Monthly Archives: April 2021


Conversations With People We Value #20

Covid has not so much made time stand still as it has made everybody and every event stand down, nowhere more so than in the crowd oriented classic car venues. Car show after car show, concours upon concours, swap meets and cruise nights all fell victim to pandemic panic.

Like the freak year-long winter of 1816 caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora, the 2020 classic car season fell victim to the icy chill of pandemic fears. Now in 2021, like a green shoot in early spring, the Korzinski family of Paul’s Motors in Hawthorne, NJ boldly struck a blow for a return to normalcy when they hosted the April 10th Man Cave Garage Sale.


Man Cave Garage Sale unmasks covid boredom

With a vigor just short of children departing school to start summer vacation, car enthusiasts eagerly flocked to Paul’s Motors’ Man Cave Garage Sale to experience, after more than a year long drought, an honest to goodness car event. Granted, masks adorned every face, yet it had a familiar social feeling that felt so good.

96-year old Paul Korzinski with daughter Diane and son Paul

Adding to the upbeat atmosphere was the opportunity to spend time with 96-year old Paul Korzinski whose father started Paul’s motors 101 years ago. Daughter Diane Korzonski says, “My grandfather began the business as a repair shop in 1920. My father took over after the end of WWII. He has worked here all his life.”

In 1957, the first year Volvo came to America, Paul took on a Volvo franchise. He liked Volvo because of its concern for safety. In a sign of the times, Paul’s Motors turned in its Volvo franchise after 60-years in 2017 as the corporate franchising demands placed on the small family run operation made for a money losing proposition. Always known for high quality used cars Paul’s Motors continues to be the go to place for a used vehicle.

The inspiration for the early season sale came out of a conversation between Diane and big time car enthusiast Bob Austin.

Diane says, “Bob and I were talking about how we have collections of things. As I showed him a great anvil and an old scale from one of our shipping containers, I mentioned that we’ve been here for a hundred and one years. We have a lot of old stuff. So Bob said, well, I have a lot of old stuff. Maybe we should have a Man Cave Garage Sale. What a great idea, I thought.”

While clearly car flavored, various vendor offerings provided an eclectic array of goods. Man Cave organizer Bob Austin says, “We had some interesting vendors with everything from gumball machines to airplane propellers and fur coats.” With a good size crowd throughout the day the feeling was festive and the selling was brisk. A smiling Austin says, ”Absolutely a fun day and for some of us it afforded a great opportunity to reunite with friends that we haven’t seen for the better part of the year.” As for Covid concerns, with a good breeze and everyone wearing a mask confidence ran high.

Vendor Rocco Scotellaro was clearly happy to be at the Man Cave sale. When asked about being there, Rocco said, “Excellent, historically as a vendor I usually do about two or three shows a year. Last year I did none. It’s great to be back in business.” When asked to evaluate buyer action, Rocco quickly offered that the show was much better than he expected emphasizing that the turnout was quite good. Rocco says, “A major challenge for vendors like me is deciding what to bring. It’s always a guessing game.” Sporting a big smile, Rocco went on to say, “I guessed right for the Man Cave sale and did very, very well.

Clearly people savored the opportunity to share space and time with others in a non-Zoom real world environment. Diane commented that, “I think a lot of people came in looking for something free of Covid gloom, something to make them happy. We’ve all been kind of cooped up all winter. Watching the news certainly hasn’t helped.”

Jaguar Land Rover Archivist Fred Hammond brought a treasure trove of classic car models and automobilia. Fred says, “The Man Cave Sale has been a tremendous success in so many ways. I mean one can put it in the context of saying that I sell stuff. Yeah, you bet. I sold a lot of things but the real enjoyment here was seeing friends, fellow car enthusiasts and talking to people sharing the joy of being outside with others, at last. Everyone seemed to be  basking in the joy of feeling a kind of normalcy.”

Pieces, parts and even a very clean 1996 Mustang Cobra changed owners thanks to being on display at the Paul’s Motors event.

Clearly, everyone has suffered through serious cabin fever with a nasty Covid hangover and could not wait to rub elbows with their fellow man. If the Man Cave Garage Sale represents any indicator, social distances show every sign of shrinking as humanity pokes its collective head out from under the Covid rock.

By |2021-04-21T13:47:40+00:00April 21st, 2021|6 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #19

The Drivin’ News theme of “Cars we love and who we are” invites the reader into experiencing great cars and learning about the interesting people associated with them. Normally the motivation behind the “why” that inspires the great affection is taken as a given considering the desirability, beauty and provenance of the classic cars in question. However, some times the “why” leads us down an even more interesting path revealing a vehicle made beautiful by a patina of sweet memories. Such stories rooted in personal history often involve love, loss, salvation and heartwarming resolutions.

In the garage of Vinny Plotino resides an incongruous pair of treasured vintage cars with very different “whys.”

The odd couple in Vinny Plotino’s garage


Vinny Plotino and his “Odd Couple”

Housed in an orderly and well equipped 2-bay garage both cars make a statement. For the 1970 Plymouth Superbird on the right, the “why” screams at you, for the other, a quite pedestrian and weary 1962 Ford Falcon the “why” softly asks “why?”

Indeed, screamingly obvious in its attraction, the Superbird sports a nose cone front end and outsized rear spoiler with signature “Roadrunner” graphics. Resplendent in 1970 Plymouth Blue Fire Metallic or B5 Blue (color code) as it is known throughout Mopar circles and among collectors, Vinny Plotino’s Plymouth Superbird leaves no doubt as to what inspires the love. With the original 440 cu. in. V8 fed by a single 4-barrel and delivered through a 4-speed manual trans Vinny’s Superbird delivers 375 horsepower. It reigns as an iconic presence in the pantheon of muscle cars of the golden age.

Created by Chrysler corporation purely as a means to dominate NASCAR racing for the 1969-1970 season, the Superbird with its 19-inch extended bullet nose and car wash nightmare, outsized rear wing did not move especially well out of the showroom as a retail money maker. For homologation purposes 1,920 Superbirds came from the factory for retail sale. It did, however, achieve its intended dominance by exceeding 200 mph at Talladega Superspeedway to set a NASCAR record. In NASCAR race trim, powered by a 426 Hemi V8 with a 0 – 60 mph time of 4.8 seconds and a drag coefficient of 0.28 (still an impressive level of slipperiness 50-years later) the Superbird with Richard Petty at the wheel won eight NASCAR races and finished high in others.

Right around that time as a 16-year old teenager pedaling his bike past Frey Chrysler in Bergenfield, New Jersey, young Vinny fell under the spell of the new Superbird in the showroom window. He would just stop and stare at the outrageous Roadrunner on Steroids and dream. One day Vinny knew he would own one.

History would prove Vinny right, twice. He found a B5 Blue Superbird in 1979 and grabbed it. However with the birth of his daughter Vinny’s first Superbird left to feather the nest for the expanding Plotino family. While appreciating the necessity for the move, Vinny immediately regretted it.

It would be another ten years before the second opportunity arose when Vinny could again own his dream car. In 1989 a B5 Blue Superbird appeared on his radar and shortly thereafter arrived in his driveway and with 36,000 original miles rolled into his garage. Today, 30 plus years later that B5 Blue numbers matching Superbird now with 40,000 miles, receives with great frequency the same loving gaze that first inspired the dreams of a teenage boys heart.

When asked for any stories of interest relating to the Superbird, Gina Plotino, Vinny’s wife, offered a small story that spoke volumes about relationships, priorities, love, friendship and understanding, not necessarily topics one immediately associates with iconic muscle cars. Gina recalled when Vinny faced a challenging task that involved replacing the Superbird’s exhaust system.

Gina said, “I watch him at car shows when a father and son or daughter come by his car. It is so important to him that he provides an opportunity for the father to engage with his children. Vinny really cares about others. He is such a good person. Now, I always take good care of myself and I love my nails, but, Vinny needed help with the exhaust system. I cut my nails off so we could do the job together. I love him.” They have been married 40 years.

Worthy of inspiring a softly quizzical “why”?, a fairly forlorn 1962 2-door Ford Falcon with a level of patina edging ever closer to crossing the line to perforated corrosion nobly plays the role of sidekick to the bigger than life hero Superbird.

Told with warmth and feeling, Vinny lovingly shares the story behind his deep affection for “Mrs. Olesko’s Falcon.”

“I grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey, says Vinny, “I was 9-years old when my friend Ron Olesko’s mother bought a 1962 Falcon.” From the day she took delivery until today, it has never left Bergen County. Ron was the only child and the car serviced all the family needs by going to church, the grocery store and taking Ron to and from school. Vinny says, It probably never took a longer ride than 20 miles.”

Since in years later Mrs. Olesko had a concern about mice getting into the car inside the garage, the Falcon stayed outside exposed to the elements from around 2002 to 2017. After Mrs. Olesko turned in her driver’s license due to poor eye sight, the Falcon sat idle for a few years. Despite Vinny’s most passionate pleas she refused to sell the car. She wanted it out in front to let potential burglars know that someone was always home. Son Ron Olesko says, “Despite my best efforts I could not persuade her that a rusty car with four flat tires would not fool anyone.”

After taking a fall Mrs. Olesko moved into a nursing home. Her first thought expressed when she moved was, “Give the car to Vinny.” When contacted by Ron, Vinny asked how much Ron’s mom wanted for the beloved Falcon. Ron said, “All she said was maybe Vinny could get it running and someday ride it in a parade.” Mrs. Olesko passed away in 2017.

1962 Falcon refurbished interior

Interestingly the original purchase paperwork and window sticker accompanied the car. As displayed on the window sticker, the Olesko family purchased a 2-door model with the 85 horsepower 6-cylinder engine and 2-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission. Vinny says, “The only option it had was the deluxe package which gave you some chrome trim on the sides and behind the wheels and those little guys on the top of the fenders. No radio (Vinny still has the little radio opening block-off plate). No power steering. No power brakes.“ The paperwork indicates a payment of $45.99 a month for 36 months.

Transporting the Falcon to Vinny’s garage posed some major challenges. Wheels had bonded to brake drums and would not turn. Vinny finally freed up the wheels and with the help of his Cousin Frank rolled the Falcon onto Vinny’s trailer. Changing all fluids and replacing all brake lines allowed the Falcon to slowly rise like the Phoenix from its past as a dead rusted hulk. Inspired by a ,now running car, Vinny found NOS 1962 Falcon upholstery and installed it.

When Mrs. Olesko passed away Vinny drove the refurbished faded blue Falcon to the church and followed the hearse as they drove one last time past her house.

Vinny says, “I do not want to remove the rust and repaint the car. I want to retain the patina that represents the loving life of Mrs. Olesko. While some may look at it and see only rust, I see a big part of a person’s life and memories that can never be replaced.”

Son Ron Olesko is quoted as saying, “Thanks Vinny, you do fine work. My mom got her parade.”

Loved for very different reasons but with equally heartfelt affection, Vinny Plotino’s odd couple sit side by side emblematic of the very human connection bonding people, the cars they love and the emotional charge that seals that bond and expresses human values far deeper than the attraction of horsepower and chrome.

By |2021-04-08T11:31:38+00:00April 8th, 2021|12 Comments