|They’re the cars these same men saw, and often lusted after, when they were teens. Some build their own, some buy them. But on any night of the week, hordes of them aim their oversize steering wheels for nearby — and sometimes not so nearby — cruises and car shows. (Ohioans rank second in the nation — behind those wacky Californians — in owning old cars.) Yes, they rumble out for cars, music, cheeseburgers and the all-American passion of cruising.
Day job: Retired from NASA, now a florist at Jenkins Flowers in Spencer
His ride: 1940 Ford Panel truck street rod with 350 Chevy engine, Mustang II front suspension and Amish Naugahyde upholstery. With more than 50,000 miles in six years he says, “It’s a brick, but I drive the wheels off it.”
Where you’ll find him: Member of the Choppers Hot Rod Association of Cleveland, which just celebrated its 51st anniversary as a continuously meeting car club.
First car: He bought a 1927 Chevy two-door sedan in 1960 that he made into a show car.
What gets his engine running: “Good-looking and good-running older cars”
What’s on the radio: ’50s and ’60s music on the radio and in his five-disc CD player
Best car advice: “Just ask a lot of questions. Keep your eyes open and observe. There are a lot of folks who want to talk about their cars.”
Day job: Dentist
His ride: 1967 Pontiac GTO, one of the first muscle cars. “When I was in high school, a guy had a gold GTO, and I would look at that car every day. Now I have one.”
Where you’ll find him: “We go to the Quaker Steak and Lube Cruise [in Sheffield] on Sundays. If the weather is nice, we’ll go find another one.”
First car: 1968 Torino, bright yellow. “It was my mom’s car. When she got a new one, I bought it from her.”
What gets his engine running: “I think one of the best things in the world is going for a drive at dusk in the summer.”
What’s on the radio: Mostly classic rock
Best car advice: “Go to as many cruises as you can and see all the cars. It’s a great way to window-shop.”
Day job: Conductor on Norfolk Southern Railroad
His ride: Owns 11 1958 Chevys in different stages of restoration. One was used for target practice in a field. “All ’58s need restoration, because they were rot buckets,” he says.
Where you’ll find him: Our Place in North Ridgeville on Wednesdays, ACE Hardware on Thursdays and Big Lots in Elyria on Fridays. Weekend trips anywhere from New York to Indiana are common.
First car: “A ’55 Chevy hardtop, 265, stick shift. I blew the motor up the second week I had it. I used to break a lot of parts when I was a kid. I was crazy.”
What gets his engine running: “Cars and summer. I’ve been messing with cars since I was about 10 years old.”
What’s on the radio: CD player with ’50s music and smooth jazz on the radio
Best car advice: “The average guy should buy a car that is totally complete, that way he only has to do the cosmetic stuff. On a car that requires a lot of work, labor and parts are expensive.”
Day job: Account manager, Baker Hostetler
His ride: ’50 Ford Kustom, sectioned 4 inches, chopped 2 1/2 with a tuck-and-roll interior. “Both the builder and the owner of the car were good friends and have since passed on. Because of the history, I won’t sell the car; it will go into my estate.”
Where you’ll find him: The Blue Suede Cruise at Norwalk, Goodguys in Columbus and the Rebel Run in Lima
First car: The iconic ’57 Chevy. “Back then, it was just a 2-year-old Chevy, a high school Kustom with skirts and Caddie taillights.”
What gets his engine running: “I used to be into street rods and now I’m into Kustoms. They’re all different; you can’t really buy them out of a catalog.”
What’s on the radio: “It’s a ’50s Kustom; it’s got a tape deck. Janis Joplin, I still like her.”
Best car advice: “If you’re worried about money, find another hobby. Go play golf.”
So where are the hot spots these days? Cruisin’ Times Magazine offers the 10 best regional shows with 275 or more cars attending each week.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Capital Street Machines
6-9 p.m., Solon
Wauseon Cruise Night 6-8 p.m. Wauseon
5 - 9 p.m., Cleveland
6 - 10 p.m., Wexford, Pa.
Super Kruse Review
5 - 9 p.m., Mentor
5 - 8 p.m., Boardman
5 - 9 p.m., Brunswick
Cruise-In (begins June 16)
6 - 10 p.m. Massillon
Quaker Steak & Lube
6 - 9 p.m., Sheffield
5 - 9 p.m., Austintown