Spring weather rolled through the Ohio Valley just in time for the annual Spring Classic Driving Tour, providing the best Saturday of the month for classic, collector and sports car enthusiasts to get behind the wheel for a day of fun. This event is an embodiment of “the Journey is the Destination.” Participants meander across southwest Ohio on roads picked more for their character, scenery and lack of traffic than the direction of travel.
This early season cruise came complete with moderate temperatures and cloudless skies, leading to a lot of top down motoring and the associated development of “Cabriolet tans.” In total, 86 cars (mostly sports cars) drove from the east side of Cincinnati for the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains — about 60 miles to the east in Adams County, Ohio.
The area is geographically intense. The proximity of the Appalachian Mountains and ancient glaciation make for a landscape that reminds drivers why they bought a sports car. The elevation can change dramatically as the roads flash to and fro, following creeks through the gorges as they drop toward the Ohio River Valley.
The variety of cars entered this year made for quite a scene at the start of the event. About a dozen people showed up early just to enjoy the ad hoc car show before the start of the cruise!
Porsche was the most prolific brand on the tour, with 356, 912, 911, 944, Cayenne, Cayman and Boxster models on the road. VW was represented by a Karmann Ghia, a Thing, a Baja Bug modified Beetle and a fun loving group of car lovers having a good time. Several BMWs drove, including a Z8, Z4, M5 and 2002.
MG owners turned out in TC, TD, TF, Y-type, Midget and MGB models to experience roads similar to those found in the UK. Almost as many Austin Healey enthusiasts made the grid in 100-6, 3000 and Sprite models, along with one Jensen Healey. Triumph drivers brought a variety of interesting machines — including TR3, TR250 and TR6 — to the party.
Ferrari’s 512TR, 575, 360 and 308 Dino, along with a Lamborghini Spyder, brought wonderful sounds and ultra-exotic coachwork. Other Italians included an Alfa Romeo Milano Verde and a classic GTV with a twin plug two-litre under the hood, a Fiat 500 and a Maserati Spyder. A Gran Turismo supplied more eye and ear candy.
Corvettes came in the guise of C-3, C-4 and C-6, along with corporate performance mate Buick’s Grand National, bringing traditional American power (and plenty of it!).
Additional machinery from Audi, Datsun, Dodge, Jaguar, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Morgan, Nissan GTR, Saab, Volvo spent the day winding along the ridges and through the valleys. And a couple of grocery getter types tagged along with our rolling car show.
The number of entries prompted the organizers to plot two routes — one for late model cars and the other for vintage cars. The distinct routes allowed each group member to enjoy his or her car’s performance as originally intended.
The late model route went farther, faster, and included several legs on wide-open state highways, allowing the drivers to experience the strength of their machinery. The vintage cars concentrated on roads suited to smaller, lighter, ultra-nimble models. Three stops were planned for each route to allow the drivers and navigators to get out for a stretch and walk about — a necessity when traveling in cars made primarily for performance rather than comfort.
Finding facilities that can park 40-45 cars in a picturesque, rural county can be challenging. The organizers relied heavily on Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau director Tom Cross for suggestions.
Each group visited an Amish market with a furniture outlet, bulk food store, sandwich shop, and bakeries filled with pies, cakes, breads, pretzels and other goodies. The Amish ladies will weave custom baskets too; several car owners were spotted measuring back seats and luggage racks to fit a basket that could be filled with pies for a safe journey home.
Antiquing is prevalent in the area and is a fitting breather from some of the character-filled roads; several stores in the area feature dealership, service station and other auto-related collectibles. The Rooster’s Nest Antiques and Barn Sale Antiques welcomed the sports cars and took them for a journey into the past. About this time, the folks with the grocery getter-type cars were getting very popular, those little sports cars were never known for cargo space!
The late model group wound its way along Ohio Brush Creek to the Tranquility State Wildlife Area, a scenic wooded area that is also home to the John T. Wilson Homestead, a nationally-recognized historic site. The John T. Wilson Homestead dates back to the 1820s, when it was a general store. Later, it was a station on the Underground Railroad. It has been authentically restored by Ralph and Patty Alexander and now operates as a bed & breakfast.
The vintage car group followed the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail around the county and visited the JZN Goat Farm, to the delight of kids (as in, baby goats) and people alike. Cheese and goat milk was sampled and many folks fed the young goats. This proved to be a popular destination. We listened to interesting commentary by Gayla Fritzhand on the making of goat cheese and milk. The goats were pretty entertaining, too.
Overall, the destinations offered a bit of diversion from the serious “car guy” stuff and provided entertainment for some of our not-as-enthusiastic enthusiasts.
The final leg of the driving tour celebrated hills, curves, twists and dales as the two itineraries merged for the final destination: the Moyer Vineyard Winery & Restaurant in Manchester, Ohio. Offering fine dining and refreshing beverages after 120 miles of four-wheeled fun, the restaurant was packed with colorful, exotic machines. Departing west for home took many on a sunset cruise along the mighty Ohio River.