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Posted January 22, 2014 in Community Featured
Jim Ballagh doesn’t mind driving his 2010 Maserati all year, unless  there is ice on the road.

Jim Ballagh doesn’t mind driving his 2010 Maserati all year, unless there is ice on the road.

You can’t miss it: a fine Italian sports car that has flames shooting out of the hood and tires.

The Maserati belongs to Jim Ballagh, 81. He says he bought his first Maserati in 2009 but traded in twice before he found the exact car he wanted, a 2010 Maserati GranTurismo with a Ferrari V8 supercharged engine.

Ballagh was born in California, but his wife, Laci, was from Centerville. She died about four years ago. He says what he tries to do with his life is help people whenever he can.

“If there really is a heaven or hell, at 81, I can’t take any more chances,” he says.

Ballagh used to paint cars himself, but he retired about five years ago. When he decided not to trade in the third car, he had an old friend paint fire on the front and sides because he didn’t want a plain black car.

“If I trade it in, that will knock $25,000 off because I put paint on it,” he says. “But if someone came in the dealership who liked the paint, they would charge extra for it.”

Most people know Ballagh better as “The Hangman,” a nickname he says he got in college after he started painting cars and a mentor suggested he needed a more interesting name. The word “Hangman” was in the title of a movie that was playing.

“Most people know a lot of Jims, but they only know one Hangman,” he observes.

Ballagh says the Maserati is incredibly powerful, and he has had it up to 180 mph a couple of times. He tries not to speed very often, though. After all, he says, law enforcement officers recognize the car.

One of the vehicle’s safety features is that if a driver tries to take a corner too fast, an internal computer slows it down.

“It is almost accident proof,” he says. “If we hit something at a slow speed, the air bags deploy halfway and the fuel pump shuts off so it won’t catch fire.”

The Maserati resides in a special garage with a heated concrete floor. Even so, Ballagh drives the car all year round in all weather conditions except ice.

Why does he drive it all year round?

“Because it’s my car,” he says. “I love it. It is a true love affair. I get in that car, and I just go places.”

Contact Darren at 515-953-4822 ext. 304 or to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”

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