Charlie Arolla’s Cars, McKenzie Brothers Homes and a Residence That Might be Just Right

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 08/2017
  • posted in: Great Garages

Life is car-full and carefree here.

Residents such as Charlie and Snookie Arolla carefully choose Carefree/Cave Creek for their homes, and in their case, to enjoy an outstanding car collection.

Here, too, in the high-desert sister towns 20 minutes north of downtown Scottsdale, Jimmy Sheehan’s McKenzie Brothers Custom Home Builders completes many houses for car collectors, one of which Debbie Omundson of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty is now offering.

“They say everything and everyone is connected,” she says. “Charlie met Jimmy Sheehan through friends who hosted his first visit from California, and McKenzie Brothers did a great job building Charlie’s dream garage at the home he bought. And, I’m listing another state-of-the-art home here, also with a wonderful collector garage, just completed by McKenzie Brothers. Jimmy is a favorite builder in the Carefree/Cave Creek area.

“Like most, Charlie and his wife moved to Arizona because of the mild Southwest weather. This area is especially quiet and peaceful, and you can find many isolated spots for hiking and cycling in the mountain preserve,” adds Omundson, noting that many Carefree/Cave Creek residents are active in land preservation to ensure these unspoiled areas stay in place.

Here future residents can also find the acreage and have the flexibility to build their dream spaces, such as the Arollas’ car garages or barns and arenas for their horses. “And, the prices are a fraction of those in San Francisco, for instance, where finding even a residential acre is a challenge.”

Retired, Never Tired of Cars

Arolla’s superb collection includes early 911 Porsches and late-model special-edition Mustangs, with a couple of classics, street rods and exotics for more panache.

The Porsches are early 911s: a 1973 coupe; a one-owner ’71Targa; a 2.7 Carrera-powered ​track toy; and a new Porsche 911 Targa 4S.

His ’Stangs: a 2012 Boss 302; 2013 Boss 302 Laguna Seca; 2013 Shelby GT500; 2013 Shelby GTS convertible; 2015 50 Years Special Edition; and a 2016 Shelby GT350R.

For the street rods, he has a Brizio-built ’32 Ford Fordor and a ’32 Hy-Boy Roadster. A ’55 Chevy BelAir “cruiser” and a ’66 Ford Fairlane 406 muscle car complete the American pieces. Finally, a 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR completes the garage.

His collection began in the mid-80s when he purchased a 1982 Porsche 911SC Targa. “But, after auto-crossing for a while, I worried that the Targa was too nice to risk on-the-edge driving, so I purchased the 1973 911, and that started my interest in the early-model 911 Porsches,” explains Arolla, an Oakland, California, native who moved to Cave Creek in November 2014.

In 2011, Ford announced it was bringing back the Boss 302 from the muscle car era; Arolla had owned a 1970 Boss 302, so he acquired the new one as well as subsequent special Mustang editions.

“Along the way, I developed an interest in street rods, picking up the ’32 Hy-Boy following a visit to a Good Guy’s event in California and then the custom-built Roy Brizio Ford Fordor in late 2016,” explains Arolla, who graduated from the University of Santa Clara, served 31 years in law enforcement including as the city’s chief of police and completed his career directing Campus Safety for his alma mater before retiring in September 2010.

He found the 406-cid 1966 Fairlane online and the ’55 Chevy “almost by accident” when accompanying Jimmy Sheehan to look at a customized ’53 Ford F-100 pickup in Cornville in northern Arizona. He acquired the Jaguar in December 2016 after seeing it at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion that August.

The couple visited Arizona to see long-time Porsche friends who had moved from California a decade earlier. They lived in a McKenzie-built home and introduced the couple to the Sheehans. Jimmy had seen a home built in 2006 that he thought might work for Charlie and his envisioned dream garage. On 4.5 acres, the 4,800-square-foot home had an existing four-car garage. Arolla has since added two lifts in this space to hold six vehicles.

“Charlie and Snookie fell in love with Carefree/Cave Creek and chose to live here because they could have their car collection housed on the property,” Omundson says. “In San Fran, their cars were in leased space a 30-minute drive away. So, at this home, they can entertain and enjoy their cars as part of a lifestyle. And, as residents, they enjoy the culture and charm of the small town and the many activities available here, while still near big-city amenities.”

​After they closed escrow in May 2014 on the Tuscan-style two-story, the couple asked McKenzie Brothers to add an elevator, an outdoor kitchen to the main house and to build their dream collector garage.

Designed by Scottsdale-based architect Tyler Green, the 3,400-square-foot garage has 18-foot-high ceilings and spray-foam walls, 60 solar panels and seven Daiken Mini Split air-conditioning heads with four compressor units –– all joining to significantly reduce electricity costs. Arolla cleverly accesses the 400-square-foot loft with a Uline pallet lift.

Features include Lodi Garage Doors and More Corrina arch-top Classica 3000 wood-grain doors by Amarr Garage Doors; Jack Shaft 8500 Liftmaster garage door openers, controllable from Arolla’s iPhone; and single-post American Custom Lifts to help showcase the cars in the air. Storage area floors were fitted with Swisstrax Ribtrax flooring.

The space was completed on March 5, 2015, in time for him to decorate it with decades of automobilia and celebrate his 70th birthday in his new home.

“Now,” he says, “I’m loving the desert, retirement and every day in the sun with my cars.”

High Desert, High Privacy, High-profile Cars

McKenzie Brothers Custom Homes, Carefree, Arizona, begins with Jimmy Sheehan’s two uncles, Liverpool, England, and his father, Glasgow, Scotland.

“They became best friends in the ‘50s while building skyscrapers in New York City, and in the ‘60s they moved to New Jersey, then to Cave Creek in 1980,” says Jimmy, who followed his family here with wife Valerie. He has led the company since 1994.

The company specializes in estate luxury homes and remodels.

Their latest Cave Creek home, offered by Omundson, is an estate-size 4,700-square-foot one-story on 3.6 acres at 40111 North 72nd Street, an end-of-road location with very low density in a very private area.

“It’s ideally suited for entertaining both inside and out, and there are zero steps for lifestyle ease. You have panoramic mountain views and incredible sunrises and sunsets,” says the Carmel, Indiana, native and 30-year resident of Cave Creek, who has sold 600-plus properties in the area.

“I enjoy matching families with custom homes or with gorgeous land to build their dream home,” she adds. This is the third custom spec home that Sheehan has built here and which she has represented. All are $2-million plus or minus, the top end of the market in Carefree/Cavecreek.

The adjacent 2,700-square-foot car barn –– with room to expand –– is 8-inch slump-block construction, a McKenzie Brothers specialty. “It’s an ideal man cave for enjoying your collection or hosting car parties, which Charlie Arolla often does,” she says.

Measuring 60-by-45 feet, the garage accommodates 16 cars or two RVs with 14-foot-high ceilings. Other features are two 12-foot, 6-inch-by-12-foot commercial-grade garage doors; two-man doors; a 125-amp subpanel; multiple windows for natural light; bathroom with shower; and a TV.

“Because I am a car collector myself, I work intently on developing garages that can accommodate every collector’s dreams,” says Sheehan, who can often be seen Sunday cruising with Valerie in classics such as their 1935 Chevy or 1941 Willys.

“Black Mountain and Pinnacle Peak are to your south, the Continentals and Elephant Butte and views of the Tonto National Forest Mountains to the north,” Omundson says. “There’s a 20-acre wash just below the property for extreme privacy, and overhanging this magnificent terrain is a large infinity pool, with a Baja shelf for chairs and immersed table seating. Just beyond are many trails for hiking in pristine high desert.”

The dramatic approach to the tile-roof main house includes a valet-style entrance with a water feature and landscape walls and lighting; adjacent are 15,000 square feet of guest parking and a porte-cochere that leads to an arched iron doorway.

The huge great room, which can accommodate a large party, includes a stone fireplace, multiple TVs and a long wet bar fitted with a copper sink and an under-counter refrigerator. In the dining area is a glass-enclosed, air-conditioned, 700-bottle-capacity wine wall. The room is finished with ledgestone walls and polished porcelain tiles accented with wood planking.

Rustic yet modern, the gourmet commercial kitchen has rope-trimmed hardwood cabinets; leather-finished granite countertops; and a farmhouse sink. “Chefs will love it for informal or formal dining,” Omundson says.

Premium appliances are included, such as a DCS 36-inch professional dual-fuel range with griddle; DCS wall oven and microwave; a DCS DishDrawer™ SS Dishwasher; and a 64-inch side-by-side stainless steel refrigerator/freezer.

Walls of glass open from the great room to the outdoor living spaces.

There, the new owners will enjoy the kitchen and living room with features such as a gourmet-style Twin Eagles barbeque, teppanyaki griddle and side burner; bar sink; refrigerator; and TV-viewing area.

The very private master suite is focused on mountain views. Floors are finished with wood plank tiles. The luxury bathroom incorporates wainscoted walls; dual vanities, one illuminated Hollywood-style; a large glass-enclosed shower; a pedestal soaking tub; and two customized closets. Beside the master patio is a private gazebo, perfect for sunrise or sunsets from the hydrotherapy spa.

The guest areas can be closed off from other rooms when not in use, including two ensuite bedrooms and an office.

McKenzie Brothers emphasized energy efficiency and management: R-26 exterior walls with 2-by-6-inch walls and R-21 batt insulation; R-38 attic insulation over livable areas; and R-26 batted interior walls, with some interior walls sound insulated.

In addition, Pella low-E dual-pane wood casement windows and patio doors have been installed. The main home has 400-amp service, with the 125-amp panel at the detached garage and a sub-panel for the pool area.

Cooling and heating is through a three-zone high-efficiency 18-SEER air-conditioning and gas furnaces. The owner will control this with programmable electronic thermostats. Two 50-gallon electric water heaters supply the home through the recirculating hot water system. In addition, a 500-gallon propane tank supplies the furnaces, fireplace, range, dryer and the barbecue.

Luxury was never overlooked. The interiors include 8-foot-tall solid wood doors. The view windows have accent features, and the drywall is hand troweled. Smartphone and remote-controlled ceiling fans, air-conditioning and window shades are in place throughout.

Home Systems include a whole-property security system with cameras; central vacuum and water-softening systems; CAT5 phone line locations; RG6 cable locations; and a fire-suppression sprinkler system.

“For the person who enjoys the beauty and serenity of the high desert and expects the highest standards in homebuilding and automobiles,” Omundson says, “this McKenzie Brothers home is top-of-the-line bumper to bumper, a real ribbon-winner.”

For more information on this property, see, call Omundson at 480.375.1522, or e-mail For information on McKenzie Builders, see