Welcome to Garage Talk with Executive Director Amber Taylor
I am excited to launch “Garage Talk”. It is a place where I can share all my stories I collect as well as the photos I take of car owners, their garages or barns, and showcase this amazing car community. Some of my stories get featured in the Back to the Bricks Magazine, or online, but they often get edited down for space, so I am happy to share them all here.
What I have learned over the last 3 years is that Car Owners LOVE to tell their story. How they came to own it, build it, drive it, etc. And My daughter Peyton and I love to hear these stories. Newest stories will always be at the TOP!
If you have a story, contact me! I would LOVE to interview you and feature you here.
Contact me at Ambertaylor@backtothebricks.org let’s schedule Garage Talk with YOU!
The full story…
A condensed version of this story is featured in this years’ 2023 BttB Collectors magazine, as you know space is always limited. But here’s the FULL story, and it’s one we all can enjoy.
It may sound crazy to some, but Ryan O’Neal believes he bought this car from a Fortune Teller’s husband, late at night, in the middle of February, during a snowstorm. That’s his story and he’s stickin’ to it!
Ryan had sold his 1973 Charger that he and his father had restored together, a few years prior so that Ryan and his wife could start a family. After a few years, Ryan started looking for another project and a Mustang that needed some work popped up. What started out as an interior spruce up and engine rebuild turned into a 10 year, every weekend, full restoration project in their two-bay garage.
Living its entire life in northwest Indiana took its toll on the Mustang, and over 70% of the metal needed to be replaced. Ryan built a jig under the front end and cut one side off at a time, working his way to the cowl, firewall, floors, inner wheel wells, rockers, full rear quarters, rear frame rails, and trunk floor. There isn’t a piece of metal on this car that Ryan didn’t replace or correct by himself. Throughout the process, his daughter (3yrs old when the project began) would trace her hand on the sheet metal, and date and sign it. Her handprints from all the different years are under the cowl, on the insides of both rear quarter panels, on the seat platform, and on the oil pan.
Ryan was fortunate enough to keep the original engine and drivetrain, glass, instruments, various interior parts, and other core items of the car. While it took what seemed like an eternity, Ryan knew every nook and cranny of this car as he rebuilt and restored it. Almost everything was done in Ryan’s family garage.
The car was finished in April, 2022, and she gave the family 800+ worry free miles. Ryan and his daughter have attended multiple car shows and they enjoy local, weekly cruise-in’s as a family. Ryan’s favorite memory was picking up his daughter from her last day of school in the Mustang.
Ryan’s family is building new memories every time they turn the key and head down the road. Seeing his daughter smile in the backseat, shouting, “WOO HOO,” when he gets a little spirited at a green light makes every day that he spent in that garage grinding, welding, and cutting worth it.
Their first long trip in the car was on the 2023 Founders Promo Tour! More stories and memories were made on that trip.
The entire build is here https://www.vintage-mustang.com/threads/project-tetanus-my-66-coupe-restoration.904817/
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John Abee formally at his house, an undisclosed location on July 18th. My amazing friend Arron Swett, fellow car junkie and enthusiast had been telling me about his “Barn” and how I needed to come and see what it was all about.
Peyton and I arrived and let me just say… WOW. This is far more than a barn. It is a museum filled with amazing collectables, cars, gas pumps and more. John was VERY approachable, super nice to Peyton and me, we felt very welcome. When we entered the first part of the barn, it looked more like a normal workspace. Car lift, posters around, license plates hung, car parts everywhere, the sort of man barn you would expect. But then… he opened the first set of doors, something like out of the Wizard of Oz, the garage style doors were vertical, not on a track. They hung upright and were framed like doors. Super cool to see.
We walked into the next space and there was this over the top custom Ledsled. It was bright yellow, named Thumper and it was beautiful. John customized every square inch of this car. The front headlights were totally unique, the antennas were buried into the passenger side of the car, the custom grill was pretty interesting. He mentioned all sorts of names I actually recognized like John Olay. Everyone helped him with this car, even if it was just telling him ideas to make it cool.
To the right of the yellow Ledsled was more cars! They are being worked on, or have plans to be worked on, but right behind it was this stunning gasser. It’s a 1955 Gasser that most will recognize because he still races it TODAY! Actually, Arron Swett is the driver, but it is at Lapeer Dragway often. This car is over the top, right down to the mini replica of it in a matchbox car in plastic case. The paintjob, the engine, this is ONE LOUD puppy! It’s his favorite car he has ever owned. You can tell he has a lot of pride in it. We talked about it for a long time.
If this part of the tour was over, I would have been amazed for sure. But NO, there is more… we walked through another door, this time a regular entry door and what do I see??? A crazy over the top mini museum. Lights everywhere, signs, gas pumps, collectables, a Phone booth, a Fire Pole that was out in front of the Durant back in the heyday, cars, cars and more cars! Seeing the Gas Pumps all lit up was a site to be seen. They are gorgeous, have such unique looks to them, names I have never seen. The neon signs on the wall were super cool.
John walked through the cars, letting me know how he acquired them, where he drove them, and the ones he never drove. Like the yellow Corvette with 15,000 miles. He bought it, drove it home and there it sits. He does love them all. We stopped in the collectibles section. He recalls how he acquired each and every single item there. Cars in cases, old Bird houses, cool bottles, cologne bottles, he has a lot there and it’s all VERY special to him. My favorite item, the peddle cars. SO COOL! And maybe the waiter that is about 5’6” tall, standing there waiting to serve you. He is pretty cool too.
We walked outside and I was able to see the old burnout pad he had, and the stories he told about the “Parties” he had there. I sure wish I were around then. Looking high up, I see an old Sunoco and Amoco sign, standing proud. They have a story to tell, I am sure.
I asked John a few questions, like what was your first car? He said his first car was a 1955 Chevy he paid $398.00 in total for it. He started wrenching on it and knew it was love at first sight. I asked him how far he traveled for a show. He once traveled to Louisville Kentucky to a Carl Casper show. He actually placed in the show receiving a win in the elite category for “Best In Engineering.” Nowadays he will drive up to the local car shows and attend Back to the Bricks. That night he was taking the Yellow Ledsled out for the first time in a long time, and he went to Big Boy in Clio. I know everyone was excited to see him.
John worked hard for over 30 years owning a salvage yard. It’s what made things easy for him working on cars. He mentioned it was a great business to be in, especially if you liked working on building hot rods and fast cars.
I very much enjoyed my time with John. Peyton LOVED everything there and even talked about us doing up our barn better to have the same look and feel. I said, “Okay kid when you get a job and help momma pay for the cool things, we will do it.”
Thank you to Arron Swett for organizing this visit, I am ready for the next time to come out and hear more stories from John. John Abee, a great man with a lot to say… you just gotta ask him.