Classic car motorheads meet and mingle weekly in West Milford

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    Every Tuesday, around 7 p.m., a weekly gathering of classic car enthusiasts takes place on Union Valley Road. They meet inside the Rockport shopping area right near the UPS store. Neil Vander Linden is just one of many who pull up in their vintage autos and shoot the breeze with fellow owners and admiring passers by. Vander Linder owns a 1969 Chevy Camero and has high regard for his fellow classic car owners, "I see restoring classic cars as an art form. People just love to look at these cars." Vander Linden's purchase of the car also played a significant part in his life when tragedy struck his family, "I've had this car for 12 years. I bought it just a couple of months before my son, Scott, died. Restoring the car became my therapy." The biggest downside to owning a classic car is perhaps obvious, "I get about five miles to the gallon," Vanden Linden says with a broad, slightly suffering grin on his face. "I do intend to keep the car forever though, and will eventually pass it on to my other son." The term "classic car" does have an exact definition, however not everyone agrees with the limited classification. The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) defines a classic car as "a fine or distinctive automobile, either American or foreign built, produced between 1925 and 1948." This definition is acknowledged even by the CCCA itself as exclusive and not universally recognized. The Antique Automobile Club of America has a far less stringent grouping and considers that any car over 25 years old can be called a classic car. Joe Zaccaro's 1967 Cadillac Deville easily meets this definition. Zaccaro came out of the army and made the acquisition of a beautiful car a top priority. "After I came home from the service in Vietnam I decided I wanted a convertible. This is my second Cadillac and I've had it now for 20 years." Restoration is often expensive and time consuming, and Zaccaro has spent both time and money on his car. "I spent six months solid restoring the car. Now it's mainly cleaning and basic maintenance," he said, adding, "This is not an every day car. It's more of an investment which I would guess is now worth $10,000." The most distinctive vehicle on show belongs to Joe Landoline. The rare sight of a 1952 GMC M135 military cargo truck, complete in its army colors and emblems, makes for an impressive, if a little daunting, runaround. While the history of the truck isn't quite clear, it hails from the Korean War era, and Landoline takes great pleasure in jumping into the cab and going for a ride. Despite the vehicle's size Landoline keeps it in his driveway but doesn't let it lay idle too long, "I make sure I get out and drive it at least once a week." Landoline's wife, Kim, sits by the truck enjoying the spectacle, but was emphatic when asked if she ever got behind the wheel. "I never drive it, no way," she said. "I'm just the passenger." Vanden Linden, Zaccaro and the rest of the group are keen for anybody who has a classic car to bring it along. They are equally happy to meet those just interested in seeing their "babies" up close.