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Wheels of Dreams | By Jason Brady


When Fayetteville developer Buzz Loyd takes one of his favorite cars out on a sunny Sunday afternoon, he doesn’t use gas, leave a carbon footprint or emit an iota of carbon monoxide. In fact, it’s likely these sedans, coupes, convertibles, pickup trucks and limousines will never leave the house. Loyd is the proud owner of more than 500 scale model cars, some of bygone years, others that are still on the American scene. In the vernacular of the car dealerships, they are referred to as “promos.” “They started out in dealer showrooms to show the colors that were available for that year,” Loyd said. “They became so popular, dealers would start ordering them and they would come to the dealership in crates.” Loyd started collecting models on Christmas morning of 1951, when at age 7 he found his first three cars under the tree: a 1951 Ford, a 1951 Pontiac, and the venerable 1951 Studebaker. His early models were toys. “I played with them when I was a child; they were not ‘touchme-nots.’ I became more fascinated with them as time went by.” Fayetteville car dealerships in the 1950s and ‘60s were concentrated downtown. There was Lafayette Ford on Russell Street along with M&O Chevrolet (now Reed Lallier), Yarborough Motors and – within a stone’s throw – the Oldsmobile dealership. Loyd knew and contacted them all and asked for the promotional models. “I got them by being a pain in the butt. I wore them out,” Loyd said. “A lot of these I collected as a child, but in recent years, I’ve added to them significantly.” He’s had help from family and friends. His daughter found a 1960 Chrysler Crown Imperial coupe on EBay. A former customer presented him with a pristine 1956 Bel Air Ford still in its cellophane wrapper. But Loyd acquires most of his cars from dealers, collectors, toy shows and from the few companies that still manufacture models. He also collects models produced by the Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint, although their value is less than that of the promos. Today, Loyd’s initial three cars have mushroomed into 500 beautifully displayed models, housed in lighted and climate-controlled display cases. The various model types are displayed on individual shelves starting with a row of Buicks from 1954 through 1960. Other shelves display the all-stars of the Fords: 1/43rd scale replicas of the Model T, the Model A, the Woodie, the first Lincoln and the Thunderbird. The General Motor line includes the Chevrolets, Cadillacs and on a lower shelf are various models of Oldsmobiles, an American icon phased out in 2004 after 107 years. There are also the Hudsons, Packers, Studebakers and Ford’s oft maligned Edsels, cars that haven’t been on American roadways in decades. There are shiny black limousines representing the massive Lincolns used by former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Robert F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George Bush. Kennedy’s Lincoln, the last open-topped limousine to be used by a president, was actually owned by Ford Motor Credit. After Kennedy’s assassination, the company redesigned it by putting a hard top on the vehicle. “They called it the 64 Quick Fix, but it was the same car,” Loyd said, displaying both before and after versions. Finally, there are a row of German BMWs and Mercedes. Loyd and his son went on a backpacking trip to Europe in 1995 and while visiting the BMW and Mercedes factories, the elder Loyd added yet another group to his selection. “A lot of these I collected as a child, but in recent years I’ve added to them significantly,” Loyd said. A part of the collection reflects the Loyd family’s driving history. It includes the Hudsons his father and uncle drove and a 1963 Ford Falcon convertible, the first new car Loyd bought after high school. Loyd also has a model of the new Thunderbird that Ford launched in 2002. He ordered the (actual) car from Lafayette Ford two years earlier and bought the first one the dealership sold. Loyd scans the rows of shelves, picks up a particular model and goes into great detail about each one. He can’t place a value on his collection, although he is quick to say that none of his cars are for sale. “The market is very limited to some other nutcase like me who loves cars,” he said. Loyd grew up on Valley Road in a house where his mother still resides. As a youngster, Loyd saw the Valley Road neighborhood grow, in part, as a result of the post-World War II building boom. His fascination with cars and his early exposure to neighborhood construction left Loyd wanting to become either a car dealer or a home builder. “I got sawdust in my veins from seeing all those houses go up,” he said. During his college years at North Carolina State University, Loyd came home on weekends and summers to work at Bass Air Conditioning, a job he began while in high school. He remained with Bass Air Conditioning for 23 years, retiring in 1985. But Loyd wasn’t finished. With two of his four children in college, Loyd made the decision to start another career as a builder. Today, Loyd Builders is a prime construction firm in Fayetteville. Lately, the firm began specializing in medical facilities and is currently constructing a 60,000 square-foot medical office building on Robeson Street. And while Loyd’s success as a builderno doubt enables him to buy any lifesized vehicle he may desire, his model car collection is his passion. CV