Have you heard of a classic car club for the LGBTQ community?
“I don’t think anybody has!” laughs Bobbie Trimmer, a trans woman who is a commercial pilot and car enthusiast. “I’ve been into cars pretty much my whole life,” she says. “When I came out about 20 years ago, all we had was the bar scene. But a couple of years ago I started looking for an LGBTQ+ group that was into cars.”
What she found was Lambda Car Club International (LCCI), a nonprofit car club for LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly automobile enthusiasts in North America. The largest club of its kind, LCCI was founded in 1981 for the enjoyment and exchange of information on all motor vehicles combined with social fellowship for the LGBTQ community and allies. Today, LCCI has more than 30 regional chapters in the US with more than 1,800 members. Texas has four regional chapters, known as Classic Chassis Car Clubs (CCCC), in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and right here in Houston.
The Houston CCCC was founded in 1989 and has about 70 members. They meet the first Wednesday of the month and also attend car shows and events that are open to the general public in and around Houston—favorites are RADwood Austin for ’80s and ’90s cars and Keels & Wheels in Seabrook—as well as coffee or get-togethers at members’ homes for pool parties, BBQs, and such. They even offer weekend trips for car lovers.
Anyone can attend the monthly meetings, but for the special events, you need to sign up as a member of LCCI (lambdacarclub.com). Texas CCCC cities take turns hosting the Annual Golden Girls Car Show but this year Houston is host to the national LCCI’s 35th Grand Invitational for the first time, October 17 through 22.
“We actually were supposed to host it last year, but it was canceled due to COVID,” says Bill Smith, a Houston CCCC member for 26 years. Smith came by his car love early.
“My grandfather lived on the same street as us,” he recalls. “I would hang out on his porch with him in the evening and he would point out each type of car as it went by.”
Much later in life, Smith wanted to own a replica of his first car, a 1966 Mustang, but could only find a ’67. He was actually in a local Mustang club but decided he preferred the LGBTQ car club, and they often met at the same time.
“Mustangs are great,” he says. “Because Ford still makes parts for every year of Mustang ever made. “Getting parts for some of the older cars can be hard. It used to be car enthusiasts were into cars from the ’20s to the ’80s but now it’s more like ’80s to current because of that.”
Smith says the upcoming Grand Invitational show, which has 221 registrants, will feature a 1929 Cord, a luxury car of the era that featured front-wheel drive and hidden headlamps and was popular with movie stars. “The newest car will be a 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage, and the most expensive will be a Bentley Bentayga,” he says of the SUV that goes for well over $200,000.
Smith is hoping for plenty of visitors to attend the show.
“You can just come out to the South Shore Harbor Hotel and Conference Center Marina where the cars will be parked and look around,” he says. “Owners love to talk about their cars, and if you need help, staff wear white cowboy hats.” Those are also the people you want to get ahold of if you want to use your cell phone to vote on the awards. They’ll tell you how to do that.”
“What I like about the club,” interjects Trimmer, is that it is a fun bunch of people that are nonjudgmental of anyone that’s on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and as the only transwoman in the group, they have been a huge supporter of me, as well as a community anchor that’s an alternative to going to bars and clubs to meet people. One of the goals for us as a club going forward is to find younger members that enjoy car culture.”
Trimmer and her fiancée, Holly Scheuer, have eight cars just for fun, plus two daily vehicles and a work truck, that they store at Trimmer’s workshop building in Coldspring, near Lake Livingston. She does almost all of the work on the cars, and they are currently rebuilding a 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser, a 1998 Ford Mustang GT, and a 1999 Mazda Miata at the workshop. But you don’t have to own a classic car, or any car, to join CCCC. Just have a love of cars and community.
WHAT: Lambda Car Club International’s Grand Invitational 35th Anniversary
WHEN: October 17–22
WHERE: South Shore Harbor Hotel and Conference Center