By Susan Smigielski Acker
On any given late Saturday afternoon, antique cars begin pulling into the parking lot of Coastal Community Church in York County.
Their drivers are members of the Classic Cruisers Car Club of America.
They enjoy preserving and sharing the heritage of classic cars with others. The cruise-in runs from 4:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. and the public is invited to stop by to see the club members restored antique cars.
As the cars drive in, Club Vice President Kathy Jefferson, owner of a 1967 Mustang, gleefully collects the $2 donation as her 11-year-old daughter, Bentley, sits by beading a necklace. Most members generously donate more than $2.
The money collected is given to local charities, including Natasha House, a home for mothers and children in need, the Peninsula Food Bank, The Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Virginia, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Animal Aid Society and Edmarc Hospice for Children. One particular Saturday, $485 was raised. Recently, they gave $500 to Coastal Community Church. Last year, they raised about $10,000.
Not only do members display their cars in the church parking lot, they present their classics at local antique malls as well.
The members also enjoy showing their cars to residents at nursing homes and at the Hampton Veterans’ Administration Hospital. Prior to COVID-19, residents and patients were able to come out and closely view the cars. Now, they host a parade where residents and patients watch from the windows, said Community Relations Manager Al Crane.
Members are in the club for many reasons. They enjoy the friendship of the club. Crane emphasized the family-oriented nature of the organization.
Larry Wcislow, treasurer and owner of a 1971 Buick GS agrees.
“We help each other out and not just with the cars. It can be related to our house, we are there to help each other,” Wcislow said. Vince Filipponi, owner of a 1959 Ranchero, nodded in agreement.
Filipponi, former club president, recently presented the church pastors with handmade crosses that he crafted in his workshop.
While Crane, Wcislow and Filipponi are all retired, members’ ages vary. Ben Wagner is a member and is a sophomore mechanical engineering major at Old Dominion University. His father, Michael, owns a 1990 Corvette and his grandfather, Jerry Knutson, owns a 1989 Shelby Cobra.
Wagner’s interest in cars stems from his parents’ drag racing days. He is currently working on a 1971 Challenger.
Crane has always liked cars. And while serving in the U.S. Air Force, he just had functional cars.
Now that he is retired, he and his wife, Linda, are active members in the showing off his 1949 Ford Custom Tudor Sedan, “Mr. Lucky,” and her 1966 Ford Mustang. Prior to their marriage, she owned a 1965 Ford Mustang.
“We really enjoy the people and keeping up the heritage and giving back to the community,” he said.