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I’m not really big on cars. And before visiting with the Straight Eights, the local chapter of the Lambda Car Club International, my knowledge of cars from the past went back only to 1991. That was the year my first car — a used Toyota Celica — was made. On Sunday, June 21, during the group’s monthly “Cruise In” in Laurel, Md., I found myself surrounded by cars that were made decades before I even existed, long before seatbelts, cassette players and air-conditioning were considered automobile essentials.
Surprisingly, it was exciting, even for someone who doesn’t really care about cars. Walking among the cars — a white 1955 Oldsmobile Holiday, a black 1965 Mercedes 300 Coupe — all in mint condition, I felt like I’d walked onto the movie set for something starring a young Elvis Presley. About 20 or so other members and I walked from car to car, “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing,” especially when we came across the newest addition to the group: a turquoise 1979 Lincoln Continental, a car that stretches so long it will probably never find a parallel-parking spot in D.C. “Which one’s yours?” a member asked me. He was the owner of the white Oldsmobile Holiday. I didn’t want to disappoint him and tell him that I was the proud owner of a 2006 Toyota Corolla. When I did, I was shocked by his reaction: “Nice.”
He spared me from ridicule partly because the Straight Eights aren’t only about historic cars. That day the lot welcomed a sporty 2006 Porsche Cayman S and a luxurious 2005 Jaguar. In the end, my favorite remained a white 1963 Oldsmobile convertible. I would have swapped my Corolla for that car in a heartbeat. But I had to remind myself the hangout was ultimately just a show-and-tell.
The group meets again this Sunday, July 19, at 3 p.m., for its next monthly “Cruise In,” at the PW’s Sports Bar and Grill parking lot, 9855 N. Washington Blvd., Laurel, Md. For more information, visit www.straight8s.org.