reese of Hills told you the brilliant color of his restored 1949 International pickup truck can be found in the HyVee produce aisle, he would not be lying.
The color is “Granny Smith Apple Green” and when you take a glance at the truck, you say, “Of course it is!”
Paint color and style are a big part of the technical talk bantered about on the last Friday of each month when the Classy Chassy Cruisers converge on Coral Ridge Mall for what they call “Family Free Friday Night.”
Mark a calendar. Members of this Iowa City car club will display their generally spotless, unique vehicles from 5-9 p.m. here again May 31, June 28, July 26, August 30 and September 27. It’s worth a stop and the price is right -- free.
Reese was among 137 participants who showed up with their classic or unique autos and took over a parking lot on the west side of the mall for the first show April 26.
He says he worked about 13 years to restore this green beauty, which once belonged to the grandfather of his wife Cathy and has been in the family for more than 60 years. With a 351-cubic-inch Ford V-8 engine under the hood, it cruises like a dream at 75 MPH. The couple has driven it from Ohio to Montana and everywhere in between.
“I grew up in Coralville and am so old that I pumped gas and washed cars in high school for Meyers Motors, the Studebaker dealership,” Bob says with a grin. He’s tinkered with stuff all his life and also has a hot rod Model A in his garage at home.
Nearby was semi-retired Dean Westergaard of North Liberty, whose 1951 Ford Coupe gleamed in the setting sun, sporting a high-polish paint job we’ll call Wild Cherry Red.
Westergaard said he became attached to a similar Ford as a teenage cruiser in Adair. It wasn’t long ago that he was dreaming online and found this immaculately-restored classic in North Carolina. He was on the fence until his wife Linda surprised him with a plane ticket and urged him to go seal the deal.
“Ford also made a sedan, but these coupes were sportier,” he said. “Traveling salesmen loved them because even though they had a small back seat, they had a big trunk.”
Another exhibitor, Rich Klamerus, relaxed with his fiancée Mary Markmann in the cab of his 1935 Dodge which is not a woody, but is painted to look exactly like one.
Rich has owned this Dodge for 30 years and restored it himself. He had an interesting tribute to his hometown area of Ashland, Wisconsin painted on the doors, depicting a fictitious Moonlight Bay Resort. Stories abound at the car show.
Owners often sit in bag chairs near their cars and answer questions as visitors take admiring strolls around the lot. Loudspeakers blast vintage theme-related oldies such as the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” while the club’s information tent sells T-shirts and other club products, registers exhibitors and offers door prizes.
A food truck is parked to one side. Club Secretary Donna Heacock is busy at the tent. Her husband Mark is the club president and they’ve been officers since its founding in 2001. They are from Iowa City and have three restored cars now with a fourth in the works.
“He rebuilds them and I drive them,” she quips.
A glance at www.classychassycruisers.com or their Facebook page will reveal that this not-for-profit club is very active with shows, parades, fund raising and community service work such as displaying cars at nursing homes for residents to enjoy. Iowa City Hospice is its main charity, but the club also supports Pathways Adult Daycare, Community Crisis Center and the Ronald McDonald House in Iowa City. It has several sponsors and sometimes displays cars at sponsoring businesses.
Donna says the club once had a high of about 225 members but has now stabilized at around 155. Several members live in nearby states and some come from as far away as West Virginia.
If you see a caravan of very sharp-looking classic cars on the road, it could be this group headed out for a day cruise or even an overnight trip from time to time. “About once a month, we’ll take off for another town and have lunch,” says the club secretary. Then she adds with a laugh: “We cruise to eat, make friends and have fun.”