NORTH PALM BEACH – The four auto enthusiasts sat together on folding chairs, ribbing each other about their cars and occasionally fielding questions about their cool rides.
The crowd flowing into Cars and Coffee Palm Beach, used to a steady diet of high-end exotics and super-charged muscle cars, noticed they were offering something different.
“It is what it is. I don’t want to fix it,” said a grinning Tony Magri, when asked about his rusty farm truck with the words, “Wilbur Pleasant, Pearl City, ILL” on the drivers side door. “Give me your car, $6,000 and 60 years and I’ll give you back this truck.”
The way he sees it, his custom rust bucket is seasoned to perfection.
‘Knuckleheads Car Club’ Composed of Fun-Loving Auto Enthusiasts
Meet the Knuckleheads Car Club, an unofficial group of fun-loving car buffs who tinker on vintage rides, poke fun at each other and revel in the thrill of rebuilding. Florida Fine Cars spoke with the group to find out more.
Lantana resident Art Rauch’s hearse-like white 1955 Chevrolet sedan delivery was pure eye candy for the car lover who favors something different. The 16-foot long station wagon — built like a tank — is one of three registered in Florida, two of which belong to Rauch.
“The frame is stock all the way to the back. The car has been back-halfed,” Rauch explained. “It brings the frame in narrower so you can put wider tires on it.”
Admirers posed for pictures with the car, nodding in admiration.
At first glance, Magri’s reconfigured tractor trailer appeared to be a vintage farm truck. But it’s really a surprising patchwork of auto parts.
Magri, a former truck driver who owns Tony’s 561 Garage in West Palm Beach, bought the rusty old semi truck from a farmer who used it until 2010 to transport a corn shucker. Magri converted the cab to a pickup truck and rebuilt everything else. The end product is the result of about 400 hours of work, he said.
When he started, the hood of the truck was about 10 feet high. The truck is built on a Dodge dually chassis, with a Dodge transmission and a Dodge engine.
“It’s a combination of eight vehicles. The cab is Ford, it has customized 1957 Chevy bumpers, the turn signals are from a Harley Davidson and the hood emblem is from a 1950 Buick,” Magri said. “The visor is off a 1949 Pontiac, the tail lights are from a 1959 Cadillac and it’s all built on a 1972 Mini Winnie motorhome chassis.”
What’s not to like?
“I LOVE it,” said passerby Mike Hartsock, of Hobe Sound. “It’s a classic.”
Nearby, Royal Palm Beach resident Tom Nardullo’s sleek black 1937 Chevrolet Coupe was turning heads.
The 1950s hot rod has been modified and sports an engine with three carburetors and gleaming chrome air filter covers. The car has a single bench seat.
“It was originally used to deliver things.They were called a ‘business coupe.’ They would put things in the trunk,” Nardullo said.
The gas mileage? Terrible, and it leaks oil constantly.
“It’s messy to keep in the garage,” Nardullo confessed. His wife hates it.
Johnny Tortorella’s 1927 red Ford T Bucket is a showstopper but you wouldn’t know it by talking to Magri. Magri refers to the car as a “dune buggy” to get a rise out of his friend.
Tortorella hits back by lobbing insults at Magri’s rusty old truck.
“We make fun of each other’s cars all the time,” Tortorella chuckled.
The T Bucket is a replica of a Model T Ford that was “chopped up” to look like it is today. The car has a 300 HP motor and weighs just 1,500 pounds so it’s pretty quick.
There’s no door so you have to jump in. Tortorella built it for about $20,000 from a kit. It’s equipped with a a 350 HP Chevrolet motor.
Florida Fine Cars Simplifies Used Car Shopping
Florida Fine Cars offers more than 1,500 quality used cars priced thousands below retail at its four locations combined. Florida Fine Cars dealerships are conveniently located in West Palm Beach just north of Palm Beach International Airport and just off Florida’s Turnpike, and in Margate, Hollywood and Miami.
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