Recently we were invited to travel to the tiny town of Pattison, Texas, about 40 miles west of Houston for an open house at the Hemi Hideout, a striking cathedral-style building that is home to a fine collection of vintage Mopar Muscle and neon signs. Lots of neon signs.
The Hemi Hideout is the creation of John Hovas, the founder of HDH Instruments in nearby Brookshire. Hovas has been in love with Dodge muscle cars since his father brought home a 1969 Dodge Coronet Super Bee. Over the years, his tastes have expanded to include Plymouths and he now has a stunning assortment of fully restored Chrysler classics from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s as well as a fine Hemi-powered 1937 Plymouth Business Coupe hot rod that Hovas says can crank out 1,000 horsepower.
Just to balance things a bit, there’s also a 1937 Plymouth pickup and a 1947 Dodge Power Wagon and some antiques tractors.
With the business allowing him to satisfy his passion, Hovas and his wife, Diane, began traveling to auctions around the country, buying fully restored Challengers,’Cudas, Road Runners and Chargers. There’s even a Duster in the collection.
Hovas’ vision of a structure to house his collection began taking shape early in 2011. Groundbreaking was in June 2011 and construction was completed last summer.
At 20,000 square feet and reaching 53 feet high, the Hemi Hideout is one of the largest, if not the largest, timber-framed structure in Texas. It’s built with mortise and tenon construction instead of nails, like the classic cathedrals in Europe.
In addition to the cars, the interior is decorated with a literally dazzling array of neon signs, including an 18-foot-tall western-themed sign that occupies most of one of the end walls.
As much as I hate the phrase, the Hemi Hideout may well be one of the world’s ultimate man caves. In addition to the cars and signs, there is a beautiful lounge area with a huge 14 by 26-foot fireplace more suited for colder climes than Southeast Texas. There’s also a ’50s-style diner and ice cream parlor. Outside is the barbecue area required by state law and a skeet shooting range.
Hovas’ enthusiasm for classic muscle and the Hemi Hideout is infectious: he enjoys talking about driving the cars he collects and the history behind them.
Hovas says the Hemi Hideout will be open from time to time and will be available for special occasions.