McALLEN — Strolling through the McAllen Chamber of Commerce parking lot on Saturday, Christie Cantu recalled her high school days as she stared at a blue 1979 Chevy Camaro.
She remembers driving through her high school parking lot in 1981 and seeing rows of different colored Camaros filling the empty spaces.
Cantu wasn’t the only one taking a trip down memory lane on Saturday.
People from various parts of the Rio Grande Valley attended the chamber’s second annual McAllen Classic Car Cruise Night on Saturday, where enthusiasts gathered to show off some of their classic cars.
Cantu, the community engagement liaison for the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement, or VIDA, attended the event as a judge.
“We look at how original the car is, the paint job, the lights, if everything works and how much has been invested in restoring or maintaining the car,” Cantu said.
Ronald Winchell, 89, who attended the previous event, was delighted to attend this year’s cruise and show off his 1956 Ford Victoria. It’s pink and white, or maybe more cream. In fact, it didn’t look like ice cream.
“Everything is stock, it has whitewall tires and all stock interior. It looks like it came straight from the factory,” said Winchell, clearly proud of his Ford Vic.
The car is one of four classics owned by Winchell. Until last week he had nine cars in his collection, but decided it was time to start selling some.
Winchell has been a classic car collector since he was 14 years old. He recalled family road trips in Ohio where they went to a car show “sometimes five times a week” and then went to eat at the Dairy Queen after the show.
At Saturday’s event, he wore a Dairy Queen shirt as a tribute to his family travels.
Families with children running around enjoying the sights and sounds of these classic and vintage vehicles had fun as photos were taken in front of some of the cars, including a girl who had her picture taken next to Winchell’s pride and joy.
Then the engines started to roar as the owners turned on the ignition and started down Main Street.
People recorded and watched in awe as the cars filed down the street one by one. Children waved and pointed to their favorite cars as they passed.
Harlingen native Jerald Lewis attended the event in his 1966 Chevrolet Nova which he restored with his cousin.
They had bought the car in 2010, since then they have restored different parts of the car like the engine.
“It was done from front to back. The only original thing is the bodywork and the interior.
Lewis estimated the repairs cost around $100,000.
David Montague, a native of Minnesota, is a winter visitor to the valley who was also on Saturday’s cruise. He boasted of a 1928 Model A Ford Pickup
Montague always wanted a car like this, and when he came down this winter he was able to buy it from Winchell, who is actually his neighbor and clearly a classic car enthusiast.
“They are just neat. It’s part of the story,” Montague said.
To see more, check out photojournalist Joel Martinez’s full photo gallery here: