Corvettes among the many classic cars at Knights of Columbus car show in Lakewood Ranch.
For 11 glorious months, Joe Marino had the ultimate ride.
He was a young, successful computer salesman and he was driving a new, red, 1981 Corvette with camel leather seats.
Marino was on top of the world, until he drove his Corvette to work one day and left it in a gated, guarded parking lot in Cleveland, Ohio. When he came out for lunch, his dream car was gone.
"I was doing well at the time and I bought the car as a Christmas present to myself," said Marino, who now lives in Arbor Grande in Lakewood Ranch.
The police told him if they didn't find the car in the next two days, it already would be chopped up or would be on its way to someone who had bought it (from the thief). They didn't find it.
Marino was married and raising a family, so he decided to just drive his other car, a Buick LeSabre. He was too busy to worry about sports cars for the next four decades.
Eventually, retired and living in Lakewood Ranch, Marino decided to relive the Corvette experience that was stolen from him. He found the same model car he had bought in 1991 on a Hemmings listing in February, 2020. After having the car, which was in Massachusetts, checked out by a mechanic, he bought it.
On Oct. 23 at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in Lakewood Ranch, Marino will show his Corvette in the annual Knights of Columbus Car Show and Cookout. Car enthusiasts will be able to check out more than 100 cars. Perhaps even more entertaining will be the stories the car owners will tell about their cars.
Unlike many who show their cars, Marino's Corvette is what he calls "a daily driver."
"I am going to drive this as much as I want," he said. "I am reliving the past I lost. My wife (Donna) says I am like a 16-year-old when I drive it."
Unlike Marino, River Club's Mike Mahan will be at Our Lady of the Angels displaying a "show car."
Mahan has had his 1964 Corvette Stingray since 2004 and in that time he has put only 5,000 miles on it, many of those recorded going to shows. One of the reasons he bought that particular car was because it was made in the year he was born.
"And it's just the name recognition and the power," he said. "It's a light car with a 327 cubic inch engine and 365 horsepower."
He said it definitely is not a "daily driver."
"The more you use it, the more you have to take care of it," he said.
Mahan, a retired homicide investigator for the Suffolk County Police Department, said another reason he doesn't drive the Stingray much is because it would cost almost $25,000 to replace the lacquer car paint if it was chipped.
He said he never has gone more than 85 miles per hour in the car.
"I like to baby it," he said.
While he is not a mechanic, he does all the "normal" maintenance.
Eventually, Mahan said his youngest daughter, Brittany Mahan, his "co-pilot" on many of his trips with the car, eventually will get the classic vehicle she loves.
By that time, Mahan could be driving one of the other two project cars in his garage, a couple of vintage (1978, 1979) Pontiac Trans Ams.
"To me it's fun, having seen these kind of cars growing up," he said. "I always had used cars, but no muscle cars. I always thought that one day I am going to do it. I like that muscle car era."
Also like Marino, Mahan loves the camaraderie at the car shows.
"Everyone has the same interest," he said. "A lot of people change their engines if their car isn't original. You hear what they are doing, and you see a lot of familiar faces."
Both Marino and Mahan are happy the Knights of Columbus show will support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Besides the car show, the event also includes a "Trunk or Treat" feature for the kids.
Marino can't wait for the show, and getting there is half the fun.
"Sitting in that car and going through the gears is an experience," he said. "You and the car are one. It's like a little race car. It's exhilaration and that leads to joy."
The event is free and open to the public.
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