Written by Nicole Ellan James
We all have one: that fictional garage in your mind that holds a long list of the cars you will buy when you have the money to obtain them. For those who have prospered, that dream garage is a reality. And like the ever-evolving list from which we add and take cars away — changing the order in which we would hopefully one day acquire them — some collectors, like John Staluppi, do just that and are always on the hunt.
Staluppi is a businessman, philanthropist, renowned car collector and curator of his very own Cars of Dreams Museum tucked away in Palm Beach, FL.
“I’ve been passionate about collecting cars my entire life, starting with Hot Wheels models when I was just a kid,” Staluppi said. “I’m fascinated by everything from European concept vehicles to hot rods and ’60s-era American muscle cars.”
Staluppi worked as a mechanic and later opened a gas station, followed by a Honda motorcycle dealership franchise. As the dealership business grew, so did his success. In 1977, he moved to Florida, setting up his Cars of Dreams Museum.
The private museum’s Coney Island theme offers a glimpse of Staluppi’s penchant for fun. Memorabilia reminiscent of the iconic amusement park — bumper cars, beachfront boardwalks with a Carvel ice cream store, Nathan’s restaurant and hand-painted murals of the Parachute Jump and the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster — helps set the mood.
Staluppi filled the space with many of the vehicles he purchased at Barrett-Jackson over the years. Featured are original and custom vehicles, including tasteful Resto-Mods and high-quality restorations, in addition to cars Staluppi used to work on or those that remind him of his childhood. At its peak, the collection had more than 140 cars representing a diverse group of vehicles, predominantly convertibles, from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
“It’s about the chase,” Staluppi said. He added, “This is something that’s a passion for me.”
Staluppi said the process of building a “dream collection” for the museum is enjoyable. He added that he and his wife “enjoy the hunt for the perfect collection as much as we do driving the cars. We intend to start over again and build a new dream collection.”
True to his word, Staluppi is offering the over three dozen vehicles from his Cars of Dreams collection – all with No Reserve.
Starting with this limited-edition 2018 Ford GT which celebrates the 1967 Le Mans-winning GT40 Mark IV race car driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt. This 2018 model bears a high-gloss Race Red finish topped with white stripes and Frozen White No. 1 race-number graphic on the hood and doors as an homage to the historic race car. Red brake calipers and silver rearview mirror caps complete the look. The titanium exhaust and lug nuts on the 20-inch one-piece forged aluminum wheels with Silver Satin clear coat are unique to the limited-edition model.
This special GT also features unique interior colors and materials, including the leather trimming for the carbon-fiber seats with the added 6-point harness anchor option. Red accent stitching carries over from the seats to the steering wheel. This edition also has red seat belt webbing, with paddle shifters in anodized gray. The dash sports a unique serialized identification plate, indicating it is one of 250 produced in 2018.
Power comes from a mid-mounted 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine generating 647hp and 550 ft/lbs of torque, paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Other modern cars offered from the collection include a 1998 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car convertible, 2008 Cadillac XLR custom convertible and a supercharged 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4×4 custom SUV.
The 1970s vehicles include a 1972 Honda Z600 coupe. The orange coupe made its debut at the start of the oil crisis and the ensuing gas shortage. The car first resonated with Staluppi because it is powered by a rebuilt 598cc Honda 2-stroke motorcycle engine, and he was in the motorcycle business.
This 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45 custom pickup received a no-expense-spared nut-and-bolt restoration with 1,200 miles since its completion. It rides on a 2-inch lift, with 20-inch Hardrock Gunner wheels wrapped in 33-inch tires. Power comes from a 4.2-liter 6-cylinder engine paired with a 4-speed manual transmission and a rebuilt drivetrain.
Finished in red with a tan interior, this 1977 Ford Bronco custom SUV features all-new body panels and sits on a custom Kincer Engineering chassis with a built-in 2-inch lift. Power comes from a Ford Coyote engine and automatic transmission with a 4-wheel drive transfer case. Additionally, it has aluminum wheels and a spare tire carrier with a new spare tire and wheel.
Finished in PPG special-mix Charcoal Metallic, this 1962 Chevrolet Corvette custom roadster is powered by a new 6.2-liter LT1 GM Performance crate engine with an Edelbrock supercharger mated to a new 4L65E automatic transmission from GM Performance.
The collection also includes a 1966 Chevrolet C10 custom pickup. This Resto-Mod was completed in 2018 and receives power from a 5.7-liter V8 LS engine hooked to a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission with a Lokar shifter and line lock. The C10 uses CPP suspension while stopping power is provided by CPP disc brakes.
This 1967 Shelby GT500 fastback underwent a comprehensive ground-up restoration in 1997 and has been well-maintained ever since. Finished in its original color of Brittany Blue Metallic over a black deluxe comfort-weave interior, this GT500 is powered by a 428ci V8 engine mated to an automatic transmission. The car still retains its original sheet metal and wood steering wheel. It comes with a Deluxe Marti Report and copies of other relevant documents.
Ready to cross the block from the collection is a custom Pro-Touring 1969 Chevrolet Camaro convertible equipped with an LS1 all-aluminum V8 engine featuring a Z06 intake and port-matched headers backed by a 4L60E 4-speed automatic transmission. It sits on a Guldstrand modified front subframe and all-aluminum Corvette C4 independent rear suspension and subframe connectors. The car has power disc brakes with slotted and drilled rotors on all four corners with stainless steel brake lines and QA1 dual adjustable coilover shocks. It features a high-gloss Dodge Viper Pearl Blue paint with white SS stripes and a white convertible top with a glass rear window and a matching custom boot.
A 1969 Ford Bronco custom 4X4 pickup has benefited from a comprehensive frame-off restoration. It’s powered by a factory Ford Coyote 5.0-liter V8 engine backed by a 6R80 automatic transmission and a Ford 9-inch rear end with 4.56 gears. It is also equipped with a Dana transfer case and upgraded with a Dana 44 front axle. Mickey Thompson wheels with bead-lock rims complete the look.
Also from the 1960s is a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette formerly owned by Chuck Zito, 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Fuelie convertible, 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible, 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle custom convertible, 1967 Chevrolet Corvette custom coupe and another 1969 Chevrolet Camaro custom convertible.
From the 1950s is this 1953 Buick Skylark convertible that won the AACA Senior National First Prize in 1999. It is powered by a 322ci Nailhead V8 engine coupled with an automatic transmission. The car has been mechanically sorted with no expense spared, and it features a power top, power brakes, and power steering.
The 1957 Desoto Adventurer convertible offered from the collection has been fully restored and is finished in factory gold with white accents. Power comes from a 345ci HEMI V8 engine mated to an automatic transmission. Additionally, this car has been equipped with power steering, power brakes, tan leather interior, power seat, power windows and a self-seeking radio.
This 1957 Pontiac Bonneville convertible is one of 630 produced. It was restored to factory specifications, utilizing many NOS parts, more than 12 years ago. The car is powered by a fuel-injected 347ci V8 engine backed by an automatic transmission.
This 1958 Edsel Bermuda custom wagon is known as “Edsel’s Edsel” and is autographed by Edsel B. Ford II. Roush Performance modified the car in 2016. The most significant customization to the vehicle was swapping out the manual transmission for an automatic that utilized the original steering column-shifted configuration. Roush equipped the car with the period-correct two-pedal system appropriate for the automatic transmission and installed transmission oil cooler lines to accomplish the swap. The team modified the steering column to accept the fabricated transmission control linkage and PRNDL indicator to the new transmission. Roush modified the exhaust system, and a new driveshaft was designed and built to accommodate it.
This 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz custom is one of 815 built that year, and is now an incredible Resto-Mod. The car is powered by a 2012 LQ9 ESV engine with Holley Terminator electronic fuel injection hooked to a 4L65E transmission. It features Wilwood disc brakes, power steering, power windows, power top, and power seats. Black with gold trim accents, it features a power top, black leather interior and whitewall tires.
Finished in a Burnt Orange, the 1936 Ford Phaeton custom on offer was designed and built by Grumpy’s Hot Rod Shop. Stance comes from an AirRide suspension system and a set of Boyd Coddington rims, while power is derived from an LT4 Chevrolet engine paired to a 700 R4 transmission with a 9-inch rear end. One of the most intriguing features of this car is the electric hideaway license plate.
A 1938 Diamond T custom pickup on a 2006 General Motors chassis is among the cars ready to cross the auction block. Finished in Black Cherry paint, the pickup truck retains its original and unchopped dimensions up front, while the bed shape is altered at the rear. Inside, the brown leather interior complements many modern conveniences. A fuel-injected GM 8.1-liter V8 engine hooked to a 4-speed automatic transmission supplies power.
Other cars from the 1930s offered from the collection include a 1933 Ford Sedan Delivery custom coupe, 1935 Ford Model T custom roadster, 1936 Plymouth Phantom 4-door custom convertible and a 1939 Cadillac custom convertible.
The 2022 Palm Beach Auction, held April 7-9 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, offers guests a rare opportunity to view — and even take home — these highly desirable cars from the Cars of Dreams collection.