Twelve years ago a handful of guys in Sun City Center formed a club out of their love for the classics — Fords, Chevys, Mercurys and Plymouths, that is.
"They were just a bunch of retired people who owned and had an interest in old cars," said Joe Ferrante, president of the Roamin' Oldies Car Club and an eight-year member. "This community has a club for everything."
Since its inception the club has grown from five members — including its founder Earl Harper, who owned a 1957 baby blue Ford Thunderbird — to 35.
And its purpose has grown, as well.
"We support many area fundraisers by bringing cars to draw more people," Ferrante said. "We try to help out whenever we can."
Toward that end the club and its friends will show 80 to 100 classic cars and hot rods from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the second annual Classic Cars & County Fair Expo, which will take place at Manatee RV Park, 6302 U.S. 41 S., Ruskin.
The show is open to all classic car owners. Entry is $10 per vehicle, and all proceeds will benefit Ruskin-based Project Corregidor and My Warrior's Place, which provide respite care and grief support for veterans or active duty members of the military suffering the loss of a brother in arms, as well as peer mentoring.
Three trophies will be awarded: People's Choice, DJ's Choice and Project Corregidor Choice.
Free to the public, the event will also feature music, food, a Chinese auction, raffles and a three-category baking contest. There is no entry fee for the contest but sweets in disposable containers must be donated for sale to visitors after the judging takes place at 11:45 a.m. Ribbons will be awarded for the first three finishers.
Organizers hope people's fascination with old cars will bring out a large crowd.
"Everyone remembers their first car," said Ferrante, 77. "Mine was a 1949 Ford Convertible.
"Cars are such a big part of our lives," he continued. "Just about everyone drives and depends on one. I guess 100 years ago, there was the same level of interest in horses."
Roamin' Oldies members, who are mostly men, own antiques, collectibles, street rods and even an occasional classic tractor. Most are modified or updated in some way. For example, Ferrante's 1941 Plymouth, originally owned by his wife's grandmother, has been updated to include air conditioning, cruise control, tinted glass and a Corvette engine and transmission.
He also owns a 1932 Ford Hi Boy Roadster he and his son, Joe Jr., have built together and are about to finish.
Although based in Sun City Center, the Roamin' Oldies Car Club is open to anyone owning an interesting classic car, Ferrante said.
Ron Moore, one of the club's original members, agrees.
"You don't have to join to participate," he said. "Our club was formed to share a common interest in all things automotive and to enjoy the company of like-minded friends."
For additional information on the club and its activities, call (813) 382-6699 or visit www.roaminoldies.com.