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Garage Tours: A New Form of Hot Rod Fun

Garage Tours: A New Form of Hot Rod Fun


A new form of hot rodding fun is catching on in our area. Car folks are getting together for “garage tours” that give them a chance to see current restoration projects or collections that other enthusiasts are willing to show off. These gatherings are informal: no club is involved and no dues are collected.

One group is called the Coffee Clutchers and most of them are from an area in or around Appleton, Wis. Gary Nehring, the former owner of The Ford Barn originated the idea by inviting some hot rodders to gather for breakfast and then visit another rodder’s garage. That was three or four years ago. The Coffee Clutchers’ latest outing involved renting a bus for a 56-person trip to the RVM Classics hot rod collection in Madison, Wis.

Sometimes the Coffee Clutchers gather for breakfast only. They have also visited dressed-up garages, restoration shops, car collections, collector car dealerships and engine building facilities. The gatherings are not held on a regular basis. When Nehring gets an idea for a visit, he talks it over with a few members and if they all give it their “Like” he has someone send out an email with the location, date and time. Restaurants are always glad to see the Coffee Clutchers coming; after all, 50 breakfasts can make for a big day.

Over in Green Bay, Wis., (less than an hour from Appleton) Tom Kujava has been arranging “Garage Sessions” that draw up to 100 hot rodders. Kujava formerly hosted a local car TV show called “Wheels” that put him in touch with car enthusiasts in his area. He decided to arrange Garage Sessions as nighttime visits to different collections in the Green Bay area. One Garage Session was centered on hot rods. Another heavily attended evening drew over 100 people to a collection of car signs and automobilia.

Both of these activities are basically garage tours and our guess is that other groups across the country are doing the same things in much the same informal way. Tours like these, with casual planning and signing up in advance seem to fit today’s style of living . . . and hot rodding. Judging from the turnouts that the Coffee Clutchers and Garage Sessions get, the idea of just enjoying cars with no deadlines or commitments seems to fit today’s fast-paced lifestyle.