For lovers of classic cars, whether restored or customized, an antebellum plantation is the place Saturday to look under some hoods and check out your reflection in gleaming chrome.
Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation State Historic Site will host the seventh annual Ophelia’s Classic Car Challenge from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday under the oaks that the late Ophelia Dent so jealously protected. And Ophelia Dent’s powerful Oldsmobile Cutlass will be among the dozens of cars visitors can see.
Ophelia Dent, who owned the former 1,200-acre rice plantation and dairy farm, kept her 1970 Cutlass in a garage beside the plantation house. It has run sporadically, and a couple of site volunteers got it running again in the past year.
“They did enough so we could crank it up and drive it around the park,’’ said park manager Bill Giles.
Because of brake problems and a few other issues, the car is kept off the highway, he said.
The car was fairly new when Ophelia Dent died in 1973, and, from all accounts, she took it out on U.S. 17 and ran it hard.
Saturday, it will be cranked and eased out of the little garage so visitors can see it.
It still has the “Coastal” dealership badge on it, but the blue paint is rusted and pitting in places. It still has louvered blinds in the back window to keep out the sun.
It needs some work, unlike the cars that will be coming for the show.
Bill Hill, president of Classic Coastal Cruisers, will bring four cars — his 1955 and 1956 Chevrolets, his 1937 Dodge and his wife’s 1951 Ford pickup truck.
Of his wife’s choice in trucks, Hill, a Chevy man, says, “I love her to death, but I can’t get her off Fords.”
Hill, who is retired from IBM, had 31 cars at one time but is down to seven now. That count doesn’t include the one he drives every day.
In coordinating the event, Hill said he has sent out emails to more than 400 car owners from Statesboro to Hardeeville, S.C., to north Florida, inviting them to bring their prized wheels and compete in the car show.
At least there won’t be as much competition for visitors this year as last.
“We had five car shows on the same day as Hofwyl,’’ he said.
Not only does it spread the crowd, it also cuts down on the number of cars on exhibition at each show. This year there is only one competing show, partly because of an effort to coordinate dates and prevent too many shows on the same day, Hill said.
“If you can get 100 cars shown instead of 20, it’s a win for everybody,’’ he said.
Hill said he is hoping for 40 to 60 vehicles Saturday at Hofwyl, which would be a lot of cars to check out.
Although Ophelia Dent’s car isn’t highway worthy, there will be plenty that are. Among them is a 1931 Ford that, Hill said, is the owner’s everyday car, including trips to Savannah and Jacksonville.
Admission, which covers the plantation house, museum, nature walk and the rest of the park’s attractions, is $8 for adults, $7 for those 62 and older, $5 for youth 6-17 and free for those 5 and younger.
For more information, call 912-264-7333.
The park is at 5556 U.S. Hwy. 17 and is just east of Exit 42 on Interstate 95.