Chrome & Rubber: Raleigh’s Classic Car Scene

At a gathering for the Triangle Antique Automobile Club, enthusiasts share what drives them.
by Josh Barrer | photography by Eamon Queeney

There’s just something special about a classic car.

Perhaps it’s the elegant curves of a chassis or the way a metallic paint job reflects the light of the sun. Or maybe it’s in the satisfying roar of a 6-volt engine and the way it gives way to a gentle, vibrating purr. Could be that getting behind the wheel evokes instant nostalgia, the feeling of looking out at the suddenly-expanding horizon that only a new set of wheels could deliver.

“These cars are a little like time capsules,” says classic-car collector and restorer Bobby Haynes. “Cars today basically drive themselves. But these, you’ve really got to drive them. It makes you appreciate the craftsmanship. For the people in those time periods, it was state-of-the art stuff.” 

The engine bay of John Eshleman’s 1932 Ford Roadster
John Eshleman in his 1932 Ford Roadster

Haynes’ 1929 Ford Model A hot rod was one of the more than 70 classic cars on display at the 59th Antique & Classic Car Show in April, sponsored by the Triangle Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA). The cars ranged in age from nearly 100 years old to just a few decades. A car must be a minimum of 25 years old to be considered for its shows and competitions — which means that the ’96 Ford Focus you drove to deliver pizzas in high school is now, technically speaking, a classic car. Expert judges examined the cars, looking for authenticity, style, cleanliness and range of other criteria.

The hood ornament on Bill Werner’s 1953 Packard Clipper Sportster

This show was also the Triangle AACA’s first major event in more than two years. Owners were happy to be out and sharing their prized autos. Some set up lawn chairs beside their vehicles, proudly basking in the appreciation of their restorations. Others, like AACA Triangle Chapter vice president Dan Fuccella, took a more gregarious approach: he spent much of the show chatting with passers-by and inviting interested spectators to hop in and admire his prized 1950 Willys Overland Jeep Station Wagon.

The gear shift in Bobby Haynes’ 1929 Ford Model A

The camaraderie and shared passion for the automotive craftsmanship that went into creating these vehicles — and continues to go into restoring them and getting them show-ready — is what keeps Fuccella coming back to events like these. “I’m a bit of an oddball,” Fuccella says. “For me, the motivation behind a show like this is interfacing with people, meeting the other members.” 

Fuccella is eager to see those membership numbers grow. “If you have the interest in mechanics or automotive, this is an excellent group of like-minded, nice folks,” he says.

Haynes also wants to see his passion for classic cars to be shared by a new generation of car enthusiasts. “We’re caretakers of this stuff. Classic cars are a part of history,” he says. “If you get them out there and people see them, it inspires them to get involved and keep that history alive.”  

Dan Fuccella in his 1950 Willys Overland Jeep Station Wagon

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of WALTER magazine.