Swell on Wheels: Classic Cars Cruise Festival

Three longtime Winnsboro friends show off the antique cars they each have owned for about 50 years. At left, Town Councilman Jackie Wilkes and his 1955 Ford; Buddy Castles and his 1940 Ford Deluxe and Sam Edenfield and his 1955 Chevrolet 150 Businessman’s Coupe. The cars will be on display during the Rock Around the Clock Car show Friday and Saturday. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

WINNSBORO – The 16th annual Classic Car Show at Rock Around the Clock in Winnsboro on Saturday will host 175 classic cars, many from Fairfield County and some from as far away as Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.

Show organizer and Winnsboro native Sam Edenfield, 71, has managed the show since its inception and said there is an exceptionally good turnout this year.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun for the spectators and the exhibitors,” he said. “We’re awarding 50 trophies, $500 in cash and a couple thousand dollars’ worth of prizes and giveaways. The popular Poker Walk is returning this year at noon, and we have our terrific singing DJ, Fitz McGill, back again this year.”

Edenfield is bringing two of his own classic cars, a 1929 Ford Roadster hot rod he built from scratch 10 years ago and a 1955 Chevrolet with which he shares over 50 years of history.

“My brother bought it in 1959 from Central Chevrolet of Columbia,” he recalled, “and then in 1961 he traded it to our neighbor, Bruce Baker, who was in my high school class. Bruce drove the car to Los Angeles, Cal., but it got stolen there and was missing for six months before they found it – all the way up in San Francisco! Bruce drove the car back home in 1962, my dad traded him a car for it, and after my dad’s death in 1966 the car became mine.”

His Chevrolet is a 150 Businessman’s Coupe, a rare car that sold new for about $1,500. It was outfitted for executives of the 1940s and ‘50s – for instance, instead of a backseat, it had a plywood platform to hold a briefcase and a suitcase. Over the years, Edenfield has completely updated it with a digital dash, power steering, cruise control, heat and air conditioning.

“Mine’s all modern,” he said. “I’ve repainted it, redone the interior, redone the complete running gear. I’ve got it to where I could drive it to California again if I wanted to!”

Edenfield takes his car to several shows a year, but also drives it regularly and plans to eventually pass it to his son, Bill, who runs Independent Body and Tire, the Winnsboro body shop that Edenfield started with his wife 26 years ago and is now retired from.

Edenfield has enjoyed working with classic cars his whole life, and in school became friends with classmates and fellow car enthusiasts Jackie Wilkes and Buddy Castle. The three Winnsboro friends are bringing cars to this year’s show that they have each owned and worked on for around 50 years – decades of trading notes and brainstorming with each other about restoration issues with their cars.

“Jackie got his 1955 Ford in 1956, and he’s just finished completely restoring the car to its original factory condition,” Edenfield said. “And Buddy has a 1940 Ford Deluxe that he bought in 1961 and has restored to original condition. He originally redid the car 30 or 35 years ago and has kept it in great shape. He brings it to the show every year.”

Edenfield said that when the guys first got their cars, working on them wasn’t just a fun hobby, but also a necessity.

“Back in the day,” Edenfield recalled, “if you had a car, you had to keep it running – you couldn’t just take it down to the dealership for repairs. You and your buddies had to figure out what was wrong with it and then repair it or go find an old part that would work. I saved up $35 to buy my first car by working at a filling station, cutting grass, washing cars – it was a different world back then,” he recalled fondly. “That’s why I enjoy doing the show so much – it’s great to see these classic cars kept in wonderful condition and enjoyed by people who remember how things were back then.”

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