Pin-MAR’s biggest project was relocating the H.C. Smith Mercantile into Heritage Village Park in Largo. The club holds most of its monthly meetings in the park.
LARGO – In February 1964, six antique car buffs from central Pinellas County gathered for the first time to celebrate their passion for Model A cars. On weekends, they’d work together on their vintage Fords, and they’d also meet monthly at a local funeral home to discuss club business and car preservation.
That was the start of Pin-MAR Antique Car Club – an acronym for its original name, Pinellas Model A Restorers. Today, the club, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary April 19 with a picnic at Walsingham Park, welcomes all types of vintage cars and has over 135 members hailing from throughout the entire Tampa Bay area.
They meet monthly still, but these days at Heritage Village in Largo. And Pinellas Park residents will recognize them as a staple in the city’s annual Holiday Parade. In fact, the club is a Pinellas Park tradition, said club President Ron Roberson, as it’s the only organization to participate in every single parade since it began in 1972.
“People really love to see those old cars,” he said.
Many car clubs focus solely on preserving and admiring their automobiles. But that’s not all Pin-MAR is about, said Bob Croslin, a past president of the group and member since 1971.
Rather than sitting around at a show, the group’s members actually drive their old cars on local and long-distance tours throughout the county and Central Florida. That’s because in some ways, the club is more about the people than the cars, Croslin said.
“You really meet amazing people,” he said.
Roberson said it’s the first car club that his wife actually joined with him.
“Many of the members are couples,” he said. “Because it’s really a lot of fun. The couples thing really was an attraction for us because it made it more fun for [my wife.]”
In June, they’ll take a local, and on the fourth of July, they’ll have a tour that ends at a breakfast spot. Locations for these events haven’t been set yet, but for more information on these upcoming tours and other club happenings, visit www.pinmar.org. Newcomers are welcome on these tours.
“If you’re interested, you can just come out and hop in line,” Roberson said.
For many, this is the only chance they get to drive their antique cars.
“We’re so used to our creature comforts, like AC and power steering,” Croslin said. “So they’re fun to drive on a tour, but I sure wouldn’t want to drive it every day.”
The club is also a big supporter of Heritage Village. In 1988, the club sponsored the relocation of the H.C. Smith Mercantile building into Heritage Village. Not only did they furnish the store, they also attached a 1920s-style garage, built from a Ford instruction manual from that era, that houses two Model T Fords today.
Pin-MAR members operate the store, which sells sodas, and maintain the park’s five operational antique vehicles.
Meetings are generally held the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Heritage Village. Newcomers are always welcome.
“We’d really like to attract some younger members,” Croslin said.