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The “GarageMahal” also includes more than 50 vintage and sentimental vehicles

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Longtime friends Jeff Budnick and Danny Amoroso met over three decades ago because of their common interest in vintage cars and neon signs. Jeff became a neon electrician after graduating from high school. His job was to install and repair many Vancouver neon lights.

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“I used to hang on the side of skyscrapers on a swing or in a boatswain’s chair putting up many of Vancouver’s best-known neon lights, like on the Scotia Tower and the RBC building, ”he says.

In the 1950s, Vancouver had around 19,000 neon signs – more than Las Vegas. There were more neon signs in Vancouver than anywhere else on the planet, with one sign per 18 people and 12 neon factories, including the largest in the world. But in 1974, Vancouver had passed its first comprehensive sign control bylaw, severely restricting new and replacement neon signs.

Vintage vehicles belonging to longtime friends Jeff Budnick and Danny Amoroso in their bespoke mancave.
Vintage vehicles belonging to longtime friends Jeff Budnick and Danny Amoroso in their bespoke mancave. Photo by Alyn Edwards

“A lot of the work we did was taking the panels apart, crushing them with sledgehammers and dumping them in the landfill,” Budnick recalls. “I would keep the good neon signs and bring them home in the back of my van.”

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His passion was to rewire and repair the neon lights he collected. He ended up with a warehouse full of historic neon signs.

Danny also collected neon signs and the two friends started talking about a building specially designed to house their collections of classic cars and the hundreds of neon signs they had acquired. Jeff is a movie car coordinator whose sideline plays guitar in a band. They spent months working on the design of the building with a large open space to display the cars with the neon signage in the background. The building would have a mezzanine with a full kitchen for entertaining. Now complete, there is no place like the inside of this building when the signs are all lit up. It’s like a museum of Vancouver’s neon history.

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“Some of my favorites include the neon bird at the Drake Hotel Strip Club, the Cap’s Cycles Ferris Wheel Bicycle Sign, and the Federico’s Supper Club sign on Commercial Drive,” Jeff said, adding that some of his Favorite cars of the 50 classics he owns front and center, including his 1970 Cuda and Boss 351 Mustang. Danny’s 1962 Lincoln Continental and 1965 Mustang convertibles also feature prominently in the car’s display. . Cars belonging to friends are also on display.

“We built this to have a place to go five minutes from our homes so we didn’t have to go downtown for restaurants and bars. We come here with our families and friends, ”says Jeff.

Danny Amoroso at his Cadillac office.
Danny Amoroso at his Cadillac office. Photo by Alyn Edwards

Outside the ‘neon garagemahal’ is a hidden courtyard with a kitchen and a bandstand for Jeff and his friends to entertain. There is only one thing Jeff Budnick wants for his display that has eluded him. It dates back to when he was in his mid teens.

“My dad helped me buy a 1966 Mustang Springtime Yellow that he found on a golf trip to New Mexico. I would like to repurchase this car and add it to the collection. It would bring back a lot of memories, ”he says.

Alyn Edwards is a vintage car enthusiast and partner of Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. [email protected]

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