June Somernites a treat for ’50s fans | News

This weekend’s Somernites Cruise featured a new twist on a popular theme.

The Tri-Five Chevy showcase which had served the Somernites team so well for so many years gave way to an overall focus on “Back to the ’50s” — welcoming all makes of cars from the entire decade.

While large in scope, the weekend was somewhat of a mixed bag with scorching temperatures followed by heavy rain conspiring against a large crowd for the Saturday’s showcase. The Somernites team reported a total of 543 vehicles rolling through downtown Somerset over the course of the afternoon.

Still, the Tri-Fives were well represented.

Dick McCord brought his black 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air two-door hardtop up from Maryville, Tennessee, which he estimated was about two and a half hours away from Somerset so “it’s not too bad of a drive.

“I’ve had this car for 44 years,” McCord said. “It’s gone through a couple of iterations. Right now, it’s kind of a restomod.”

In basic terms, a “restomod” vehicle combines both vintage and new technology to create a classic look with many of the comforts of the 21st century. McCord put in a custom interior and a 5-speed transmission, among other features.

“I had one in high school,’ McCord said of the ’57 Chevy’s appeal. “There’s a nostalgia and connection to high school memories. I just love the looks of the car and the tail fins.”

In addition to the Tri-Fives, McCord enjoys trucks and Corvettes. He comes to at least one Somernites Cruise just about every year, noting that he and his wife travel to several shows around the region (particularly Pigeon Forge and Bowling Green) with other couples from South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Indiana.

“It’s a nice little group,” he said.

Another member — Mike Griggs of Calvary, Kentucky — made his first trip of the year to Somernites driving a 1957 Chevy convertible that he restored after it was found upside down in a creek bed.

“It took me 14 years to build it back to where it is today,” Griggs said, adding that it was completed almost seven years ago. “That’s the only way I could afford it, to build it myself.…I’ve had a lot of fun with it.”

Originally black, the convertible is now a bright turquoise — a color picked by Griggs’ daughter.

Griggs decided he wanted a ’57 Chevy at an early age, recounting a memory of telling his brother as they huddled under layers of quilts one winter night that he wanted a ’57 Chevy and a ’57 Cameo (truck). “I finally got both of them,” he added.

More than 950 vehicles were estimated to have taken part in at least one of the events this weekend. Somernites Executive Director Keith Floyd was generally pleased, given that attendance has been down about a third since the 2022 season kicked off in April.

“Everyone from the far-away states…gas prices have gone up too much,” Floyd said. “Most of these cars get 10-15 miles per gallon. It’s something that we’ve got to endure, like we endured Covid. I long for the summer where we don’t have anything to fool with. Until then, we’re going back to the 50s.”

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