Buried Treasure in a Miami Beach Parking Garage

South Beach car culture is all about exotics. Here’s a little tribute to the domestic heroes that ride in relative anonymity.

Miami Parking Garage
Benjamin Preston/TheDrive.com

The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area is known for many things. Sparkling beaches. Gorgeous weather. Nude sunbathers. Also, scores of beautiful foreign vehicles, daily-driven luxe and brightly-colored exotics. Latin street car culture, the newly moneyed, and holdovers from the cocaine confiscation era all collide to make a singular kind of motoring atmosphere. With all the plush droptops and scissor-doored goodness you’ll see cruising down the strip in South Beach, it’s easy to lose the American metal. Especially when it’s hidden underground.

While staying with a friend in one of the fancy apartment buildings at the south end of town, I accidentally stumbled upon a collection of buried treasure. Security was tight. Every time I entered the building, I had to sign in with a guard and have my picture taken at the front desk. Down in the garage, my finger trembled every time I pushed to shutter button. Would I be pinched by men in black suits and herded to a backroom for questioning? There's no telling how many of those cars belonged to Russian oligarchs or NBA stars.

Of course, there was plenty of fine European machinery, from a Carrera GT and Aston Martin Vantages to squeaky-clean Bentley Continentals and a matte black Rolls-Royce Ghost. But I honed in on the vintage landyachts and tuned Detroit muscle, parked off to the side, out of the spotlight.

Here, a tribute to the oft-overshadowed domestic cars of Miami. Enjoy.

Benjamin Preston/TheDrive.com

Another row, another late-'70s Lincoln. My great-grandmother lived in "Flahridah" back in the day, and this is the sort of car I always imagined her boyfriend drove. If he did have one of these, I only hope he accessorized with a houndstooth jacket, a gold chain and a pair of chunky amber sunglasses.

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Whether you're Joe Pesci's murderous character from The Goodfellas or just some average schlub on the street, you have to admit that this late-'70s Cadillac Eldorado has nice lines. If only someone would fix those crumbling fiberglass filler panels.

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Another nice General Motors throwback lurks in the shadows. This one is a top-of-the-line for 1968 Pontiac Firebird equipped with a 325-horsepower 400-cubic-inch V8 and the ram air package. It was at the time – and remains today – a badass car.

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I could've sworn I saw Eddie Murphy chillin' in the back of this late-'80s Cadillac limo, red leathers and all. It could've been my imagination, though. The windows are tinted pretty dark.

Benjamin Preston/TheDrive.com

Years ago, this garage was probably filled with late-'70s Lincoln Town Cars. Those days are gone, but the too-big-to-care luxury of cars like this one stand as an enduring middle finger to fuel price spikes, geopolitics and everything else that isn't safely ensconced within its plush, well-insulated interior.

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This mid-'70s Cadillac Eldorado is in sad shape. That said, it's the perfect neglected-old-man-car candidate for resto-mod or hot rod upgrades. Supercharged 500-cubic-inch boulevard cruiser, anyone? I'd paint it sparkly purple for sure.

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Who knows what's under the hood, but this Camaro sure looks fast. I hope it has a/c, because driving around in a black car beneath the blazing Miami sun sounds painful.

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Other than in a hot pink version of the same, I can think of no better way to cruise the South Beach strip than in this '66 Cadillac convertible. This thing is pure class, and those wide white wall tires add a dash of Miami pizazz.

Benjamin Preston/TheDrive.com

Drop the hammer, y'all! The flat tires and thick layer of dust on this '78 Pontiac Trans Am indicated that it had not been so much as thought of in quite some time. But the fact that Smokey and the Bandit wannabes – especially if Burt Reynolds so much as breathed on it – are selling for stupid money these days might motivate its owner to shine 'er up and git on up to Hotlanta for the first summer barbecue.