California Automobile Museum annual Car Cruise hits the road Saturday

08/02/2013 12:00 AM

08/02/2013 1:18 PM

A Rancho Murieta man calls his 1926 Buick a "rolling sculpture": the product of four years' rebuilding, redesigning and repainting.

Geoff Haeger, 67, will drive his creation Saturday at the fifth annual CAM Car Cruise run by the California Automobile Museum. Event planners expect roughly 300 vintage cars to coast down Fulton Avenue to the hum of live music and the salutes of thousands of spectators.

Haeger said he bought the black Buick four years ago and retooled the brakes, steering and suspension. It won Favorite Rat Rod at last year's cruise, an award given to gritty classics often with old, multicolored paint.

But Haeger said he's "more of a classic car guy," so he recently spruced up the Buick with a pearl-white coat and gold-leaf lines designed by Mike Clines, an award-winning pinstriper based in Citrus Heights. Clines said the car's age and its extremely low roof height were "fairly rare."

Five teams of judges will have the final say on Haeger's car, observing all 300 entrees at California State University, Sacramento, at 1 p.m. The show then hits the road at 4 p.m., when the vehicles will cruise for 5 miles single file, ending at Fulton Avenue between Marconi and El Camino avenues. Museum spokeswoman Natalie Minas said the California Highway Patrol will install road blocks and turn off traffic lights along the cruise route.

Meanwhile local rock band Todd Morgan and the Emblems will perform live, with speakers lining the route. Minas said four food trucks will be on hand, along with 15 vendors and a beer garden.

Twenty-three awards will be presented to drivers at day's end. Among them: Favorite Ford, Favorite Lowrider and two new Corvette awards in honor of that car's 60th anniversary.

"It's always a lot of work," said Kim Nelson, a third-time car cruise chairman and director on the museum board. "We will have 117 to 120 volunteers helping us to make sure that our event is successful. Last year we had a couple of unauthorized cars get into the cruise. This year we want to make sure that doesn't happen."

People can register their cars through Saturday, Nelson said. He hopes to draw hot rods and crowds from an earlier Saturday show sponsored by the Association of California Car Clubs.

Raymond Geiger said he plans to participate in both shows, driving a black 1929 Ford Sport Coupe. He said he started attending several cruises a month after he retired at 70.

"It's fun driving down the street and having people waving and taking pictures," Geiger said.

Nelson, 61, said his wife will cruise in his ruby red 1959 Porsche Convertible D. Last year a friend drove his 1977 Porsche 911, he said.

"I guess (my affinity for cars) stems from my growing up in the Midwest. My father worked for American Motors his entire career," Nelson said.

Geiger and Haeger also expressed a decades-long interest in cars.

"I've been playing around with cars all my life," Haeger said. "It isn't even the car cruises as much as working on the cars. I like working with my hands."

He said he competed in weekend road races nationwide for 16 years, despite working as a full-time electrical contractor. He stopped racing in 1982 when his wife reprimanded him for leaving his 5-year-old son in a race pit at Laguna Seca, he said.

Since, Haeger said he's fixed up a 1949 Ford convertible and two Austin-Healeys. He sold those and bought the Buick for $19,000 as his fourth project, he said. He has invested $31,000 more in the car.

Slideshow: California Automobile Museum, Sacramento, Calif.

Call The Bee's Jeffrey Dastin, (916) 321-1037.


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