Sunset Cruise

Start your engine, and fasten your seatbelt! Read how vintage cars rule Kapolei every Saturday night.

What is it about a classic car that turns heads and makes people stop in their tracks? As our 21st century era of car development highlights efficiency, digitalization, automation and modern elegance, it’s vintage automobiles—those older than nearly half the population—that have this finite ability to spark awe and admiration in people from all generations. You may not think it, but even our small island community has more than its fair share of these garage queens.

Every weekend for the past decade, there is a SATURDAY CRUISE NIGHT in the Wendy’s/Kmart parking lot off Kamokila Boulevard featuring vintage cars of varied makes, models, years and eras.

Started by the Kapolei Lunch Bunch (many of these same car owners get together on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons), the weekly event has grown from just a few classic car owners hanging out and talking story, to a full cruise night involving dozens of vintage cars. It’s gotten so popular many other automobile clubs, including Hawaii Corvette Association and Mopars Hawaii, have hopped in the mix—after getting permission from the vintage guys, of course—to showcase their hot rod and high-powered performance trophies.

With a friendly relationship between the owners of Wendy’s and Kmart, Saturday’s weekly cruise night encourages the public to come down with their families and walk amongst four-wheeled beauties from the past.

“I enjoy this, you know?” says Walter Miranda, who has been restoring vintage cars for over 30 years. “You walk around, talk story, ask questions about cars, just admire the different models.”

From ’56 Chevy Bel Airs and 1960 Buick LeSabres, to ’52 Chevy Deluxes and even 1930s Ford Coupes and Roadsters, there is an aura that surrounds each of these automotive masterpieces. For the majority of the car owners, car restoration and modification has become an all-consuming, expensive hobby, but a hobby nonetheless.

One of the head honchos of the Saturday Cruise Night is Jerry Galdeira, who, now 75, has been working on classic and vintage cars since he was 10 years old.

“I’ve always been a classic guy. Some guys race pigeons. Some guys are into collecting guns or going to the gym. We just happen to like cars,” Galdeira says with a grin, leaning back on his ’54 Buick with his newsboy cap perched on his head.

Often with restoration of classic cars comes an ego and the urge to impress. To keep things in line at cruise night, there is a known hierarchy of rules, passed down from the elder statesmen to the next generation of car owners.

“Some of the young guys come in and don’t realize we have laws out here. We’ve got rules here, and you’ve got to follow them,” says Galdeira—who adds that rules are in place so everyone can enjoy the cars, and the working relationship with the owners of the parking lots can be maintained.

“No racing or speeding; no ‘boom boom’ boxes; no revving of engines. You can pop your hood and show off your engine, but there’s no need to rev your engine around here.”

Outside of cruise night, many of the owners and associations share their cars in the form of community service. Daiwun Lee, president of the Hawaii Corvette Association, says the Corvette guys like to get involved in at least one community project a month. They’ll volunteer their time and Corvettes in many parades, especially during the Christmas season. Lee has a love for all vintage cars, but his affinity and allegiance lies strongly with Corvettes.

“I’ve been a Corvette owner for about 15 years. I’ve always wanted a Corvette [but] couldn’t afford it while putting kids through college. Now it’s my time,” Lee says. “Corvettes are the only true American sports car; [it] has been that way since 1953.”

It’s easy to see how vintage cars have a way of “bridging the gap,” as Galdeira says; the automobiles are just as admired whether visiting seniors at retirement homes or escorting high school kids to homecoming events. Galdiera says many of the guys have seen a growing interest from couples who would like to feature vintage cars in their wedding: driving the bride and groom and their wedding parties from ceremonies to receptions.

Whether young or old, vintage, classic cars have a way of transcending time, evoking curiosity, nostalgia and remembrance. They exemplify solid craftsmanship and hard work, where quality was never jeopardized.

“I think what intrigues people about these cars is that they are antiques,” Miranda says. “They bring people back to a certain place in time, and they have good memories about those days.”

Classic Car Cruise Night
Saturday Nights
500 Kamokila Blvd.