Cool Cruisers

For a full schedule of events, including a map of the Community-wide Garage Sale, click here.

Sept. 6, 2018 — Florence is revving up for the 11th annual Invitational Rods ’n Rhodies Car Show and Community-wide Garage Sale this weekend, Sept. 7 to 9.

The event, organized by the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, showcases more than 100 of the best high-end hot rods and custom cruisers from the West Coast, dozens of private and commercial garage sales all over town and other family-friendly events.

“Florence is a hub for local car enthusiasts. We have several of our own clubs, including the Rhody Cruisers, BeachKomber Car Club, Central Oregon Coast British Car Club and the Military Vehicle Group,” said Chamber Assistant Director Terry Abeyta. “This community has a population that loves beautiful, hot, classic cars.”

Rods ‘n Rhodies comes at the tail-end of the cruiser season in Florence, according to Gary McDaniels, who runs Oregon Coast Hot Rods and the “Cruiser Newser” newsletter about regional events, meetups and cruises. Florence’s other “show and shine” events are the Rhododendron Festival, Wings & Wheels Fly-In and Car Show, Rods ’n Rhodies and Rhody Cruisers Classic Car Stand-Around in June.

“There is a great car culture in Florence,” McDaniels said. “The Rhody Cruisers is a main club, with 160 members receiving the newsletter and 60 actively participating. We get at least 20 people and their cars at our regular events.”

These include visits to area restaurants, such as Gingerbread Village in Mapleton and A&W in Florence, as well as to businesses, such as Les Schwab’s upcoming Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Many local cars, as well as invited cars from outside the region, will be on display Friday for the all-comers “Kool Car Stand-Around” show-and-shine at the Port of Siuslaw parking lot at the east end of Bay Street. Owners of any classic car are welcome to exhibit along with the invited vehicles. Check-in for this free event begins at noon and the event ends at 7 p.m.

The Florence-Siuslaw Lions Club will be offering food for sale and there will be music by DJ Russ Strohmeyer.

“I hope everyone comes out, as it’s always a great party,” McDaniels said. “It’s a stand-around, so there aren’t any awards. It’s a chance for people to check out the classic cars, talk and have a good time.”

The Invitational Car Show moves to Historic Old Town for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. where the invited high-end rides will be on display again. A poker walk, raffles, a Pinewood Derby open to the public to enter ($5 fee) and live DJ music will add to the excitement.

Classic car admirers are encouraged to vote for Best of Show and People’s Choice Awards through 4 p.m.

Then, from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m., the official car cruise will wind its way through Old Town to the sounds of ’50s and ’60s music.

On Sunday, the Invitational Car Show, music, poker walk and raffles all continue on Bay Street in Old Town from 9 a.m. to noon.

The awards presentations begin at noon, along with announcements of prizes and raffle winners.

McDaniels plans to show his 1974 Chevrolet Vega that he has owned for 30 years.

“Other cars have come and gone,” he said, “but that one sticks around.”

Like other car collectors, McDaniels has worked on several projects over the years. He even started his son on cars young, when he was only 10.

“He started by handing me the right size wrench, but now he has his own shop in Modesto, Calif., for his projects,” McDaniels said. “You gotta raise ‘em young or hot rods will be done in the next 10 years.”

However, McDaniels said he thinks the car culture will continue in Florence. While most people in the local car clubs are in their 50s to 70s, some younger members are in the 30s and 40s.

“We have an interesting mix of ideas. We don’t have any souped up Hondas or tuners, but we do have rat rods, classic convertibles and cars like that. It’s a big diversity,” he said.

McDaniels has served on the Rods ’n Rhodies Committee for the past four years, bringing his experience as a “car guy” to the chamber committee. The committee chair is Gary Cargill and other members include Ross Kronert and Mike Groshong.

In addition, other volunteers help with registration, gates and more. People interested in volunteering can call the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center at 541-997-3128.

“It’s a high-octane weekend at a spectacular time of year here in Florence,” said Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan.

For those interested in classics beyond the cars, the Community-wide Garage Sale begins Friday and continues throughout
the weekend. Bargain hunters can seek their own treasures by follow-
ing the map provided in this special section and at the Visitor’s Center. Each official sale provided a listing of the items at their sales, which should help people narrow down their destinations and plot their paths.

By joining the annual sale, many people are clearing out their garages for the coming winter.

For McDaniels, that means retiring his Chevy Vega for the off season.

“Our cars go into the shop to fix all the things we broke over the year,” he said.

Those interested in learning more about classic cars, starting a collection, making a sale or building or flipping cars, rods or cycles can check out McDaniels’ website,, join his newsletter for up-to-date information on area car events or like the Oregon Coast Hot Rod page on Facebook.

For more information about Rods ’n Rhodies and the Community-wide Garage Sale, visit or call 541-997-3128.