Auto Zone Hobbies store shows off super hobby

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — Pasteiner’s/Auto Zone Hobbies, a purveyor of automotive books and periodicals, models and graphics here on North Woodward Avenue, has become a regular year-around weekend stop for car lovers.

Owners and onlookers arrive early on Saturday mornings to show off their cars or admire others’ rides.

And they tend to be serious rides: high-powered and high-ticket cars from Ferrari, Jaguar, Chevrolet, Chrysler, BMW, Cobra, Mercedes-Benz — you get the idea.

Some enthusiasts buy new. Most seem to track down what they want. There are barn finds (though not at this gathering) and there are hangar finds. Mark Schultz of Rochester purchased his 2010 Ferrari Pininfarina 599 GTB from an owner who was storing it in a hangar in Florida.

“It was in the Tampa Bay area and had only 1,300 miles on it,” Schultz said. The Ferrari is powered by a 660-horsepower V-12.

Road racer Kip Wasenko of Waterford, Mich., bought his 1970 Dino 246 GT back in 1975. While the sleek red two-seater is powered by a Ferrari Formula I 2.4-liter V-6, the family name does not appear on the Dino. A kind of entry level Ferrari, it came this way from the factory, Wasenko said.

Vince Muniga of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. touted his “oldest-car-here-today” 1948 Ford Woodie Wagon. Muniga bought the car six years ago in Long Beach, Calif., where it at one time had been a surfer-mobile. Muniga said he invested 2,000 hours — probably a low estimate — in the complete restoration of the car, which is powered by a 239-inch Ford flathead eight.

After showing the Ford Woodie-specific mahogany and maple wood that make up significant parts of the car, Muniga pointed out less obvious features like the sculpted rear bumper with a slight dip to accommodate the continental tire when the rear door is opened. Wheels featured delicate red pinstriping and handsome chromed hubcaps.

“The dashboard is metal but finished in a maple grain,” Muniga said. “This (1948) was the last year of an all-wood wagon.”

Bright white Detroit Steel Wheels set off Don Wood’s 1969 Pontiac Bonneville. Wood, of Warren, Mich., was disappointed that his crystal turquoise convertible with good-looking original interior and 400-inch engine needed a nose job.

“I was stopped, and the woman ahead of me backed for someone and pushed in the front of my hood,” he lamented. Wood said he had been looking for a big body convertible and bought the Bonneville in 2013.

Ford Woodie owner Muniga commiserated and said his garage has a space cut out apparently to accommodate the elongated hood of some car of an earlier home owner.

Royal Oak resident Alex Kraski was enjoying the show, commenting on vehicles he recognized. A collector with a performance bend, Kraski said he owns a 1979 Dodge truck with 650-horsepower Hemi that takes it from zero to 130 MPH in 11 seconds.

“I built a (VW) Dune Buggy back in 1967; I have a Porsche 911 capable of zero to 80 in seven seconds; I’ve owned a 1967 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL for over 30 years,” Kraski continued. “Mercedes built fewer than 2,400 of this model. It has a top speed of 132 MPH.”

His everyday drivers are a 2007 stick shift Mazda3 and a 1997 Dodge conversion van “for camping,” Kraski said.

As he was leaving the gathering in his E-Type Jaguar, Mark Uhlig of Oakland Township said he helped launch the Saturday mornings at Pasteiner’s back in 2005.

With the roar of engines, squeal of tires and some questionable driving techniques, Saturday cruises end promptly at 10:30 a.m..