Brian Hagopian stands next to his 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe, which he calls a “resto rod” as opposed to a hot rod due to its restoration. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Elwin Haddix is 80 years old and “still ridin’” his 1997 Harley Heritage Springer. He’d been planning a three-day, 1,000-mile trip for nine people.

“We used to do more, but we’re getting old,” he said.

But first, he had to make a stop at the Santa Cruz Mountains Classic Car Show on Saturday at Brookdale Lodge.

“I used to collect cars,” he said. “I was into that for 30-some years. It was kind of a bad habit.”

Haddix had a Model T that he had to start with a crank. He couldn’t help but be reminded of it when looking at the ancient fire truck on display, not to mention the ’61 Cadillac across the way. He said it was a blast to come out to see all his old friends.

Elwin Haddix sits on his 1997 Harley Heritage Springer at the Santa Cruz Mountains Classic Car Show on Saturday. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Brian Hagopian, 69, came up from Santa Cruz with his 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe.

“This was done in the art deco years,” he said. “I’ve probably had 15 hot rods since high school.”

Is the Master Deluxe really a hot rod though?

“This is what you’d call a resto rod,” he clarified. “You maintain the flow…yet it’s all upgraded underneath. They’re really cool. I just drove this to Redding at the end of April.”

Even though the gathering wasn’t the biggest classic car show that exists, it has a unique feel, according to Hagopian.

“Most events are just in a parking lot,” he said. “We’re in the redwoods at an iconic spot.”

Grilling up the meats in blistering heat. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

And the weather, while steamy, sure was nice—especially compared to the devastating floods and windstorms of the winter.

“These cars are local cars,” Hagopian added. “So, it’s pretty neat.”

Crystal Rodrigues and boyfriend Matt Stegeman were thoroughly enjoying themselves, too.

“It’s dog-friendly,” Rodrigues said after an hour of meandering around the property.

“It’s our kinda stuff,” Stegeman added. “I grew up in car clubs.”

He explained his father was always a big classic car aficionado and would have loved this year’s event.

Plus, it was a fundraiser for four San Lorenzo Valley fire departments—Zayante, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek and Felton.

“It’s not SLV,” Rodrigues said, “—it’s SL-We.”

She said local firefighters stopped the CZU Lightning Complex Fire flames about a mile away from her house in Boulder Creek.

Recently married organizers J.D. and Wendy McKillop. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Event organizers J.D. and Wendy McKillop, of Beneath the Redwoods Events, said last year’s car show raised about $1,700 for each of three fire departments. Even with adding Zayante Fire Protection District in, this time, she was hoping to achieve a similar result.

“It’s an amazing turnout,” she said. “The cars are spectacular.”

The event is limited, as there’s only space for 50 entrants, she noted.

“We are a small community and we are really here to support our firefighters,” she said, noting area residents won’t soon forget the efforts of fire crews during the CZU Lightning Complex. “It really put a spotlight on what volunteer firefighters do.”

Heidi Mercer posed beside her 1953 Panel Chevy 3800—a 10-footer.

“I just love bringing the old hot rods out,” she said. “My dad built this…This was his baby back in ’99. The 10-foots are really rare.”

She grew up working on classic cars down in Los Angeles and is now passing on her passion to her 14-year-old boy.

Thankfully there was a rock ‘n’ roll band to distract attendees from their nerves about whether they’d win at the raffle or not. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Jason Patel, the son of the owners of the Brookdale Lodge, said he was pleased McKillop proposed partnering for the event a couple years back.

“We never thought about a car show,” he said. “It’s just good to see the whole community come out here.”

Brookdale Lodge was seriously impacted by the winter storms, including the January day when a staircase flowed into the brook-turned-river that runs through the dining room. Major sections of the building are still closed.

But they’re hoping to get permits in-place by September to begin construction.

“Events like this show us that we’re on the right track,” Patel said. “It’s just positive vibes all around.”

Joe Beasley, 75, couldn’t agree more.

“I love the Brookdale Lodge,” he said, from his perch beside his 1964 Corvette as longtime girlfriend Danya approaches. She had an update on the raffle.

“Hey, we won!” she proclaimed.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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