Arts & Entertainment Community Transportation

Cruisers car club all about ‘making friends and having fun’

Posted on June 29th, 2022 By:

The Gig Harbor Cruisers are excited as summer brings their annual car show and long days with lingering sunlight that allow the car club members to take to the open road in the classic automobiles they love.

The Cruisers are the largest car club in Gig Harbor with well over 100 members. They relish this time of year as they turn the key, hear the rumble and embark on a journey back in time to a place where combustion engines were the norm, cars were a form of expression and gas prices were an afterthought. Many Cruisers say that as gas pedals are pushed and countrysides explored, the stress and troubles of the modern world melt away with each passing mile.

The Cruise the Narrows car show begins at 8 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6.

Members are eager to shift manual transmissions and tug on steering wheels without powered assistance. They don’t need heated seats, traction control or trendy tech devices to enjoy the ride. They do, however, enjoy the sound of a Dodge Challenger engine or the feel as a Porsche downshifts and accelerates out of a corner.

Some love the comfort of a large, luxurious interior that a Lincoln provides or the special way a classic Cadillac glides on air down the highway. Others like the rough ride of a vintage 4×4 Land Cruiser or prefer the smaller confines of a British-made MG. As they cruise and listen to their favorite tunes, drivers have their tastes and personal styles on display as passing motorists give the “thumbs up” in appreciation of their unique automobiles.

Cruisers founded in 1997

The Gig Harbor Cruisers were founded 25 years ago in 1997 by Dan Lehoskey and four local couples — the Campbells, Crists, Potters and Smiths. All were car buffs who felt like the area was full of beautiful cars to be appreciated, and the community could be enhanced by their donations and civic involvement. They are a nonprofit service club that welcomes all to join and are active in local community services by helping others in need or to just share the smiles their cars receive.

The club sponsors a local car show annually, as well as member drives and get-togethers throughout the year. Proceeds from the auto show are distributed to youth, local charities and educational automotive scholarships.

Anyone can be a member

Unlike some other car clubs that have strict qualifications for membership, the Cruisers are all-inclusive, which is one of the primary reasons for their growth. You don’t need to have an impeccably finished car, although many members do. The Cruisers realize it’s the journey that is important and all cars are in some ways a work in progress. They have understood that young members who may not have the finances or time to finish a car, yet are still vital to the club’s balance and growth.

1971 Dodge Charger

A Gig Harbor Cruiser shows his 1971 Dodge Charger.

Helping the community, enjoying the comradery and celebrating the automobile in all shapes, sizes and colors is the main goal. That outlook provides a laid-back approach at their annual car shows where music and laughter fill the air as the casual vibe is appreciated by attending spectators. In contrast, the nation’s most distinguished car show is the Concours d’Elegance in Carmel, Calif. Many cars are driven to the Pebble Beach grounds in enclosed trailers and are owned by people who are as buttoned up as their trailers. The admission price for one spectator is a staggering $525, and the competition is sometimes more about ego than automobile.

This car club is not a stuffy bunch

The Cruisers are the anthesis of that. The club is filled with men and women who have put in the work it takes to complete a car with their own two hands and the extra money it takes from a hard-worked profession. They often know the intricate details of their automobiles that only accrues from years of experience. Some of the members’ cars were passed on from a family member, traded for another car or discovered in an old barn in subpar condition, but perseverance and effort have brought them back to life.

Most owners know their vehicles from bumper to bumper, which adds authenticity that can be felt at their unpretentious shows. The unique trophies are not three-tiered giants but made from refurbished engine parts. Members are approachable and eager to answer questions or share interesting facts about their automobile’s history. As with every person, every car has a unique story that owners are anxious to share.

Besides car shows, one of the things that members enjoy are periodic cruise-ins and club tours where they explore different places together as they drive their cars in a procession. Smiles abound as an artful display of automobiles is seen by onlookers in unexpecting towns. Young and old are fascinated by the different shapes, sizes and paint colors that flash before their eyes in a unique, moving art show.

All about making friends and having fun

Other activities that are available but not required include monthly club meetings, social outings, car clinics, tech sessions and involvement in parades and picnics. Those activities all add up to a good time as one of the club’s stated goals on their website says that, “We’re all about making friends and having fun.”

Besides car shows, you can catch glimpses of these beautiful rides when their owners drop the 9-to-5 hassles and fire up their passions, eagerly driving around Gig Harbor on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons. Many different cruising routes are frequented regularly by these classic cars as members and non-members roll down Soundview into town, around the Harbor and down Creviston Drive. Or through the beautiful Ray Nash Valley on their way to the Fox Island Bridge, returning down Wollochet to Eastbay Drive where classics maneuver the winding curves in style. No matter where they go, it’s all about the feeling and freedom of being behind the wheel of a unique car that stands out from the rest.

Trophies made out of engine parts

These unique trophies were presented at a past Cruise the Narrows Car Show at the Uptown Plaza in Gig Harbor.

Annual memberships are affordable and all age groups are encouraged, with fees at only $25 a year.

Almost every kind of car is represented as there are several different categories at the car shows. They include Favorite Muscle Car, 4×4 and Unfinished Ride, plus the favorites from the decades of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. There is an award for Favorite GM, Ford and Mopar as well as awards for Most Unusual, Most Photogenic, Best Paint, Favorite Corvette and VW. There’s even a category for the best car from a member under 20 years old and the Kids Pick which is always an interesting one. One of the biggest awards goes to The Founders Pick, which is voted on by the Cruisers’ original members.

Cruise the Narrows car show is Aug. 6

The Cruisers will showcase their cars this summer at the 24th Annual Cruise the Narrows car show on Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Uptown Plaza on Point Fosdick Drive. The event begins at 8 a.m. and concludes with a trophy presentation at 3 p.m. Spectators of all ages are free. For those who would like to show their car, vintage and special-interest vehicles are welcomed from all years, makes and models. More detailed information can be found on the Gig Harbor Cruisers website.

1973 Chevy Camaro

A 1973 Chevy Baldwin Motion Camaro is an eye catcher.

A donation of $20 is required to enter a car. Pre-registration is not required. All you need to do is drive in, pay the fee, follow the parking attendants and have a good time.

The Cruise the Narrows has become a welcomed and much-anticipated tradition in town as it is an event that involves the whole family and combines great music and food with quality people, sunshine and plenty of beautiful automobiles to appreciate.