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click to enlarge The Catallos added an upper porch to the church building. Squeezed into the back yard is the three-car carriage house.

Living Next to Car People

A son's enthusiasm carries on from his father's sense of space for his cars.

by Phil Berg

Curt Catallo, son of the late creator of the famed little Deuce Coupe, explains how his parents resurrected an old Methodist church in a crowded suburb in 1980 which became a home to his father’s car collection: “It was just a perfect place. I have to give them a lot of credit for designing most of it on cocktail napkins. For a couple of amateurs, they did a very nice job designing that. It’s now a three-bedroom house with four full baths. You start with a box, and you build a loft inside it. You modify it accordingly. You’re dividing the rooms but not adding ceilings, so it will still have high ceilings.”

The problem with the church was that it didn’t have enough room for the cars the family had, which included rare Porsches, Ferraris, and race cars. “It was a real hit, moving from the country to the city. If you had a bunch of cars and projects, you couldn’t keep them. We’re still spread around.” The Catallos tried using space off-site at a nearby airport. “He had hangars and was a hot-air balloon pilot. He put a balloon in each hangar, so he could register an N number with the county. We had friends who had hang gliders hanging in our hangars, just so you could say there was an aircraft in there and store more cars.”

click to enlarge The former Methodist church is now a house with space for four cars.

The church had just a single-car garage in its basement level, so by 1983 they also built a three-car carriage house behind the church to store some of the dozen cars they had. “Their plan was to use the upstairs of the carriage house as guest quarters,” Curt Catallo remembers. “But it quickly filled with car parts and stuff. It has parts for cars we sold long ago.”

The carriage house was designed to match the look and period of the church. “It was very important to them to create a structure that was historically appropriate. They created a very traditional carriage house with a footprint that my dad could maximize, so he could fit as many cars and toys in there as possible,” recalls son Curt.

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