Here we are, ten months into the pandemic, hospitalizations and death rates nearing record levels, while a less-than-efficient vaccine rollout tests our faith. Will we ever see an end to the many hours we’ve been stuck inside our homes? Sometimes I catch myself staring at the living room walls, longing for the exotic backdrops of my pre-COVID life. Remember the football stadium? The rock and roll concert? The movie theater? Maybe you dream of something more specific, such as, say, the Disneyland attraction Cars Land, with rides and set pieces inspired by the locations and characters of the animated feature film Cars?
But what if you could combine the two: that is, your home, where you must shelter for the remaining months of the pandemic, and a design aesthetic that invokes the playful spirit that helped make Cars one of the most successful animated films of all time? Well, if you happen to have several million dollars at your disposal, then you are in luck, my friends, for there is such a property for sale in the North Texas town of Roanoke. For a reasonable $7,999,000, you could hunker down at this five-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 7,419-square-foot compound that sits on ten acres, and has a multitiered swimming pool, an event space that can accommodate a party of sixty, and a fully functioning mechanic shop. There is even a paint application station, where you could take any old Honda Civic and make it look exactly like Lightning McQueen. The design aesthetic is so steadfastly dedicated to the automobilic arts, it seems like something that could only have been dreamed up by an actual car (with financing from Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld, of course, because cars don’t have bank accounts).
Buckle your seatbelts, y’all, and join me on a road trip through the imagination.
You have just returned home from your weekly trip into town. Though you did use hand sanitizer both inside the Tom Thumb grocery store and after you got back into your car, you head to the bathroom to wash your hands. You can never be too careful these days. As you scrub for the customary twenty or thirty seconds, you entertain yourself with the first few verses of “Born to Be Wild.” Get your motor runnin’ / Head out on the highwaaaaaay, you growl. You allow your mind to wander. The wind is blowing through your hair. You are not in a half-bath in the suburbs of the Metroplex, a half-hour drive from downtown Fort Worth; you are on Route 66, winding through the American West. The only droplets that worry you are droplets of rain, and even those don’t worry you too much. Bring on the storm.
But these Tom Thumb groceries aren’t going to put themselves away, so you meander down to the kitchen. On the way you admire how the fluorescent light bounces off all that metal. As the indigenous tribes of the Great Plains had once used every part of the buffalo, so too have you used every part of the car: Bar stools made of tire rims and hubcaps. A high table made from two engine blocks and tempered glass. Even the boring wooden dining table has an old steering wheel for a centerpiece. Diamond plate sheet metal as far as the eye can see, making you feel that your kitchen is not so much a kitchen as it is the bed of a pickup truck, or the back of a cargo van. (But in a fun way, not a kidnappy way!)
From the kitchen you wander to one of the many areas in which you hope to one day entertain. All in all, you have several hundred square feet of event space. Somewhere out there is a car-obsessed couple who are still searching for their dream wedding venue. But these are dreams for the post-COVID era. For now, you only stand and admire your antique-pickup-truck bar. It can seat as many as two people, provided they do not need to social distance. There is not one but two Keurig machines, so each person can get a hot cup of Donut Shop coffee without having to wait. It’s the little things.
You make yourself one cup of coffee—decaf, because with your anxiety you have no business drinking caffeine—and head outside. It’s too warm to use the fire pit, but you like to unwind on the deck nonetheless. The patio chairs have a nice bounce to them—good shocks—and the hubcap arms, though a pain to keep shiny, make you feel like you are a tire, instead of just tired.
Here is another patio, which features vintage cars tastefully embedded in the landscaping. You have made sure the light is always green, because you never want to feel limited in your surroundings. You can go anywhere. This place seems like something Matthew McConaughey would appreciate. You think about tweeting at him before heading inside.
You have five televisions on this wall, so you can watch Cars, Cars 2, Cars 3, Smokey and the Bandit, and Ford vs. Ferrari all at the same time.
After the movies, you head to the master bath. It features his-and-hers sinks, and the shower is big enough for both you and your beloved Fiat.
But the crown jewels of the property are its custom, fully functioning garages. There is room for ten cars, and that’s how many you need to feel whole. The garages are outfitted to the nines, complete with car lifts, a tire changer, and the aforementioned paint station. The walls are covered with vintage motorist decor—old gas station signs, reminding you that lots of people have been into cars for many, many decades. The cars have their own TV to watch.
After checking to make sure the cars are okay, you head back outside to appreciate the design. One man’s junk is another man’s landscaping, and the rusted auto parts that pepper the grounds help you stay in touch with your own mortality. Your body, and the mechanics that run it, will one day, too, break down. With everything going on, sometimes it seems like that will be sooner rather than later. But even when the car crashes, in the face of great destruction, life—in this case, an agave plant—finds a way. Vroom vroom.