Varoom! Varoom! Kiwanis show brings thousands to see classic cars

Lance Shearer

You could not only see awesome cars Sunday at the Marco Island Car Show, you could acquire many of the autos.

In its 14th year, the show put on by the Kiwanis at the NCH Marco Healthcare Center had something for everyone, from antique Rolls Royce to modern Corvette, from Myrt Rose’s cute open-air Fiat buggy to a 1963 Indy racer shown by Bill Young. But for just $3,400, you could drive away in a 1995 Jaguar XJ6, with the leaping cat hood ornament, that Gigi Lyng has owned for 22 years.

Show organizer John DeRosa directs a car to its place on the grounds. The Marco Island Car Show, hosted by the Kiwanis, returned to the Marco Healthcare Center on Sunday, with thousands of spectators viewing hundreds of antique, classic, and high-performance cars.

For a few dollars more – asking price $100,000 – you could become the owner of a unique, 24-cylinder Panther, with three V-8 engines inline, created by Bob Potter.

“I designed it, and put it together from 1980 to 1985, but it’s time to move it on,” he said, as he drew a crowd by lifting the long hood with remote power, and revving up the monster with a throaty roar. There were plenty of people to draw a crowd from, as over 3,300 paid to walk among the gorgeous cars, and let them bring back their own youthful memories.

“In the last five years, we’ve never had less than 3,000 to 3,300 people,” said John DeRosa, who created the event 14 years ago and continues as the organizer. He had help from 40 adult volunteers, many of them Kiwanians, and 30 Marco Island Academy students, including Key Club members Ellie Ball and Lauren Faremouth, both sophomores.

Chris Tighe turned heads with his larkspur blue ’57 Chevy Bel Air station wagon, gleaming in the bright sunlight. Like many – most – basically all of the car owners, he was happy, even eager to talk about his baby, and had a scrapbook showing how he had done a complete “stripped” restoration.


“That’s the frame,” said Tighe, pointing to one picture, “all steel. This car weighs 4,400 lbs., with not power steering and no power brakes.”

Awards were given out in 13 categories, with the People’s Choice Award for the overall top car going to the 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible shown by John and Diane Kernan.

The show featured entertainment including the Celtic Spirit School of Irish Dance, the YMCA Karate Club, and musicians from Marco Island Academy, which will be the recipient of funds raised – “over $20,000, but we don’t give out numbers,” said DeRosa. In between, DJ Steve Reynolds pumped out “car tunes” heavy on the Beach Boys, plus “Mustang Sally” and the original version of “Hot Rod Lincoln. The Kiwanis grill served burgers, dogs, sausage and peppers, and chili. With the healthcare center parking lot liberally sprinkled with trees, there was room for car owners to gather in the shade in their folding chairs and talk shop, in between explaining the finer points of their particular vehicle to passersby.

Tony Costantino, president of the Marco Island Corvette and Muscle Cars, pointed out that his group has a meetup at 8 p.m. every Friday, in the Town Center parking lot by the former location of Susie’s Diner. On March 31, the Marco Island Center for the Arts will host “Cars as Art” at their gallery.