Greg Selvidge: A Car Barn That Started Slowly in Bremerton

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 01/2010
  • posted in: Great Garages

Greg Selvidge was born outside of Bremerton, Wash., an hour ferry ride south of Seattle. With Mount Rainier in the background and Puget Sound just to the north, scenic Bremerton is home of the well-known Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which continues its longstanding role in the nation’s security. Greg worked there as a young man.

When he was in high school, Greg and his brother poked around in and worked on a ’40 Chevy convertible. “We lived out in the country, and, at that time, you could drive when you were 13,” says Greg, a Scottsdale resident who also spends time at his other home in the Edmonds area of Seattle. He attended the University of Washington and served as a chaplain’s assistant in the U.S. Army.

That early initiation into cars remains with the entrepreneur and inventor. He created the California Car Duster, for instance, as well as poster display racks in gift stores. He also formerly manufactured outboard motor boats under the Craig Craft name.

Greg and his brother later customized a ’48 Plymouth and then heavily modified a ’51 Henry J and a ’39 Ford convertible. That last vehicle, with a chopped top, was a cover of Hot Rod magazine.

He then customized a ’41 Hollywood Graham — one of many Grahams he’s done. That car won the well-regarded Barris Award in 1997. Among its many unique features: a convertible top and windshield and front suspension from Ford Mustangs, a Chevy Corvette LT1 motor, landing lights from a Lear jet and a front-end reminiscent of the Chrysler Prowler. He sold this vehicle to fellow car lover, actor Eddie Murphy. He’s also sold some of his custom creations to Home Improvement’s Tim Allen.

Both of his homes have extensive car garages, with collector automobilia on the walls. In Seattle, he even has a car museum. Both of his garages have items such as original Tonka Toys and lots of neon. In the Scottsdale garage, with its checkered-flag floor, he made a desk from the front end of a ’65 Caddy and a clock from a P-38 airplane. Here you’ll also find images of woody wagons, a Firestone sign — even Santa napping on a sliver moon. He’s also replicated a nostalgic gas station and has a car wash for his cars.

“With my cars, custom and otherwise, I’m a perfectionist and look at every detail,” Greg says. “My joy is to make each of my cars interesting and to share them with others.” Now that he’s semi-retired, he spends much of his time working on, talking about and thinking about cars.

This month, Greg shares some of those with us:

•1965 Lincoln Continental Convertible — “I bought it five years ago from a guy in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, so I’m the second owner. It’s white on black with a black top and suicide doors. It’s got the 460 four-barrel and just about every electric option you can think of. I call it my ‘Airporter’ because I pick people up from other parts of the country with the top down in the middle of the winter — and they’re from some real cold places. Really makes a statement.”

•1965 Ford T-5 — “Most people won’t even know this car, although they’ll recognize it. It was sitting in a barn in Washington when I purchased it; I’ve rotisserie restored it. This was the Mustang export car to Germany: It’s a black-on-white fastback with the high-output 289-4-barrel. Ford added extra-tough suspension to handle the roads there, and it’s got the original Blaupunkt radio. Ford rebadged the early Mustang as a T-5 for overseas sales. This was Ford’s name for the Mustang project. They couldn’t use the name ‘Mustang’ because of existing European trademarks. The car didn’t work out in the export market, but this is one of few in this great condition that I know of.”’

•1965 Corvette Convertible — “This is all original, yellow on black with a black top. It has the 327-c.i.d./250-horse engine and automatic. It’s all power, with power brakes and windows and air conditioning. It belonged to Gabriel Dell, one of the original ‘Dead End Kids’ that made all of those films years ago. He was a buddy of Steve McQueen and Humphrey Bogart. I picked it up this past June in Hollywood, and I’m not going to do anything to it but drive and enjoy.” And,

•1940 Ford Convertible — “This is my favorite car, all black. It’s got a new frame with independent suspension and disc brakes. I put a Corvette Z06 block into it, bone stock, so I can take it anywhere. The interior is leather out of a Bentley. Five years ago, it was a hulk from New York.”

Greg’s also got a 1968 Ford GT 350, two ‘98 Prowlers and an orange-on-gray ’08 Challenger, which he says is one of the best new cars he’s ever had — good news for beleaguered Chrysler.

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