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Mineola's Autoseum displays classic cars

The Monkeys Car (started out as 1967 GTO)

The Monkeys Car (started out as 1967 GTO) is on display in the Autoseum in Garden City, opening inside Museum Row in 2012. (undated) Credit: Autoseum/

They've whizzed out of Batman's Batcave and high-jumped over police cars. But Wednesday, famous film and TV cars like the 1966 Batmobile and a replica "Dukes of Hazzard's" General Lee will be on display at Mineola's new Autoseum.

The automotive teaching museum, temporarily housed at a Nassau County garage, will feature about 50 race and custom cars, as well as movie props at the daylong open house.

But this free event is part of a bigger picture to display several custom cars and teach car customizing classes at a 30,000-square-foot building, hopefully next year, say museum co-founders Andy Perillo and Michael Manning.

"The idea of having a museum is to preserve them so that the new generation coming up gets a chance to see the great cars of the past and the future," says Perillo, of Syosset, a 67-year-old custom car builder and East Coast representative for the acclaimed custom car builder George Barris.


Visitors will be taken on informal tours to have a look at cars both inside and along the garage perimeter. They range from the classic -- like a 1967 Pontiac GTO used in the 2002 film "xXx"with Vin Diesel -- to quirky -- "Drag-U-La," featured on "The Munsters," with lanterns for headlights and a silky purple interior.

The Guinness World Record's longest limousine in the world, which stretches 100 feet, will be parked outside. Built in the 1980s, the limo is composed of three Cadillac El Dorados and features a swimming pool and 26 wheels, says Manning, 51, of Baldwin. Now rusted with age, there are plans to restore it.

Manning and Perillo are able to locally show such flashy vehicles because the pair have licensing agreements with TV and film studios, as well as Barris, they say. Both car customizers earn their living by maintaining, garaging and transporting the cars to glitzy events to be displayed for a fee. Consequently, there will be a constant rotation of new cars at the museum every few months.


With two custom car shows at Garden City's Cradle of Aviation Museum in 2008 and 2010 under their belts, Manning and Perillo plan to share their love of cars by teaching. "Once you learn the basics, it's your creativity that can turn a car into something that nobody has ever seen before," Manning says.

The nonprofit Autoseum, in partnership with BOCES, will offer 10 Nassau County students $10,000 worth of scholarships to attend car customizing classes this summer. The scholarship is part of a $50,000 federal grant the museum received through Nassau County, says county spokesman Brian Nevin.

Beginning this October, the museum will also offer 10-week evening classes on skills ranging from metal shaping and polishing to fiberglass mold making ($600-$900). Eventually, the museum will raise funds by auctioning custom cars built by students, Manning says, adding that there will be space in their new digs for visitors to watch cars being built and for Long Island's many car clubs to meet for free.

That's right up Ronald Mouzakes' alley.

"A place to meet, and everything would be great," says the 67-year-old president of the Long Island Nostalgic Car Club, of Selden, whose club has been without meeting space for a year.

" 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and the 'Batman' car,' " he says, are an added bonus. "You don't see many of them."


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