What does any of this have to do with cars? Well, on the face of it, not much. That is unless you’re an Appalacian gentleman by the name of Dean Allen, owner of the Acme Corner Pizza Shop and Classic Car Museum. To him, these things mean everything.
Seeing such a creation in the flesh elicits a weird combination of emotions. Starting with pondering how a car museum and a pizza shop could hold real estate on the same property. Despite such an odd combination of establishments, that feeling is quickly replaced with only being happy that someone was willing to make it a reality.
There’s no false advertising here on the establishment’s front sign. You get equal servings of fresh-baked pizza pies, complete with house special homemade pizza sauce and a plethora of mint condition vintage American cars to drool over in a collection that would satisfy the heartiest appetites for classic American iron.
There’s the odd sprinkling of British beef on display as well. Most pizza joints have a sweaty man in an apron greeting you at the door, or a person in a grey polo and a malaise look on their face, if you’re lucky. At Acme’s Corner Pizza Shop, your greeter is a 1976 MGB 50th anniversary edition, one of only a handful ever imported into the US. It sure beats some college kid rolling their eyes at you while they serve you a meatball-parm sub.
While you’re enjoying your homemade sauced slice, (or slices, being totally honest), you can appreciate the decor of this one-of-a-kind joint. Its walls feature a plethora of vintage licence plates from what appears to be every state in the union. However, most of them come from the vintage days of states throughout the American region broadly referred to as Appalachia. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Mississippi. With a few other states like Nebraska and Michigan thrown in there too.
Turning in the direction opposite the wall of vintage licence plates greets your eyeballs with an early 1930s Plymouth Roadster. Heaven knows how many of those are still left. Looking slightly left will make a vintage telephone booth saved from the scrapyard meet your view, and yes, the phone works. So then, Acme’s Pizza shop is already the most incredible pizza joint on the planet if you are a gearhead. And we haven’t even gotten to the meat and potatoes of this place.
That comes in the form of an unassuming small garage door in the back corner of the restaurant. Opening this door might as well be lead to petrolhead Narnia, because what lies beyond it has to be seen to be believed. With two rows of classic American cars ranging from the late 20s through the mid-80s and a middle section to walk through and enjoy them, this collection contains what appears to be a least half a million dollars worth of classic American cars. Although Dean Allen, the gentleman that he is, won’t give you a straight answer there. It’s Appalachia down in these parts, so best to mind your manners.
It’s hard to comprehend where to even start with the collection of this magnitude, but let’s give it the old college try. Starting with the first car to greet you in the collection, a 1984 C4 Chevy Corvette with the original dealership paperwork taped to the inside of the driver’s side door, complete with the original MSRP. A piece of paper like that might seem mundane to you, but just imagine how few of those remain in existence.
Walking down the aisle in this bizarre chimera of American V8s and tomato sauce, your senses are overwhelmed with a nostalgia that most people alive today never even experienced. But Dean Allen, at 70 years young, is one of the last people around to remember these cars’ hay day fondly and with great detail. His life was filled with memories of diner parking lot car meets during his free time as a sawmill worker turned truck driver turned amateur pilot and car collector.
Road signs collected from all over the country and shelves containing oil cans from companies that have long since been absorbed into Exxon-Mobil or some other nameless oil conglomerate line the garage floor. They share space in the museum with four of the most desirable Chevrolet products of the 1950s in the form of a 1950 Business Coupe, 1950 Style Master, and two 1957 Bel-Airs. In the days before muscle cars, these were some of the best American cars money could buy.
In terms of raw engine size, nothing here can beat the gargantuan straight-eight engine found in Dean’s 1937 Buick. He even has a bare engine block with a period-correct cylinder-bore machine that’s at least a century old on display in front of the car. For the pickup truck fans around, Dean owns a mint 1950 Dodge Half-Ton truck with the same 201 cubic inch (3.3-liter) straight-six engine it left the factory with 72 years ago. If you’re a Silverado fan, there’s also a 1950 Chevy 3100 Half-Ton you can envision having a tug-of-war race with its Dodge counterpart, probably best left to their modern counterparts. They can handle it, probably.
There’s so much cool stuff in this garage, from vintage fuel station signs and old Pennsylvania gambling machines. To old-school Coke and Pepsi memorabilia and die-cast metal car models that are at least as old as the positively ancient cars they were based upon. At the end of the aisle, a gold-painted Ford Flathead V8 engine sits on display in all its glory, showcasing just how much simpler engines in those days truly were. It also happens to be one of the final Ford Flatheads ever made in the final US model year of 1953.
So then, Mr.Allen’s piece of property is far more than just a pizza shop or even a car museum. It’s a time capsule of vintage Americana that proves the occasional hidden gems are still alive and well here in America. So, as our valued readers, if you ever find yourself near PA Route 31 in Western Pennsylvania, you owe it to yourself to pay Dean a visit and polish off the visit with an absolutely splendid pie. God Bless Dean for giving autoevolution first-hand access to his astounding collection, and god bless These States United.