Many Cruisin' enthusiasts call the Coast home - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Many Cruisin' enthusiasts call the Coast home

Rat Rod Mike's Funky Rat Mobile. (Photo source: WLOX) Rat Rod Mike's Funky Rat Mobile. (Photo source: WLOX)
Mike Schillinger's '62 Ford Anglia Deluxe. (Photo source: WLOX) Mike Schillinger's '62 Ford Anglia Deluxe. (Photo source: WLOX)

Thousands of car enthusiasts from across the country are about to converge on the Coast from around the world.

But, many cruisers already live in South Mississippi.

"I like being ambassador for our area, for Ocean Springs, for the Coast," said Rat Rod Mike who, along with his Funky Rat Mobile, have become a well-known figure during Cruisin' the Coast each year.

Mike's cruising adventure started after Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife Sue came down to help with the cleanup after the storm and have been in the area ever since.

As far as his '64 Chevy pickup, it's definitely one of a kind.

"All the rat rods look the same, they copied each other. So I said rats, rat rod. I got it. It's going to have rats on it for sure," said Mike.

The truck is covered in rats, and a lot more. Almost every square inch of the truck is packed and plastered with a variety of trinkets, many of them being toys and memorabilia from the '50s and '60s.

Mike says he loves the reaction that he gets when he takes the truck out, and keeps a bit of a classic car collection going. He has restored a 1950 Studebaker Starlite Coupe with a custom flame paint job, one of several unique creations cruisers may see.

Cruisers might also find cars that they've seen on the silver screen. Mike Schillinger found a '62 Ford Anglia, the same kind of car driven by Ron Weasley and Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The wasn't in great shape when he first found it, so Schillinger restored it and added a few of his own magical touches; including a license plate that is registered as HARRY P.

"I just like to watch people's reactions. I like to park the vehicle, sit back, and watch and see how people react towards it," said Schillinger.

Schillinger isn't a one car kind of guy. He also has a restored '77 Volkswagen bus, complete with a sound and lighting system, psychedelic interior, and cool purple paint job. He says the variety of classic cars is what's so great about Cruisin'.

"It's Christmas for adults and car guys and gearheads. It's great. I love it," said Schillinger. "It's a really good advertising for the Gulf Coast. I first came here 26 years ago and my eyes were opened. I was like, my God this is the best kept secret in the United States."

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