Written in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, my dream garage would be the best location to shelter in place this side of a private island. Escape quarantine into your (actually my) vehicular fantasies!
You approach from a long private drive to a massive building. There is no house in sight. Just a bunch of metal siding and some bay doors. The door nearest you opens, and inside you are greeted by my smiling – and slightly smug – face. You grab your beverage of choice from the walk-in cooler, and take a stroll through my collection.
The first vehicle you see is my daily driver – a mid-70’s Jeep Cherokee Chief with a 4 inch lift, white wagon wheels, and BF Goodrich All Terrains. Power delivery comes from a fuel-injected AMC 401 backed by a 5-speed manual transmission, and it breathes happily through dual Flowmaster mufflers. Parked next to the Cherokee is my tow rig, a Dodge Sweptline Power Wagon with a 5.7 Hemi swap. My street/strip built Hellcat Challenger is on the trailer behind the Power Wagon. It has a mostly stock engine, but the rear of the car has tubbed fenders, a narrowed rear axle, and Nitto drag radials. The Hellcat has as much aluminum and carbon fiber as I could throw at it, but it’s still heavy. My friends keep trying to get me to put nitrous on it, but that will make it fast enough that I have to put a cage in it to race it. I don’t want a cage in a street legal car.
The back corner of the shop is where I keep my more ridiculous vehicles. You count five cars and ask what happened to the sixth, knowing the answer. The Morgan three-wheeler is in the shop, as it usually is. That’s the most fun car in the world for the ten minutes it works properly per year. You sit down in the Superformance 427 Cobra and fire it up, deafening my poor shop dog. He’s used to it. As always, you roll your eyes at the Pontiac Astre Li’l Wide Track with a GM 2.0L Turbo out of a sixth generation Camaro. It’s objectively not a cool car, but you’ve never seen another. Nor has anyone else. The ’63 Impala lowrider is way cooler, but far less practical. Rounding out the ridiculous is the Baja Beetle, ready for competition in the most sacred of off-road races. Soon enough, it’ll get loaded up behind the Power Wagon and hauled to Tijuana.
The more conventional area of the garage contains my 1965 Pontiac GTO that I’ve owned for years. It hasn’t changed much and is still wearing a coat of driver-quality black paint. I still haven’t updated the Carter AFB carburetor or ancient Super Turbine 300 transmission. The rear end bit the dust and I swapped it out for another stock unit, but the replacement has a limited slip differential. The GTO’s Pontiac companion is a beautiful 1950 Pontiac sedan with a silky smooth straight eight.
My bedroom poster car in college wasn’t a Lamborghini, Ferrari, nor Bugatti. It was a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Parked alongside the Pontiacs, I have that very car. Painted quicksilver metallic, it looks similar to the 2014 V6 Camaro I actually drove in college. Similarities stop there, with a LS7 and bulletproof Tremec 6-speed handling the 505 horsepower 427 with ease. The oldest car in the collection is my 1931 Ford Model A 5-window coupe hot rod. Eschewing traditional flathead power, I went with an all-aluminum Buick 215 V8 for my hot rod. I’m getting ready to paint the Model A a deep maroon with white accents.
Running a close race with the Cobra for scariest car in the garage is the 1970 Corvette with a maniacal big block Chevy. The only person who abused this poor ‘Vette more than I have was the previous owner, who sent the original 454 to the big junkyard in the sky by accidentally hitting first instead of third on the autocross. I bought the car sans-engine and had a 572 thrown in. Who needs traction anyway?
The Japanese section of the garage features the only car the United States never got that I actually want to own. My 70-series Toyota Land Cruiser has been driven in all 50 states and on six continents. It is accompanied by a Datsun 240Z and a Mitsubishi Starion.
Finally, you reach the center of the collection. This is where I park the three most special cars. The first in the trio is a bright yellow 1971 DeTomaso Pantera. It has a race built 351 and is far too much fun to park next to modern Lamborghinis and McLarens at Cars and Coffee. Next is quite possibly the rarest car in the collection – a Bitter CD. It is a car that followed the basic concept of a Pantera and several other cars made in the early 1970’s: a stylish European body packing a muscular American power plant. The biggest reason I own this car is no one knows what it is, and guesses as to its identity range from Jensen Interceptor to Lamborghini Espada. The final car in the collection is also the most valuable. Sitting under specially designed lights is Richard Petty’s 1970 Plymouth Superbird racecar. Number 43 itself.