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The Work of Art in Eric Haze’s Garage

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Eric Haze, 60, an artist and graphic designer working in New York since the 1970s, on his 1962 Plymouth Savoy, as told to A.J. Baime.

Cars are like love. You do not get to choose when it is going to happen. The car finds you, wherever it is, in whatever condition it is in. My 1962 Savoy first popped up in an online ad in 2016. I was living in Brooklyn, and the car was being sold by a guy whose family owned the oldest auto parts dealership in Fresno, Calif. I knew what I was looking at from the photos.

For many reasons, it was a gem. It was completely original, rust-free, original paint and interior. The downside: It was in pieces. The fenders were off, the hood was off, the drivetrain wasn’t completed and the seats were out.


Photos: A Canvas on Four Wheels

Eric Haze shows off his 1962 Plymouth Savoy.

Eric Haze and his 1962 Plymouth Savoy. This iteration of the Savoy appeared in showrooms right around when Mr. Haze was born—October 1961.

Adrienne Grunwald for The Wall Street Journal

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Now, to understand why this car was so appealing to me, let me take you back to my childhood in Manhattan. I have been a freak for anything on wheels in motion since I was a kid. My friends and I built and traded bicycles up until we were driving. I had my first car at 18—a Datsun 240Z, the poor man’s

Porsche

back then.

My friends and I developed a passion for Chrysler and Plymouth Super Stock cars, from 1962 to 1965. [Plymouth was a division of Chrysler, and Super Stock is a production car modified for performance, by the factory itself.] The year 1962 was a transitional year in which American car companies began engaging in a racetrack-driven competition for speed, design and sales. Chrysler and Plymouth cars were class leaders, and their heritage speaks for itself.

I have owned and restored many of these cars. I belonged to a Chrysler and Plymouth car club with guys from around the five boroughs. Now this specific Plymouth Savoy appealed to me for another reason: It would have been a new model in showrooms when I was born, in October 1961.

After hitting it off with the owner, I made an insulting offer on the premise that I would pick up the car, pack it up and take it away hassle free. Once the deal was struck, I figured that the most cost-effective way to get it to New York was to buy a cargo van in Fresno. I flew out, and the owner of the 1962 Plymouth picked me up in that van. I packed the van with all the parts and shipped both vehicles to the auto shop I have been using for over a decade—SourKrauts Automotive in Walden, N.Y.

I became the creative director while the guys who had more skill and space did much of the work. We sent everything out for rechroming and replating. I didn’t want to build just another white Plymouth. As an artist and designer, I am known for a black, white and gray palette [Mr. Haze has designed uniforms for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, in those colors], so we did a show-quality paint job in those colors. I spent years finding new old stock parts [new parts for this 1962 car that had never been used], some of which I had to wait two years to receive. We started the project in 2016 and finished it in 2019. I even restored the cargo van, too.

I have since bought another 1964 Dodge Hemi 330—another car on my bucket list. To me, there is not much difference between collecting art and collecting cars. I get almost as much joy looking at them and having them as part of my art collection as I do driving them.

Write to A.J. Baime at [email protected]

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