Riding Shotgun with Paul Hinkle and Friends

Clovis is home to a substantial population of car collectors, here a row of those collectors’ vehicles are on display at the National Collector Car Day show at the Old Town Clovis Farmers Market July 8, 2016. [Photo by Jeanine Fiser]

By Jeanine Fiser | Reporter

Car collectors in Clovis showed off their prized vehicles at the Old Town Clovis Farmers Market on July 8, giving many in the crowd more than just sweet rides to look at.

For Clovis resident Amy Loewus, a walk past the cars was closer to a stroll down memory lane.

“My mom had a Kelly Green Camaro just like that one,” Loewus said about one of the cars on display. “She gave it up for a station wagon when my brother was born, but she still misses that Camaro.”

Loewus said she wished her mother had kept the car, but it was great seeing one again. She said she enjoyed looking at the cars on show, and it was fun to imagine herself behind the wheel of a “dream car.”

“The only thing that would make these shows better is if they’d let you drive the cars,” Loewus said.

The show was a celebration of National Collector Car Appreciation Day, a day set aside by Congress in 2010 to recognize the unique impact of automobiles on American culture.

Paul Hinkle helped organize the farmers’ market show, which featured around 20 cars including several Mustangs, the Kelly Green Camaro and Hinkle’s own 1948 Thames delivery van. Hinkle said he organizes several shows at farmers markets and was pleased to see the city council recognize Collector Car Appreciation Day.

Hinkle said a surprisingly large number of car collectors can be found in Clovis, enough to support a growing car show. The first annual Old Town Clovis car show was held this April and organized by the Business Organization of Old Town Clovis (BOOT).

“We have a show now put on by BOOT and we’re looking to expand it,” Hinkle said. “I think it’s a good thing.”

Hinkle also directs the Clovis Park in the Park, a monthly car show at local parks that starts in May and runs through September. Hinkle said these events are successful in attracting people because they offer an easy-going setting.

“At the park you’ll see a totally different view of what people are migrating to,” Hinkle said. “They want a relaxed atmosphere and that’s what is being provided, and there’s a slow migration and changes to car shows to make them more inviting, where there’s no pressure. It’s just relaxed and you can hang out. Like what you see tonight, the people are just here because they like showing their cars to people.”

Hinkle said he started to like cars when he was young and remained interested through adulthood.

“I just grew up around cars and racing, stuff like that,” Hinkle said. “It’s a lot of fun, we go to a lot of shows, there’s a lot of us that go together to shows.”

Central Valley Mustang Club coordinator Dennis Harvart also developed a passion for cars at an early age and found a sense of community within the car collector circuit.

“I liked cars since I was a kid,” Harvart said. “Then once I got a little bit older and could afford nicer cars I really got into it. Our first Mustang was a ’66. Our daughter drove it for high school, then after I retired I cleaned it up.”

Harvart and his wife are both involved with the Mustang Club and said they like being able to spend time with other Mustang enthusiasts at shows all year long. The club has 130 members who meet monthly at the Yosemite Falls Café on Cedar Avenue in Fresno.

“The Central Valley Mustang Club is the heart of car collecting in the Central Valley,” Harvart said.

The club also organizes car shows and they are getting ready for one planned in October. The Central Valley Fallen Heroes Car Show will be held October 1 at the Sierra Vista Mall. Harvart said the show will include all makes and models of vintage, classic muscle and street rods.

Harvart said the show will support a worthy cause. All proceeds will benefit the American Legion District 14, Fresno Fire Fighter Association and Fresno & Clovis Police Chaplaincy.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Harvart said. “One hundred percent of the profits will go to families of fallen heroes. We do these things, charities and community service, it’s just part of the nature of the club.”

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