Down to Heaven

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 10/2009
  • posted in: Great Garages

When Greg Winn’s wonderful wife, Mary, is upset with his automophilia or other infractions, she sends him to the basement to seek guidance and to offer penance. He slips into his glass elevator or descends industrial-grade steps from the main-level of his 17,600-square-foot Paradise Valley home and guest quarters. Here he retires to his fortress of solitude. The kryptonite of everyday stresses is galaxies away.

“This is my doghouse,” he says with a determined pout. Before him and you are 16 classic Chevrolet Corvettes as well as vintage hot rods such as a ‘39 Ford coupe, with a Corvette engine, of course, shimmering in neon blue lacquer.

Themed as a recycled brick warehouse (memories of youth and corporate work), the 7,200-square-foot penthouse garage is built with 12-inch-thick reinforced concrete walls 18 feet floor to ceiling and an open steel-joist system on which sit steel pans poured with concrete. After all, just above is the street-level garage, which accommodates an additional five cars.

Outside the basement garage is a large power garage door, which opens to a car-washing area and the ramp to the street-level driveway. On a frame-stretcher, a 9-by-24-foot vinyl billboard/mural by car artist, Missouri’s Dana Forrester, faces the door: The mural depicts 11 of Winn’s Corvettes against an old-brick backdrop — mirroring the actual garage interior.

On the interior walls, Winn placed his collection of original neon automobilia such as a rusting 6-by-8-foot Mobil Oil Pegasus sign on the south wall; an 18-foot-high Oldsmobile sign on the garage wall; and a ‘40s-vintage 39-inch Dunlop (Tires) clock overlooking the pool table. He’s even created a service area, with a restored “Polly” gasoline pump and water and air island in bright green.

This is a complete man-cave, a fully engineered male fantasy. Greg also installed an adjacent glass-enclosed shop area, with cobalt-blue cabinetry; a carpeted wet-bar and billiards area, with a cobalt-blue pool table top; a theater, with plum wool carpeting and plum upholstered walls and a fiber-optic “sky”; and a red-and-black racing-flag-inspired bathroom.

To keep his cool rides just that, Greg’s had installed air conditioning as well as a dust-bacteria filtration system. “It’s similar to a hospital sterile room — normal medium filters followed by electronic filters and finished with a special filter for bacteria,” Greg explains. He adds that the system has automatic humidifiers that are adjustable to set for ideal maintenance of seals, rubber and paint.

Here are five of the Winn Vettes, in Greg’s words:

1953 Corvette- “It’s the 13th production Corvette built, with 18,363 original miles. It’s all original equipment and in its original state today, including the 235-cubic-inch ‘Blue Flame’ six-cylinder engine, transmission, with original options such as a heater and a signal-seeking radio. Even the paint shows the hand-laid fiberglass of the early production cars.

I purchased this car in June 2003. I had to have a ‘53 as the crown jewel of my collection. After all, it was the first year of production, and only 300 were built. I was really lucky to land it as they are very rare, and with a production number of 13, it is definitely one of the handful of early cars that survive today. I was 4 years old when the car was built.

I am going to have the car mechanically restored but not touch it otherwise. Cosmetically, I believe the car should be left in its original state, paint checks/cracks and all. To paint it and lose the fiberglass matting would be a crime. By the way, it’s not for sale, as I get asked all the time. Ask my kids when I am gone.”

1962 Corvette- “It’s Tuxedo Black with black interior and tops and has the optional 360- horsepower, fuel-injected 327-cubic-inch engine with high-lift camshaft, four-speed transmission, Positraction, whitewall tires, hard and soft tops, and Wonder Bar radio. The mileage is just 34,176.

This is by far my favorite Corvette: When I was 13 years old, I had a friend with ‘rich parents.’ He was given a new red ‘62 Corvette for his 16th birthday. He let me drive it in the high school parking lot one Sunday afternoon — and I was hooked. It was the coolest car. I was ‘driving’ a Honda 55 trail bike at the time.

I made myself a promise that if I ever made it I was going to own a ‘62. Well, I have a ‘62 today which, while not red, is one of the finest examples around. I really enjoy this car, and the way it is equipped, it is definitely the best of what 1962 had to offer. 1962 was the last year of the C1 chassis and exposed headlights. As an aside, this is a very fast car for its time and is a blast to drive.”

1963 Z06 Split Window Coupe- “Only 199 Z06 Corvettes were produced for the model year. The Z06 option was created by Zora Arkus-Duntov to take on all comers, including Carol Shelby’s new Cobra. It carries a 360-horsepower 327-cubic inch solid-lifter fuel-injected engine, a four-speed Muncie synchronized transmission, 3:70 Positraction differential, black wall tires and radio delete. It has a saddle-tan interior.

The Z06 special performance equipment includes a Kelsey Hayes dual-circuit master cylinder, special power brake booster, oversized segmented, sintered metallic brake linings, special finned brake drums with fans for cooling, air scoops to direct cool air to the brakes, vented backing plates all around, one-inch front sway bar and heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers. This option increased the price of the new Corvette by about 30 percent.

A multi-award-winning car: I was fortunate to be able to buy it from the original owner. He had saved all the documentation: window sticker, retail order form, dealer invoice, deposit check when ordered, receipt for the certified check for final payment when the car was delivered, bill of sale, original owner’s manual, warranty book, etc. We also have the original owner’s pin and jacket patch. It is truly a piece of Corvette history.”

1965 Corvette Convertible- “Glen Green with black interior and top. Mileage is 26,679. It’s optioned with a 396-cubic-inch big block V-8, 425 horsepower, transistor ignition, four-speed transmission, teakwood steering wheel, 4:11 Positraction gears, radio delete, two sets of wheels with the original knock-offs.

This car is all original except the wiper blades and the battery. It is a Bloomington Gold Survivor award-winning car. I have a lot of people call and want to photograph this car. We even put in on the lift so they can photograph the underside of the car.

It is a great piece of history and another fun car to drive — the first of the famous GM big-block motors. The car is complete with the first owner’s title and the history of ownership: all manuals, Protect-O-Plate. I am the third owner.”

2009 ZR1- “It’s Jet Stream Blue. I paid 20K over the sticker and was able to order the car in the color I wanted and fully equipped. This is one of the finest cars I have ever owned and is unbelievable to drive. Nothing can touch it for its value/performance ratio. It may be the last new Corvette I buy. It is sheer heaven to be behind the wheel.”