For these South Jersey guys, cars and motorcycles are much more than transportation – they’re a way of life. Check out their awesome rides, and see how they’re making every mile count.

GTO_DSC47771969 Pontiac GTO Judge

You know your car must be cool when Jerry Seinfeld, an auto enthusiast and avid collector, wants to drive it.

“I got word that Jerry Seinfeld was looking for a 1969 Judge with a carousel-red paint job for his web series ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’” says Joe Bartha of Williamstown. “I sent his people in New York some pictures of my car, and a few days later they came down in a flat-bed truck and took it back to New York City.”

For the show, Seinfeld slid behind the wheel of Bartha’s GTO and invited fellow comedian Howard Stern to join him in the passenger seat. Throughout the episode, viewers can hear the throaty growl of the quintessential American muscle car, and at one point, Seinfeld says, “A GTO is for a guy who wants to tell the world, ‘I will not be going quietly.’”

The distinctive sound of the Pontiac GTO Judge is just one of the reasons that Bartha and his wife Ronnie love the car. “It took three years to restore the car to its original glory. We brought everything back – the interior, the body, the engine and the paint,” says Bartha.

The carousel-red paint, as Seinfeld knows, is one of the hallmarks of a real GTO Judge, says Bartha. “There were only 6,850 Judges made in 1969, and we have all the documentation for our car. The Judge was a specialty package. Besides the paint color, the car had more horsepower, wider tires, different decals and a rear spoiler.”

The GTO Judge was also famous for its four-speed Hurst shifter that had a unique T-shaped handle. “It’s a four-speed, which makes it fun to drive,” says Bartha. “And that’s the whole point of it.”

ford_DSC48702006 Ford GT

Brian Bates has been working on cars since he was old enough to hold a wrench. “My whole family is into cars, so I’ve always loved them and enjoyed working on them,” he says. “In high school, my dad and I took the top off a Trans Am and turned it into a custom convertible.”

It’s no surprise that these days, Bates is the COO/CFO of Holman Automotive. It’s the perfect fit for the car enthusiast, and it allows him to stay on the lookout for rare cars – and you can’t get much more rare than his 2006 Ford GT. “There were only 4,033 Ford GTs produced in 2005 and 2006, and only 529 of them were black,” says Bates. “I had a contact in Arkansas who found the car in Canada for me two years ago – it wasn’t easy to find.”

The sleek Ford GT began as a concept car built in anticipation of the automaker’s 100-year anniversary, and the designers drew inspiration from Ford’s GT40 racing cars of the 1960s. The modern GT model features a number of unique technologies, including one-piece door panels and a “ship-in-a-bottle” gas tank (all the fuel components are sealed within the tank itself).

The 550-horsepower mid-engine car was also obviously built for speed. Records show the GT goes from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, and its top speed is “over 200 miles per hour,” says Boyle.

Though he’s aware his GT performs at an amazingly fast speed, Boyle prefers to keep it under wraps in his garage, where he also stores his 1963 split-window Corvette, 1967 convertible Corvette and a bright-orange McLaren. “The GT only has 600 miles on it – I keep it covered and very rarely do I take it out.”

chopper_DSC4742Boomer 1 Custom Chopper

It all started with a dog.

Bob Young knew he wanted to honor his beloved border collie, Boomer, and he also wanted a creative way to give back to the community through his company, Geese Chasers. So in 2009, he turned to Vinnie DiMartino and Cody Connelly, best known for the reality TV show “American Chopper,” and commissioned them to build a custom chopper.

To Young and his son Kyle, Boomer was the perfect inspiration for the powerful bike – the family dog was the driving force behind the family’s successful business. When commissioning the bike, Young told DiMartino and Connelly, “I want it based on the border collie, how they stalk and how effective they are at goose control. They have a humane method of clearing geese and keeping them off properties.”

The resulting custom chopper took four months to build. The bike’s custom-yellow paint job features the Geese Chasers logo, and upon closer inspection, several expertly air-brushed images of Boomer.

It also has a powerful Harley-Davidson motor; massive, road-gripping tires and gleaming handlebars created by V-Force Custom. The Rolling Thunder softail suspension makes the bike built to ride, says Kyle. “Sometimes choppers like this have a rigid frame, which makes them uncomfortable, but this bike is really comfortable.”

But despite the smooth ride, Kyle says they don’t take it out on the open road. “My dad wanted the bike to be used for local charities to help raise awareness and money for their causes. We take it to appearances and shows, so people can get a closer look. It’s helping people while honoring Boomer, which is really cool.”

engine_DSC49291971 Ward LaFrance Engine 71

For John Burzichelli, fire trucks aren’t vehicles that come to the rescue – instead, he rescues them.

“It’s my hobby,” says Burzichelli. “I find them in junk yards, fix them up and find them homes. Old fire trucks are special because they’re all made by hand. So much craftsmanship goes into them, yet so many of them get cast aside because people don’t have room to store them.”

Burzichelli, who is an Assemblyman in the state’s third legislative district, has been conducting these rescue missions for decades and has since amassed nine fire trucks.

“I have trucks that range from 1949 to 1971,” he says. “The 1971 is the model that was featured on the 1970s TV show ‘Emergency!’ When I got it, it was in pretty good shape, but it needed some body and pump work, along with a paint job. It doesn’t have many creature comforts – it was made to drive right out of the firehouse and go to work – but everything on it is still in working order.”

Burzichelli’s Engine 71 and other fire trucks rotate between his home and his Paulsboro film production facility, Hill Theatre Studio. He also brings his fire engines to various events as a member of the Glasstown Antique Fire Brigade, a South Jersey chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America founded in 1982.

“I also own the remnants of the Ward LaFrance fire engine manufacturer that was based in Elmira Heights, New York. The remnants include all the company’s drawings, photos, parts and archival data,” says Burzichelli, who also co-authored the book “Ward LaFrance Fire Trucks: 1918-1978 Photo Archive.” “I purchased the remnants and wrote the book because I wanted to preserve the company’s history.”

rolls_DSC49771996 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur

The Spirit of Ecstasy, the “winged lady” who adorns the hood of each Rolls-Royce, has long been a symbol of motoring luxury. For Thomas Weinhardt, the glimmering ornament represents beauty, grace – and fun.

“I bought this car because I wanted to use it and enjoy it, not just have it sitting in my garage,” says Weinhardt, who lives in Sewell and is chairman of the Keystone Region Rolls-Royce Owners Club. “I start it up and drive it once a week. My wife and I have fun taking it down the Shore and to our vacation home on Nantucket in the summer. We also get together with other members of the car club for a lot of great events throughout the year.”

Weinhardt says his Silver Spur is one of the last “truly authentic” Rolls-Royce models built in Crewe, England, before the legendary company was acquired by BMW and its operations were moved to Goodwood, England. “This is actually my seventh Rolls-Royce,” says Weinhardt. “I kept driving past a dealership that had this car for sale. One day I decided to stop, and the next thing I knew, I had bought it.”

His Silver Spur’s rich, “triple black” exterior exemplifies understated elegance, while its interior is a study in beautiful splendor with supple, natural-grain leather and gleaming wood accents. Plush sheepskin floor mats, along with two folding picnic trays and fully reclining seats for rear passengers, make riding in the car an opulent experience.

“To keep the car in top shape, maintenance is of utmost importance,” says Weinhardt. “It’s not the kind of car you can take to Jiffy Lube for a quick oil change. But I don’t mind, because preserving the car is something I truly enjoy.”

June 2015
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