For Cars, Movies and Cool… it’s Fireball Tim!
What’s it like to have a GARAGE FULLA COOL CARS?
When you hear the name Thom Panunzio, you may not recognize it at first. But a brief moment in universal contemplation will lead you to Wikipedia, where it states that he’s been the recipient of over 50 gold and platinum records, having worked with John Lennon, Bob Dyan, Ozzie, Aerosmith, The Who and Bruce Springstein. Who? They must’ve been up-and-comers, right? Whatever. The list goes on, but even though Thom has worked with these no-namers, he likes cars. Which makes him my new best friend.
Nestled in the hills of Malibu is Thom’s pad, a sweet and serene piece of land overlooking a fantastic view of Malibu with rolling hills and other celebrity pads. He’s the highest one, so that means something, right? When I walked in the door, I was pleased to learn that he not only loves music and cars, but seems to be a surf fanatic as well. OK, that’s strike three and I’m in. A short jaunt through his homey home and past his cute pup revealed a four-car garage with a gambit of coolness. His dog kept a keen eye on me so I didn’t touch them.
First up was his 1957 Ford Ranchero, the first year — original 312 motor and 3 on the tree. “I bought this car when I first moved to Malibu from NYC to take my dogs and surfboards to the beach,” Thom said. “The beaches in Malibu are why I moved to California.” Thank goodness he didn’t move here to get away from the traffic.
Next up was his 1967 Ford Fairlane 500. A 390 CI big block.
“My aunt bought this car new in Newport, Rhode Island where she lived and would drive us all to the beach with it. The car was always full of sand. I always loved the Fairlanes, especially the ‘67. She gave it to me in 1980 with 50,000 miles and the motor and interior are still original.” He restored the body, painted it, put on some new shocks, springs, exhaust, chrome mags and a new top on, but left the sand in. Yeah, typical surf punk. I need a bucket just to scoop the sand out of my Tahoe.
Towards the interior of his man-cave, Thom has a 1973 Corvette Stingray T Top with a L82 350 and a 4-speed. He’s the original owner and the car is all original with only 24,000 miles on it. He repainted the car 10 years ago. “I only drive it on Sunday mornings before anybody is out and only if the weather’s nice.”
Finally, and although not a classic, Thom has a 2007 BMW M6 soft top. This car has a V10 with 500-horsepower. This is the bad boy he drives to work everyday. “It loves gas but it’s worth the price. Nobody shuts me down. It’s a beast!”
A lover of cars, true. But as we spoke, it was revealed that Thom’s passion is all encompassing. We talked about the environment, Malibu and even his animals. Clearly Thom’s a waterman and digs all thing Bu. But as a car aficionado, his eclectic collection is historical Americana extending to a bit of German technology. Nice.
“None of my cars are real big bucks rides, but I love them all. The old ones have been with me for a long time and are full of memories. I feel like they are who I am. When I drive my old Fords through the hills I feel like Robert Mitchum in “Thunder Road,” my favorite movie. He runs moonshine in a 50 Ford 2-door coupe and a 1957 Ford Fairlane. That’s how Nascar came about. It’s a real greasy movie.”
Some cars are trailer queens and some drivers, but all have personality. But our own personal collections are about love. You are what you drive, literally. And thanks God for that.
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