Heart Like a Wheel
Photography: Mark Oliver
(page 2 of 4)
When Wayne Willich, Sun Valley’s newly-elected mayor, volunteered, “You wouldn’t believe the number of classic cars sitting in Wood River Valley garages,” he was preaching to the choir.
An engineer for Boeing, Willich devoted much of the last 30 years to “peddling airplanes.”
“I learned just about everything there is to know about a 737,” he says. Today, Willich brings the same energy to his newest twin passions—Sun Valley’s city government and his rare 1954 Mercury Sun Valley. Only 2,500 Sun Valleys were built and, of those, perhaps 100 have survived the ravages of salty roads and the finality of a crusher’s vice. While Willich confesses he might have once preferred a late ’50s Corvette, he was putting his children through college and the Sun Valley made more economic sense. Then, too, the Plexiglas® vista cruiser roof spoke to central Idaho’s halcyon past, the 1950s when Hollywood coveted Sun Valley’s rare mix of small Western town and towering ski mountain. A case can be made that using the Mercury as a running mate revealed a commitment that tipped the recent election in Willich’s favor.
Willich now fittingly stores his Sun Valley at the Sun Valley Auto Club, at the south end of Friedman Memorial Airport. Auto Club owner David Stone points out that the museum houses the classics, pre-’60 Corvettes, a replica of the General Lee, a GT40, two Chevy Nomads, a hot Camaro, a variety of Porsches and a classic 1957 Cadillac Coupe Deville.
As goalie for the Sun Valley Suns hockey team, Stone served in the trenches for 18 years. In that time, he collected a sobering inventory of breaks and dislocations, which he now dismisses as simply the cost of living the good life. That good life also includes Stone’s Porsche 356 B Cabriolet.
Introduced in 1959, Porsche built just 40 lightweight 356 Bs in 1960. Sculpted around Porsche’s powerful 1,600-cubic-centimeter GS, GT engine, the 356 B combined classic lines, big power and superb handling. Stone recalls his neighbor owned one. “I would stand on the curb and stare as he drove by and would constantly remind him, ‘If you ever decide to sell, come to me first!’”
One day, the Cabriolet stopped in front of the house. When the owner put a price on it that took Stone’s breath away, he thought about it for less than a minute, then sealed the deal with a handshake and a promise to produce a check. The only problem was he couldn’t summon the courage to tell his wife. When he did, her response was simple and direct. “We’ll make it work,” she said.
“I definitely married up,” he admits. >>>