Sipping coffee and talking cars

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For his 18th birthday, Jon Zappacosta test drove a Pontiac Trans Am.

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Car enthusiasts check out a Lamborghini as they gather for the monthly meet up of Coffee and Cars in front of Carolina Pottery on Washington Road. All makes and models from classic muscle cars to souped up Subarus are on display.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Car enthusiasts check out a Lamborghini as they gather for the monthly meet up of Coffee and Cars in front of Carolina Pottery on Washington Road. All makes and models from classic muscle cars to souped up Subarus are on display.

It quickly became his dream car, and three years ago, when he was 26, he bought one: a black 2002 Pontiac WS6 Trans Am with T-top.

Like any car guy with a new toy, he added a few modifications: a little more horsepower, a little suspension work.

“It’s really just my weekend toy,” he said.

Saturday, he parked it in front of Carolina Pottery so car guys like him could admire his baby.

On the first Saturday of every month, between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., car enthusiasts gather at the shopping center to eat breakfast together at the Sunrise Grill and admire each other’s vehicles.

“We can hang out and talk cars,” said the Richmond County resident.

Saturday’s meet was the third so far, and it is already regularly drawing more than 100 cars, said the event’s organizer and Zappacosta’s good friend, Vince Mathis.

“The car scene in Augusta has kind of dwindled over the years,” Mathis said. “People wanted a show that stayed here.”

Similar meets are successful in other places, such as Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Mathis said, but with his work schedule, he could never attend them.

Other car enthusiasts had expressed interest in having a meet closer to home.

There are no trophies and no qualifications to attend. Anyone who has a vehicle and wants to show it off is welcome to just show up.

“You just come, hang out, meet people and see beautiful cars,” Mathis said.

He’s hoping it will draw even more cars. Mathis set up a Facebook page – Coffee and Cars – to hopefully draw even more attention to the event.

Even though he hopes it grows, Mathis said the event has already exceeded his expectations. People are bringing out really good cars that they normally reserve for “nice” meets, which he believes demonstrates their faith in the event.

For instance, on display Saturday was a Lamborghini, at least one Corvette, Zappocasta’s Trans Am, as well as American muscle cars and plenty of others.

Ralph Neitzke learned about the event during the previous morning, while sitting around a breakfast table with a couple of friends.

He left his ‘29 Model A Roadster pickup at home, but wanted to see what others had brought.

The Martinez resident has always worked around cars, from dealerships to teaching auto shop. He restores antique cars as a hobby.

He said he enjoys the shows and the camaraderie with other car owners.

When he finishes restoring his 1964 Impala Supersport, he said he’ll bring it and show it off.

What he did bring was a brass carberator from the 1920s.

“I brought this this morning and I covered it up with a rag, and I asked a couple of friends, ‘Here, feel this and tell me what it is,’” he said. “They had no idea.

“It’s a conversation piece and you don’t see it (very often),” he said.


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