Tag along for the Roxborough Ridge Runners’ cruise night and watch a grocery store parking lot transform into a spectacle of cars.
It’s a Thursday night on the Ridge. Dressed in matching black hats and dark blue embroidered jackets, Fury Colubriale Sr. and his son Fury Jr. pull up to the Ivy Ridge shopping center in their polished orange ’57 Chevy Wagon.
They gently lift the trunk door, pull out two cream-colored lawn chairs and claim their spot amid a boisterous group facing a row of shiny classic cars.
The Colubriales are two of roughly 40 members of the Roxborough Ridge Runners Car Club. Members come from all over Northwest Philadelphia to this parking lot for cruise night each Thursday to show off classic cars, trade stories and share a passion.
The father and son smile while quietly admiring the sight of a mint green ’73 Ford Maverick, black ’31 Ford Model A and cherry red ’72 Chevelle framed against a pink-streaked twilight.
“It’s something we can do together,” says Colubriale Jr. of the weekly ritual with his 86-year-old father. For these two, the cruise night tradition started 10 years ago but their love for cars goes further back.
Colubriale Sr. bought his ’57 Chevy Wagon in 1962 as a family car. “It’s been around the block a few times,” he chuckles.
The wagon survived dozens of memorable family trips to the Jersey shore, including one journey over the Walt Whitman Bridge in a rain storm with broken windshield wipers. Colubriale Sr. lights up as he tells the story of his late wife hanging out the passenger-side window to push the wiper blades back and forth through the storm.
Colubriale Jr. recalls squeezing into the wagon for drive-in-theater nights with his parents and three sisters. “I used to get in trouble for throwing my sisters’ dolls out the back window,” he says.
Now, the wagon is creating a new generation of memories. Colubriale Sr. passed the car down to his son to enjoy with his own wife and children. When asked what the car symbolizes, Colubriale Jr. responds with a simple and heartfelt, “Family”.
For other members of the Ridge Runners club, the classic cars bring back memories of youth, from drag racing along Henry Avenue to countless Monday nights fixing up the group’s old ’62 Chevy Biscayne for the next weekend’s race.
Joanne Hulme of Kensington is the sole woman in the group. She never had a car as a teenager. But her white ’69 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Convertible brings back a truckload of memories nonetheless:
“My life was the Vietnam War, Woodstock, graduated from college in 1969, my husband got drafted in 1969. So to me, the only car I went looking for was a 1969 car”.
After sitting in storage for five years, her dream car was fixed up by club members. The Oldsmobile is now proudly showcased every Thursday to the Roxborough community, with the exception of rainy or snowy days.
That speaks to a golden rule to which many Ridge Runners adhere. Colubriale Sr. says the secret to a beautiful, well-maintained car is to “keep it in the garage”.
President Joe Greco agrees, saying he refuses to take his ’73 Ford Maverick out in the rain.
“The cars are like our children”, says Greco who installed the motor and did most of the body work himself. “It’s an accomplishment.”
It’s a sense of accomplishment Gary Martin knows well. Martin has done some work on his ’87 Pro-Street Firebird and comes each Thursday to show it off to the “car guys.”
“You have guys with cars and you have car guys,” says Martin, “These are car guys.” The difference between the two, he says, borders on lunacy. “It will be cold here, we’ll still be here. The cars can never be too shiny, can never run too good.”
For the cruise night crew, being a car guy is a bond that has yet to run out of fuel.
Over the last eight years, the car club has raised nearly $50,000 for local charities and community groups through special events and fundraisers. The club’s most notable charity event is the annual ‘Rockin the Ridge’ car show which takes place each Mother’s Day weekend along Ridge Avenue.