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Inside Surf City Garage

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by Brian Medford  More from Author

We check out one of the coolest car collections in California.

Some people start a car collection after becoming hugely successful in business. But what if your car collection was the reason for your successful business? That is exactly what happened at Surf City Garage in Huntington Beach, California. Now the collection was a lot smaller back then and the main business centered around a restoration shop. Tim Miller's restoration team was looking for a better product to finish off their amazing restorations. None of the standard paint finishing products were delivering the kind of finish they knew was possible. That is where Miller stepped in and decided to hire his own team of chemists to develop a better line of products. The products worked so well that it only made sense to share them with the world.

Tim Miller tells the story a little bit better:

The year is 1958. The word aerospace is used for the first time. Alaska becomes a state. The first integrated circuit is invented. Congress creates NASA. And the idea for Surf City Garage is born in Southern California when my dad brings home a brand new Chevrolet step-side pickup.

Even though I was just a small boy, some experiences have stayed with me my whole life. I can still hear the Fenton split exhaust's distinctive resonance as I rode in the back with my brothers. I can still remember my dad teaching me how to drive in that Chevy. I even still own it, but now it's got four wheel disc brakes and Corvette running gear.

Fast forward to 1965. I watched my older brother race his '62 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 389 tri-power and a 4-speed on weekends. He worked on it with his friends for hours at a time. I dreamt of being old enough to have my own.

By 1970, I was 16 and, with money saved from working summers, I didn't need to dream any longer. I bought my first car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO with a 400 and a 4-speed. Following in my brother's footsteps, I raced every weekend at all the local Southern California tracks: Orange County International, Irwindale and Carlsbad, plus the infamous Lions Drag strip. That was the true start of Surf City Garage. I was hooked on Muscle cars and I haven't looked back since.

Now many years have passed, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I am married to the best friend I ever had for over 25 years and we have two wonderful daughters. As for Surf City Garage…well, it has grown a bit, too. We have over 100 vintage muscle cars that we personally maintain, including some of the hottest ones from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Cars like Camaros, Shelbys, ‘Cudas, GTOs and…well, you name it. If Detroit built it to go fast, we've got it.

Step into Surf City Garage and you are transported back in time. There before you is a Flying A gas station, just like it was in the ‘50s. A '68 Shelby GT-500 sits at the pumps. You walk through the Shelby Showroom, past a 22-foot long neon Buick dealership sign and head toward Corvette Corner. In front of you is a red and white '58 Corvette, the first car I ever restored. Just to your left is my wife's '54 Polo White Corvette. Straight ahead an original Chevrolet Super Service sign signals your entry onto Chevrolet Way, where you are greeted by a '55 turquoise and white Bel Air hardtop. Next on this brief tour, you reach MOPAR Alley on your right, flanked by Pontiac Row on your left. On the wall is a huge neon Pontiac dealership sign. Looking down, you see a '67 Cameo Ivory GTO Coupe. Now at the other end of our garage, you enter a complete restoration shop. Here expert craftsmen maintain our collection and restore new acquisitions. Professional detailers clean and wax over a mile of 60's chrome. When you have over 100 vintage muscle cars, the work never stops.

With 30+ years of experience and hundreds of thousands of hours of detailing to keep everything looking better than new, we long ago learned what really works and what doesn't. We found that most car care products are mass produced and sold by marketing companies. That just wasn't good enough for us. So, with a lot of trial and error, we developed our own. We even hired our own chemist. Then we kept making our products better until our own detailers said they were the best anywhere.

Now, for the first time ever, we are making them available to everyone. We even found a use for the marketing companies, too. They design our packages and make them look great. We take care of what goes inside them.

I was lucky enough to be invited to tour this amazing facility. From the recreated diner, to the car collection, to the restoration workshop there is just no end to the coolness held within these walls. So check out the photo gallery and be glad to know that there are still real car guys out there, just like Tim.


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