There are two active members of the Wanderers car club who also belong to several other clubs and have been car enthusiasts most of their lives. They are Mike and Peggy DeFrancisco who have owned and operated Taylor Rental Center on State Road 44 in Inverness since 2003. They are originally from Norwich, New York but moved to Florida in 2003 as they were tired of the long upstate N.Y. winters and shoveling snow. Mike was an automotive teacher prior to becoming a business owner in Inverness. They have a combined family of six children and 10 grandchildren.
A 1961 Ford Econoline, the same model owned by Mike and Peggy DeFrancisco, though their’s is restored. SUBMITTED
Mike started out pumping gas at a full service station when he was 11 (gas was 28 cents a gallon) and that got him interested in cars at a young age. They currently own a restored 1964 Ford Econoline pickup; a 1975 Ford Pinto Wagon with 27,000 original miles (all original — never restored); a 1991 Dodge Shadow convertible, which has only 55,000 miles and they have owned it since it was new; a 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T; and his daily driver, a 1988 Dodge pickup.
Mike does all his own maintenance and repair work and has a 36-by-40 foot garage equipped with a lift where he keeps his vehicles and does all his work.
In the past, Mike and Peggy had fully restored a 1971 VW Beetle and a 1960 Chevy Impala, which took about a year for each restoration. They sold both cars. Mike also owned a nice 1968 Dodge Challenger which he sold to a car enthusiast in Germany. They haven’t attended too many car shows lately and prefer local cruise-ins and power tours. You can usually find them at the Wanderers Club gathering on Friday nights by the Inverness Bealls or at Friday Night Thunder in downtown Inverness the third Friday of each month. One of their favorite events is Mike Kelly’s Beach Blast in Cocoa Beach every May. At this event, they enjoy a fun weekend with a group of friends, lots of laughs and good times.
Both Mike and Peggy enjoy their car hobby and are real enthusiasts. Mike is quite an expert on classic cars and is always willing to help others with any mechanical issues, particularly through his rental business.
Tonight: Friday Night Thunder cruise-in at 5 p.m. in Courthouse Square in downtown Inverness.
Ken McNally is a car enthusiast from Citrus County and his Car Corner columns appear twice a month in the Hernando Today. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org call (352) 341-1165.