JOIN THE CLUB
• River City Corvette Club: Meets every Monday night at the Dairy Queen on state Highway 153 in Hixson; www.rivercitycorvetteclub.com
• Chattanooga Cars and Coffee: Meets the last Saturday of the month at the Starbucks by Hamilton Place Boulevard at 9 a.m.
A stay in the hospital couldn't keep Howard Andersen away from the Chattanooga Market's Hot Rod Show on Sunday.
Andersen, 65 of Ooltewah, said he had been in the hospital last week, but the classic car lover decided to go out to the market because he "just had to see a few cars."
"We're enjoying it," said Andersen, who was with his wife, daughter and granddaughter. "It's a wonderful day -- there's lots great cars here today. Like that little Mini [Cooper] -- I had a car just like that."
The Mini Cooper, which was painted like a race car complete with advertisements, is built to race even though it is street-legal, said owner Butch Preisel, 64, of Chattanooga.
"It's definitely a hobby car," he said. "You drive it, then you clean it, then you polish it. You spend more money on wax than some people spend on groceries."
Preisel's son Jerry Preisel, 31, drives the car regularly from home to classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Jerry Preisel said the car draws a lot of attention.
"It's kind of weird at first," he said. "It's usually just a bunch of kids standing around it, but it's still kind of weird to see people looking into your car. I'm not used to all the attention."
Rusty Sharp, 62, of Harrison, and his wife, Donna, have a similar experience with their classic Volkswagens. He said their vehicles have all original parts, which draws people to them.
"People are like, 'I remember when I had one of these,'" Sharp said of their green 1978 transporter van. "This is all original. When you redo it, you take away its originality, and you don't get people reacting like that."
For many, restoring the classic cars is a labor of love. Jimmy Pruitt, 47 of Rossville, is chrome-plating the engine of his 1984 Chevy Custom Deluxe truck. He also is restoring a 1997 Chevy S10 truck for his grandson.
"I put into it every day," he said.
For others, the love of cars transcends generations. Retired Army Col. Larry Harless, 60, of Hixson, is a member of the River City Corvette Club. He said he has a long love affair with what he called "America's only true sports car."
"I've wanted a Corvette for years, since I was about 8 or 9 years old and my neighbor took me in a ride in his," he said. "And now, we've had every generation."
Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...