23 May 2016

Coffee and donuts may be free, but Hagerty employees feast on cars

Sitting next to a sparkling blue-and-white 1996 Dodge Viper GTS, Kyle Smith’s well-patina’d 1961 Chevrolet Greenbrier might have looked a little out of place in most parking lots.

In this one, however – Hagerty’s – it more than held its own. “I think it’s beautiful,” said Smith, a Hagerty Licensed Sales Agent. And he isn’t alone.

Hagerty hosted its first employee Cars and Caffeine event on Friday morning, May 23, and roughly 20 employees participated by driving their collector cars to the office in Traverse City, Mich. After work that evening, an expanded group of owners went for a cruise along Grand Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. Cars and Caffeine will be held every Friday morning throughout the summer months as weather permits.

“We love cars of all kinds, and this an authentic way to foster that love,” said Chris Winslow, a member of Hagerty’s Automotive Enthusiasts Committee. “Anybody can come, whether they own a car or not. It’s just a great way to start a Friday.”

Cars on display spanned nearly eight decades. Tom Weston’s custom 1947 Ford cabover truck was a show stopper – more so because he arrived fashionably late, and all heads turned when he rounded the corner. Many of Weston’s co-workers were aware of the truck build but hadn’t seen it since Weston began working on it just over three years ago.

“Just a little something I put together,” joked Weston, Hagerty’s Fleet Restoration Specialist.

The truck spent most of its life working a northern Michigan farm, hauling logs and hay. It won’t be doing any of that ever again. Among the changes: its small flathead V-8 was replaced by a Cadillac V-8 that leaves little leg room in the cab. In fact, at this point the engine isn’t covered, so even on a crisp 40-degree morning, Weston enjoyed a toasty warm drive.

One of the truck’s most popular features is a remote-control grille plate that flips up to reveal its 513-ci engine. Weston plans to drag race the green-and-silver beauty.

Steve Haas, Hagerty Senior Manager Product Research / Financial Services, drove his 1994 Mercedes E320 cabriolet. He purchased it eight years ago after seeing it on eBay. His quick assessment of the ride: “Mercedes made only 3,000 in 1994 and ’95. It drives great, but parts for the (convertible) top are impossible to find.”

Classics included a 1962 Rambler Classic Deluxe, 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396, 1969 AMC Javelin SST, 1971 Chevy Chevelle, 1976 Cadillac deVille, 1978 Chevrolet Corvette, 1984 BMW 325e and 1986 Chrysler Fifth Avenue.

Among the modern classics were a 1994 Acura NSX, 1996 Nissan 300ZX, 2001 Audi TT Roadster, 2004 Mazda Miata MX-5 Mazdaspeed Edition, 2007 Cadillac XLR and a 2011 Mitsubishi Evo.

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