For many car enthusiasts,
the passion for four wheeled machines is inevitable, the result of watching a parent or older sibling wrench, race or polish their pride and joy. Pat Paletta thought of cars as nothing more than transportation. A station wagon made way for his sportiest car, a Ford Torino, before moving up to a string of the Lincolns and Caddies that properly befitted an Italian Canadian businessman of that era.
It is somewhat ironic then that Pat’s Son Angelo should turn out to be a world class gearhead. “I always had this desire for power” says Paletta. “My Dad had this old Ford lawn tractor and I wanted to soup it up to cut the grass faster. Fortunately I wasn’t very mechanically inclined back then.”
The self proclaimed MD (for Meat Doctor, having grown up in the family beef slaughterhouse) got his chance to experience power for the first time when Dad bought him a 1981 Trans Am. It was the poster child for smog era muscle cars, black with the obligatory screaming chicken on the hood, powered by the notoriously wheezy 4.9 L V8. In factory trim, that engine turned out a paltry 201 horsepower, not enough for the power hungry Paletta. Nitrous oxide seems almost commonplace in today’s tuner car culture, but back in the early Eighties, Paletta was well ahead of the curve when his installed a NOS system on his T/A, a mod which shaved a full three seconds off the car’s 0-60 time.
Next up was a T-bird turbo coupe, complete with a 5-speed manual transmission which was a fun and fast car, but Paletta always had a thing for Shelby cars. For his thirtieth birthday, Angelo bought himself a Superformance Cobra, the third one of its kind imported into Canada from South Africa. That purchase began what could be called a complete immersion into the world of Shelby.
The next model to join the collection was a replica of a 1966 GT40, built by another South African company called CAV and fittingly finished in the iconic Gulf livery
A couple of stalls over in Paletta’s two story man cave sits a white, 2006 Ford GT, which has had a bit of performance massaging done and has been driven extensively over the years. A black GT with just 29 miles on the clock sits nearby.
At the far end of the shop, sitting behind the blue Superformance Cobra is arguably the crown jewel of the collection. CSX 4025 is one of a dozen 427 Cobras which were never finished by Shelby and were found years later in a San Jose warehouse. Powered by an original 1967 427 CI side-oiler, this car has been left unpainted to allow the beauty of the imperfections of a hand crafted body to be seen. As exciting as the rest of Paletta’s collection is, this is the car that makes this guy turn to jelly.
One can’t turn their head in Paletta’s incredible space without noticing more Shelby stuff in seemingly every nook and cranny. Authentic Carroll Shelby signatures abound, along with all sorts of items signed by other notables including Bill, Edsel II and Henry Ford III. Shelby valve covers are tucked onto shelves and a pair of Cobra side pipes hang from a pillar in the shop.
Upstairs, visitors will find a Fifties style diner kitchen and living room, where every day is Christmas. Ford and Shelby stuff is equally prominent here from diecast models to a super cool Ford GT coffee table. Even the Christmas tree is adorned with Shelby ornaments. A Ferrari red stove, manufactured across the street from Ferrari spices up the kitchen and is a reminder that the arch rival brands are always connected in the hearts of true sports car racing enthusiasts.
It should come as no surprise that when Ford announced the return of the GT and that potential buyers would have to apply for the chance to buy one, Paletta was quick to throw his hat in the ring. Given the collector’s passion for the brand and and the notion that he buys cars to keep and enjoy them, rather than flip for a profit, Paletta was a shoe-in.
When one orders a GT, they receive a sexy carbon fiber box which contains a variety of samples to aid them as they spec out their car. To fit in with the growing Le Mans theme in his collection, Paletta chose the iconic blue and orange Gulf livery. The dark blue accent lines were added when the car arrived, along with the number 7 in tribute to the car that David Hobbs drove to a third place finish at Le Mans in 1969.
Paletta loves driving his supercars and the GT is no exception, having already racked up 3,000 km and is about to go on an adventure in the Ace Spade Rally
, which kicks off on Saturday July 7 in Toronto before heading to the legendary Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina. Along the way the caravan of more than 70 sports cars will make stops in Columbus, Knoxville, Asheville and Pittsburgh. Fans can see Paletta’s #7 along with other exotics at the Markham West Canadian Tire on Friday evening.