The Classic Car Owners of Cleveland_Dashaunae Marisa
Life

The Classic Car Owners of Cleveland

Photographer Da’Shaunae Marisa captures the magic that is made when a group of vintage car enthusiasts come together.
September 13, 2021, 11:00am

This is part of a special series, Indulgence, which explores extravagant living in a time of restraint. It’s also in the September 2021 VICE magazine issue. Subscribe here

One afternoon during the summer of 2020 as I was driving home, I stopped at a light, and when I looked over to the left, I noticed a very beautiful pastel gold Cadillac with an ivory top. I immediately pulled over to get a closer look, and introduced myself to the owner. His name was David, and to my surprise he owned not one but five historical vehicles. David proceeded to tell me that if I wanted to see more I should come to Luke Easter Park on Sunday. 

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I showed up that weekend and was greeted by nothing but great energy and a sea of beautifully kept vehicles. I was in awe, and boldly walked around, camera in hand, complimenting everyone I laid eyes on. 

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Cleveland natives have been gathering in Luke Easter Park for over ten years, and the community has grown to hundreds of members—collections of family, friends, and neighbors. Many are retired and delight in the community of men and women—young and old—who take pride in showing off their prized possessions. The vintage cars range from 1960s to late 90s models, in an array of sizes and colors. Some have kept their cars all original, while others have added their own flair to already flashy vehicles. I enjoy the special connections made when I meet these individuals and we can share our joined enthusiasm for the subject.

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Derrick Cooley, age 56 (above)

How does it feel to have this car? 

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Oh, I love it, it feels great. I like it when I’m out here with all my car buddies and we ride and cruise. Come up to the park. Let everybody see the cars. It’s a great feeling. 

When did you start driving? 

Oh, I was 16 when I started driving, but I got my first cruise car when I was about 21. It was an 84 Cutlass Brougham. I’ve been riding ever since. I just love cars.

How many cars do you own? 

I own this car here, I own a big Ford F-150 Limited pickup truck. What else I got… Oh, I got a Ford Sport Trac with 20 inches on it. 

How much money have you put into your cars? 

This one I put in total, maybe $13,000. The truck, maybe like $8,000. And same for the other truck, about $8,000. You know, I don’t look at it as a status symbol. I look at it as just fun. You know, this is what we do on the weekends. It’s a car culture. We just have fun. 

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As a child, I would flip through catalogs of classic cars and daydream about joy rides on the highway. As I get older, I hold firm to my dream of owning my own classics. Until then, I live vicariously through my community as they show me what’s truly possible on the creative spectrum of vintage cars. 

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Romell Warren, age 19 (above)

Where did you get your car? 

1985 Buick Lesabre Collector’s Edition—I got it from Pennsylvania.

How do you feel being young?

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You can learn a lot from the old people. I feel like a lot of young people should listen. Stop thinking you know everything.

What does it mean to be out here every weekend? 

I’ve been doing this with my dad since I was a kid. It’s like a car culture. A lot of people getting that money—they don’t wanna say what kind of money, but they getting that money and they want to show off a car they get, too. So everybody just wanted to come out here and have a good time. 

Do you have a name for your car?

They call it the Pimp Mobile, the Blue Room, the Boat, the Yacht, the Living Room.

Are you a racer or cruiser? 

It depends—like for the most part be cruising, but if somebody just like feel like they can just burn me and I know I can burn they car, then I’ll burn the fuck out they ass, but if somebody in a Charger pull up, no, I wouldn’t. I respect them. 

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Brice King, age 19 (above)

How did you get into classic cars?

I guess I was primarily, you know, my childhood was affected by my grandparents. They’re in their 80s now. So all I listen to is 60s music and 70s music and it just goes into my clothing and the type of cars that I buy, so I just like old-school cars. 

How does it feel to have one? 

Actually great, because, I mean, you don’t feel normal on the road, you kind of feel like a road warrior. You get looks, and it just feels good.

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Does your car have a name?

Bellina. It’s Italian. It means glorious, gorgeous, perfect.

How often do you take Bellina out?

I drive her all through the summer, I cycle between a couple of my other old-school cars that I have. I got like four. I got this one, a 92 New Yorker. I have a 69 Mark III Lincoln. And I have a Cadillac Seville. I try my best.

Do you know where the dice came from?

Oh, why they’re in windows? I don’t know. I do it because it looks cool to me. A lot of people, they have disco balls. I can’t see, so I don’t want to clutter it too much. 

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