At the wheel


NEW PALESTINE — Most boys put their toy cars away once they’re grown.

Not Dave Jones.

The New Palestine resident’s obsession with cars began when he was a boy. Now 64, he’s never given his wheels up.

In his lifetime, he’s owned more than 200 cars, including 39 Corvettes, and has a collection that might make famed car collector Roger Penske jealous.

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Standing in his garage alongside his 2008 Viper and 2015 Corvette, Jones is in his element.

Just inside is the “car room,” the walls of which are lined with hundreds of small toy cars and tons of memorabilia from the car racing industry. The collection includes moments captured from NASCAR and the Indianapolis 500, where Jones has been a part of the pace lap and parade.

It’s been impossible to stop collecting cars; it’s an ongoing cycle of buying and selling his dream machines, he said.

“I’ve got some pretty neat stuff in here,” he said.

“You get started collecting, and then where do you stop?”

Jones and his wife, Julie, have been married for nearly 40 years. But a 1963 Plymouth was his first love.

He never imagined his collection would grow so large. Over the years, though, he hasn’t been persuaded to let any of them go. Now his garage and a room in his home are filled with cars and toy models.

His favorite through the years was a bright orange 1969 Dodge Daytona that he bought for about $5,000.

Julie Jones isn’t bothered by the cars taking up space all over her home.

“Oh, I love them,” she said. “He’s had them since I knew him, so I’ve kind of grown up with them.”

Known around the automotive world, he and his love for cars have been the subject of various car tales in magazines around the world, Dave Jones said.

While he likes to refer to his car collection as a hobby, he knows he’s a little car crazy.

His wife never could settle into a car because he bought and sold so many from his collection so quickly, he said.

Still, Julie Jones said her passion for cars has grown right along with her husband’s, and they go to car shows together to eye their next prize.

When it comes to cars, there isn’t anything her husband doesn’t know, Julie Jones said. He’s been researching and studying them for most of his life.

“His mother said the first two words out of his mouth were, ‘car-car,’” she said with a laugh.

It’s not just that shiny exterior that draws Dave Jones’ eye; he’s spent time tinkering with the machines’ insides, too. But collecting them has always been his main focus.

“Anything with wheels,” he said. “I like drag racing, too.”

The couple, who have lived in the county since the 1980s, say one of the neatest things they’ve done was have several custom Corvettes built from the ground up. They’ve traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky — home of the Corvette — to watch the process.

“You hand-build it from the ground up as it’s going down the line in Bowling Green,” Dave Jones said.

“Then they give you a little birth certificate.”

It’s no fun if you don’t make room for something new, but letting go is never easy.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve cried when I’ve sold them,” he said with a sigh.