Mammoth AQC Jetway 707 Restoration Doesn’t Scare This Ohio Shop

Eddy Eckart

It spans 28 feet and flaunts nine doors, six wheels, and 455 cubic inches of front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile V-8 power. The AQC Jetway 707 rests before me like a magnificent, curious creature whose evolutionary traits were arrested in development like an ancient bug in sticky amber.

American Quality Coach’s short-lived effort to create the ultimate airport limousine began in 1968 and ceased in 1970, victim to the expenses of its elaborate design. The Jetway, more than anything else, is genuinely weird. That makes it worth saving.

AQC Jetway 707 doors
Eddy Eckart

This battleship grey behemoth, the 12th of just 52 made, sat decomposing for years before recently being rescued by Cleveland Power and Performance, a multifaceted speed shop in Columbia Station, Ohio. The Jetway represents the outfit’s largest and perhaps most complex, involved restoration to date.

Tim Mulcahy keeps busy at Cleveland Power and Performance. In addition to heading up the shop’s online sales and social media presence, while also managing the physical office, on the day of my visit he guides me through the shop’s enormous compound.

“What started as Cleveland Pick-a-Part in 1986 evolved in the early 2000s to focus on salvaged late-model American performance car parts, and we eventually added a full shop turning out custom builds,” Mulcahy explains. He’s leading me past rows of staff, diligently processing orders at their desktops. “A little less than ten years ago, we’d started taking our builds to auctions and shows, so we changed our name to ‘Cleveland Power and Performance’ to more accurately reflect what we do.”

Cleveland Power and Performance parts shelves
Eddy Eckart

Once past the front office, Cleveland’s interconnected buildings take on the air of a museum’s backroom archives. We meander through warehouses full of neatly catalogued parts carefully pulled from wrecked American performance cars.

Cleveland Power and Performance pallet drivetrains
Eddy Eckart

In tidy rows rest turn-key modern V-8 drivetrains pulled from Mustangs, Dodge SRTs, and Camaros, each packaged to start and run right in place on their pallets. The restoration shop bustles with mechanics and craftsmen working on more than a half-dozen vehicles, including an old Charger with a Hellcat engine swap and a beautifully-restored Chevy 454 SS pickup.

It’s a big place, which means a lot of walking. Beyond the upholstery facility, I take a break on a luxurious, stitched leather couch that’s built into the back end of a metallic yellow ’48 Caddy. (They start at about $10,000, in case your La-Z-Boy needs replacing.)

We eventually arrive at our destination. I walk through the door of the paint shop—one of the few indoor spots with enough room to house their recent acquisition—and the sheer length of AQC’s Jetway 707 envelops my field of view.

Jetway 707 Cleveland Power and Performance
Eddy Eckart

It’s a lot to look at, this Jetway, both from its sheer size and from all its intricacies. Everything ahead of the windshield is unmistakably ’68 Oldsmobile Toronado, but the rest is all AQC’s effort to create a spacious and luxurious airport shuttle.

“They went over and above trying to build something right—you could tell they cared about what they were doing,” explains Rick Fragnoli, one of two brothers who own Cleveland PaP. “From my research, they put so much money in their tooling and creating this hand-built product that they just never got off the ground.”

Countless details testify to the time and effort involved in developing and engineering the Jetway. Fragnoli believes the steel roof on early models like his was welded from multiple pieces rather than stamped as a single unit. (Later models used fiberglass.)

The windshield is unique to the Jetway, and so are all those doors. “People think the doors are from a GM station wagon, but all the bodywork behind the front fenders was custom-made by American Quality Coach,” says Fragnoli. The panels, even the roof, are heavy-gauge steel, and though there’s a staggering amount of rust, the Jetway still feels sturdy in construction.

Three rows of three individual seats each, plus a bench in the back and room on the split bench up front, means that 14 passengers could fit comfortably. There’s more than enough headroom for all aboard, and there’s ample space for old-time suitcases in the separated luggage compartment in the back. Dual trailer beam axles on leaf springs help support all the weight out back.

jetway 707 455 Oldsmobile V-8 engine
Eddy Eckart

All this capacity is the result of AQC’s founders’ decision to build the Jetway 707 with GM’s full-size front-wheel-drive architecture. The Olds 455 V-8 provided ample power, but more importantly, the lack of a tunnel for the drivetrain enabled a flat floor pan for added occupant comfort.

That comfort, at least in this particular Jetway, was initially offered to GM executives who used it as a shuttle to and from Detroit’s Metro Airport through the late ’70s. It was then used by the airport itself up until the mid-’80s. After that, a limo company took ownership, adding the odd “centipede” graphics down the sides. A family picked up the Jetway in 1999 and put it to their own use. “There’s even a photo of this car at the Woodward Dream Cruise in 2004,” says Fragnoli.

Things took an unfortunate turn not long after 2004 when a younger relative shot out the windows of the old limo with a BB gun. The owner angrily set off in the Jetway to confront him and managed to severely damage the transmission in the process. The Jetway then sat until it was listed for sale in the fall of 2023. When Fragnoli saw the listing, he did not hesitate.

jetway 707 rear
Eddy Eckart

“There’s no doubt it’s pretty rough,” says Fragnoli, pointing out that those shot-out windows are custom pieces. He then motions me toward the front seat, which he demonstrates can move back and forth despite being bolted down—that’s how much rust is in the floor. “It is going to be a lot of work,” he added, “but nothing we can’t handle.”

Fragnoli has a battery cart at the ready, with which he demonstrates to me that the Jetway’s big 455 starts without a hitch. Aside from the abundant exhaust leaks, the V-8 sounds pretty healthy. When he shuts it down, I ask what his plans are for the behemoth.

“I’m not a big restoration person, but I think it might be a little sacrilegious to tear this one apart.  The original plan was to do a front-wheel-drive, twin-turbo LS setup,” he says with a wry smile. “But then we thought about how rare it is—one of only seven left in the U.S. and nine left in the world, unless someone else finds one. It’s not going to be an OEM nut-and-bolt project because there’s no paperwork left on these, but I think we’re going to keep it more original to start.”

Fragnoli intends to drive this Jetway with its existing 455 and share it with fellow enthusiasts. Despite the huge undertaking ahead of the team at Cleveland PaP, he’s already making summer plans. “The goal is to be on the road with a driving, functional car with glass back in it and the interior done,” he says. “But the bodywork, the paint, some of the metalwork’s still going to be in progress. We’ll get out, do some shows, maybe do the Power Tour and let people see and enjoy it. It’s such a massive project that it’ll take years to fully complete, but next winter we can tear it back down and make progress in stages.”

Speaking of progress, the Cleveland PaP crew appears to have rolled up their sleeves in the weeks since my visit. The company’s YouTube channel shows the interior removed and the floor completely cut out. The seats are off to the upholstery staff, and if that Cadillac couch was any indication, cossetting accommodations await this Jetway’s occupants. Judging by the rest of Cleveland’s operation, the whole car is in store for a dramatic makeover. For any necessary airport trips next summer, I know just who to call.

Read next Up next: Giovanni Savonuzzi: The Italian design master you’ve probably never heard of


    Interesting concept based off the design of the Checker Aero and the Armbruster Stageway multi door airporter. These extended vehicles were common in the late 1960s and the 1970s in the NY/NJ/CT area transporting folks to the 3 NYC airports. I rode in one from a hotel in Columbia SC to start my journey to my first Air Force assignment in California in 1971. It was a 6 door Checker job. Many had a roof rack with a canvas cover for the luggage.

    I lived in Oklahoma as a young lad and remember seeing a multi-door station wagon sitting on one of the reservations. I wasn’t a car guy then, but I would be willing to bet it was one of these. When I recount the story of my youth to folks, I tend to get that ‘yeah right’ look – but at least now I know such an animal exists

    Also a Checker Marathon station wagon stretch by Checker (?) or a custom shop and many very long frame extension airport-er station wagon were produced. 5 or 6 doors on a side type extension.

    Not sure where you live hyperv6, but I’ve seen their work up close on several of their cars and I don’t consider it very good. It’s a pretty cool piece of history and I hope they do some decent work on it.

    “I’ve seen their work up close on several of their cars and I don’t consider it very good .” So I guess their award winning builds don’t count ? Reverence one of the first Charger / Hellcat conversions ,Nika a 79 Bronco custom fabricated to accept late model Ford F150 components ,a 90 Chevy SS454 total restoration , Bit Nasty another Charger /Hellcat swap totally custom built in progress .And not counting all the past and current builds . Do yourself a favor go on their website and see the level of their skills !

    When I was in college in South Jersey in the early ’80s, there were two of these beasts in the rental fleet of a local Rent-A-Wreck franchise. I’d see one near the campus sometimes and thought back then it was one weird one-off custom.

    You guys need a couple of Tornado/Eldorado parts cars from down south. Both for powertrain and sheet metal….. up until a couple of years ago there was one these in Otoe, Nebraska….Didn’t use one of these as a movie limo????

    There used to be a few of them parked at Dulles Airport. I have no idea if they are still sitting there as I have not flown into Dulles in maybe 5 years.

    I watched a guy parallel park a full-size coach bus once. In New York City. Into a space that was no more than 6 feet longer than the bus. In one move. I was impressed!

    Ken, yes, the two shared a chassis according to Fragnoli at Cleveland PaP. This came out first, and AQC was out of business by the time the motorhome debuted, but the chassis design ended up under the GMC motorhomes. Good eye!

    Not true, the GMC Motorhome had an entirely different frame. Most notable is the rear suspension which are beam axles on the limo and swing arms on the motorhome. The prototypes of the motorhome used the 5 lug Toronado wheels and changed over to 8 lug for the production coaches, another difference among many.

    Somebody needs to tell the guy in the video that there is a tool for removing old GM inside door handles and window cranks. Seems he spent an inordinate amount of time on those with his pick and hook tool. Not impressed.

    The tech is too young to know about the crank removal tool but with at least 18 of them to remove I hope he made one before he got to the second door….I wondered “why the saw instead of an air chisel?!” but there may not be a compressor in that building and Milwaukee doesn’t make a cordless brushless chisel.

    pretty sure i saw one of those on I-64 in the 70s.had redheads written on it.remember the womens touring basketball team.

    Man Oh Man what a project that is going to be , I feel sorry for the guys doing the body work on that beast !! They’ll definitely have there work cut out for them for sure.

    I thought it was a long way around my 71 Rivi when I restored it,,this thing is another whole car on top of that at almost 10′ longer than the Rivi . That thing will likely eat up 10K in just sand paper alone just blocking it out,,
    not even counting the 55 gallon drum of elbow grease required !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *