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Harper Woods

November 14, 2013

Mayor creates unique home for classic car, collection

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

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Mayor Ken Poynter poses in his classic Hudson for a picture outside his garage.

HARPER WOODS — When Mayor Ken Poynter steps into his backyard, he walks into what has been a dream of his: a home for his classic Hudson and part of his Hudson Motor Car Co. memorabilia collection. But that’s not all.

The most unique aspect of what he had built is that he had it created to look like a 1940s-style service station, right down to an original Hudson gas pump and original Hudson signs, auto part containers, clock and more.

“This has just been something I’ve wanted to do for years,” Poynter said. “It’s been fun. I wanted to do it while I was still young.”

“It’s supposed to look like a post-World War II service station,” he said. “Everything here is original to the time. There aren’t any reproductions at all.”

To house his pieces, Poynter said he made sure the building is safe and secure.

Poynter is a lifelong collector of Hudson memorabilia, including owning his own shiny, maroon Hudson right out of the 1940s. His love of everything Hudson started as a child when his father worked for the company for a few decades starting in the mid-1920s.

“I have a lot of fond memories of those days as a kid,” he said, adding that he remembers attending company events for families. “It was just fun. It was good people. It was a different time.”

A big piece of Poynter’s collection continues to be on display at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, and Poynter continues to be active in the local Hudson antique car club that he’s been a member of for many years.

“I joined that when I was in college ... and I’ve been a member ever since,” he said.

When he decided he wanted to build a garage in his backyard, separate from the attached garage on his home, he worked with a local contractor and a local painter. Keeping his business in Harper Woods is how he likes to operate.

He started work on the project after he moved down the street from his old home into his new one in 2012. This summer, he hosted a party for the car club at his house, where everyone could enjoy the new addition. He hopes to make that an annual event.

He calls the garage a work-in-progress because he’s still looking for how he wants to display more things.

Getting to the point of being able to build in the backyard took time because Poynter needed to go through the Zoning Board process.

In designing and building the garage, Poynter looked to Greg Vargo, a Harper Woods resident who owns Vargo Building Company.

When Poynter approached Vargo about the idea, Vargo went online to find pictures of similar service stations from the era.

“I found a series of different garages that dated back to probably the ’20s,” Vargo said.

He even looked at pictures from old film productions to see how they were set up, and then they tweaked the plans to fit Poynter’s needs, like making the back wall higher to display signs.

They created 3-D renderings before heading over to the zoning board for approval.

“We kept it looking fairly much period,” Vargo said. “That was the idea.”

While it wasn’t without its hiccups along the way, they were approved.

“It looks just like the picture,” Vargo said of the completed garage. “I’m just amazed about the inside, all the decorations. It’s gorgeous. It’s the ultimate man cave.

“Those are the fun jobs, when you have a homeowner that’s willing to let you run with the ball,” Vargo said.