Problems and Solutions

t’s been a whole ten months since I made the big move from Los Angeles to Massachusetts. There is no question the change was the right thing to do. Even in the midst of a record breaking ice storm this past winter – where entire forests of trees were snapped by the extra mass of the ice on their limbs and residential electricity was cut for nearly a week – I was happy to be “home again” in New England.

Lots of people ask me why I left the glitz and glamour of L.A. and I typically respond by saying; “Oh L.A. is a great place. The problem is that too many people know about it”. I’ve written here before about how I never quite got used to city living so I won’t go into it again. Suffice to say it just wasn’t my style – even after sixteen years of living there. I love the place but it was time to shuffle the deck.

Aside from several good friends, the biggest things I miss about living in L.A. are the numerous self-serve auto wrecking yards, the weekly swap meet scene and Pauley Shore’s Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd. If you’re ever in L.A., the Comedy Store serves up a huge nightly roster of top name comics between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Sure, there’s a two drink minimum, but you can have more if you want. Go see Don Barris, a particularly crazy chap who does warm up routines for the Jimmy Kimmel Show before hitting the Comedy Store as the MC. You’ll be glad you did.

None of which brings me to the topic of this month’s column; getting my fleet of 10 cars on the road here and enjoying them on the wide open roads that wind off in virtually every direction from my drive way. I brought six cars with me cross country. Intercity Lines hauled the Stage V Hemi Conversion powered ’67 Dart, ’69 Dodge A100 van, ’81 altered wheelbase Funny Fairmont, Rampage altered wheelbase ’63 Dart (which you can see go together by scoping out the MoparMax archives), an ’84 Mustang GT convertible and the Wilshire Shaker altered wheelbase ’63 Nova. They were all crammed into an enclosed trailer and hauled (safely) by a slick Peterbilt all the way across the U.S. of A.

Additionally, I drove an original paint 273 Four Barrel equipped ’65 Dart GT cross country last September (again, you can read about it in my Steve Mags Speaks column in the MoparMax archives) plus I had a California-sourced’62 Valiant 4-door sedan stashed behind the barn at the family farm. In recent years I drove this car cross country, coast to coast, three times. If you’ve ever watched the movie “Blow” starring Johnny Depp and Paul Rubens (a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman), you’ll see this very car roll past in the back ground as some period scenery. I got the car from a guy named Louie who has a side business renting vintage cars to Hollywood movie productions and my little Valiant was once in his stable. I call it the “Blow Mobile” and it’s dead reliable.

Anyhoo, all told, I have a fleet of eight cars that started life in California but were relocated to the east coast at my hands. But wait, there’s more! As a hopeless car junkie, I bought a one owner, original paint ’66 Barracuda (273 2-barrel, 904 Torqueflite on the column) from a source in nearby Connecticut as well as a clean ’54 Plymouth Savoy 4-door sedan from a seller here in Massachusetts. Now we’re talking ten cars. There is also a daily beater ’94 Dodge Stratus (that I’ve also written about here in the past) but it doesn’t really count as a member of the “fleet” since it’s little more than a transportation device for me. All the same, I’ve covered about 10,000 miles since buying it in February and it’s still going strong. Not a bad little car.

Wanting to be totally legal-eagle with my cars, I am in the process of getting them all insured, registered and inspected here in Massachusetts. The insurance part was amazingly easy. I shopped around and found a great policy with Haggerty Insurance. I have a reasonable agreed-value policy on each of the ten collector cars and my premium is just under a grand for a full year. That’s for ten cars, not just one! The only conditions are they want the cars to be stored inside a closed garage and none can be used as my daily driver. They insist on me having a daily driver that is insured with a regular commercial carrier. That’d be the Dodge Stratus via Farmers Insurance. Of course, a clean driving record is an integral part of the modest fee I pay - so far so good on that count.