Cars are kinda like pets, in a way – each one is different and unique from every other…they all require constant protection and maintenance (and sometimes repairs)…and, as the owner, you can’t help but have a favorite.

The relationship you, the owner/driver/caretaker, develop with your car may be a bond as strong as the chemical bond Opti-Coat Pro+ forms to protect that new paint job. Even after time has taken its inevitable course, and you and your beloved automobile have had your last ever run together, the memories will last the rest of your life.

We get it. Here at Automotive Quality Solutions of Ashburn VA, we respect the sincere, lasting love all our customers have for their four-wheeled friends. We know how much that car means to you because, well, there’ve been a few treasured vehicles from our own personal histories that have garaged themselves forever in our hearts.

In This AQS “Auto”-Biography – 1980 Pontiac Trans Am

Our founder and president Daryl Collette shared his memories of a very special, yet very unlikely favorite car from his past: The 1980 Pontiac Trans Am.

Keep in mind that Daryl is every inch of seven feet tall…but a Trans Am, suffice it to say, isn’t.

Daryl jokes about it. “I fit because I wanted to fit!” he said.

"Auto"-biography Trans AmHe fit at first by necessity, but later for the fun and challenge of it, Daryl grew up working on cars with his dad and three older brothers – cosmetic upgrades, mechanical repairs, after-market installations, etc. One brother had this sweet-looking Trans Am which struck high-school-aged Daryl’s fancy. Daryl joked that he’d one day buy it from his brother.

During Daryl’s junior year, he and his father struck a deal. If Daryl landed a full-ride basketball scholarship for college, dear old Dad would buy his youngest, tallest son a brand-new Ford Mustang – the specialty Saleen model(Dad didn’t think he’d ever need to fork over the high-priced Ford)

So when it happened in 1990 that Daryl accepted an offer from George Washington University’s men’s basketball team, Dad’s bluff was called. Daryl’s Dad dutifully paid his debt to Daryl – in the form of that Trans Am.

It was a very acceptable substitute.

“It was an 11-year-old car, but I mean, it had a Firebird on the hood,” Daryl trailed off at the memory. “I loved that car. But I have no idea how I fit in that thing.”

Daryl rode that old Trans Am through his last year and a half of high school and all of college – four years of motoring back and forth between New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

“It was a great highway car,” Daryl said fondly. “It was made for 1970s gas prices so they went from a 454 big block to a 301 small block and put a turbo on it… horrible design. They only did it for two years as it had so many problems. From zero to 60 it was slow as molasses, but 50 to 90, it was very, very fast.”

It was fast enough that young Daryl could spontaneously decide to leave his dorm room in DC around 9 o’clock at night and be parked in his parents’ New Hampshire driveway before dawn. No traffic, you see.

“Four hundred sixty something miles. One stop for gas, food and drink, and keep rollin’,” Daryl delighted in recalling the times.

All those miles added up. The dashboard got cracked and the engine repairs came more frequently. Another car entered Daryl’s life and took on the role of workhorse, but he didn’t want that beat up, old Trans Am to be scrapped to the junk heap just yet.

For 10 more years Daryl kept the Trans Am around, undriven, moved from spot to spot. Daryl remembers, “I heard so many people say they wished they had their old car from High School, and I didn’t want to be one of those people.”

Ultimately one of Daryl’s Northern Virginia neighbors needed a car to practice a little automotive restoration, so reluctantly Daryl parted ways with his favorite ride.

“It went somewhere where it was going to be completely restored, which I thought was pretty cool,” Daryl said.

Like we said, Daryl and the team at Automotive Quality Solutions get it. We love our cars as much as our customers love theirs. We treat every vehicle that enters the AQS detailing and paint repair shop as if it were our own – because we know every car is someone’s favorite.

What’s your “auto”-biography? We’d like to hear your story. Let us know next time you come to see us.

About Automotive Quality Solutions: Established in 2012 by Loudoun County resident and serial entrepreneur Daryl Collette, AQS offers premium detailing, reconditioning, paintless dent repair, paint protection, and cosmetic body restoration to private individuals and car dealerships throughout Northern Virginia. AQS maintains a 15,000 square-foot facility in Ashburn full of state-of-the-art equipment, including a curing booth and a whole-car photography stage.

In 2017, AQS was honored by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce as its Innovative Business of the Year. Come visit our shop at 21670 Red Rum Drive, Suite 149, Ashburn, VA, for a tour of our facilities. Learn more about AQS at and call 571-291-9401 or drop by to make an appointment.

AQS is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday (for estimates, drop-offs, and pickups) from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.