Not everyone agrees what qualifies as a collectible car, but Classic Chassis has some ideas

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Classic Car Show
ALL MY FRIENDS LOVE A LOW-RIDER | The author disrespects a 1971 Eldorado owned by Classic Chassis Car Club member Paul J. Williams — although it does have bouncy hydraulics. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street.
Aug. 14 . 10 a.m.

Being the driver of a Ford Escape, I don’t get the double-takes driving down the road. My mini-SUV is functional, it blends in and it gets me places. But something deep inside my Mexican-American bones reacts when I see a 1979 Monte Carlo painted in glossy purple with the Last Supper etched into the rear window, gold rims and (if I’m just lucky enough) an amazing set of hydraulics.

So, any car show on the Strip should put me at a crossroads (pun intended): My Hispanic heritage could celebrate the art and significance of the car in my culture, and the gay side marvel at matching interiors.

To find out more about the show, all roads led to actor/comedian Paul J. Williams, himself a classic car owner and member of the Classic Chassis Car Club.

Like any car show, I wondered if it would have umpteen bikini gals walking around while hip-hop blared out of car trunks. Really, I couldn’t wait to see the pimped out D-bodies with sweet whammy tanks.

“Keep waiting,” Williams told me. “We’re excited to have hip-hop artists Notorious G.A.Y. and Dr. Fab spinning 8-tracks and I plan on wearing my one- piece with the modesty skirt. I can’t speak for the others.”

Methinks he was pulling my leg. Then he set me straight that Classic Chassis will display vehicles in the Cedar Springs Sidewalk Sale and Classic Car Show Saturday. So “classic” for these guys isn’t the low-rider kind; these are true vintage rides.

“By my definition, a classic car is one that is 25 years old or older,” he says. “This, however, does not apply to my definition of classic men.”

The predominantly gay Classic Chassis group of vintage car collectors, aficionados and fans meets monthly, but teamed up with the Merchant Association for the all-day event, which also features arts, baked goods and music. Shoppers and visitors can put their judgmental skills to use by purchasing a ballot for a buck and let loose their fury or delight on the displayed cars.

Williams owns a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado and he’s sold me on its pluses. The Cambridge red ride is badass to see up close. Its architecture has glorious lines long gone from modern bodies and the space inside is, well, useful.

“My Eldorado convertible has inner spring seats, so it’s certainly a comfortable place to make out in,” he says.

Score! Although, he assures this isn’t a cheap hobby, and if I’m anything, it is chuh-eap. The significant O will have to bear with while I lean over the gearshift for a smooch. But Williams says Classic Chassis isn’t just for those who own an old car: They are all-inclusive for those without a hot rod or drophead coupe.

“I love finding a group of guys who can discuss obscure trivia about cars and not look at me like I’m crazy,” Williams says. “Collectors aren’t terribly wealthy, just passionate. Of course, money helps! Come to look, but also find out more about the club. Anyone who has an interest in classic cars is welcome to join.”

It’s a hard sell with triple-digit heat — I’d rather be inside with my TV and Cheetos. But he wasn’t going to have it.

“Run in to one of the Cedar Springs merchants to cool off. There’s ice tea at Buli,” he says.

Looks like my Saturday is booked. Plus if Williams ran over me with that thing, it wouldn’t be pretty. For either of us.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.