We, um, grill the homeowner who has decorated the back of his Port Credit home with the front of a Jeep. The unusual patio addition is seen daily by thousands of Lakeshore West passengers. We find out, what’s up with that?
Speeding past Richard Streeter’s Port Credit house on the Lakeshore West line – it’s hard not to notice his Jeep.
That’s because it’s mounted on the back of his home – perfectly eye level with the thousands of passengers who sit on the upper level of those trains.
But – what’s harder to spot is what’s written on the bottom of the license plate: “Live without limits.”
Every day, on all our GO Transit vehicles, customers have the best seat in the house. But while they routinely see the normal neighbourhood scenery and routine ebb and flow of other travellers, there are some unusual sights and sites that stand out – and make many quietly question their own eyes.
So for the sake of thousands of Lakeshore West line passengers who go directly by Streeter’s backyard each day, we wanted to answer what many of them have wondered about – what’s up with that Jeep?”
“It was a fun thing to build,” says the maintenance worker. “One of the reasons I built it was because I back onto the GO and I thought it would be an interesting conversation piece.”
Streeter says that back in 2011, he was rummaging through a scrap yard looking for parts for another project when he suddenly spotted the mangled Jeep.
He suspected it was involved in some kind of nasty collision based on the damage, but the front end was still in great condition. That’s when it hit him.
“I had the idea, to make something like CityTV back in the old days on Queen Street,” he says.
Using the skills he acquired during a long career as a mechanic, fitter and welder, he cut off the front portion of the Jeep’s body. He then set out to create some custom brackets that could hold it onto the wall. Every detail was carefully considered.
“The hood on there even has a safety cable, so if it ever hurricanes storms or anything, nothing can fly off it,” says Streeter.
He is a detailed oriented kind of guy. That’s why it was important for him to even have Goodyear Wrangler tires on the Jeep – the same tires that would have been stock on the vehicle. And that’s not all.
“I went to one more extreme,” he explains.
“I said, if I’m going to go to that extent, why not go all out on this thing – so I built it with working lights,” he says while pressing a small button on a remote control that’s used to illuminate the headlights and the turning indicators.
“Chrysler Canada must love me with that thing up there,” he added while chuckling.
Streeter and his wife moved to Port Credit 20-years ago. He looked for a house with a detached garage so he could work on vehicles and various other projects.
He says the neighbours don`t mind the Jeep mounted on the house, nor do they mind all the banging, grinding and welding that constantly comes from his garage – since he says he`s the first person to lend a hand, or tool, to someone who needs it.
“I never have a problem with the neighbours behind me,” he adds jokingly about the Lakeshore West GO trains that pass directly behind his home. “They’re the best neighbours you can ask for. They never complain.”
Over the years, Streeter says he’s owned eight various Jeep Wranglers. His love of them started many years ago, when he bought one for his wife.
“She just couldn’t keep a car on the road,” he says. “So I decided to buy the Jeep and she never killed it. She just couldn’t kill the Jeep. It just kept going.”
His favourite of those eight Jeeps is a 1992 ruby red Wrangler he still owns and calls “the old one.” Streeter says when he went out to purchase the off-road vehicle nearly three decades ago, Chrysler was only making about 50,000 of them world-wide.
He says that meant you just didn’t see a lot of them around the GTA in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
“They would end up a dealership and they weren’t there for a matter of hours,” he recalls.
But after a year and a half of searching and calling various dealers, he finally found one at a downtown dealership and bought it sight unseen.
Since purchasing it 27-years ago, he’s made many modifications: under the hood there’s a high performance Hurst shifter, a custom fabricated trailer hitch receiver, a custom built LED brake light strip mounted above the rear bumper and a special set of rims that came off a 1988 Jeep Comanche Eliminator.
But what catches the attention of many off-road enthusiasts is just how much of the vehicle is original and how pristine everything looks – including that ruby red paint.
“I had tough times to buy this one,” he says. “To keep it all this time – I have a lot of memories there.”
So perhaps it’s no surprise then, that when he came across that mangled Jeep sitting in a scrap yard back in 2011 – he didn’t see a bunch of twisted metal. What he saw was a public art piece in the making – and an opportunity to inspire others.
“There are no limits,” he says while looking up at the Jeep mounted on his home. “If you want to do a project, you want to do a piece of art, if you want to do something different – do it. Don’t dream about it. Do it.”
Story by Matt Llewellyn, senior advisor for Metrolinx media relations and issues.