Under The Hood
Behind the Wheel of Local Entrepreneur Steve Cage's Private Car Collection
As featured in Towne Post - http://www.townepost.com/indiana/geist/under-the-hood/
Steve Cage has been a car aficionado pretty much his entire life.
In 1980, Cage garnered success in creating a business that looked for defects in automobiles. The company was wildly successful.
"Cars were built very poorly in the 80s," Cage says. "I had the opportunity, back then, to work with all the big automotive manufacturers. We provided a service that helped stop the interruption of defects that suppliers might make. Unfortunately, we did find problems through that and ended up being the largest company in the world providing that service."
Cage sold the company in 2004, but five years later, the company he sold it to went out of business. So, in 2009, Cage started another company providing the same service, Stratosphere Quality. His love for cars and the automotive industry only continued to grow throughout his journey.
In 2017, Cage sold his business yet again.
"We sold it to a great company out of Japan," he says. "They are doing wonderfully and we are happy for them. Throughout all those years, I started collecting cars."
Cage's love for cars began well before he started his businesses. It was his father's career path that initially sparked his interest in cars as a kid.
"When I was growing up, my dad was a Chrysler executive," Cage says. "He helped develop some of their engines back in the day. We were fortunate to have about two new cars every year in high school and college growing up. I was pretty blessed. That gave me a chance to get in those cars though, drive around and get a feel for them. Being around it all my life, that gave me the fever. As I had the chance to work with all these manufacturers over the years, I decided to collect different types of cars."
The result today is Cage's private car collection: The RPM Collection: American Muscle Car Museum. The collection includes more than 50 luxury, racing and muscle cars.
"I enjoy it, always have," Cage says. "The newer cars I've been able to procure myself. You call all over the country and try to find the best deals. The older cars, and ones with unique stories, take more searching. But once you get them in, it is a lot of fun."
Cage has quite the collection. Among his favorites includes the Plymouth Road Runner. Cage's Road Runner previously belonged to none other than MLB Hall of Famer and New York Yankees legend Reggie Jackson.
"The Road Runner was a tough one to get," Cage says. "But we were able to procure it from Reggie. It is pretty cool. It still has the nice 'beep, beep' to it that you used to hear."
Others in his collection include seven Dodge Demons (which can go 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds, 1998 and 2017 Dodge Vipers, an award-winning 70s Mopar restoration collection, multiple Ferraris, several 1970 Plymouth 'Cudas, multiple Dodge Challenger T/As and Shelby Cobras and much more.
"The Hemi Cuda was the car of the day," Cage says. "It was technologically way ahead of competitors at the time. Chrysler had a lot of great engineers at the time. Those are as sweet as it gets."
Probably the most unique and rare part of Cage's collection sits in the back corner in a display all to its own. Cage was able to obtain the 1971 Indy 500 Pace Car, famous for crashing at the beginning of the race. He also owns the backup pace car from that race and the 2019 No. 2 Indy 500 Pace Car which was featured in Simon Pagenaud's victory lap this year.
"That 1971 race is the only IndyCar race that has ever had a major accident with a pace car," Cage says. "It was coming into the pits at 125 miles per hour and the brakes locked, the car hit the photography stand and, thankfully, no one was killed. Years later, I got the chance to buy it from Eldon Palmer, a local car dealer who was the one driving it the year it crashed. He passed away a couple years ago and was a great guy. So, I've got the most famous pace car in the world."
Typically, the pace car goes to the winner of the Indy 500. That year, in 1971, since the pace car crashed, IndyCar allowed the winner, Al Unser, to request a "victory" car he would like. Today, believe it or not, Cage owns that unique car in his collection as well.
"They asked Unser what he wanted and he said, 'I want a Dodge Charger,'" Cage says. "It was the first time in history that has happened. He asked for a yellow one with a black top. We got it from his family, that he sold it to, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was totally trashed, kind of like the Dukes of Hazard. We put it back together, and we know the car was his because we have all the documentation."
Cage also owns a 1968 Ford Mustang Eleanor. There are several recreations of the popular car featured in the movie "Gone In 60 Seconds." Cage's Eleanor is one built by the famous George Barris himself and was actually driven around and used to promote the movie. The car is loaded up with a dual quad 428 engine, modified to 650 horsepower and a film-accurate interior.
Barris is famous for building one-of-a-kind cars used in TV and movies like The Batmobile from the Adam West Batman TV series in the late 60s, The Munster Koach from the 60s sitcom "The Munsters" and many more.
"I got a chance to buy the car from Barris, and it is a really cool car," Cage says. "It is as fast as can be, but it will shake your teeth out of your head."
Not all of the cars in Cage's collection are just for show only. One of the questions Cage often gets asked is, "How often do you drive these cars?"
"I do drive some of these," Cage says. "I actually drove the Eleanor once to The Original Pancake House in Fishers. It is street legal, but it sounds like it is a race car. I pulled up and everyone came out of the restaurant to see it because they could hear it from inside. It's a lot of fun."
Cage's car collection is private - mainly reserved for family, friends and colleagues. He has, however, hosted fundraisers, galas and other events at his garage in the past and is open to more of those in the future to be able to highlight his collection some in the community and provide a unique venue for those looking to rent a space out for a big event.
"We do host events where you pay to host the event, have food catered here and see the cars," Cage says. "We have also done team-building events in the past as well."
Beyond his car collection, Cage stays busy with his latest venture - Cage Campus. Cage Campus, located in Fishers, includes "workspaces designed to maximize engagement and productivity." Cage's goal with Cage Campus is to empower local startups and other entrepreneurs with resources to sustain steady growth in their young companies.
"Once I retired, I wanted to provide entrepreneurs a space at an economical cost," he says. "We tried to come up with a concept to help these young entrepreneurs."
Cage, a Geist resident, also gives back to the community in a variety of ways. His most recent contribution in the last year includes donating more than $60,000 to the City of Fishers for brand new pickleball courts at Cyntheanne Park. The park continues to be a busy place for a sport that Cage loves and a sport that continues to grow in popularity across the country.
"The sport is a lot of fun and it gives people the opportunity to do something for their wellness," he says. "Now, we also have two of the nicest pickleball courts in the country right here at Cage Campus, too. We have a great atmosphere of work and play."
For more information on Cage Campus or The RPM Collection, email firstname.lastname@example.org.