Members of the Sonoran Desert Corvettes Tucson believe beautiful cars are meant to be driven and shown off - not covered up and locked away.

"If a Corvette is in your garage, it doesn't make us happy. Don't let it sit there in a garage like a queen," said club President Susan Franklin, 71, whose online handle is suevette63. "They are meant to be used and enjoyed."

The club organizes and participates in meet-ups, car shows and drives. Occasionally a member will be designated the leader, and club members will rendezvous at a chosen location then follow the leader on a surprise drive.

"There is nothing that I think is more fun than a whole string of Corvettes in a row," said Franklin, who lives in Sun City Oro Valley.

Think of the club as a play group, only with cars as the focus instead of children. Members' Corvettes range from classics to late models.

A 501(c)(7) nonprofit, the club's dues are $45 for individuals and $65 for couples. The fees include membership into the National Council of Corvette Clubs, with which the club is affiliated.

Club Vice President Loyd Gabriel, 69, likes showing off his dark-blue 2004 C5 Z06 Commemorative Edition.

"I get a lot of companionship" from the club, Gabriel said. "There's camaraderie in showing the cars and passing information around. If you're kind of a gearhead and into Corvettes, then the club really facilitates your thrill of owning a Corvette."

The club's membership is as diverse as it is large. Its 90 members are in their early 20s to 80s. Some, like Franklin and her husband, Greg, have doctorates, while others didn't attend college. Most members, Franklin said, hail from the northwest side.

"Some are professionals; some do not have that kind of education at all. The cars are what unites us," Franklin said. "It doesn't matter what your background is. What matters is that you live for today, enjoy today, enjoy your car and have fun with your club."

Franklin drives a metallic crystal red 2010 Grand Sport Convertible, but she already has her sights set on her next car, a 2014 Corvette Stingray. Greg drives a 2013 velocity yellow Corvette Z06.

To club members, the appeal of the Chevrolet-made model is ethereal.

"I love Corvettes. I've been into them since the 1980s," Franklin said. "It's just a really neat car. I think they're beautiful."

"I think it's always just been a mystical thing," Gabriel said. "It was a bucket-list car. The license plate even says 'Bucket List' on it. As a young boy, I grew up when Corvettes were the thing. When I got to where I could afford one, when I was done raising kids and putting them through college, I bought my bucket list."

Gabriel is so attached to his car that his wife, Suzanne, is jokingly concerned that she has some competition.

"She calls it Mona," Gabriel said. "She laughs about it and calls it my new mistress."

If you go

• What: Sonoran Desert Corvettes Tucson meeting.

• Where: Comfort Suites at Tucson Mall, 515 W. Auto Mall Drive.

• When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or