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Posted on 09 Nov 2012 at 8:15am

Classic Chassis gathers the gays for Golden Girls, its milestone 25th anniversary car reunion in Fort Worth

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ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY | Car enthusiast and professional master of ceremonies Paul. J. Williams is a long-standing member of Classic Chassis, and his 1971 Cadillac El Dorado convertible can attest to his bona fides. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer

The Golden Girls are back! Although the only way Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia will make appearances is if someone named four old automobiles after the iconic characters.

Nope, this weekend’s Golden Girls event marks a milestone 25th annual gathering of all Texas Chapters of the Classic Chassis Car Club, a predominantly LGBT organization that welcomes car lovers of all makes and models. (Straight, too.)

According to the club’s mission statement, the CCCC membership is comprised of those who know the smallest of styling details to gear-heads who perform their own restorations. Membership is open to all, even those who do not yet own a classic or special interest car. Their common bond is an interest and appreciation for autos that are special to the individual, no matter the reason.

“It’s a really cool way to meet people and network,” says Bryan Howell, vice president of the Dallas chapter — especially those who “share in a common love of cars.”

Even though the club has “classic” in its name, that term is loosely construed. Even what many people would consider new cars can have a place within the group.

“There’s a 2008 Pontiac coming to the show, but Pontiac doesn’t exist any more so it’s considered unique,” Howell says.

One weekend a year, CCCC groups gather in a Texas city to socialize and show off the latest additions to their collections. This year’s Golden Girls gathering is in Fort Worth, with events through Sunday, including plenty of opportunities for the classic car curious to learn more about the pastime that’s a casual hobby for some and an obsession for others.

For Howell, his love of all things automobile goes back a long way.

“My passion for cars goes back to when I was 20 months old. I remember going to the car dealership with my father and buying this new car. I was heartbroken to see our old car go. My dad got a brand new ’69 Pontiac Custom S Sport Coupe. We get out onto this little road outside the dealership and he punches it. It threw me into the back seat and I was immediately in love,” he recalls with a smile. “This year, in fact, I was able to buy the identical car in a convertible version. The car I first fell in love with I now have. It’s in the shop and I hope to have it ready for this weekend.”

Howell notes that even though he’s loved cars for a long time, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that he could start to afford decent cars. But his passion falls somewhere between hobby and obsession.

“Nothing I have is show-quality, but you can get into any of my cars and drive to L.A. Others in the club, they have cars that are museum-worthy.”

Paul J. Williams, a long-standing car enthusiast and member of CCCC, gets to combine his gearhead status and quick-witted MCing duties as well — he’ll serve as this year’s banquet and awards ceremony host.

“We’re really excited. He’s going to lend a whole new air to the thing,” Howell says of Williams.

Williams himself says he enjoys Classic Chassis because its membership has a different attitude than other car clubs.

“Straight guys, by and large, buy muscle cars and show off the engines. Gay guys buy glamour cars and go all out on presentation, often utilizing hat boxes, mannequins and/or matching luggage!” Williams says.

Indeed, accessories are key to many aspects of the weekend, particularly the Road Rallye on Friday afternoon, where participating cars take a scenic drive to collect information and articles on a scavenger hunt in search of Miss Golden Girl 2012.

And in a regulation that’s most likely unique to clubs of this variety, at least one person in each car must be in drag.

The Rallye ends with a happy hour and catered BBQ dinner at Club Reflection that is open to the public, which makes it a great first chance to learn more about the club. The group will also assemble Saturday for Concours in the Park, a car show held at Trinity Park where people can interact with the car owners, possibly even go along for a ride.

Through this weekend and other events, the group hopes to attract a new generation of enthusiasts to keep the passion alive for decades to come, even though the average age skews toward members over 40 for the most part.

“We’re not a bunch of dirty old men,” Williams assures. “Unless you smell like an old car.”

Events include a happy hour at Club Reflections, 604 Jennings St., Fort Worth, Friday, 5–7 p.m., followed by a barbecue dinner, a car show at Trinity Park with lunch Saturday, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., and banquet/awards dinner at Esparanza’s, 2122 N. Main St., Fort Worth, Saturday, 6–9 p.m. For a complete list of activities, visit GoldenGirls2012.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 9, 2012.

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