Tuner, gearhead millennials converge on Summerville parking garage for Sunday evening cruise-ins

A blue Chevrolet Silverado dwarfs a four-wheel swiveled power chair at the weekly Charleston Car Meets cruise-in July 26 at the five-story Summerville parking garage.

Here was Joseph Melton’s reaction when he first saw John Moore’s 1990 Nissan Skyline GTR.

“I will give you everything I own,” said Melton, excited.

“You would have to have a $200,000 home,” Moore responded, not so unrealistically.

Melton thought a minute. “I have an XBox One,” he said, hopefully.

The car buffs’ banter, equal parts playful and bravado, illustrates why scores of younger adults and teens drive their Toyotas, Subarus, Saturns, Dodge trucks and convertible Mustangs up five levels of the open Main Street parking garage in Summerville every Sunday evening. Essentially for free, they can hang out, drink a beverage, talk cars and scope out all the models on hand.

It’s alright,” said Alex Aastroem, who attended the Charleston Car Meets weekly 8 p.m. cruise-in for the first time July 26. About 40 people, mostly 20-something men but a few women, as well, were on hand.

Aastroem, who lives down the street from the parking garage, drove a 1990s Mustang soft top with a rebuilt 302-cubic-inch V-8 engine. “It’s something to do, compared to nothing,” he said.

The tuners and trucks that parked on the top level, and a few a floor below, packed power under the hood but were respectful, refraining from spin outs, burning rubber or revving the motor. Most of the cars that showed up Sunday were earlier model Japanese sports cars and coupes including Mazdas, Nissans and at least one Lexus, but there was also an 11-year-old Dodge Dakota truck and an oversized Chevrolet Silverado.

Melton’s four-door 1998 Saturn stood out because it was without a hood, which he took off “just for the car meet.” He’s had the car “three or four months,” finding it on a noted online web site and paying $1,500. He adjusted the air intake for more power and touched up the rims. Melton takes part in the Summerville car meet “every Sunday. We just come out here, hang out” and look at the cars, he said.

Moore, who arrived about an hour after the meet started, said he secured the blue 25-year-old sports car from a custom company, Montu Motors, in Florida. The owner imports the cars from Japan. Nissan didn’t export the GTR, a renowned speedster in Asia, in the 1980s and ’90s but started bringing models to the U.S. in the past decade.

“I want it to be 100 percent original,” said Moore, who’s stationed at Charleston Air Force Base.

He paid $25,000 and has added another $6,000 or so in parts. Stage two of his car makeover includes new exhausts. “I’ve got a long way to go.”

For more information on the cruise-in, go to Charleston Car Meets on Facebook.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.