MELBOURNE, Fla. – For one Massachusetts man, his love for muscle cars started when he was a toddler.
“I used to play with my old Tonka trucks. Eventually, I started collecting little matchbox cars,” said Mark Pieloch, owner and president of the American Muscle Car Museum in Melbourne.
Pieloch went from collecting toy cars to collecting the real deal.
"The uniqueness of this collection is every car is kept in running condition. Every car that you see here is 100 percent original," he said.
A passion for those type of cars that was mainly influenced by his older brother.
“Having seen all the muscle cars and having (ridden) in those cars as a kid with him, I was thrilled by those vehicles, they were always something exciting,” Pieloch, who works in the pharmaceutical industry said.
In 2017 his thrill for muscle cars led him to build the American Muscle Car Museum in Melbourne, a one of a kind building on 42 acres of land.
“This building was built special to house the American Muscle Car Museum. One of the unique aspects of the building it’s 100 percent solar-powered,” he said about the 123,000 square foot structure.
The museum is home to more than 300 high-performance cars -- like Mustang GT’s, Caroll Shelby’s, Cobras, Porsche’s --you name it and Mark most likely owns it. On display he still has the first muscle car he bought 41 years ago: a 1965 Mustang GT Fastback in dark ivy green. His collection includes older model cars to newer ones, like a 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster.
But which one is his favorite?
"I would say my favorite vehicle that I own in total, is my 1966 Ford 27 Shelby cobra," Pieloch said.
Pieloch’s hobby is one he enjoys sharing to help the community.
“The American Muscle Car Museum is a registered 501c3 non-profit, and as a nonprofit we really have four main areas we really concentrate on,” he said. " We’ve raised over 4 million dollars for local charities."
He’s giving back by hosting charity fundraisers and “Thank you” events.
“We do about 12 of those events a year, is a free open house Veterans Day for all veterans and their families and all active-duty military and their families,” he said.
But education is his focus. At the museum, students learn about the engineering, design and history of these vehicles.
“Automotive engineering students, we’ve had college kid students from Florida Institute of Technology to University of Central Florida. We give free school tours for any kids. A lot of the people that know muscle cars are typically older people, the young kids is great to get involved because they’re the future of the hobby.”