Five Cool Rides From Tampa Area Mega-Cruise

Weekend coffee cruises continue to proliferate across the country and while some focus on certain categories – vintage, exotics, imports, etc. – the open-to-all events often draw the biggest crowds. The monthly Jax Wax cruise in Clearwater, Florida is barely 18 months old, but it attracts one of the largest car counts in the Tampa Bay area.

Held on the second Sunday of each month, the event routinely attracts 400-plus cars and hundreds of spectators to the Village of Countrywide shopping center on U.S. Highway 19.

Regardless of the time of year, you’ll find every automotive genre represented: antiques, hot rods, muscle cars new and old, imports, and exotics. Ferraris and McLarens are common; a Bugatti Veyron showed up a couple of months ago.

Rather than focus on the total experience, though, we discovered five rides that prowl the local roads on a regular basis.

At first glance, Clearwater resident Jennifer Kuehn’s 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS appears to be mostly stock, even the original four-speed shifter and clutch pedal are where they’re supposed to be. But, open the hood and you’ll find that the original 327-powered four-speed car is packed with late-model muscle. The LS1 5.3-litre V8 pumps out 400-plus horsepower that’s fed through a late-model GM automatic transmission to a rearend that features coilover shocks. Four-wheel disc brakes and tubular A-arms up front, too. American Racing Legend wheels complete the modern look. The custom interior mimics the original stock look. The original floor stick shift has been modified to control the automatic. The clutch pedal is just for looks.

Christopher Dittmann’s bare-bones 1991 Mustang is just the way he wants it. Originally modified for autocross racing in the 90s, Christopher acquired the car about 12 years ago, then sold it. He bought it back about four years ago. The 351-cubic-inch Windsor V8 features Edelbrock aluminum heads and a ProCharger system that can produce 12 pounds of boost. The car rides on Taylor Racing three-piece wheels sourced back in the 90s. The St. Petersburg resident likes the stripped-down interior because he says it gives him a better feel of the car while cruising the local streets.

Kyle Mischler’s 1969 Chevy C10 pickup is a daily-driven father-son project. The massaged body features deleted trim, emblems, and door handles. A strong 383-cubic-inch stroker V8 powers the truck around Kyle’s Palm Harbor home turf. Other body mods include a smoothed tailgate and custom taillights and a custom roll pan. The interior features an aftermarket steering wheel, gauges, and pedals.

This 1969 Firebird Trans Am clone is one of the better examples on the street. St. Petersburg’s Alan Braunstein’s tribute ragtop began life as a 350-cubic-inch convertible in Limelight Green metallic paint. The car is now powered by a 428-cubic-inch V8 sourced from a 1969 Bonneville. The TH400 automatic connects the power to 3.55 rear gears. Functional hood scoops feeding the cold-air induction system are part of the factory Trans Am hood. Future plans call for the hood-mounted tach to be retired when Alan sources the TA-correct dash that features a full-sized tach next to the speedometer and vertical stack gauges.

Keith Skulley’s red 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 W-30 is far from your father’s Oldsmobile, sporting a 455-cubic-inch Olds V8 that produces 500 horsepower and 500-foot-pounds of torque. The Palm Harbor resident’s Olds still has the factory-installed Hurst Dual-Gate shifter as well as the unique red plastic inner fender wells. It rides on 18- and 20-inch aftermarket wheels.

About the author

Dave Doucette

Dave Doucette is a veteran journalist with an all-things-automotive affliction. He’s owned ’55 and ’56 Chevys, a RA III Firebird convertible and a ’67 Chevy II wagon over the years. His current daily driver is a 1970 El Camino.
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