Some people collect stamps, others collect guns. There are also people that collect Hot Wheels cars and guys that collect Franklin and Danbury Mint scale-model cars. Guys like Reggie Jackson and Jay Leno collect full-sized cars, and then there’s the guy in Mound, Minnesota, that collects kustom cars and all related things … of the 1960s.
Mark Moriarity started collecting when he was 12 years of age. In 1972, he bought a 1955 Chevy for $40.00 – the proceeds of his paper route. At the time, he had no idea he’d eventually be collecting cars of famous people. By 1982, he was driving that mildly-customized ’55 Chevy kustom to KKOA events and wishing he could own just one of those kustoms built by popular builders like Roth, Barris, Wilhelm, Bailon, or others.
The Roth Connection
Sometime in 1995, he found an ad in Hemmings that offered a Roth build for sale. Mark had no idea what the car was, or its history, but he did know who Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was. He bought it for less than the asking price, and promptly entered it into the local car show in St. Paul, Minnesota. That was in 1996. By happenstance, Ed Roth was displaying his Beatnik Bandit II at the show, and Mark and Ed struck up a friendship. That chance meeting started Mark on a quest of finding, buying and restoring Ed Roth-built cars over the next 20 years.
Ed Roth’s cars were – and still are – so unique, most people think they are actually art forms in the guise of four-wheeled vehicles. Some time ago, Mark decided to try his hand at building a couple of Roth-like vehicles. Being a tool-and-die maker, that experience helped him greatly while building his own fiberglass, bubble-top recreations of The Futurian and The Outlaw.
Shortly after the St. Paul show, Mark heard of another Roth creation, “The Road Agent,” which for sale in Florida. The car was pricey and needed a complete restoration, but Mark purchased it and got it running. The car was never licensed, simply because it never had a VIN or title.
He eventually sold it to a museum in Nevada. The owner of the museum kept his fingers in the game of collecting old cars, and knew of another interesting ride that might interest Mark, “The Trendero,” a radical 1957 Ford Ranchero built by Dave Puhl at the Trend Custom Shop in Lyons, (Chicago) Illinois, way back in 1960 – the year Mark was born. Mark purchased the truck from Johnny Malik, and then sold it sometime later after he tired of the pressure he was receiveing to not restore it.
Mark happened to be perusing Ebay in 2007, and found a classic named “Miss Elegance”, a mild kustom 1955 Chevy hardtop built by Paul Savelesky of Seattle, Washington. The car had been featured in Rod & Custom magazine in 1959, and had been fully restored to its former beauty as was shown from 1959 through 1962. Paul sold the car in 1965 before he’d gotten married, and then found the car in Canada nearly 40 years later and bought it back. It had been painted a Tangerine Metalflake, but the body was as he built it.
It took a few years to restore the car, but it was completed in 2005. Afterwards, Paul enjoyed the fruits of his labor once again. Sadly, Paul succumbed to Cancer in 2007, and Savelesky’s widow owned the car. Mark purchased the car from the widow, and changed the modern tv and radio that was in the dash back to the original units. That was part of the reason Paul’s widow was happy that Mark purchased the car, she did not agree with Paul’s modernizing of the car, and was happy Mark put it back to original. The only other thing Mark changed when it got to Minnesota were the wheels and tires.
Mark’s latest acquisition is another ’55 Chevy called “The Astorian.” It was built in 1964 into 1965 by the famed Alexander Brothers of Detroit (front end and chop), and Jack Florence of Fostoria Customs in Fostoria, Ohio (rear end and paint).
When Mark found the car, it was owned by Rodney Rice, and Mark bought it in the fall of 2015. The proper bias-ply tires and chrome reverse wheels were added when Mark took possession. He also replaced the missing telephone and did a few minor mechanical repairs.
Mark’s love of all things sixties is quite obvious when you see the stuff he’s collected. Not only does he collect, he actually lives within the collection (his home). He’s even collected furniture true to the era to keep the home completely ’60s era.
How did he get started collecting memorabilia? Certainly, the cars noted above fueled his desire, but he enjoys collecting all things of the sixties. When asked why, he answered, “Being a show rod nut, I like all things from that era. Most of my collection is early to mid-sixties, but sometimes it blurs a little one way or another. I like the things I saw in the magazines of the era. Drag boats, go karts, mini bikes, vintage speed equipment, and the like.”
The Zinger Clones
Not only dioes Mark collect full-sized cars, but he also owns several look-alike Zinger’s (large scale cars with actual engines). Mark’s collection of Zingers are actually clones he built several years ago. Working a full time job as a tool and die maker at Skyline Displays Company, he is also a builder of trade show exhibits and built the Zinger’s at night and on weekends.
Mark acquired a down-sized 1957 Chevy that was built by Jim Allen of Denver, Colorado, in 1970 for Revell. The yellow ‘57 toured the show circuit to promote Revell’s line of Deal’s Wheels models (Dave Deal was an extraordinary cartoonist. The ’57 body is hinged like a funny car and it runs and drives with a 265ci engine. it also has a dummy blower and a four-speed transmission. It is the original.
Deciding he needed more of those, Mark purchased a VW bug body from Chuck Miller of Styline Kustoms of Detroit, Michigan, so he could build a Zinger clone (he still has the original mold). The dune buggy utilizes the same kind of go kart body that Steve Tansy used on the original Zinger. If there is a designated scale definition to the larger Zinger’s, Mark won’t hazard a guess at what it is. Mark hand fabricated the chassis, suspension, narrowed the rear axle, built the blower manifold and the headers, made the tail on the dune buggy as well as the windshield frame.
As a side note: Steve Tansy spent nearly 40 years remodeling famous cars like the Batmobile, Ecto-1 used in Ghostbusters, and the Black Beauty used in The Green Hornet. Tansy then promoted them at car shows across the country alongside the very stars that made them (the cars) famous. Mark said, “I just wanted the Zingers because they are cool. I previously owned the real Zinger dragster and foolishly sold it!” These Zinger clones are large enough to hold real engines but contain no moving parts.
The Dream Rod
Another full sized car Mark collected is the legendary Car Craft “Dream Rod.” Originally built by the late Bill Cushenberry in 1963, the car is made up of several different production car pieces. The front fenders and doors are from a 1960 Pontiac, the upper rear quarter tops are 1960 Corvair, the windshield and top are 1953 Studebaker, and a 1952 Jowett Jupiter chassis (a British sports car built between 1951-54) with VW torsion bar front suspension is framed in conduit. The rest of the body is made out of sheetmetal and lead. It took Mark five years to restore the Dream Rod after finding it in 2005. he debuted the vehicle at the Detroit Autorama show in 2009.
These days, Mark is enjoying several of his 1960s-built kustom vehicles by showing them off at local cruises and kustom shows across the U.S. We asked Mark if there were other famous cars or collectibles he wanted, to which he replied. “I have been actively collecting for the past 25 or so years, but have been more serious for the past 10 years. Just recently, I realized that I probably have enough in my collection and think I might slow down. We will have to wait and see if I can!”