Parked under a shade tree at Groves’ Lions Park, a 1965 Ford Ranchero was indeed an eye catcher.
It’s pristine light tan-colored paint job accented by sleek silver chrome and a pair of fuzzy white dice hanging from the rearview mirror evoked memories of days gone by for those who stopped by to chat with owner Vernon LeJeune.
“There’s not many of them out there,” the LeJeune, 69, of Sour Lake said, while theorizing the rarity was likely what drew people over to take a look at the baffling vehicle — one that was neither truck, nor car.
LeJeune’s classic Ford utility couple was among the 106 entries at Saturday’s first-ever Pecan Festival Classic Car Show.
One of the event’s organizers, Curtis Humphrey, 67, of Groves, was thrilled with the turnout.
“We had aspirations of 100 cars, but we’ve gone over that. It is a tremendous turn-out,” Humphrey said.
In addition to kicking off this week’s Pecan Festival in Groves, car show proceeds benefited the Groves Senior Citizens Center — a deserving organization, Humphrey said.
“They just barely have enough money to make it. They do a lot for our senior citizens, and we want to continue to help our senior citizens,” Humphrey said.
This year’s event was the first of what was hoped to be many more. If the crowd was any indication, it would be.
Glen Huckabay, 62, of Bridge City, was eyeing 1930s and 1940s trucks, while thinking about his car project at home.
Restorations to a 1931 Ford two-door sedan had come to a grinding halt five years ago when Hurricane Ike washed ashore, and flooded his home, including the garage, where the car was.
The mighty hurricane destroyed about $30,000 worth of tools, and nearly demolished his house, causing the car project to be placed on the back burner.
“It’s been a long-term project, Huckabay said.
While Huckabay just came to look and admire, Eugene Sims, 51, of Bridge City, brought his favorite 1969 SS Camero to the show for others to see.
Sims, a truck driver, said he’d driven all night and had only been off work for about three hours, but could not resist coming to the car show so everyone could get a look at his pride and joy.
“What’s so special about this car is that they don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” Sims said. “It’s a time capsule.”
Sims has a love for Cameros that goes back to his high school days when he owned his first, a 1967 model.
His latest, the all-steel 1969 SS, is his fifth, though the 1979 he owned previously was his favorite.
“They’re eye-catchers going down the road,” he said. “This one only comes out on the weekend.”
Rodney Cavness, 47, of Port Neches, displayed his 1983 CJ8 Jeep — a vehicle that he said was not seen often in car shows.
“You see a lot of trucks, but few jeeps,” he said. “The CJ8 is very rare, they only made about 20,000.”
Cavness, who is superintendent of Port Neches-Groves schools, said welding and auto tech students, as well as his father-in-law, Dean Fontenot, did a lot of work on the jeep.
“It’s a hot rod, but built to where I can drive it,” Cavness said.
Though proud of the vehicle, Cavness said he came to Groves Saturday to support the effort.
“I’m just out here having fun, trying to support the city of Groves, the festival, and do what I can to help the Senior Citizens Center,” Cavness said.