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Willy dreams of swapping his rolling collection for a flock of Barrett-Jackson beauties

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For the first 16 years of my life, good old rock 'n' roll was all that mattered. KISS, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, AC-DC. You get the picture. Angry kids dressed in black.

Somewhere along the way my taste in music genres, however, started to expand. It's probably a girl's fault, so thanks.

The same rings true for cars. Early on, all that mattered was one day owning a really fast Camaro. Somewhere along the way my taste in cars also started to expand, probably thanks to a girl who hated that Camaro, so thanks again.

Nowadays my iPod ranges from Johnny Cash to Johnny Rotten to Johnny Winter, and if you promise not to tell anyone, there might even be a few John Mayer songs in there.

My collection of cars is equally eclectic.

For me, sticking with just one genre of music, or vehicles, when there are so many other options out there is akin to only eating the fried chicken at a buffet. Don't get me wrong, I love fried chicken, but it tastes even better with a side of pizza.

While it's a given that my rag-tag collection of vehicles certainly isn't worthy of comparison to the quality found at this week's Barrett-Jackson collector-car auction, feel free to give me a little credit for amassing a diversified rolling (and rattling) portfolio.

As much as I like my collection of cars I'm not emotionally attached to them. If I won the lottery tomorrow I'd give the entire works away to a local charity. But, here's the thing: I'd replace them all with similar genres of vehicles.

Since dreaming about cars we'll probably never own is the best part of the annual Barrett-Jackson event, here's a list of my current collection and the sweet rides that I'd replace them with:

SPORTS CAR

Current ride: 1985 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

Dream Upgrade: Lot # 430, 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertible.

Some guys are into muscle cars, and with all that style and power it's easy to see why. But I've always been into cars that combine a nice mix of muscle with the handling to back it up. A couple of years ago I tricked my lovely lady into thinking I'd bought a 1985 Corvette for her. Truth is, I steal it whenever possible and get a total kick out of driving it.

Multiple vintage Corvettes will roll across the block this weekend, but I've always had a soft spot for C4 'Vettes. And this one is rare. It was actually on display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is one of only 190 Grand Sport convertibles produced in 1996. With 12,600 original documented miles it's barely broken in.

Highlights include the LT-4 330hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission, F45 selective real-time damping suspension, dual power sport seats, electronic air conditioning and a Delco Bose stereo with CD. This is all the Corvette I would ever need, and more.

HOT ROD

Current ride: 1949 Pontiac Silverstreak

Dream Upgrade: Lot #74.2, 1933 Ford 3-window coupe

As much as I like the folksy feeling I get from driving my old patina Pontiac, I'd like to amp up my rock-star profile with this killer '33 Ford. It features a Viper red paint job and is loaded with chrome goodies under the hood and a modern suspension and brakes.

Maybe it's because I was the only kid in St. Norbert junior high with a beard, but I've always loved the band ZZ Top and it's been a longtime dream to roll in an Eliminator clone. The guy who spent countless hours and mucho dollars building this beauty would likely cringe, but the minute I got this car home I'd mask it off and lay down the ZZ Top stripes. I'd probably buy a black suit too. Every girl's crazy about a sharp-dressed man in a bright red hot rod, aren't they?

TRUCK

Current ride: 1994 Chevrolet Scottsdale.

Dream Upgrade: Lot #328.1, 1987 Chevrolet Silverado

Every country gearhead needs a truck to tow a car trailer, transport his dirt bike or go shopping at the local dump. My current ride is a dilapidated piece-of-crap 1994 Chevrolet Scottsdale. I probably shouldn't be so hard on it -- it may be rusty but it's trusty. Highlights include 4x4, a gutless 305 cubic-inch motor and an AM radio.

I've always liked the 1973-87 GM trucks, but settled for the next generation because decent-running older ones are hard to find and expensive. Practically everything on this 1987 Chevrolet Silverado 4x4 is new and, according to the auction description it was professionally restored by Eastern Canada's largest GM dealer. Originally a rust-free California truck, this heartbeat hauler has a mild suspension lift and a brand-new 350 cubic-inch 330 horsepower crate motor. It even has air conditioning and a stereo.

A trip to the dump in this beauty would be a treat.

WORLD BEATER

Current ride: 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Dream Upgrade: Lot #964, 2001 Hummer H1

Since I'm relatively certain the end is near, or at the very least the zombies are coming, I like to keep a rig around in anticipation of the apocalypse. My current end-of-the-world beater is a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a homemade lift kit and 35-inch tires.

While the Cherokee has been through some of the toughest terrain Manitoba has to offer, my replacement Hummer has it beat hands down -- it actually participated in the infamous DAKAR Rally. Highlights include custom paint and graphics, racing seats, custom storage compartments, twin spare-tire racks, a roof rack with Hella lights and a two-way radio. All it needs is a shotgun rack for zombie-hunting and I'm good to go.

UNRESTORED

Current ride: 1972 Plymouth Fury II

Dream Upgrade: LOT: 326.1, 1970 Cadillac Coupe De Ville

Unrestored cars are often referred to as survivors, and climbing in one of these originals is like stepping into a time machine. My 1972 Plymouth Fury II may be a bit rusty, but it's as original as they come and has less than 60,000 miles on the clock. It's even been featured in three movies, including the locally filmed Lazarus Project, where it was driven by Paul Walker of Fast and Furious fame.

As much as the Fury is cool, I'm certain that the big '70 Cadillac that caught my eye at Barrett-Jackson floats like a boat. With 23,000 original miles, original gold paint and a white vinyl top, it screams luxury. A leisure suit would be mandatory when driving it. I'm betting with this classy Cadillac in my collection the movie folks would be calling every time they came to town.

DAILY DRIVER

Current ride: 1995 Nissan Maxima

Dream Upgrade: Lot #324.1,1996 Chevrolet Impala SS sedan

I like to keep a sporty four-door around, and my current mad Maxima is jet black with a black leather interior. Although it requires a bit of rust repair it's in amazing condition. But, if I had the money, my daily driver would be a Chevrolet Impala SS like the super-low-mileage version being sold this week at Barrett-Jackson.

With only 10,707 original miles, it's likely one of the nicest ones in existence. It was owned by a California auto dealer and comes with the original window sticker and owner's manual. It features the original dark Cherry Red paint with a gray leather interior. Under the hood is the LT-1, 5.7-litre, 260-horsepower engine.

Nobody but auto enthusiasts would likely even notice me cruising in this rare Impala, and some may question why I'd opt for a four-door sedan. But you can't see the back two doors when the tires are smoking.

Want to do some dream upgrading of your own? Check out the entire list of vehicles available for sale at the 42nd annual Barrett-Jackson collector-car auction, complete with photos and descriptions at: www.barrett-jackson.com

willy@freepress.mb.ca


BARRETT-JACKSON BASH

WILLY'S Garage presents the sixth annual Barrett-Jackson Bash in support of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation of Manitoba. Watch the world's greatest collector-car auction on the big screens with your friends.

Saturday, Jan. 21 from 5 to 11 p.m. at the downtown Pony Corral Restaurant, 444 St. Mary Ave. Silent auction and door prizes. Teens free with an adult. Tickets are just $10 and are available at all Winnipeg NAPA Auto Parts locations or at the reception desk of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation, 611 Wellington Cres., between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. A limited number of tickets will also be available at the door. Call 230-3404 to reserve yours.

Corporate sponsors

The following companies have donated cash to the Barrett-Jackson Bash in support of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation: Arnold Bros. Trucking, Eastern Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, Chase Auto Body Supplies, Pembina Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep.

Sobeys- Reenders Square, Pet Value- Reenders Square, Auto Check, PartSource- Regent, Rond's Marine, Extreme Performance, Oakbank Credit Union, Bridgeport Office Solutions, Trop/x Tanning Studio- Oakbank Crosstown Civic Credit Union- Regent, Kern Hill Furniture, Global Elements Jewellery, Tocara Jewellery, Salon 855, Dynasty of Hair, Princess Auto, Napa Auto Parts, Piston Ring, Sound Exchange, Pony Corral, Retro Muscle Inc, Enns Brothers, Brian's Window Cleaning, Winnipeg Free Press, Rondex Vickar Mitsubishi, Roger Lusty Artworks, Kildonan Lock Service, Gauthier Automotive Group, Magic Room- Leila Ave.Winnipeg Dodge Chrysler Jeep, A&R Carpet Barn, The Chamois- Reenders, Focus Hyundai, FXR Clothing, Freybe Gourmet Foods, Direct Plus Food Group, Maple Leaf Meats, Lexmark Printers-George Banjavich, IDC Communications, Workboot Factory Outlet Store Ltd., Heads-Up Parts and Machine Shop Service, Western Storage, MTS Winnipeg on Demand, Clearline Storage, Scotiabank-Scotia Dealer Advantage, Maple Leaf Construction, Tony Roma's- Pembina Highway, Aactive Coin Machines, Dawn Lee Trucking, City Bread, Pineridge Hollow, Gotta Go Auto, Harley Davidson Winnipeg, CROWN Honda POWERHOUSE, Partylite, Fountain Tire-Warman Road, Action Sign Services, NAPA Auto Parts, Red River Co-op Speedway, Schmidt family, Bergman family, Radey family, Ketcheson family, Allard family, Willy's Garage.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2012 F1

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