OCOEE — Early Saturday morning, local car enthusiasts congregate with coffee in hand to show off their shiny vehicles.
Local State Farm agent Gary Merideth has been hosting Cars and Coffee outside of House Blend Cafe on West Colonial Drive in Ocoee for more than five years.
The idea came about after Merideth noticed some of his clients had some pretty great classic cars — and that many of them would just sit and collect dust.
“Partly, it was to encourage clients of mine to get their cars out and drive them around every once in a while,” Merideth said.
On the third Saturday of every month, Merideth invites people to bring their cars out and enjoy coffee with like-minded people at House Blend, which is in the same shopping center as his office.
“The coolest thing for me is the camaraderie that has developed,” he said. “I’ve seen people, guys and gals, that have formed what appear to be really great friendships.”
Jim Rothrock, a frequent attendant of Cars and Coffee, said this event draws more diversity than other auto shows he attends.
“You go to a lot of car shows and it’s all about the same thing, it’s a lot of late-1950s and late-1960s cars,” Rothrock said. “But (at Cars and Coffee) you see a lot of different cars.”
Rothrock drives a 1970 Mercedes SEL 6.3, which he said usually draws a lot of attention at shows because there are only half a dozen such cars in Florida. Rothrock agreed and said the social aspect of the monthly get-together can be a driving force.
“(The event) seems to have developed a life of its own,” Rothrock said. “People go there looking for that special kind of camaraderie.”
JR Ball, another regular of the event, said he looks forward to it each month. Driving a 2004 M3 BMW, he describes it as the “hot rod” of the three series.
“Its a very pretty car and — more importantly — it’s very fast,” Ball said.
When he first bought his car he said he did not know much about it. But, when he began attending Cars and Coffee he was able to learn from his fellow car enthusiasts.
“Every time you go to one of these things, you learn something new or you see different cars,” Ball said.
Ball said he enjoys the get-together because everyone shares similar interests.
“It’s just a time to kick back, relax, spend some time with people you enjoy being around and listen to people talk about their cars,” he said.
Leaving their egos behind, the event is full of people who want to share a Saturday with people who have similar interests.
“There’s a very sweet spirit about the entire gathering,” Rothrock said. “Everyone is very outgoing and down-to-earth.”