A Visit to the American Muscle Car Museum

Contributed by Russ Muller Photography

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Sometimes, life just throws cool moments at you.  Thanks to either an odd coincidence or divine intervention, I had the opportunity to get a private tour of the American Muscle Car Museum in Melbourne, FL.  This collection is not open to the general public, but it does open for select non-profit fundraising events and educational events for school-age kids.  More on the museum shortly…

When I reached out to Mark Pieloch, the owner of this amazing collection of over 250 rare and/or historically significant examples of American muscle, I was expecting to get either no response or an auto-generated response that would lead me nowhere. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did Mark reply directly to me, he was amcm (14)as gracious and accommodating as can be. Mark is a busy guy, he’s running a successful company in addition to his museum. The fact that he was willing to carve out time for me speaks volumes. We scheduled a day/time to visit, and I started to do my homework. If Mark was going to give me the opportunity to meet him and see his collection, I wanted to be sure that I had my ducks in a row.

I arrived at the museum a few minutes early, where I was greeted by Mark. He was wrapping up with his previous appointment, so I spent a few moments taking in the sights in the outer showroom. Those sights include eight Ford GTs (one in every color made), a 1965 Shelby GT350 Prototype (#10 of 10 made, and the last one known to exist), a 1948 Indian Chief (he’s the second owner), and a 1966 Shelby AC Cobra MK III 427 Roadster, along with a nice collection of restored amcm (1)vintage outboard motors, restored gas pumps, neon signs and assorted automotive memorabilia. After a few minutes, Mark joined me and started chatting. He let me know that he had to leave in ½ hour, as he is still running his business (just down the road). It’s amazing how quickly ½ hour can go by when you’re having an interesting conversation, but I was able to learn a little bit about his humble beginnings and some of the charitable giving he does. If I have the opportunity to speak with him again in the future, I would love to find out more about how he began collecting, how he selects cars, etc. At this point, Mark had his mechanic Jerry continue my personal tour.

Jerry Frye is responsible for the care and upkeep of this amazing collection, and he is as much of a gentleman as Mark. He shared a great deal of information about this collection as we toured it, giving me an education along the way. For example, Mark is apparently the only person who owns one of every color Ford GT. Buying a GT is a little different than buying a “regular” car, and having the money to buy one doesn’t mean that you can buy one.  The silver one has 4 miles on it, the yellow one has 43…amcm (6)

The outer lobby is just the tip of the iceberg.  Upon entering the museum, I opted to start at the Mopar section. The first car I saw was a ’69 Charger Daytona, one of 503 made and a 20,000-original mile car. I could go on all day about the Mopars, between the big-block Dart, the two Superbirds, the ’71 Road Runner, the Challengers (new and old) and the ‘Cudas, but there was lots more to see…

I won’t go into detail about every car in the collection, I’ll give you the website for the museum and let you explore the specific cars on your own. I’ll point out a couple of highlights.  Mark has 25 Yenko cars, at least one of every make and model produced, the most extensive collection in the world. In addition to Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, a amcm (10)Stinger Corvair and a Stinger Vega wagon, he has the one Yenko Trans Am produced, a ’75 with an L-88 427 that is signed by Yenko’s daughter. There’s also a brand new, 800 horsepower 2017 Yenko Corvette that was just added. The Indy Pace Car collection is most impressive. I was able to narrow down my list of favorites to five: The ’55 Bel Air, the ’56 DeSoto, the ’73 Cadillac, the ’70 Olds 442, and the ’79 Mustang. That’s out of 46 Indy Pace Cars in the collection…

amcm (8)There’s a ’68 Shelby GT500KR convertible that caught my eye (no small task, given the 45 Mustangs in the collection, ranging from a ’65 Indy Pace Car to two Boss 429s to a ’66 Shelby GT350H with a matching Revology GT350H replica, and the list goes on…). The color, Royal Maroon, was one I had not seen before. Turns out that it’s 1 of 1 Royal Maroon 1968 GT500KR convertible built. Oh yeah, it was Carroll Shelby’s wife’s personal car!

There’s so many more cars to talk about, but I think that may require a Part 2 in the future. And did I mention the neon? Wow! There’s a few things I want to mention in closing: The museum and service shop building are amcm (12)completely solar-powered, making this a zero-emission museum. Also, they are a 501 (c) 3 charity, and are currently delivering a ’69 Corvette to be raffled off for the benefit of Pieloch Pet Adoption Center in Lincoln, NE. They are also putting the finishing touches on a 1970 Torino GT convertible that they are donating to Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey to be raffled off for the benefit of Brevard’s program to provide pet food to families in need and keep those animals out of shelters.  If you have the opportunity to attend a charity event at the museum, it’s a must-see. If you live in the area, they do need volunteers, and there’s a form on their website you can fill out.  Visit www.americanmusclecarmuseum.com for more information on all of the cars, as well as how you can get involved.

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Author: Tara

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