When he’s alone, Jerry Gray only listens to one kind of music while cruising in his car.

“Country music,” he said. “The old country.”

The hangar for Gray’s 1952 Buick Roadmaster, who his wife, Suzy Gray, calls his “baby,” is covered with Merle Haggard quotes, airplane decorations, car show trophies and a few Marilyn Monroe posters.

His rare model of a Buick is the centerpiece of the room, with desert rose beige metallic paint, ventiport lights on the side, a Buick engine, a cowboy hat hanging from the rearview mirror and a little surprise underneath — an airbrush portrait of Marilyn Monroe under the hood that he likes to pop up and illuminate with a small flashlight.

Gray first got into collecting antique cars after totaling his airplane in a controlled crash. He decided he needed a safer hobby, so he took to restoring a 1932 Ford Victoria.

He ended up selling it and buying his Buick, and he’s been going to car shows across the country ever since. He’s taking his car to Reno, Nevada, for the Hot August Nights show this summer, and he hopes to get into a few prestigious shows in California, as well.

While some cars are for looks and get towed into car shows, Gray said his Buick is definitely for driving. He and his wife have plans to take it all over the U.S. and visit all 50 states. They dream of doing Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, next year.

“My goal is to wear it out and put another engine in before they take my driver’s license away from me,” he said.

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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