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Rise and shine with Early Rodders

On Saturday mornings at the UA Theater lot the community can view vintage vehicles shown by local car club.

January 24, 2008|By Erna Taylor-Stark

On a brisk, bright, very early (6:30 a.m. to be precise) Saturday morning, the sun glints off more than 100 hot rods, vintage cars and sunglasses as members of the Early Rodders make their weekly trek to the parking lot of the United Artists movie theatres on Verdugo Road. Even though this particular weekend happens to be a holiday weekend, this group is not too depleted.

Pulling into the parking lot, men and women can be seen clustered in groups, talking, peering into car windows, under hoods and checking paint jobs.

Some cars are meticulously restored while others are left “as is” to reflect authenticity. What is apparent is that all the cars are well loved.


As Rick Chew, founder of this hot rod club explains in his written history of the organization, “I did not want this to be a club with bureaucracy and did not want this to be so organized that cones would have to be set up every morning, a 50/50 raffle ticket would take place, and music would be blasting in the air.” The La Cañada venue has none of those things — just a bunch of people who love cars getting together for a few hours on Saturday mornings.

Chew goes on to explain that back in 2001 he was attending the “Donut Derelicts” cruise club in Huntington Beach. “[It was] just a bunch of guys and an occasional gal with great cars and stories having a great time every Saturday morning,” he recalls. He would get up around 5 a.m. and drive the 60+ miles to Huntington Beach to get a decent spot. He would stay until around 8 a.m. and then drive back home. Chew enjoyed the peace of the morning and the relative traffic-free freeway, the cool air and the relaxing drive.

“It was a great way to start the day,” he said. He decided to investigate having a cruise club closer to his own backyard and discussed the possibility with close friend Bob Vacca. The meeting place had to have some kind of eating facility, a public restroom and it had to be nearby.

Chew made up a ‘make it happen’ flier and began attending local cruises and car shows, passing out his fliers. The first Early Rodders cruise was held in Goldstein’s parking lot in October 2001.

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