was 1972 when Clare, a single woman at the time with a child,
walked into a Richmond car dealership to buy a car that was priced
right and that she could commute in. Seeing a 1967 Pontiac LeMans,
she examined it, liked it, cut a deal, and drove away with it.
Little did she know that the LeMans was in her life to stay and
that it would, through sheer dint of time, become a classic.
from a banking career, Clare has had the car restored with a
great paint job, new carpeting, and a rebuilt motor. After racking
up a solid 217,000 miles, the 326 cubic inch motor needed some
attention, she admitted.
These days, it is her husband Roy who takes care of the car,
which has soaked up $8,000 worth of restoration costs. A neat
trick which you consider Clare paid only $3.500 for it originally.
When asked what the car is worth now, Clare said modestly, “It’s
only worth something to me.”
The LeMans, like any aging race horse, is semi-retired. No longer
a commuter car, she’s more a pampered darling, only occasionally being driven and
just in a small radius that extends only as far as places like Auburn and Downieville. “I
only drive it to car shows,” admits Clare . “I’m keeping it
for my grandson, and it’ll be another ten years before he gets it.”
While not show quality, the LeMans seems to like to hang out
with other cars at shows in Auburn, Penn Valley, the Grass Valley
Kmart, and at Larry & Lena’s
pizza parlor in Alta Sierra, where during the summer months one can buy a raffle
ticket. The winner gets to keep half the purse. The other half goes to help children.
What do kid’s have to do with this? Well, these raffles, Clare and her
car, and all the other participants have one thing in common - the Roamin Angels
Car Club. It’s a known fact that besides the cruises and car shows, the
club does amazing community service in the area including sending kids to camp,
providing scholarships, and making sure kids have toys at Christmas.
Clare, who joined the club in 1992 as only the second woman to
do so, well knows all about the service projects because she’s been on the club’s
board of directors for four years. She knows, for example, that
the scholarship fund is designed to help a young man or woman
with college studies, especially those of automotive nature (shop
for instance or mechanical engineering).
Clare also knows how successful the annual toy drive is. Just last year, for
instance, she says they were able to raise $6,000 to help give kids a happier
holiday. The money and the toys were delivered to the Salvation Army.
While the community service is important motivation for joining
the club (all it takes is owning an American car that was manufactured
in or before 1972 and $40 a year), having fun is certainly just
as big a reason. Driving en masse to restaurants is something
the Roamin Angels do very well. “Seems like whenever
there’s food, everyone comes,” said Clare, who tells of a day in
September when about 30 cars drove to Downieville for lunch, then back down to
the Willo for dinner. A noble cause to be sure.