LARAMIE – It’s the larger-than-life wide-eyed and goofy smile that first catch your eye.
But it’s the playful curl of Gary McKim’s smile and the slightly offbeat twinkle in his eyes that makes you wonder about the collection and designs in and around McKim’s Upholstery and Auto Sales just off Snowy Range Road in West Laramie.
Instantly recognizable, those googly eyes are pinned inside the windshield of Stanley, a 1924 Graham-Paige truck. The vintage machine was transformed into a character of the same name from the 2006 Pixar animated film “Cars.”
“Oh, he’s been there for a few weeks or so,” McKim said.
Over the past 22 years, the spot in front of McKim’s tiny boutique has showcased many of his ideas and designs. Most are like Stanley, something just for fun that doesn’t mess with what’s underneath. And for the most part, they all have something in common.
“They’re all for sale,” he says.
But Stanley is just a hook that most of the time is worth seeing when people pass by. The lucky few who stop by, however, can take a short tour of McKim’s eclectic collection of antiques.
“I love unique stuff,” he said. “Anything unique or weird. “
This is immediately the case when visitors are greeted by the friendly George, whose perpetual wave seems to draw people in. George is the top half of a model seated in a vintage snowmobile, dressed in a sweatshirt, top hat, and sunglasses.
A few more steps and one of McKim’s projects catches the eye: a vintage dental chair. Made mostly of cast iron, it also has accessories that look almost as grim as any 5 year old could imagine at a dentist. He is padding the chair for a client.
In the back room, McKim is happy to point out another treasure – a bright yellow 1964 Indian motorcycle. It’s a small 50cc motorcycle.
Underneath the motorbike on a sofa is George’s lower half, disembodied legs appearing to relax on their own.
When asked where he finds his plans, McKim simply responds “everywhere”.
While a visit to his shop may feel like a stop at a museum or an antique store, McKim is also a car dealership. Its small bundle contains a handful of unique finds that could impress most motorheads.
There’s the purple 1998 Chevrolet Corvette that was a race car for the Indianapolis 500. It’s for sale, but McKim admits he didn’t have a lot of bites on it.
“No one here needs a purple pace car,” he said. “But I drive him everywhere.”
Under the hood of a rusty 1963 GMC truck is “a pretty rare engine,” McKim said.
The big block 305 V6 is a workhorse of an engine, but what makes it rare is that it still has the original paint on it, red with checkered cylinder head covers.
The next time you’re in between races and you see Stanley smiling and waving at you, it’s worth stopping by.