Sun City car aficionados gear up to participate in Concours d' Elegance

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 28, 2010 

On a hot, cloudless September Sunday, just minutes before setting off for a car show with fellow Sun City Car Crazy Club aficionados, John Rinaldi's 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS convertible becomes the victim of a fly-by â€" uh â€" shooting.

A bird of undetermined origin has just left an unsightly deposit on the otherwise spotless hood of Rinaldi's iconic blue Camaro. Following some good-natured ribbing by friends and club members Ed Schumacher and Jerry Gibbs, Rinaldi wipes off the offending splatter and tosses the soiled towel to one of his pals.

The three men are fairly representative of Car Crazy Club members, sharing a proclivity for cool cars and good humor. The three also share long-term love affairs with their Chevys. Along with Rinaldi's Camaro, Gibbs' 1967 yellow Chevelle SS and Schumacher's red and white Chevrolet 210 model will be among 10 cars to be displayed by club members at this year's Concours d'Elegance Nov. 6 and 7 during the annual Hilton Head Island festival.

This year's event will showcase Chevrolet as the honored marque.

"Chevrolet is a marque, in one way or another, that has touched the lives of every American," said Paul Ianuario, honorary judge and member of the festival's automotive advisory board.

That certainly holds true for Gibbs and Schumacher, who met during the 1970s when both were salesmen for Kimberly Clark. Gibbs and his wife Eileen came to visit Schumacher and his wife Becky at their retirement home in Riverbend and wound up moving to the same street not long after.

Schumacher said his first car was a '56 Chevy.

"This one is a whole lot nicer," he said, of the car he "fell in love with" at a show in Reno, Nevada. Schumacher had agreed to go with Rinaldi to an auction in Reno.

"It was a fluke," Schumacher said. "I ended up buying a car and John didn't."

He said his '56 Chevy 210 has all original body metal, no replacement panels, but its interior and parts have all been redone in what he described as a frame-off rotisserie restoration. He said he is the car's fourth owner in 55 years.

Rinaldi's Camaro was completely rebuilt to its original state from the frame up by a company in North Carolina.

"I've collected several cars over the years, and they never met my standards," said the retired Nassau County, N.Y., detective sergeant, who moved to Sun City eight years ago. "This one took 21 months to build," he said, "and I'm still perfecting it."

Gibbs and his wife celebrated their 41st anniversary in September. "I was 20, and my very first new car was a 1967 blue Chevelle convertible. We dated in that '67 and went on our honeymoon in that car in 1969," Gibbs said.

Last January, the couple attended an auction in Kissimee, Fla.

"Lo and behold, there was this '67 yellow Chevelle," said Gibb.

"I was getting outbid when my wife gave me the elbow and said, ‘Don't lose it for $500.," he said. Italian marques also will be featured at the festival's Car Club Jamboree, where Car Crazy Club president Lew Rhoden's yellow 1983 Bertone X1/9 is sure to turn a few heads. Rhoden, who bought the car on e-bay in 2008, said the fuel-injected 5 speed is often referred to as "a little Ferrari."

It features a removable Targa roof, built-in roll bar, and gets 30 miles per gallon. Designed by Dante Giacosa, who created the Lamborghini Countach, the X1/9 model was imported by Malcolm Bricklin from 1982 through 1987.

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