Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
11:15 pm EDT
Monday, May 23, 2022

SOCIAL SPOTLIGHT: A world of wheels

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PHOTOS: JAMES COMBS

The Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In revs up interest among automobile enthusiasts.

With classic songs such as “Chantilly Lace” and “All Shook Up” playing on a loudspeaker, spectators walked through downtown Eustis on June 28 to see a unique collection of classic cars, muscle cars, hot rods, antique trucks and Jeeps.

Among them were John and Nancy Stewart of Grand Island, who braved the sizzling summer heat to enjoy an up-close and personal view of several decades of automotive lore. The couple, married 53 years, said the Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In evokes a flood of memories.

“I owned a 1949 Dodge, a 1950 Oldsmobile and a 1956 Chevrolet,” John says. “I came here to find automobiles like the ones I used to own. Plus, Nancy and I are using this as a date night.”

The downtown area becomes a massive parking lot as car buffs roll into town for the Cruise-In, held the fourth Saturday of each month from 5 to 9p.m. Visitors receive a rare glimpse into the automotive industry of yesteryear — from design and styling to engineering and performance.

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Let’s roll

No doubt, the automobiles on display are beloved and pampered by owners. Sorrento resident Jay Anastos popped the hood of his 1966 Buick Riviera to reveal an engine as clean and shiny as the burgundy exterior. Among the car’s features is a 360-horsepower engine Jay rebuilt in 2008. His Buick also includes power windows, cruise control, original bucket seats and hidden headlights that rotate upward with the push of a button.

“This car is unique because 1966 is the last year of Buick’s original V8 engine, which came out in 1953,” he says. “Not many people are familiar with the Buick Riviera because they are one of the older cars you seldom see on the street.”

Parked behind Jay’s car was a 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 owned by Fred Stolz of Daytona Beach. The Montero red car, which he purchased in South Florida, is powered by a 421-cubic-inch V8 engine that allows the vehicle to go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds.

“I love showing off my car because I spent three years restoring it,” Fred says. “For me, coming to this particular cruise-in is lots of fun because there is no hassle and a nice assortment of vehicles for people to see.”

Owners such as Jay and Fred are happy to share everything about their prized possessions — from how they acquired the vehicle and located necessary parts to restoration and engine rebuilds.

“People are always excited to learn about classic cars,” Fred says. “For older people, it’s a trip down memory lane; for younger people, they are being introduced to these automobiles for the first time.”

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That is especially true for Tavares resident Kenneth Mullins, a Ford Motor Co. employee of 40 years who worked in both the assembly plant and parts plant. This was his first time visiting the Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In.

“Look at that car,” he says, pointing to a yellow 1956 Lincoln. “I may have been the one to put the parts on that.”

Mixed in among classic cars were newer models of Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Corvettes and even an all-electric Tesla, proving this event is not only about blasts from the past. In addition, members of the Lake County Jeep Club made their first appearance and proudly displayed their manly off-road, mud-conquering machines.

“We do trail rides in the Ocala National Forest and also raise money for charity,” says Tony Randall, who serves as club president. “We’re going to start coming to this event each month because it gives us wonderful exposure.”

If you’re an automobile aficionado who wants to view an amazing collection of vehicles in one location, strongly consider attending the Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In. The vehicles are not roped off, allowing visitors to receive an excellent view of both the interior and exterior. While there, you can also enjoy dinner at one of the downtown restaurants or browse through the quaint shops.

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