Exactly 50 classic cars showed up for the eighth annual Cars as Art event in the parking lot of the Marco Island Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 3. The weather was as beautiful as Spring days can be on Marco Island, starting in the upper 50s and finishing in the low 70s.
“It’s beautiful,” said event organizer Alyssa Baumer of Island Automotive. “Nice and cool. Couldn’t ask for better weather. A nice turnout; we’re really pleased. This is one the art center’s biggest fundraisers.”
One of the unique entries was a 1942 WWII Jeep, owned by Jeremy Crews.
“A two-star Marine General used this during World War II in England,” Crews said, “so it probably didn’t see any action. It was shipped back from England after the war and my father-in-law bought it. It sat covered up in his garage for 62 years. I took it over when he died. He didn’t do anything with it. It is all original. It’s just as it was built. I don’t imagine there’s another one like it. It’s at the top of the list.”
While Crews (86) was regaling visitors with stories of his Jeep, a World War II veteran walked up with a story of his own.
“I signed up when I was 18,” said Don Mills (96). “Instead of going to Europe, for which I was trained, they shipped me to the Pacific. It all worked out and I was sent home safe. I sustained a little damage to my ears from the explosions. I liked the Army for some crazy reason. I met a lot of interesting people.
“One night in Saipan,” Mills said, “my Platoon Commander asked me if I would serve as his driver; because he had a date with a nurse. I got the Jeep and got a trip ticket, which shows you are authorized to be driving it. I drove him to this place where he got out with his girlfriend. I decided I would roam around for a while in the Jeep. I got stopped by the MPs. There was no cover on the glove compartment, so of course the trip ticket blew away. They arrested me and put me in the brig,” Mills laughed. “But my Platoon Commander found out about it the next day and got me out.”
Mills immediately walked up to Crews’ Jeep to see if there was a cover on the glove compartment—there was. He laughed as he remarked, “That would have saved me from being arrested!”
Bill Coolidge was standing next to his vintage blue Sunbeam Tiger. Next door was an orange Sunbeam Alpine.
“Actually,” Coolidge said, “you may want to refer to me as Maxwell Smart. In ‘Get Smart,’ Maxwell Smart drove a Sunbeam Tiger.”
Ironically, the two sunbeams reside next door to each other on Marco Island.
“The house next door was sold and our neighbors moved in,” Coolidge said. “The next thing I know, my neighbor says, ‘You’re not going to believe it. I’ve got a Sunbeam. It turns out he has a Sunbeam Alpine.’”
Coolidge had just gotten his Sunbeam back from California, where it was being restored.
“It took five and a half years,” Coolidge said. “In fact, after five and a half years I said, ‘We’re close enough to having this car done. Let’s bring it back to Marco.’ Keith and Jessie at Island Automotive finished the last 10%. They did a great job. A great job. They did everything necessary to get it road-worthy and safe. What a neat place; they’re terrific. It’s so rare to see a place like Island Automotive.”
- Chuck Ruth, 1934 Duesenberg Royalton
- 1st Steve Hagen, 1954 Mercury Monterey
- 2nd George Connell, 1967 Citroen DS21
- 3rd Myrt Rose, 1959 Fiat Jolly 500