CRUISING ROUTE 66
Cruising in a glossy vintage car decked out in shiny chrome and colorful paint is the hobby of the Cruz’n South Route 66 Car Club, a member of the New Mexico Council of Car Clubs.
The club parades around Valencia County, sharing the county’s heritage with other car clubs from around the state.
A few years ago, a group of Norwegian car affectionados brought their treasured classics to the United States, explicitly to travel Route 66.
“They brought the cars all on a boat to New York,” says Bill Scoffield, president of the Cruz’n South Route 66 Car Club. “They shipped them on trucks to Chicago, where Route 66 starts, and they drove the whole Route 66 to Los Angeles.”
Cruz’n South Route 66 Car Club escorted them from Albuquerque down and around Los Lunas; then the Grants and Gallup car clubs came to meet them in Los Lunas to escort them to the western part of the state, Scoffield said.
They traveled that way with car clubs all the way out to Los Angeles.
“That was a big thing,” he said.
“All the way over here to cruise our (Route) 66,” adds Theresa Scoffield, Bill’s wife.
The Cruz’n South Route 66 Car Club is named after the portion of Route 66 that traveled up to Santa Fe from Santa Rosa, then down through Albuquerque and Isleta Pueblo to Los Lunas before heading west to Gallup.
The local club has been around for 11 years, and for the last few years, Scoffield and club members David Silva and George Winters have organized monthly car cruises.
“We’ve got a set schedule through the New Mexico Council of Car Clubs,” said Scoffield. “We’re always the second Saturday of the month.”
Cruise destinations vary from month to month, and each cruise has a theme.
The top four cruises are the food run in November, the toy drive in December, the sweetheart cruise in February and the Easter egg run in March or April.
The sweetheart cruise brings people in to local stores that women like, Theresa said.
The participating stores offer something for a raffle, and cruisers search for the tickets hidden in baskets at each of the shops.
“It gets people to go into these stores, and then the guys have to get something for their wives, because they’re going in all these stores.” Scoffield said with a chuckle.
In July, they have a special ice cream cruise.
“It’s the state recognition day for collector classic cars,” Scoffield said. “The state of New Mexico’s Annual Collector Car Appreciation Day … Albuquerque comes down, it’s a big old thing.”
In the winter months, cruises take place during the day, and in the summer months the cruises are held at night.
The next cruise starts at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, from the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot in Bosque Farms on N.M. 47.
“Everyone is welcome to join the cruise, even in a regular car,” Scoffield said. “I’m really grateful for everyone who participates.”
Scoffield has been the president of the club for the past three years, and is a master mechanic and automobile restoration expert.
He has re-built numerous cars for automobile enthusiasts all over the region.
Tinkering with car engines is something Scoffield has been doing since he was big enough to hold a wrench and help his father, Bob, who was in the military.
Because they were often overseas, the senior Scoffield repaired his own cars, and his son learned the skills while growing up.
“In regards to that, for everything my dad taught me, I built him that orange car out there to show my appreciation to him,” Scoffield said. “Me, my son and my wife built it and gave it to him on his 68th birthday.”
His father doesn’t drive anymore, but when he visits, Scoffield takes him around in the cherished car.
Scoffield and his family work together to restore the vintage automobiles, each one performing some facet of production. It’s a hobby they share and enjoy doing together.
Their yard is their playground, where the work of restoring old cars into new cars or transforming them into dazzling super cars is done in an extended garage building.
Theresa, who borrowed an industrial sewing machine until she could purchase her own, learned on her own how to upholster the interior of cars, and every one of the car’s interiors looks professionally done.
Scoffield and his son, Jason, 25, restore the cars, Theresa does the interiors and auto-body pin-stripe detailing, while daughter, Kristen, 31, accompanies the family when it comes time to show off the finished machines.
“Theresa’s our local New Mexican pin-striper,” Scoffield said. “She goes to all the big car shows and pin stripes. It’s a car thing — part of the car world — but you can pin stripe (he holds up a colorful panel with a delicate pin-stripe design) on anything.”
His favorite cars are muscle cars, the big horsepower, gas guzzling classics of the mid-1960s to early ’70s.
“My generation, when I was born, we drove around in muscle cars with our family — with our moms and dads,” he said. “So that’s where my muscle car fever came from.”
Pure power and grunt is what muscle cars are all about, he said.
Scoffield knows how to build cars from the ground up — from welding the body shell to wiring, building the transmission and engine, to custom body painting.
“When he restores a car for a client, he makes it a very personal experience for that client, and that’s why they bring in another restoration job,” said Theresa.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Jason replicated a 1965 Dodge Coronet 500, a muscle car with a classic Max Wedge factory race car theme.
He built the 383 V8 engine with “tunnel ram, a dual-quad system” and high-rise exhaust manifolds. It is the second car he built on his own shortly after he graduated from Los Lunas High School. Now he is building a pro-touring 1970 Mustang fastback with a 347 stroker motor.
Scoffield’s cruising car is a yellow, rainbow-striped 1979 Pontiac Trans Am that Theresa upholstered to match in design and color.
Before the next sweetheart cruise, a flashy magenta 1976 Pontiac Trans Am will be added to the family fleet. It is Theresa’s car, built according to her specifications and color choices.
For more information about Cruz’n South Route 66 Car Club, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Bill Scoffield at 565-2105.
-- Email the author at email@example.com.