Alan Stewart got his first car at 16, and then bought his second car from a neighbor at 17. Now, his garages in Merrick and Bellmore house seven unique vintage cars; some have carried celebrities and athletes through ticker-tape parades, some have been housed in museums and one has brought a bride and groom into a Gothic wedding.
As Stewart tells the stories of how he acquired his different cars, a sense of joy, pride and love come over his face. There in his driveway in Merrick is the yellow 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby that is signed on the interior by world champion racer Mario Andretti and Carroll Shelby, the man who designed the car. That car also led to his daughter’s name: Shelby. Next to that is the red 1965 Chevy Impala SS 396. A 1995 Dodge Viper sits behind that one, with the sleek and long look of a race car. Then there is the one he drives most of his antique cars—he also has a normal sedan with a license plate bearing his business, “Aquarium”—a red 1999 Porsche Roadster.
Over at his other garage, he pulls out two cars that have a real American aura to them. His lime green 1970 Dodge Charger is what he calls “the muscle of the muscle.” The car roars as he moves it in reverse and teases the throttle. It once sat in the Collector Cars Showcase of the Oyster Bay Museum, where Stewart claims Billy Joel grew keen of it. To finish off its classic American feel, a Jimi Hendrix 8-track cassette is plugged into the car’s cassette player.
A 1969 Plymouth Road Runner occupies the spot next to the muscle, with stickers of the cartoon roadrunner on the car’s rear and the cartoon’s “beep beep” chirp emitting from the horn.
The Brooklyn-born Stewart loves these cars, and he is the only one who gets to drive them. The seventh and most visually unique car is driven exclusively by Stewart for reasons that go beyond his love and feeling of protection for it.
That’s because his black 1960 Cadillac Hearse is almost 20 feet long and gets less than 10 miles to the gallon, making it difficult to maneuver for the average driver. On top of that the old hearse is filled, literally to the surface of its windows, with spooky Halloween animatronics. From a spinning zombie head to a skeleton facing out the rear window, the animatronics are frightening and active. Stewart says this car is booked more than any of his other ones, and right now he is already mostly booked through this Halloween.
Ironically the hearse isn’t used for funerals—Stewart refuses—but it has been used to drive a bride and groom into their Gothic-themed wedding. Otherwise, the car is most likely lurking through a haunted Halloween event.
Stewart doesn’t use an agency or representative to book his cars; he runs his own website called www.vipersvettes.com where a click on any of the car’s pictures induces an audio clip of its specific engine starting.