WATERLOO — Fourth Street became Memory Lane on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of car enthusiasts took their prized possessions out for a spin at the 38th annual 105.7 KOKZ Fourth Street Cruise in downtown Waterloo.
“Firing on All 8” was this year’s theme, and KOKZ’s cruise playlist, with songs like the Beach Boy’s “409,” blared from speakers.
“It’s still the coolest music,” Clare Dixon said as he pointed at a 1957 Chevy rolling by.
When Dixon was a teenager in the late 1960s, he said, Fourth Street Waterloo was the place to be. Teens would gather and show off their vehicles while cruising around downtown.
“This is where all the action was,” said Rosie Lang, whose parents met each other cruising down Fourth Street.
Lang said when College Square and Crossroads malls were developed, the downtown cruisers petered out. Then in 1981, organizers decided to pay homage to the automotive ritual from Waterloo’s past with the annual Fourth Street Cruise.
For Dixon, each car has a story. A 1966 Pontiac GTO rolled by, and Dixon recalled having the same car when he was younger. Then came an Oldsmobile followed by a Chevy with a 400 engine.
“An Oldsmobile. You don’t see too many of them old ones anymore,” he said. “And a 400. That engine came out in 1967.”
And then a 1957 Chevy slowly rolled past.
“If you were a teenager back then, you wanted a ’57 Chevy. If you had one, you were king of the world,” he said.
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Dixon said it’s much harder to guess the year of a car or what engine it may have these days.
“Back then you could tell the difference between a ’55, ’56 and ’57 Chevy. Now you’re lucky if you can tell what country it was made in,” he said. “You could tear them down, put a new thermostat in them — you just did those things yourself. Now you have to go to a repair shop.”
Perhaps one of the oldest cars of the show was a black 1921 Model T.
“It’s just so exciting,” said Jackie Hennessy, who has come to the cruise every year for the past 35 years.
Hennessy and her husband, Orrie, of Dysart, brought their 1985 GMC Cavallaro for the cruise.
“But our favorite is our ‘61 Corvette,” she said, which stayed safe and clean in their garage at home. “It’s a red and white convertible, and when it threatens rain we don’t bring it out.”
Donald and Christine Ames brought granddaughters Emma Swarts, 14, and Hannah Swarts, 12, to ride in the cruise this year. They each got the chance to ride in the front seat of Ames’ 1978 anniversary-edition Corvette.
“It’s the best free car show you can go to. There are hundreds of cars, you can spend the evening walking around, reminiscing, and you can see cars from back in the ‘60s.”
His favorite car of the day was a blue 1969 Dodge Super B. “Wow, a beautiful car,” he said.