Cleveland Classic Car Owners
This is part of a special series, Indulgence, which explores the extravagant life in a time of restraint. It is also in September 2021 VICE magazine issue. Subscribe here.
One afternoon in the summer of 2020 as I was driving home, I stopped at a traffic light, and when I looked to the left, I noticed a very nice pastel gold Cadillac with an ivory top. I immediately stopped for a closer look and introduced myself to the owner. His name was David and, to my surprise, he owned not one but five historic vehicles. David told me if I wanted to see more I should come to Luke Easter Park on Sunday.
I showed up this weekend and was greeted with nothing but great energy and a sea of beautifully maintained vehicles. I was in awe and boldly strolled around, camera in hand, complimenting everyone I laid eyes on.
Cleveland natives have gathered at Luke Easter Park for over a decade, and the community has grown to number hundreds of members – sets of family, friends and neighbors. Many are retired and rejoice in the community of men and women, young and old, who take pride in showing off their precious possessions. Vintage cars range from models from the 1960s to the late 90s, in a range of sizes and colors. Some have kept their original cars, while others have added their own flair to already flashy vehicles. I appreciate the special connections created when I meet these people and we can share our common enthusiasm for the subject.
Derrick Cooley, 56 (above)
How does it feel to have this car?
Oh, I love it, it feels good. I love it when I’m here with all my car buddies and we are driving and sailing. Go up to the park. Let everyone see the cars. It’s a great feeling.
When did you start driving?
Oh, I was 16 when I first started driving, but I got my first cruise car when I was about 21. It was an 84 Cutlass Brougham. I’ve been driving ever since. I love cars.
How many cars do you own?
I own this car here, I own a big Ford F-150 Limited pickup truck. What else have I got … Oh, I got a Ford Sport Trac with 20 inches on it.
How much money did you put in your cars?
This one I put in total, maybe $ 13,000. The truck, maybe $ 8,000. And ditto for the other truck, about $ 8,000. You know, I don’t see him as a status symbol. I consider it just fun. You know, that’s what we do on weekends. It’s a car culture. We’re just having fun.
As a child, I flipped through catalogs of classic cars and dreamed of fun rides on the highway. As I get older, I hold on to my dream of owning my own classics. Until then, I live vicariously through my community as they show me what’s really possible on the vintage car creative spectrum.
Romell Warren, 19 (above)
Where did you find your car?
1985 Buick Lesabre Collector’s Edition — I got it from Pennsylvania.
How do you feel young
You can learn a lot from the elderly. I feel like a lot of young people should listen. Stop thinking you know everything.
What does it mean to be here every weekend?
I’ve been doing this with my dad since I was a kid. It’s like a car culture. A lot of people get that money — they don’t want to say what kind of money, but they get that money and they also want to show off a car that they get. So everyone just wanted to come here and have a good time.
Do you have a name for your car?
They call it the Pimp Mobile, the Blue Room, the Boat, the Yacht, the Living Room.
Are you a racer or a cruiser?
It depends, like most of the time cruising, but if someone just feels like they can burn me and I know I can burn their car, then I’m going to burn their ass, but if someone in a Charger pulls up, no I wouldn’t. I respect them.
Brice King, 19 (above)
How did you get into classic cars?
I guess I was mainly, you know, my childhood was affected by my grandparents. They are 80 years old now. So all I listen to is 60s music and 70s music and it just fits in my clothes and the type of cars I buy so I just like old cars school.
How does it feel to have one?
Actually great, because, I mean you don’t feel normal on the road, you kinda feel like a road warrior. You get looks, and it feels good.
Does your car have a name?
Belline. It’s Italian. It means glorious, magnificent, perfect.
How often do you take Bellina out?
I drive it all summer, cycle between some of my other old school cars that I have. I have like four. I have this one, a New Yorker from 92. I have a Lincoln 69 Mark III. And I have a Cadillac Seville. I’m doing my best.
Do you know where the dice come from?
Oh, why are they in the windows? I do not know. I do it because it looks cool to me. Lots of people have disco balls. I can’t see, so I don’t want to encumber it too much.