Getting to know bike builder Stacy McCleary

By Stacy McCleary; Photos by Danell McCleary

My name is Stacy McCleary and I am 65 years old.  I’ve been building cars and bikes out of a small garage in my backyard (Stacy’s Garage) for forty years. This all started for me at an early age.  By the time I was ten years old I was building bicycles and mini-bikes; I bought up all the spare bicycles and mini-bikes in town, refurbishing or building from spare parts and selling them.  My family had just moved into a new home with a big garage.  This was 1964.  My parents were driving new vehicles at the time and they parked their cars outside, because I was using the garage for my bicycles and mini-bikes.  This was the beginning of Stacy’s Garage.

At fourteen years old I bought my first car for $200.  It was a 1932 Ford pickup.  It was mostly all original.  I got that little fourbanger running.  I put a header and a dual intake manifold on it with two Strongberg 97 carbs.  It ran real good.  Now getting close to fifteen years old, I was driving that little ‘32 pickup pretty hard.  Well you guessed it, I blew that four-banger up.  Next I bought a 1948 V-8 Flathead.  I tore the engine down and cleaned everything up the best I knew how. I added Offenhauser aluminum heads and intake manifold with more Strongberg 97 carbs, headers and small cherry bomb mufflers. The V-8 Flathead sounded and ran real good.  This engine lasted about six months and I blew it up.  My next engine was a 327 Chevy small block.  This engine was in the pickup when I sold it a year later.

So you are probably wondering, how could a ten-to-fourteen-year-old afford to buy all these bikes, vehicles and parts?! Well, my Dad had a stucco contracting company. Starting when I was ten years old, he allowed me to work for him after school and on summer vacation, helping out mixing the mud, carrying materials around on a job, pushing a wheelbarrow, etc. He paid me a buck an hour. In the summer I made $40 a week, while other kids made $25 a month working a newspaper route!

Around town there were lots of forty- and fifty-year-old guys with parts businesses, shops or just lots of spare parts; and here I was, this fourteen-year-old kid doing business with and hanging around their shops– when I wasn’t working or in my own shop!

At fifteen years old I got my permit to legally drive a motorcycle on the road.  My first bike was a 1962 Cushman Scooter.  I was still driving the ‘32 pickup around on the streets illegally though, and got caught a few times.

At sixteen years old, I bought a 1957 Chevy two-door hardtop.  This car was stolen from me two days later.  I got it back in a few days completely stripped.  The next two years a lot of time and money went into this car.  It was really nice. Well, it got stolen again and I never saw the car again.

Then, I met a real cute girl, and her parents had bought her a 1957 Chevy two-door hardtop when she was sixteen.  She was eighteen when we married and that ‘57 is till in our garage today, 45 years later.  I did a frame-off restoration on this car and it still looks great all these years later. My shop car is a 1957 Chevy two-door sedan that I drive daily.

In 1977 I tried to buy a new Harley.  My young wife got pregnant, so I gave up that bike.  In 1979 I tried to buy a 1978 Harley from a good friend.  Wife comes up pregnant again, so I got my brother-in-law to buy the bike. With two young little girls at home I decided I didn’t need a Harley right then.  My brother-in-law let me ride the bike whenever I wanted to.  A little over a year later our son was born.

Over the next twenty years I built many cars, from a Bucket T Roadster to a couple of Model A five window coupes and many more ‘57 Chevys.  As a family we did car shows and road trips with three kids in the back seat of a ‘57.  As the kids grew up and graduated from high school, it was time for me to have my own Harley.  I bought a new bike in 1998 and again in 2000.

I built my first custom bike in 2001.  Since then I’ve built many custom bikes and have been honored to have the legendary photographer Michael Lichter shoot  my last five bikes.  My bikes have been in many magazines and it makes me pleased to see what comes out of my small garage.

My wife and I have made many friends in the motorcycle world.  We’ve been to events all over the United States.  Well, I gotta go now, it’s time for my evening bowl of ice cream.

Ride Safe and God Bless – Stacy’s Garage

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