Wyoming Car Collectors: The Many Motors of Dave Shimerka

Automotive writer Aaron Turpen writes, "I met Dave at a recent car show in Cheyenne. I was immediately attracted to his AMC Rebel, which is a rare model of 'The Machine.' I went to Dave’s home later on and got a glimpse of his car collection. It’s fantastic."

Aaron Turpen

June 30, 20237 min read

AMC Rebel The Machine 4

I met Dave at a recent car show in Cheyenne. I was immediately attracted to his AMC Rebel, which is a rare model of “The Machine.”

That model was the muscle car from American Motors and was only made as a 1970 model. A rare find for sure. After speaking with Dave, however, I learned that he is a man who collects the rare and unusual.

I went to Dave’s home later on and got a glimpse of his car collection. It’s fantastic. Some, like a late-80s Ford Ranger and a Chrysler Sebring, are purely family cars that he keeps because they are sentimental.

Others, like a semi-restomod first-generation Mustang, are also family-owned and are projects being restored over time. He was working on that Mustang when I parked in front of his  house.

Dave has a lot of cars to choose from, but the ones that most showcase his eclectic tastes and penchant for the limited were the following four. 

1970 AMC Rebel “The Machine”

Back in the muscle car crazed 1960s, stock hot rods were definitely a thing and every American manufacturer was trying to get eyeballs from that market. Buyers of these cars were usually younger in age, had money to spend, and loved the sound and power of a muscular engine in a strongly-styled car. 

American Motor Company had hit this market well with a couple of entries, most notably the SC/Rambler. Several examples of these are still around today, using the well-known Rambler name, but adding Hurst as a backer to prove the SC model’s legitimacy as a sport car versus the Rambler’s relatively mundane family car persona. And it worked. 1,512 were built and all were sold quickly. 

Following on that, AMC looked at their mundane Rebel model with its sedans and station wagons. And gave it the muscle treatment, hoping to hit the street rod crowd. A group less serious about racing and more interested in gaining road cred. The Rebel was redubbed “The Machine” and was originally meant to launch alongside the SC/Rambler in 1969. Instead, the proposed model for that year was dropped as it wasn’t aggressive enough. An earlier prototype, built in 1967 to test carburetion and high-performance options, was instead revisited to become The Machine of 1970. 

The Machine had a 6.4-liter V8 rated at 340 horsepower (5,100 rpm) and 430 pound-feet of torque (3,600 rpm). A Motorcraft 4-barrel, 690-cfm carburetor feeds that engine, giving it a 10:1 compression ratio on high-octane fuel. The AMC Rebel The Machine became the most powerful production, street-legal vehicle the company had produced up to that point. 

The first 1,000 models were produced in white base with the red, white, and blue striping seen on Dave’s car. It’s an instantly-recognizable paint scheme that showcases the car’s lines well. Additional models were produced in customer-requested colors to include a green with black stripes as well as red and blue. 

Features found on The Machine are immediately recognizable: the flag-striped armrest, the hood-mounted speedometer, the blacked headlight surrounds, and the light fins at the rear. And the fact that this AMC Rebel The Machine was Dave’s first and only purchase at auction. “I was really hung over and there was just me and one other guy bidding. I don’t think the seller was happy about how short the bidding war was.” Dave has owned The Machine since 2010.

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2014 Dodge Challenger 100th Anniversary Edition

Most car show goers are very familiar with the E-Body-based Challenger models of the early 1970s. These inspired the current generation of the Challenger, helping make up for the rebadged Mitsubishis that sullied the name in the early 80s. 

The year 2014 marked the 100th year of operations for Dodge as an automaker, 1914 being the year the Dodge brothers introduced the Dodge Model 30-35. To celebrate, a special 100th Anniversary Edition of the Challenger was produced. A total of 2,373 were made in all, most of them in the exclusive High Octane Red Pearl Coat on Dave’s car which commemorates the hottest color of the 30-35, a deep red. 

The 2014 Challenger 100th was a special package that started as either a Challenger SXT with either a Pentastar V6 or as a Challenger R/T Plus with a Hemi V8. Dave’s is the latter. 

Added to that base setup were 20x8 polished five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels with Granite Crystal pockets. Then badges bearing the Dodge 100 logo on those wheels’ center caps, and badges on the front fenders, grille, and rear fascia to mark it as a 100th anniversary model. 

Inside, the 100th Anniversary Edition had either Molten Red or Foundry Black Nappa leather upholstery (Dave’s has the former) with 100th anniversary tags embedded into the front seat backs. Graphite accents on the bezels and steering wheel accent the car and unique black-face gauges with white indicators adorn the dash. 

Further additions include suspension tuning modifications and unique startup images on the infotainment screen. This is a piece of history that Dave loves as a modern car. “It’s also the last year of that particular look for the Challenger. I like the modern feel of the car. They changed its look and interior in 2015.” He bought the car at a dealership in South Dakota after it had been traded in by its previous owner.

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1994 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 25th Anniversary Edition

The 1994 model Pontiac Trans Am Dave owns represents the fourth and last generation of the Pontiac Firebird in its Trans Am package. Produced from 1993 to 2002, this generation of the car is most recognizable for its beak-like nose and exemplification of 1990s aerodynamics.

The 25th Anniversary model commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Trans Am model. 2,000 were made, but only 250 of those were true (non-T-top) convertibles like Dave’s. All of the 25th Anniversary Trans Ams were painted white with the dark blue stripe down the car’s center to match the 1970 Firebird Trans Am’s decor. This model included five-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels and white leather upholstery and door trim. 

This Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in its 25th Anniversary model is Dave’s latest purchase. He is the second owner. He purchased it at a dealership, which was selling it on behalf of its previous owner. 

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1986 Porsche 944

The 944 is one of the most under-appreciated cars made by Porsche. Both Dave and I agree that it’s our favorite body style for the German automaker outside of its extreme supercar builds.

 The Porsche 944 was produced from 1982 to 1991 as a front-engined, rear-driven model aimed towards a middle-level buyer. Based on the 924 platform, the 944 was either a coupe or a cabriolet (Dave’s is a coupe). Until more recent times, the 944 was Porsche’s best-selling car.

 Dave acquired the 944 from a widow whose husband had garaged it. Dave had always wanted to have one and was immediately drawn to this one. He found it through a consignment dealer in Nebraska and brought it home in 2007. It was completely original and mint, so far as he could tell. The perfect garaged find.

The problems came when he began driving it. “Cars need to run. This one hadn’t ran for a long time. That resulted in engine failure. I had to change out the motor.” The current one is period-correct, however, and fits the car perfectly. But it’s not the original to the car.  

The original engine for the Porsche 944 was a 2.5-liter inline-four that produced 147 horsepower and the new engine is almost identical. Dave’s has the five-speed manual transmission, the most popular option for this car, rather than the three-speed automatic.

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Ready For More?

From the beautiful red of the Porsche to the iconic red-white-blue striping on the AMC, Dave’s collection is a wonderful example of automotive history. 

Do you have a car collection here in Wyoming? If you have a car or collection of cars that you love, let me know about it. I would love to come check it out and go full car nerd with you.

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Aaron Turpen