Photos: UltimateGarages.com

We peek inside the minds of authentic car nuts to see how they live with their cars.

 

What Kind of Person Decorates a Garage?

 


 

Subaru people can identify with SVX driver Toly Arutunoff. He’s a distinguished vintage auto racer, now 74, whose heart has a soft spot for cars that perform better than they’re expected to.

 

Although Arutunoff has been involved with various businesses, including oil drilling and auto dealerships, he hasn’t had a “normal” career path. He was born into privilege – his Russian father had invented equipment that proved invaluable to the oil industry – just before World War II. After Toly Arutunoff earned degrees in English, philosophy, and math in the 1950s, he followed his lifelong passion to race cars.

 

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Because of his family’s fortunes, Arutunoff’s only limit to what he could do with his cars was his own good sense. The garage he built at his Tulsa home is not outrageously outfitted, nor are his cars priceless collectables. In fact, his 12-car, French-door structure could probably be duplicated by an enthusiast with an average income. (The massive pool with waterfall, fountain, and hot tub are likely out-of-bounds.)

 

Unlike some of the privileged, Arutunoff hasn’t simply purchased the fastest Ferraris and the latest Porsches with which to go racing. Instead, he favors cars he can drive on the highway to the races and back and not attract much attention. He also has an appetite for a good story, and quirky orphan cars from unusual manufacturers delight him.

 

He calls his rare, old Italian Lancia Appia “the ugliest car ever made,” and he has a unique model of a Cooper roadster (a 1960s sports car by the same company that produced 1960s Grand Prix cars and the original Mini Cooper) that even Peter Cooper himself could not identify.

 

He also has built his own car, a unique canvas-bodied, eight-cylinder two-seater called the Lapine Agile (quick rabbit). Surrounding his cars are leather director’s chairs and coffee tables on top of woven woolen rugs, which offer inviting places for visitors to relax and listen to Arutunoff’s racing stories. A wall-sized trophy case is actually contradictory to his personality that shuns showing off, but his small office filled with pictures of him racing against world champions like Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Bob Bondurant, and Dan Gurney lets visitors know that Arutunoff has the qualifications to be a star.

 

 

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