Along for the ride – “Driving Miss Daffy” A Huge Newport Success


NEWPORT, R.I. — Classic car enthusiasts took full advantage of the spring-like weather Sunday, cruising through Newport, many with the tops down.

The sun glistened off their hoods and their engines roared as the procession of vehicles made its way from Easton’s Beach, around the Ocean Drive to the Audrain Automobile Museum and the Bellevue Plaza Shopping Center parking lot on Bellevue Avenue.

The Driving Miss Daffodil Classic Car Parade and Bellevue Avenue Classic Car Display were two of the final events in the fifth annual Newport Daffodil Days Festival — a weeklong celebration to support Daffodillion, a nonprofit organization that is aiming to beautify the city with a million daffodils.

A participant, above, drives past Brenton Point State Park Sunday in Newport. Below, A 1964 VW21 window Samba leads the car parade along Ocean Drive. The classic bus will be part of the Sweet Rides Summer Show at the Audrain Automobile Museum starting June 30.

Dave Hansen | Staff photographer
The cars on display represented some of the top luxury brands in automobiles, including Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, along with American muscle cars, a Volkswagen bus and contemporary sports cars.

Sure, they were fun to look at — and fantasize about driving — but some of the owners said it took years for them to restore their rides to pristine condition.

Middletown resident David Rushlow, who owns a 1939 Ford Woody wagon with his wife, Beth, said it took him 14 years to fix it up. “You’d have the time but not have the money, and then you’d have the money but not the time,” he said.

Rushlow replaced all the wood with birch and maple and painted the rest of the wagon turquoise.

Bev Barrows of Mansfield, Massachusetts, showed off her silver 1966 Corvette Stingray, a gift from her husband. Intended for her 50th birthday, the gift was delayed by several years.

Suzanna Laramee’s 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL was the result of a custom restoration her husband, John, commissioned for her birthday.

“I’ve always been a Mercedes girl,” she said of why she wanted that particular car.

The Rhode Island license plate affixed to it reads “SL-380” and belonged to the car’s previous owner. Not only does it name the type of the car, it’s a stand-in for Suzanna Laramee’s initials.

The event proves “it doesn’t have to be summer for things to be happening” in the City-by-the-Sea, she said.

David Sklarz has a license plate combination that would be the envy of many Newporters, although it is on a custom German-made license plate, not an official Rhode Island one.

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Jennifer Schneider of Hopkinton and Heidi Gregory of South Kingstown tailgate with “Belle” Gregory’s 1966 Ford Bronco, before the start of the Daffodil Car Rally Sunday at Easton’s Beach in Newport

Dave Hansen | Staff photographer
“NPT-02840” adorns the front of his 1982 Mercedes-Benz 380SL. He takes the royal blue car “wherever we go,” he said. “It’s nice taking the top down.”

Shelly McCann of Fall River, Massachusetts, showed her prized apple red 1976 MG Midget. It was a high school graduation gift from her father, and McCann gave him the car back when she had her daughter.

A low-to-the-ground convertible without seat belts was not the most practical choice to tote her infant around in.

She recently got the car back after giving it up many years ago. “I can’t believe I have it back,” McCann said. “I used to drive this thing every day.”

Now she is reserving the Midget for weekend getaways to Cape Cod or Newport. Some cosmetic fixes are also in the works, she explained.

Dozens of people gathered on the sidewalks along Bellevue Avenue to watch the procession of vehicles and got a closer look at them and their owners in the parking lot.

Rushlow said seeing his wagon can make someone’s day. Children are especially surprised when they see the crank needed to roll the windows up and down.

Taking the wagon out for a spin is just part of owning a classic car, he explained.

“If you don’t drive them,” he said, “it’s not worth having them.”

“They tell a story,” Sklarz said.