Monday, July 23, 2012

Dreaming of the good life at Drivin' Dreams

Taking a drive through southern Missouri can be an enjoyable opportunity for car aficionados. Once you get away from the big cities, the houses might be few-and-far between. But when you do see one, there are often lots of interesting old vehicles parked around the property.

As someone who lives in a typical landlocked sub-division that is tightly controlled by a homeowner’s association, I’m actually a little envious of people that can spread whatever junk they want all over their property. I’d love to have a lot full of beater cars that I could putz around with.

Vern Miller takes his love of old cars to the next level. Just off of US Highway 60 in Seymore, Mo., is Vern’s business, Drivin’ Dreams. Located 30 miles east of Springfield, this place is far enough off the beaten path that he can pretty much do what he wants, but on a busy enough road that it gets some good exposure. That’s a pretty nice combination for a classic car showroom.

Vern is a character all by himself. He’s had this lot for some 20 years, and lives right there in the building. When we got there, he was in the back scrubbing on a ’66 Mercury Comet that was headed to a Mecum auction. Vern is a very opinionated guy who is more than happy to give you a personal tour. Just don’t show up with an Obama bumper sticker on your car, or you might be chased out the gate.

The cars themselves range from slightly used to used up. Parked nose-to-tail in what appears to be a former new car showroom, there’s bound to be something of interest in this collection.

I was kind of drawn to a light blue ’55 Ford Victoria two-door hardtop. It had a really ‘50s custom look to it with its wide, toothy grille, Continental kit, and pleated upholstery. It looked really nice sitting over there in the corner, and ready to take to the local cruise night.  It's one of the few cars that I've seen lately that I might even leave the fender skirts on.

There was also a maroon ’75 Thunderbird that only had around 44,000 miles on the clock. Now, I will admit that this wasn’t the prettiest year for the T-Bird. The added tire hump on the trunk ala Lincoln Continental, goldish brown interior, and white vinyl top with matching side moldings didn’t help. But it was a great example of Ford luxury … ‘70s style. And there was no denying that it was a pretty nice old car.

In another corner of the showroom was something I’ve definitely never seen before. Vern had a ’55 Chevy Bel Air four-door sedan with none other than a Ford flathead V8 under the hood. Now I’ve seen a lot of Chevy V8s between the frame rails of Ford hot rods, but this was a first. Vern joked that it was some sort of protest against Obama. Whatever the reasoning, it was certainly different.

And different is what made this visit fun. I really can appreciate a guy who carves out his piece of the American dream. Living in an old car dealership without a bunch of neighbors around, buying and selling cruiser-grade old cars seems like paradise to me. No, you aren’t going to find the next Pebble Beach Concours winner here. But the cars you will find here, along with the guy that brought them there, may be just as interesting.

There are 47 pictures in the slideshow below, or click this link to see a higher-quality version of the slideshow.


  1. Me and Vern would get along swimmingly. Love the fact that he has shoved Blue Oval powerplants between the fenders of classic Bow Ties. I bet that gets some blood boiling at local cruise nights! And man what a neat collection of old Fords he has. I would really like to have one of those wagons...maybe I will give him a call.