Eco-friendly hybrids and sporty foreign numbers have their place, but, Nick Pagani only has eyes for Big American Cars.
“I go down to my garage at night and I sit and look at my cars,” Pagani says. “To me, they’re beautiful.”
Pagani – a guy born and raised in Pelham Manor who restores cars in the same New Rochelle shop his granddad opened in 1920 – has no shortage of stuff to gaze at.
His collection of 80 vintage cars frequently appears in period-piece movies (often with Pagani behind the wheel) such as Revolutionary Road, The Wrestler and Angel Heart. Pagani’s wheels are currently being used in the production of Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest Coen brothers’ movie.
There’s usually one parked each morning in front of Aroma Coffee in Larchmont, where Nick generally starts his day.
From Cadillacs to the Chevy Corvair (named one of the 50 worst cars of all time) to the Mercury Meteor. There’s the Ford Edsel – a short-lived model that “was synonymous with flop” – known for having the third lowest number of miles in the country.
What you won’t find in Pagani’s fleet are the “clichés” – the ’59 Caddies, or early Mustangs and Corvettes of the world. Nor will you find muscle cars.
Pagani’s love of cars is deep rooted. He bought, repaired and sold his first car at age 12. When his grandfather was in charge, the repair shop, Ace Auto Repair, as it’s still called, on Main Street in New Rochelle, took care of customers like the actor Eddie Foy, operating with a crew of 50 men. Pagani still has the Buick Invicta his dad, a schoolteacher, gave him when he was ready to drive.
Pagani says being able to spread out and drive his full-size wheels to work is the purest of pleasures.
“All these cars have personality,” and Pagani says they still take his breath away.
photos: Jacqueline Silberbush