My first few weeks on Maui were tough. My beautifully restored 1966 Mustang was stuck on a Matson boat somewhere in the Honolulu Harbor, and I was stuck driving around in my girlfriend’s pale yellow new Beetle. It was embarrassing, at best.
When I finally got the call that my baby made it to the Kahului port, suddenly life was good again. I drove around with my head held high and people were always smiling and waving. People kept stopping me, asking about my car. I beamed like a proud father. Pretty soon I assumed that I must have the best looking car on Maui.
“Man, what a beautiful car you have there,” one guy told me.
I said thanks and talked with him for several minutes.
“So have you taken her down to Peggy Sue’s yet?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “What’s that?”
“This diner down in Kihei. On the first Saturday of every month, a bunch of people bring their cars down there. Anyone with a car as nice as that is supposed to go.”
Though not an official organization, Maui Classic Cruisers has been meeting regularly since the 1980’s. There are no membership fees or dues of any kind, and anyone is welcome, and encouraged, to attend.
They meet at the Azeka II Plaza in front of Peggy Sue’s on the first Saturday of each month at 6 p.m. They’re usually there until nine. The group also meets at the McDonald’s on Dairy Road in Kahului on the second Saturday of every month, and in front of Round Table Pizza in Kihei on the last Saturday of selected months (January, April, July and October).
So when the first Saturday of April rolled around, I made Chanda put on her “My Boyfriend Drives a Mustang” t-shirt and we headed to Kihei. But as soon as we pulled into the Azeka Mauka Plaza parking lot my heart sank, I quickly realized that I did NOT have the best looking car on Maui.
Spread out in front of us were some of the nicest classic Chevelles, ‘Vettes, Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers, GTOs, Caddies and roadsters I had ever seen.
“Oh baby, I can’t take my car in there,” I told Chanda. “Look at all those nice cars.”
She just smiled. “Don’t be silly,” she said. “I think your car is just as beautiful as any of these.”
Of course she’d say that. She had to. But she got out and lifted the yellow tape for me, so I reluctantly drove through and parked.
A few people instantly circled the car, admiring it. I forced the best smile I could and thanked them for their compliments.
Everybody there seemed to know each other, and I didn’t know anybody. I was an outsider, the new kid. We walked around anonymously for a while, circling the parking lot, looking at the wide range of vintage vehicles. About 20 minutes later we came back to my Mustang. A few people stood near it, talking. They looked up at us.
“Hey, I need to get my wife a shirt like that!” one guy said. “Where’d you get that?”
I had almost forgotten Chanda’s shirt. But before I could answer, someone else asked if the Mustang was mine. I nodded.
“Beautiful car,” a woman said. She pointed at my California tags. “Are you gonna get personalized plates here?” she asked.
“Um, I dunno,” I said, caught off guard by all the sudden questions. “I, uh, still have to fix some stuff to pass that goddamn safety inspection. The right front turn signal is out, and I think the switch is bad, but I don’t have any tools here yet and I’m not sure how to get the steering wheel off…”
“Oh I have a steering wheel puller,” another guy said. “I have plenty of tools you can use. Give me a call this week, I’ll help you put it on.”
He handed me a piece of paper with his number on it. In fact, several people handed me their numbers. And just like that, I felt like I was suddenly part of the group.
The Mustang clique had found me, made me feel welcome. I stood there talking to these people for hours, like I had known them for years. It was a lot like being back in high school—that feeling of hanging around in a parking lot on a warm summer evening.
Everyone shared the same basic common interest with their respect for classic cars, and they all seemed to treat this Saturday night like it was the greatest night of the month. And why not? They were among friends.
On Sunday, May 27 the Classic Cruisers will host a Memorial Day Cruise. They will meet at the Maui Marketplace at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.mauicarshows.com. MTW