Today, they drive around in hot rods, classics and muscle cars. While most are now for show, those in the Central Valley Early Iron Car Club remembered once upon time when cars were a big part of their lives.
Larry Harris, for one, had fond memories of his 1960 Chevy Impala.
On those memorable evenings, he and others of his generation would cruise from the bowling alley in Manteca, driving along Yosemite Avenue to Foster’s Freeze, just west of Walnut Avenue.
That was in 1966 when the population of Manteca was about 12,000.
“We were a small town back then,” said Harris, 72, a 1968 graduate of Manteca High.
Memories of those days can be found on side of a business in the 100 block of North Main Street – “Cruising Manteca,” completed in 2013, was created by Dave Gordon and commissioned by the Manteca Mural Society, depicting that time in 1950s and ‘60s.
Not too long ago, Harris bought another 1960 Chevy Impala. The guy who previously owned it ran out of money in trying to restore the car.
Harris managed to restore “every nut and bolt” of that Chevy, and has showcased at some of the recent car shows.
He’s been with Central Valley Early Iron since its inception in 2000. The local car club was originally called Nuts & Bolts of Manteca. The name-change came about 12 years ago.
“We all live and breathe hot rods, classics and muscle cars,” Harris said. “We have a lot of talented members. We all share in helping another member work on their cars – just a bunch of great guys.”
About a handful of members are active with some belonging to two or three other car clubs.
“We are a family club,” said Harris, who noted that all are welcome to the Central Valley Early Iron Car Club meetings and Wednesday morning breakfasts held at the Manteca VFW Hall Post 6311, 5680 Moffat Blvd.
“This is how all of the members started with our club – you have breakfast with us and you’re in the club. There’s no entry fees or no annual fees,” said Harris.
For that matter, there are no officers. Yet those involved will often volunteer to do different projects.
Included are the numerous car shows, including one for the last four years in the grassy area next to the local VFW hall.
As for the turnout?
“We’ll get approximately 120 (people) show up. We (also) have a lot of help in putting this on, from the members their wives along with some of their children,” Harris said.
As a non-profit, the Central Valley Early Iron Club will conduct fundraisers. Proceeds from their events will go towards purchasing bicycle helmets and toys. Last year, the group made enough to donate to Toys for Tots while handing out 106 bikes to those in need.
Log on to Facebook and click on to Central Valley Early Iron Car Club to check out the car club’s latest endeavors.