Calvin Cornelius preserves classic car time capsule

When he retired from Roadway Trucking “years ago,” Calvin Cornelius, 79, spent more time working on restoring and collecting classic cars. He owns 23 and works three or four days a week on restoring and driving the classics and still finds time to help his community.

A radio blared out classic rock from deep within one of his automobile barns, and when he turned it off said, “this thing gets louder and louder.”

Cornelius is nicknamed Fred Sanford Jr. and said he enjoys a good laugh at his auto farm in Cameron. Bright mums and Shasta daisies in large pots adorned the entrance, along with the American flag and hanging perennials. 

There are two automobile barns. One is dedicated to sheltering the classics, and another is a combination of garage and shelter.

He rebuilt the main barn after it burned down in 1986 and lost eight cars.

His father purchased a 1954 Studebaker new from Vick Key Motors in Sanford, and Cornelius “drives it all the time.” He drove it last Saturday to Sanford Car News Camelback Cruise ‘N where he met a buyer for one of his classics.

Cornelius has restored the running gear and the original paint of his 1954 Studebaker.

 Cornelius preserves classic car time capsule

The 1954 Studebaker Cornelius’ father purchased new in Sanford is parked on Oct. 26, 2020 under the American flag and automobile barn in Cameron.

The classic auto pending sale is a 1964 Studebaker Cruiser he purchased in Red Springs from a woman whose husband had died.

“I think his name was Locklear,” Cornelius said.

Calvin preserves classic car time capsule

Cornelius poses with his 1964 Studebaker Cruiser.

He has restored the floors and seats and replaced the tires.

“It takes a lot of work and money to bring them back,” Cornelius said about the 1964 Studebaker.

Calvin Cornelius preserves classic car time capsule in Cameron

A 1961 Studebaker Hawk owned by Cornelius.

Cornelius found a 1961 Studebaker Hawk 12 years ago in Burlington, and it has been fully restored and is all original.

He hosed off the dust for the photo, and the fine restoration work was captured in the black paint and chrome’s reflection.

Cornelius has a unique 1966 GMC Handi-Bus in his collection.

 Cornelius preserves classic car time capsule in Cameron

  Cornelius poses with his 1966 GMC Handi-Bus.

“This bus was parked at the Cameron school 20 years ago, and the kids were all over it,” Cornelius said. “They called it Scooby-Do. It was featured in the Pinestraw Magazine.”

The Scooby-Do bus is plastered with a variety of stickers from restaurant venues to Vietnam Veteran to humorous memes. The interior is fully restored.

Calvin Cornelius preserves classic car time capsule Cameron

A 1970 Buick convertible owned by Cornelius.

His butter-yellow 1970 Buick convertible was purchased in Pinehurst and is one of three of the same year.

One of his 1970 Buicks has only 61,000 miles.

Calvin Cornelius classic car time capsule

A 1966 Chevy C10 owned by Cornelius.

Cornelius has owned his 1966 Chevy C10 for over 42 years.

He recently shipped one classic to a grandson in Massachusetts and is preparing to gift another.

Calvin Cornelius classic car time capsule Cameron

A 1963 Comet owned by Cornelius.

The sun filtered through the tree branches onto his 1963 Comet hinting at its original bright yellow paint and gleaming chrome.

“It was too much,” Cornelius said about the lone classic far out in the field.

When he is not working on cars and attending cruise-ins and auto shows, Cornelius likes to help his community.

“I like to cook, fry fish and I made a trailer,” Cornelius said as he opened the rear doors of a tag-along trailer outfitted to cook. “I also take people to appointments, and when someone is sick, I do for them.”

Feature photo: Cornelius enjoys his nickname Fred Sanford Jr. at his automobile barn in Cameron.

Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.

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