Proximity to one another’s homes forced them to meet, but their passion for American muscle cars gave them something to talk about.
Justan Each, 36, recalled this week the moment he and his next-door neighbor, John Kleffmann, 52, bonded for the first time.
“We’ve always been cordial as neighbors, but one day last year, he (Kleffmann) showed up with a car, and I instantly had to go start talking to him about it,” Each said.
Kleffmann didn't just bring home any car. He rolled into his driveway with a 1966 Dodge Coronet — the same year, make and model of vehicle he learned to drive in as a teen in Muscatine.
Next week, the duo hopes to replicate that experience with other car buffs from around the world during Hot Rod Magazine's 23rd annual Power Tour, a weeklong traveling auto show that stops Monday in Davenport.
Organizers expect upward of 10,000 vehicles to take over the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, the third destination on this year's 1,300-mile caravan. Spectators can attend the seven-hour event for free.
The seven-city Power Tour begins Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri, and ends on June 16 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Evan Perkins, the 28-year-old editor-in-chief of Hot Rod Magazine, said onlookers will see everything from traditional hot rods, such as pre-Depression-era Ford Model Ts, to classic muscle cars, such as tire-burning Chevrolet Camaros from the late 1960s.
“It really is a catch-all for anyone who loves cars and wants to be around other like-minded enthusiasts,” Perkins said by phone from the publication’s headquarters in El Segundo, California. “It’s pretty overwhelming.”
This marks the third year the spectacle has appeared in the Quad-Cities. It last stopped here during 2014, when more than 3,000 vehicles descended upon the Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf. In 2004, 2,000 vehicles congregated at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.
Out-of-towners already have booked 1,250 hotel rooms in the area for this year's show, the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau reports.
More than 3,500 motorists, including Each, Kleffmann and 10 other Davenport residents, plan to drive the full stretch.
Every "long hauler," the nickname given to those who complete the entire trek, has a special connection to their respective set of wheels, Perkins said.
Two summers ago, Each drove his 1999 Ford Mustang GT convertible from Madison, Wisconsin, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the 2015 Power Tour.
Both he and Kleffmann have emotional attachments to their cars that run deeper than their love for Detroit iron.
Kleffmann, for example, took ownership of his family's Coronet years after his grandfather, who purchased the car new, and father each had their turns driving it.
The then-teenager used the hand-me-down vehicle for a few years before trading it in for a sports car, a 1979 Mazda RX-7.
Years later, following his 14 years of service in the U.S. Army, Kleffmann said he began wondering whether he could track down another Coronet, similar to the one he used to own.
Then, last summer, his brother-in-law forwarded him an advertisement for one near Columbus, Ohio, and Kleffmann finally pulled the trigger, making a "sentimental purchase."
"Just seeing it in the driveway brings back memories of driving around in it with my father," he said.
Strong family ties
During his cross-country cruise next week, Each will keep his late Aunt Dee in mind.
She formerly owned the Mustang and had agreed to sell it to Each after he graduated from college. However, she died from pancreatic cancer before they could strike a deal, so her nephew ended up purchasing it from her estate.
"Now, it will never leave my family," said Each, a robotics engineer at Genesis Systems Group in Davenport. "My daughter, who is named after my aunt, will get the car someday."
Looking ahead, he already has plans to build a car for his 4-year-old son.
"It runs deep in our family," said Each, who grew up around motorheads and has numerous relatives joining him next week on the road.
Kleffmann, on the other hand, didn't become a "car guy" until later in life. The father of two and traveling salesman, who drives 65,000 miles a year for his job, said he recently developed a "fond affection for works of art in the automobile world."
That being said, Kleffmann does not drive his Coronet as much as he would like to and remains a bit wary about the reliability of his old car on the long journey ahead.
"We’ll just have to take it one day and one mile at a time," he said.