Tommie Lee Austin: It Runs in the Family

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 02/2010
  • posted in: Great Garages

Tommie Lee Austin grew up with cars and then never grew up.

“My dad was in the car business,” says the Gilbert resident, who was born in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1953. “Warm weather and sunshine brought me to Arizona.”

“Muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s represent an age of free spirit and youthful exuberance — icons of an age gone by,” Tommie says. “It was the golden age for the car market and will probably not be replaced.”

Tommie connected himself with “Factory Muscle,” a collection by well-known lawyer, Patrick J McGroder III, in the 1980s. “Pat’s Vision was to acquire the most famous and desirable muscle cars of the 1960s to early ‘70s, by the top American builders,” Tommie explains.

In the late ‘90s, Tommie purchased a number of Pat’s rarest cars — “I wish I had bought them all” — while he and Pat became great friends.

Another friend is Scottsdale’s Joey Cascio, owner of JSC Motorcars, who has been buying and selling late-model highline and classic cars on eBay for six years.

“I met Tommie a few years back when he came to me to sell cars for him on eBay,” he says. “I guess I did a good job because now Tommie and I are best of friends and have been working together buying and selling cars on eBay for three years now. We have even sent cars to Dubai.”

Today, Tommie’s added motorcycles, scooters, mini bikes, bikes and models to his collection. “I am always looking, buying and selling,” he says.

Here are some of Tommie’s joys, in his words:

•1966 Sunbeam Tiger — “This is a one-of-a-kind factory race car with a GT40 5.0-liter aluminum-head motor. It’s a concourse winner that has been fully restored top to bottom. This is an extremely rare car and is the only one known today. Doane Spencer was the original builder of the Tiger race cars; he was supervised by Carroll Shelby. The bodies of these cars were built in England at the same factory as the Cobra race cars.

Recently, Shelby held an auction to support his indigent children’s heart fund charity. Numerous cars were auctioned, slimming down his collection. One of the cars Shelby chose to keep, because he valued it highly, was his Sunbeam Tiger. I can think of no finer endorsement. So, if you’ve ever wanted a real Cobra, but just couldn’t afford one, consider a Tiger. They provide a thrilling drive, good looks, comfort and exclusivity — one of the crown jewels of my collection.”

•1962 Corvette “Mag Winder” drag car — “Very famous drag car from the ‘60s. Fresh frame-off restoration, 500-horespower, 383-cid stroker motor. This car has won awards at Cobalt Hall, Super Chevy and Street Machine nationals. I have the fully documented history from day one. This car is a throwback to the way cars were built and driven on the street and strip in the ‘60s.”

•1969 Chevrolet Camaro double COPO — “One of 26 built, this is one of four that exist today. Concourse restored and judged 100 points out of 100. It features the 427-cid, 425-horsepower engine, 400 turbo transmission, and the rare sports car suspension. It’s finished in Fathom Green. This is one of the finest double Central Office Production Order Camaros in the world. I bought this car in 1992, and it has never left my sight since.”

•1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 coupe —“It’s one of six finished in Daytona Yellow. AACA junior/senior grand national champ, with a 454-cid, 450-horsepower 4-speed, with all numbers matching. This is a concourse-restored car from top to bottom and is extremely rare. The LS6 Chevelle is the highest horse power production car in 1970 from GM and is every muscle car collector’s dream car to own. I have owned this car for more than seven years.”

•1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Convertible — “It has the 396-cid, 375-horsepower L78, with the 4-speed transmission. Numbers are matching throughout. This car is extremely rare — only 15 ever built. This car has extensive documentation, which includes its original window sticker, warranty books and factory punch card. This is frame-off, nut-and-bolt, concourse-restored with no expense spared. I have owned this car for seven years.”

•1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible — “The car has the 427-cid/390-horse engine with a 4 speed. It’s a factory side-pipe car with real knock-off wheels. This is a 20,000-original mile, one-owner car that has won Bloomington Gold, Top Flight and Gold Spinner Triple Crown awards. It has been restored to NCRS standards. There is only a handful of Corvettes with this quality in the world. This car is extremely rare and has all of its original paperwork, including the all-important original window sticker.”

•1969 American Motors Hurst SC/Rambler — “This is a 390-cid, 4-speed that has had a full-rotisserie restoration and has been documented in the Hurst registry of historic automobiles. One of 500 built, this is an A-scheme car finished in red, white and blue. These cars are extremely rare, and it’s super fast. I have owned this car for more than 10 years, and it’s very close to me because of my family love for AMC products.”

•1963 ½ Ford Falcon Futura Sprint — “This was my first car in high school, and I still own it. Finished in red, it features a 260-cid V-8 top loader and 4-speed. It has all-original interior, wood wheel and bucket seats. The best part about this car is that I bought it when I was 15! I was able to track it down; it was a total fluke when I came across it.”

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