September 2011

Lowcountry Car Clubs - Sharing The Road

Author: Special To C2 Magazine

Attention all Lowcountry gearheads, motorheads and self-styled classic car nuts. You have a home. Actually, more than one.

Celebrate Hilton Head recently shifted gears and put pedal to the metal to catch up with two local car clubs to learn more about the timeless beauty of steel, chrome and the open road.

Carolina Dreamers
The Carolina Dreamers Car Club started in Bluffton in 1992 as a haven for locals with a passion for classic cars. The group hosts regular monthly meetings and gathers frequently for local car shows, cruising outings and “swap meets” where members can exchange parts and ideas and talk shop.

“It’s just a bunch of guys who have a love for automobiles to the point where they felt it was a bonding that they needed to come together and be a part of a club,” said Gary Moulton, the group’s current president, retired Chrysler engineer and former drag racer.

The group also visits the Daytona International Speedway for its annual Turkey Run, a car-lover’s mecca where thousands gather for a four-day event held each year around the Thanksgiving holiday.

“If you’ve ever seen the movie American Graffiti [a 1973 George Lucas coming-of-age film that chronicled the cruising culture of the post-Baby Boom generation], that’s exactly what it is,” Moulton said. “It’s absolutely phenomenal at night to just watch cars up and down the boulevards there.”

Moulton started college as a pre-med major, hoping to become a veterinarian. But soon, the thrill of steel and horsepower led him down a different career path.

“Somewhere along the line, I determined that I liked cars better than I did dogs and cats, and I switched over to engineering, and went from there,” said Moulton, who has been a Dreamers member for five years. “I loved doing it. It wasn’t work—it was pleasure.”

When he moved to the Hilton Head area a few years back, Moulton noticed an article in a local newspaper and decided to get involved. Now, as the group’s president, Moulton admits that he sometimes has to rally fellow members to let their gems occasionally emerge from the dusty safety of the car cover.

“The funny thing about it is that there are a ton of cars that people don’t know anything about. And that’s because they sit in garages 365 days a year, which I find is a crime, that you have something like a classic car, but don’t use it,” he said. “That’s what I try to promote within the club. ‘Let’s take these cars out and drive them.’ That’s the purpose of having them in the first place, right?”


Bob Clark’s 57 T-Bird

Lowcountry Oyster & Motorcar Driving Society
The Lowcountry Oyster & Motorcar Driving Society (LOMDS) started in 1994, inspired by the famous Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society in New York City. Since chowder, Manhattan or otherwise, didn’t quite speak to Lowcountry roots, the group’s founder suggested “Oyster Society” as its partial namesake instead.

“I am a certifiable car nut. I like car shows, car people, car anything,” said LOMDS president Don Smith. “Antique cars, new cars, you name it. I like them all.”

Smith is a devout fan of the cars produced by the Morgan Motor Company, a British luxury car manufacturer founded in 1910. He bought his first Morgan in 1977 and has owned them ever since.

Smith enjoys driving his cars, but finding an interesting venue in the Lowcountry, a region known for its flat terrain and heavily-travelled and mostly straight main roads, can be an uphill battle.

“It’s been a challenge to find some roads that are particularly scenic,” Smith confessed. “Whoever built the New Riverside area [situated near the intersection of SC routes 170 and 46] deserves an award. There’s no traffic in that community, it’s four lanes in some areas, and it curves. It’s just a beautiful area to go on a drive.”

Geoff Wheatley, a former LOMDS president and its resident scribe, enjoys restoring his vehicles, as it often provides a nostalgic and satisfying trip down memory lane.

“That’s the pleasure with restoring—bringing something back to life which otherwise would just disappear,” Wheatley said. “Many of the people in my age group, we remember these cars. I remember cars in the ’50s almost like it was yesterday.”

Wheatley, who was born in Oxford, England, owns four classic cars, including a 1934 Arrow (“the only one in the U.S.,” he says), manufactured by Pierce-Arrow, a company known for its luxury automobiles made in the early 20th century.


Jimmy Welsh’s 64 Dodge Police Car

More than cruisin’
Though members share a common passion for cars, both clubs also take pride in being productive members of the greater Lowcountry community. Both groups are heavily involved in local charitable and educational efforts. Both are heavily involved each year (including roles as volunteers, competitors and judges) in the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours D’Elegance, to be held this month, October 28-November 6.

“If we can use our cars to support local charities, that’s great,” Smith said. “It indicates a little bit that we’re not your typical car club. And I hope that means we don’t take ourselves too seriously—that we embrace a role within the community.”

Moulton agrees. “We’re goodwill ambassadors for the automobile, which is an American icon,” he said. “People identify with that, because, at one point in time, everybody remembers when they were a kid and had their first car. We all want to go back to that moment in time and share that thrill with others.”

For more information on Carolina Dreamers Car Club, visit carolinadreamers.org. For more information on the Lowcountry Oyster & Motorcar Driving Society, visit lomds.com. For information on the upcoming Concours D’Elegance, visit hhiconcours.com.

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