Most of us remember our first cars fondly. Chuck Wing does. His first car was a big, blocky, be-finned 1956 Chevy.
Wing was 17 or 18 years old when he got that car. It was about 1960 and “you had to have a car to go to work,” he said. His Chevy was colored a sickly shade of blue when he got it.
“It was ugly,” he said. “It wasn’t robin’s-egg blue, it was ugly. I didn’t think that it was very masculine. I didn’t know what the word ‘masculine’ meant then, but I took it to a place where they painted cars.
“I wanted it black.”
Wing grew up in Michigan in a car town in a car-making state. “Iron was in my blood,” he said. “Cars were in my blood.”
He remembers when the carmakers paraded their new models through town each fall. Even his dad, a painting contractor, had a tie to the car industry. Every year, when the local body plant changed the styles it made, they’d call in his dad and others to repaint the inside of the factory before they cranked up the new assembly line.
In about 1965, when Wing was in military service and stationed in Europe, one of his buddies bought a Triumph. It turned out his buddy didn’t care for the little English sports car, so he sold it to Wing.
It clicked. Wing’s been driving sports cars just about ever since.
“I’ve owned sports cars for a long, long time,” the 69-year-old retired media marketing executive said one recent afternoon as he sat at the kitchen table in his Dunwoody home just a few yards from the two-car garage where he keeps his silver 2001 Porsche 996 and his red 2003 Mercedes 500.
“You probably have one thing you like to do, one thing that makes you feel different,” he said. “When you get into something and it makes you feel different or exceptional, even for an hour …”
Now Wing has found he’s not the only Dunwoody driver with that kind of affection for sports cars and other fancy vehicles. It’s all over town. “You just have no idea what kind of cars people around here have in their garages,” he said.
Early last year, Wing was at the Dunwoody Country Club with some friends and they started talking about their cars. They decided they should start a club. They formed the Dunwoody Driving Club. Wing became its president. Soon they were planning their first car show.
That show, in the spring of last year, drew 15 to 20 cars, he said. In the last 15 months or so, the Dunwoody Driving Club has put on six shows. “It gives them an opportunity to show them [their cars] off,” he said. “It’s like going to the Kentucky Derby and seeing who has the prettiest hat.”
And Dunwoody drivers have cars to show. They’ve rolled up in Porsches and Corvettes, a Maserati, a Viper, a Cobra, a Jaguar, a Studebaker and even a Willys Jeep and a 1935 Auburn boat-tailed speedster. “It just kept growing and growing and growing,” Wing said.
The club’s seventh show is scheduled for June 22. They plan to gather from 6 to 9 p.m. in the parking lot of shops at 2484 Mount Vernon Road. For more info: www.dunwoodydrivingclub.com.Wing said the club now has 60 dues-paying members and he hopes 100 cars turn out this time.
He doesn’t sound all that surprised that the shows seem to have caught on with Dunwoody’s car collectors. Dunwoody may not be in car-crazy Michigan, but it’s its own kind of car town, a place where cars are an everyday part of everybody’s lives.
“What do you do in Dunwoody? I mean, you can belong to your church, you can go to your country club,” Wing said. “Establishing this club gave people who like the art of the automobile, the beauty of them, to share them with other people.”
And maybe to remember your first.
Know a person or place in our communities with a good story to tell? Email Joe Earle at email@example.com.