Packet Sea Foam: Club of 'Wheelmen' encourages muscle car enthusiasts to get out on the road and drive

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comDecember 5, 2011 

Thanks to Brett Cadman of Hilton Head Island for sharing the story of a new car club started by three young men who were reared on Hilton Head.

"(Last month), the 10th annual Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival took place," Brett writes. "Hundreds of cars came together from all over the Southeast to celebrate the love of the automobile. This isn't your average car show. Most cars are non-driven collectibles, fully restored to showroom quality. Most cars made it there on a trailer. Bill Schmitt, an event organizer for the Concours and president of the local Corvette Club, approached me and my organization to participate in the Concours d' Elegance. It was a great honor, but what happened next surprised us all."

'WHEELMEN'

By Brett Cadman

I am the president of the South Carolina Muscle Car Society. We are "The Wheelmen," a collection of drag racers, hot rodders, drivers and above all, American muscle car enthusiasts.

I formed the society two years ago with my brother Jesse and longtime friend Bryan Puffinberger. We have all owned classic American muscle cars since we could drive (I was driven home after my birth in a '73 Mustang). It is in our blood and remains our passion.

Over the past two years, the society has grown from a rolling car show to an organization with more than 100 active members, charitable events and a nationally published and locally televised soapbox urging classic car owners to get out and drive their cars. It's a new paradigm in car ownership I like to call the "Wheelmen Revolution," and the 10th annual Concours d' Elegance has been our biggest victory yet.

We assembled 11 of the best examples of driven muscle cars that our club could put forth, ranging from an 830-horsepower 1932 Ford two-door to a 1970 Dodge Superbee and everything in between.

We arrived for the Car Club Jamboree, a meet of 13 regional car clubs from Jacksonville, Fla., all the way up to Myrtle Beach. Cars were trailered in from all over, while every car from the South Carolina Muscle Car Society was waxed up and driven in, as God and Detroit intended. We were definitely out of place, the blue collar underdogs. Our average driver age was 30 years old, compared to the event's median age of 60-plus, but it was an honor to be invited and to spread the gospel of "The Wheelmen."

In an interesting turn of events, the society won three awards on club day: "Top Club," "Best of Show" and a "Crescent Award," chosen by the event exhibitors. I was surprised, to say the least, but more importantly our victories showed us and the motoring world that "Driven Muscle" is the way to go. Don't buy an old 440 6 pack and lock it away in your garage. Sure, you may think in the long run that you are preserving the value of the car, but what's the point if you've never felt the impressive torque of a Magnum at full tilt? It's why these cars were built -- slamming the gears, hearing the ratcheting sound of bulletproof "Detroit Iron" doing its job. You cant put a price on that.

Also, by taking the cars off the road, the newer generations will never get a chance to see them, hear the sound of a V8 from when America was in its car-building heyday, or even smell the sweet yet stingy aroma from polished, rumbling exhaust tips.

The newer generation is buying imports because they don't know better. They don't know that these cars exist and are attainable at any price range. If they don't see them, there is no demand.

So get your car out of the garage. Get on the road. Hit the gas pedal. It's worth it. Protect your investment by ensuring the demand for these cars remains at peak levels by driving it.

This was our first victory in what I guarantee will be a long, committed war to assemble these cars on the road. I hope to see all of the classic car collectors on the right side of the "Wheelmen Revolution."

We want you.

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