Mark Callahan: Dressed in Bowtie’s

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 03/2011
  • posted in: Great Garages

Mark Callahan has always been into Chevy’s — driving them, building them and just looking at them. “I was always a Chevy guy,” says the Scottsdale resident. “What made these pony and mid-size muscle cars so great was that they were affordable for a young kid like me with a part-time job.”

Born in Chicago, Mark left for California after graduating from high school. “I ran out of money after making it to Phoenix,” he recalls. “I got a job here with the intention of eventually making it to Los Angeles and have been here ever since.” He’s owned a construction business here since he was 26, and enjoys road biking, weight-lifting and spending time with wife Patty and his two children, Steven, 18, and Katie, 16.

“My love for cars has been a constant since I was about the age of 5,” Mark recalls, noting that he was influenced by his father who was head of the mechanics shop at Marshall Fields & Company, the large Chicago department store.

The first car he drove was a 1968 Chevelle SSS 396, kicking out a rated 350 horsepower with a four-speed transmission. “It’s a day I will never forget.” The car was owned by his sister’s husband — “a great influence on my life” — who was later killed in Vietnam.

“The garages are places where work does not exist,” he says. “They’re heated and cooled and have cable TV and fridges so you can have a great day with friends and family without being bothered from the outside. You enjoy the cars and the memories they offer from a day ago or 30 years ago. It’s all fun and I love it.”

Mark’s memorable rides:

•1968 Chevelle — “The car had the original 396-cubic inch when I bought it in 2000. I reworked a 454 motor and added a stroker crank and bored it .60 over for its 496 cubic-inches. It’s topped by an 8-71 Mooneyham blower and has 1050 Holley Dominator carburetors, four-wheel Baer disc brakes and American Racing wheels. It was a frame-off restoration: Every piece of the car was painted, polished or power coated. I finished it in 2004.”

•1969 Chevelle SS 396 — “This is an all-original black-on-black 325-horse, air-conditioned car with automatic transmission and AM/FM radio, fitted with American Racing wheels. I bought it in 1998 from a man in Paradise Valley and completed a frame-on restoration.”

•1969 Z-28 — “This is a DZ 302, four-speed, X-33 code car — factory talk for the Z-28. It’s in the middle of a total restoration and will feature the original Lemans Blue exterior with white stripes on a black interior. I found the car back East and hope to finish it within a year.”

•1969 Camaro RS — “The 350-c.i.d. is orange, with black stripes and a deluxe black interior. I restored it about 18 years ago for my son, who was then just 1. I wanted him to have a car similar to the first one I had at 16.”

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