If you had a rare American muscle car, where would you store it? Perhaps it would take pride of place on the driveway outside your home. Maybe it would be safely tucked away in a garage so that no nosy neighbors could see it. What about storing a ton of rare American muscle cars in an old chicken coop, however? Well, that’s exactly what Lance Tarnutzer Jr. and his father have done.
Dells Auto Museum
Many moons ago, this storage barn used to be a chicken coop. However, Lance Tarnutzer Jr.’s grandfather decided that he wanted to create something incredible – housing something far more expensive than chickens. So, Dells Auto Museum in Wisconsin was born. Lance Sr., and his father Dick, would go to the local gas station to get a copy of the penny saver after church. They would circle cars they liked that were anywhere between $50 and $500, then bring home a few different cars every week. It didn’t matter what condition they were in, the men would buy the cars and build up their collection.
A Devastating Moment
The family didn’t really mind what cars they brought into the old chicken coop, but they did have a special place in their hearts for pace cars. Anything that led the way during NASCAR or Indy car races would soon find itself into the Dells Auto Museum. However, everything was about to change in 1999 when something devastating happened. A fire started in an outside bay of the warehouse, which soon ripped through the rest of the building – it destroyed 53 cars that weren’t on display. Luckily, some did survive the tragedy.
Ryan Brutt from Hot Rod magazine recently paid a visit to the old Dells Auto Museum to see what was left. Lance Jr. and Sr. showed him around, where he took photos of some of the rarest American muscle cars in existence.
Unfortunately, not all had completely survived the fire. However, there were two 1966 Mercury Comet Cyclone GT Indy pace car convertibles in the barn – only 100 of which were ever made! A Lark convertible, built as a tribute to the 1962 Studebaker Lark pace car, also took pride of place at the front of the barn. Finally, a Shelby GT 500KR convertible from 1968 was the cherry on the pie.
It’s a shame that Dells Auto Museum was ravaged by fire, but it’s amazing to see so many American muscle cars all cooped up. Literally!