I have been writing about Mustangs for over 30 years, but I have never seen anything like Gerry Ayers' collection of late-model Mustangs. While most owners are content to store their cars in a garage or warehouse, Gerry wanted his SVOs, Saleens, and Cobra R in the house with him. As he told us, "Not many people can eat breakfast next to an '03 Mach 1, '95 Cobra R, and Saleen S281."
Each car is special in some way. Most are low-mileage, and several have never been prepped for delivery by the dealer. An avid SVO enthusiast, Gerry owns four of the supercharged four-cylinders, including what he calls the "holy grail" of SVOs-the last one built, a car that was originally purchased by Dan Elliott, brother of NASCAR driver Bill Elliott. He also owns several Shelby Dodges and a couple of Porsches, but they stay in the garage area.
Gerry also collects magazines,...
Gerry also collects magazines, model cars, posters, dealer material, and signs. If it has anything to do with his favorite cars, he collects and displays it in his home.
When Marcie Cipriani from the SVT Owners Association told us about Gerry and his unique home, we had to see for ourselves. As for his story, we'll let Gerry tell it himself. -Donald Farr.
In the automotive world, most vehicles get relegated to a garage or carport. The special ones gain entrance into museums, dealership displays, or private warehouses. I wanted something different. Mine were to come into a house with me so I could actually live with them. It wasn't a question of "why?" but "why not?"
Gerry's 3,600-square-foot home is located on a hillside in rural Pennsylvania. He asked that we not reveal the town.
This madness dates back to my first Mustang, a red pedal car. My father drove from town to town to find one as a Christmas present for me in December 1965. Next came Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, electric racing sets, plastic model kits, posters, car magazines, and books. I was a car fanatic at a young age.
As early as high school drafting class, I designed and built small prototypes of homes that could hold both people and cars. Classmates shook their heads. By college graduation in 1984, I was working and saving for my first new car. I'd fall asleep at night studying brochures and reading road tests.
Here's the kitchen, where...
Here's the kitchen, where Gerry eats breakfast each morning next to his '03 Mach 1 with only 30 miles.
The new Mustang SVO tripped my trigger. With its small displacement and balanced acceleration, braking, and handling, it was more like a rival to the Porsche 944 than to the Camaro Z28. In my eyes, everything from the functional hood scoop to the rear biplane spoiler was wicked! I bought a silver SVO with all the options except leather interior. I still have it with 8,162 miles on the odometer.
SVO fever led to a few more, including an untouched '85 1/2 Competition Prep model, the '84 Detroit Grand Prix pace car with 9,975 miles that SVO powertrain engineer David Domine used as his Ford lease car, and the last SVO ever built, originally purchased by Dan Elliott. To me, it is the holy grail of SVOs. It sits in my living room, unprepped and untitled with only three miles on it.
Gerry's infatuation for SVOs...
Gerry's infatuation for SVOs started in 1984 when he bought this silver SVO. Today, it's stored in his living room with just over 8,000 miles.
By that time, there was a small problem. I was buying collector cars and having to pay rent for both their storage and my own personal living space. It was getting expensive, but as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
In late 1999, I put down a deposit on an '00 Cobra R, but the dealership lost out in the lottery to get one. It was a blessing in disguise. Instead, that money went into a three-acre parcel of land. I then hired an architect to help me design a simple, efficient ranch home to enclose both me and my cars.
Gerry protects all the vehicle...
Gerry protects all the vehicle paperwork-dealer invoices, window stickers, etc.- in plastic sleeves stored in hardbound books.
Things didn't happen overnight or come easily. Opposition came from neighboring property owners who feared I'd litter my yard with old parts or rusty, rotting hulks. They envisioned loud exhaust rumblings at all hours of the night and frequent trailers coming up the lane. In other words, they saw a hot-rod bachelor who was going to lower property values.
To Gerry, this is the holy...
To Gerry, this is the holy grail of SVO Mustangs: the last one built and made even more special when it was purchased brand-new by Dan Elliott of the NASCAR racing Elliotts in Dawsonville, Georgia. The car was never prepped by the dealer and has somehow managed to roll less than three miles.
They had nothing to fear. After several zoning and variance hearings, meetings with the neighbors, and a few design changes, I got the green light to break ground. It was to be a 3,600-square-foot, one level design that used a concrete slab foundation. It would utilize three 1,200-square-foot sections. The first two would hold my Mustangs, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room. The third one would serve as a garage area to hold my Porsches and Shelby Dodges. In all, 17 to 18 cars would fit under one climate-controlled roof.
Truth be told, many people, including my parents, thought I was a little south of sanity for pursuing this. My father, an interior designer for 52 years, never partook in a project like this. My mother knew early on that I marched to the beat of a different drum, but even this seemed "over the top" in her book. My brother, Geoff, simply rolled with it and even encouraged me since he loves cars too.
Finally, 30-plus years of high-performance collector cars and memorabilia were going to find a place to stay in a house-type setting. When the building inspector signed off in early Y2K, buddies helped me roll the cars into the carpeted and tiled house through the garage door out back.
This '84 SVO was used as a...
This '84 SVO was used as a pace car for the Detroit Grand Prix. With less than 10,000 miles, it still has its original pace car lettering.
One of them said something to me that I've heard many times since: "Gerry, you're living a dream."
I'll admit the first night there, I sat on the porch past midnight staring at the stars and thinking back on all the sacrifices I made to make this "dream" happen-the 80-hour work weeks working three jobs; no fancy vacations; skipped or simple brown bag lunches; no cable television, computer, or cell phone; and no wife, kids, or pets (women can be much more expensive than any car). Please note: I'm not a surgeon, stockbroker, CEO, or lottery winner. I'm just a dedicated, hard-working guy who loves cars and sets goals to achieve them.
The cars are moved from room...
The cars are moved from room to room through single garage-door-size openings. The rear of Gerry's '95 Cobra R can be seen from the living room.
In the decade that I've lived in my radical home, I've tweaked a few things. After visiting the Saleen facility in 1999, I decided that the '99-'04 Saleens were the most aggressive and exclusive of that era. So I added a few to the living room: the last S351 made, an '00 S281 supercharged Spyder in custom Speedlab Yellow, and a recently-purchased '03 S281 Extreme that's painted custom Lizstick Red, named after Steve Saleen's wife, Liz.
I've tried to spark enthusiasm for this great automotive hobby by showing teens and youngsters, including my wide-eyed five-year-old nephew, my "house of cars." The old adage "deer staring into headlights" comes into play when I open the front door.
Purchased new, Gerry's '03...
Purchased new, Gerry's '03 Mach 1 shares kitchen space with his '95 Cobra R and '00 Saleen S281 S/C.
More crucial though, they need to know that going your own way in life is more important than following the herd. I have a Porsche brochure that sums up my mantra: "It's only when you don't try to conform that you can be the one thing that really matters-yourself."
I've always thought outside the box, and I always hated taking "no" for an answer. Which brings me to my last point. When owning your own home and putting special things inside, remember that not all trophies go on a mantle and not all Mustangs go in the garage!
The Ayers Collection
'84 Mustang SVO: Bought new, 8,162 miles.
'84 Mustang SVO: Detroit Grand Prix Pace Car, 9,975 miles, formerly owned by SVO powertrain engineer David Domine.
'85 1/2 Mustang SVO: Competition Prep option, 548 miles.
'86 Mustang SVO: Last SVO built, originally owned by Dan Elliott, 3 miles, untitled and unprepped.
'95 Mustang Cobra R: Bought new, 5 miles, unprepped, #236 of 250, built last day of production.
'99 Saleen S351: Last S351, built on '00 chassis, Speedster, 7,400 miles.
'00 Saleen S281 S/C: Spyder, custom Speedlab Yellow.
'03 Saleen S281: Extreme Speedster, custom Lizstick paint, last one built in 2003, 9,000 miles.
'03 Mach 1: Bought new, 30 miles, unprepped.
'87 Shelby Charger GLH-S: Bought new, 5,210 miles.
'87 Shelby Shadow CSX: Bought new, 8,300 miles.
'89 Shelby Shadow CSX-VNT: Bought new, 773 miles.
'90 Shelby Daytona: VNT engine.
'92 Daytona Shelby/IROC: Former Chrysler executive car.
'93 Daytona IROC/RT: Bought new, last one made, 9 miles, unprepped.
'87 Porsche 944 Turbo: 18,000 miles.
'01 Porsche Carrera 4: one of one with custom paint, interior, and graphics.
The Lazy Susan in most kitchens...
The Lazy Susan in most kitchens is used to store utensils and cooking supplies, but Gerry's is filled with car wax and cleaning supplies. Some of the kitchen cabinets are used to store Gerry's collection of car magazines and memorabilia.
Right before our visit, Gerry...
Right before our visit, Gerry took delivery of his latest acquisition-a low-mileage '03 Saleen S281 Extreme Speedster in Lizstick Red, which will soon go into the house to join Gerry's collection. As you can see, he's getting his five-year-old nephew, Malcolm, off to an automotive start with a battery-powered kids' Mustang.
Gerry's 548-mile '85 1/2 SVO...
Gerry's 548-mile '85 1/2 SVO is a rare Competition Prep model, which came with deleted equipment (A/C, sound system, power windows, etc.) for reduced weight. It shares the 1,200-square-foot living room with Gerry's other SVOs.