New England’s Hidden Gem – Maine Line Exotics

A lot of people love New England because of the old American feel. Buildings that were built in the 1800’s still have that old authentic look but are usually renovated inside to have a newer, more comfortable interior and to make them energy compliant. There are some nice beaches around the New Hampshire and Maine coast but the water is too cold. Mountains and a lot of things that is considered the “outdoors man dream” are available in just a few hours of driving. Sounds like an awesome place to live in, but sadly, this is not for me. I grew up in the city and have always been a big fan of the urban jungle. Houses next to each other, little to no yard. Cars and people rustling and bustling has always been the lullaby for me before going to sleep. Now living in New Hampshire, I miss the feeling of being in the city. I often make a drive down to Boston just to get a taste of the city that I have always miss. One craving that I am always thirsting for is my love and passion for cars. It seems like it doesn’t matter how deeply I immerse myself into the scene around here, it’s always not enough. I feel like a blood thirsty vampire that lives in the woods and all I can get my hands on are the animals around. I need more.

I’ve been doing a lot of web surfing just to look around and see the things that I miss in digital form. I browse through numerous websites and read a bunch of articles about cars. I then came across an article, an article from Jalopnik that has been familiar to me that appeared like a virus three years ago has now came back to haunt me. It’s about a guy that posted a Toyota 2000GT on eBay. It seems like the article is mocking the owner. Saying that he just collects cars and lets them sit in his garage, and according to the reader’s comments, they felt the same way. I would’ve probably thought the same. I then began more research about this, why is this guy selling a Toyota 2000GT? Does he not know the value of this piece of history?

I started investigating through numerous website about who owns the car and where they’re located. A guy named Peter Starr keeps on popping up, and according to the eBay listing, they are located in Biddeford, Maine. Well, today is my lucky day! That is less than an hour away from me. I browsed even more website to figure out who Peter Starr is. I came across an article from the New York Times stating that “Mr. Starr and a business partner claim to have either owned or restored 50 of the 62 Toyota 2000GTs that were officially imported into the United States.” AHA! Mr. Starr is not a collector (well he is… but–) he’s more importantly an enthusiast. For someone that either owned or restored 50 out of the 62, there is no way that this guy would sell his last 2000GT. NO. WAY.

DSC00318How can I get a hold of him? It was a dead end. I messaged the eBay seller with hopes that he would read it and allow me to see his cars and hear his story. I pressed send and hoped for the best. A few weeks passed and my eBay inbox sat empty. I woke up everyday thinking, I want this story, I want to hear how they started and what made them start wanting 2000GT’s. It finally came, a reply. Peter Starr replied with an email stating that he’s currently out of state and wouldn’t be back until late May. However, his partner, Bob Tkacik, is here and I would be able to reach him. On his signature block was a website www.mainelineexotics.com. Oh, it’s a car dealer, I thought to myself. They deal high end cars. Fair enough. Still, I had to tame my excitement down before I made the call.

IMG_5565-Recovered

The day of the visit had finally come. I headed up north after a Sunday dim sum brunch in Chinatown, Boston to the self proclaimed “Vacationland” state, Maine. I expected the place to be a barn in an isolated area, I was wrong. I pulled up to a public parking and gathered my camera gear. A guy with salt and pepper hair was sweeping the sidewalk in front of the building which I was about to enter. I politely asked, “Excuse me, are you Bob?”, he replied with an out of country accent, “No, I’m Tony. The janitor.” “Oh…. uhmm, is Bob around?” He then smiled and said without the accent, “Nah, I’m Bob.”  We shook hands. It was a perfect way to break the ice.

IMG_5444It was weird how Bob had already been expecting me even before I had contacted his business partner Peter Starr. He has heard about me before and was certain that I’ve contacted him in the past. Could this be a sign? Q&A ensued almost immediately. I asked him if the article was true that they either owned or restored 50 out of the 62 Toyota 2000GT that was exported in the United States. I was corrected by him immediately, “52!” So it is true. As I walk in, the very first thing I saw was the Shelby #1 Toyota 2000GT (which will be featured at a later date), I was in a complete shock and awe that I had completely ignored the mint condition Opel 1900 parked right beside it. I admired the beauty and the lines of the 2000GT, not only for the fact that it’s so rare to see one in the United States but to have  the #00001 Carroll Shelby built back in the 60’s right before me. It’s the first out of three that Shelby had built. I wanted to save this one for last as far as my tour goes. I asked Bob if there are other cars available in the shop, since I only saw three, the Shelby 2000GT, the Opel 1900, and an Oldsmobile Super 88 convertible. He said, yes, there are plenty more cars. I looked around and asked, where? He pointed towards the wall and said, right next door. Can we see it?

DSC00360 DSC00338 DSC00340

He opened the sliding door that connects to the other building and BOOM! It was paradise. My jaw literally dropped as soon as we entered the warehouse right next door. While I pushed my jaw up in it’s proper position, I couldn’t stop the side of my lips from raising higher than my mouth. The smile could not be contained.

IMG_5253

My initial thought was, wow this is a great car dealer to have these rare cars around. Again, I was proven wrong. I started talking to Bob further on what made them obtain the cars. He humbly stated, “Because we love cars.” These cars are their private collection. Of course everything has a price tag but it’s not being advertised, these are the cars that they love and decided to make theirs. None of them are actively for sale, except for one, a 1967 Shelby GT500. I asked him why, his answer was because he doesn’t get to drive it anymore. Wait, you drive your cars? The answer I got made me more interested in Bob’s way of thinking about cars. He said that cars are meant to be driven, they were made for our pleasure to drive. The level of respect that I had for this guy just went from up there, to waaayyyy up there. I’m not talking to a car salesman, I’m talking to a guy who loves and is very passionate about cars. I have come to the right place.

Bob is an enthusiast, at much higher level than anyone I have had the pleasure of speaking to on U.S. soil. By the way he speaks about cars, his body language and eyes just scream passion. The love for cars. Yes, he collects them, but also drives them the way they are meant to be driven. For fun.

We didn’t get to take out any cars for a shoot due to the fact that there is still salt residue from the past winter we just had. The tour and walk around started, I want to share this experience with you as much as I can. 

So without further adieu, the first one that caught my eye was the Ferrari 330 GTS. Only 100 of these V12 monsters were produced and I am looking at one of them in real life. Yes, yes I did get to touch it.

IMG_5247-RecoveredIMG_5248-Recovered

Another Ferrari brethren was just chilling in the middle: 330 P4 Recreation. A 330 GT body donor that was then worked on by Jim Carpenter’s Italian Design and Racing shop in Tempe, Arizona. The first one to use a 550 Maranello V12. A 600hp monster.

IMG_5255 IMG_5256 IMG_5260 DSC00292 DSC00302

Two BMWs, first was a Z8. A car that is familiar to the James Bond fanatics, featured in the movie “The World is Not Enough.” I remember wanting one of these growing up.

DSC00277 DSC00236 IMG_5261

Right beside it, a 507 Roadster. The Z8’s front was inspired from this car. What was supposed to be an affordable car to reach the American buyer became a flop once they realized that it would cost double than what they anticipated. The original plan to produce 5,000 units per year had turned to 252 total builds.  What seemed to be the verge of BMW’s bankruptcy back in the day is now worth millions to car collectors.

IMG_5265 IMG_5267 IMG_5269

Another car that I enjoyed was the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL. Well known for its distinctive gullwing doors and it’s fastest top speed back in the day, thanks to it’s fuel injected engine, the first ever that was available to consumers. Even though the doors seems to be child proof, I loved how it was designed to keep it aerodynamic. And to think that this was built in 1955! This is where the present day SLS AMG got their looks from.

IMG_5276 IMG_5279 IMG_5285 IMG_5283 IMG_5286

More Ferraris were on the floor. A Dino 246 GTS. The best tribute a father can give, Enzo to his son Dino. This one in particular was sent back to it’s homeland of Italy back in the 90’s to have it restored. It has been repainted to Nero color and the interior was designed by Joe Nastasi’s liking (prior owner) the seats were reupholstered by Luppi himself with crema conolly hides with Bordeaux stitching and Daytona inserts. Bob loved this combination so much that he ordered his 458 Italia with the same color specification.

IMG_5289

That’s where it leads us to, the 458 Italia. A car that Bob has been lusting for ever since the initial reveal of the Spider back in 2012. Now this 2014 458 has the same color scheme that the Dino carries.

DSC00233 DSC00247

So you might be thinking that all they have are imports, so let’s talk about the cars that they have from the land of the brave, America. First on the list is the 67 Shelby GT500 that is currently for sale. The interior is still in it’s original unrestored state and has been featured in several publications and also won 4 major SAAC award. For a mere $148,000 you can drive this baby home with all the documents to prove that this is definitely worth every penny.

IMG_5329 IMG_5325 IMG_5334

One of Peter Starr’s favorite is a 1951Plymouth Cranbrook Convertible. Imagine a road trip in one of these rolling couches. I always imagine them in rat rod condition. But due to the fact that Peter and Bob likes cars in their almost pristine original condition, this will never happen anytime soon.

DSC00271 IMG_5321 IMG_5323

Right here is a Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible. This one has all the factory options possible installed with a four speed transmission.

IMG_5319 IMG_5316 IMG_5317

Two Stingrays were on the floor as well. One of them is a ’67 427 boasting a 435hp big block engine. With the signature side exhaust, this car will sure turn some head from the sound it produces.

IMG_5315 IMG_5309 IMG_5312

This Stingray is a ’63 327. The car was so pristine that even the late “Father of Corvette” Zora Duntov and the person who designed the Stingray, Larry Shinoda signed the hood of the car back in the 90’s, attesting the quality of this beauty.

IMG_5302 IMG_5294 IMG_5296 IMG_5304 IMG_5297 DSC00311

There was a couple more cars that didn’t really capture my eye all that much, like the Morgan Plus 8. The car looked very promising exterior wise but was disappointed with the interior that didn’t match it’s vintage lines. If I was to summarize my trip to this warehouse into a few words, my response would be, “The most common car there was a Ferrari 360 Modena.”

DSC00264

My expectations at first of what I was about to get into were nothing compared to what I saw and experienced. The person who I thought I would be meeting was beyond what I had imagined. I cannot speak for what Peter Starr has to say, and can only talk about Bob Tkacik, but Bob had the aura of a person who has a very special place in his heart for the love of cars.

As for me, the trip was a solid blast of what I have been searching for through the years I have been in the North East. One for the books, it was something that would be hard to forget. For me this was the best scenery that I have ever seen living in New England. I am crossing my fingers that one of these days I will get a phone call from Maine Line Exotics to ask me for a cruise with one of the cars in their private collection. I wouldn’t mind hearing more stories from Bob and Peter about the passion that we share; the joy of driving.

Maine Line Exotics

Comments

comments

  2 comments for “New England’s Hidden Gem – Maine Line Exotics

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: