Steelers fan 'driven' to support his team
Jeffrey Elliott considers himself a die-hard Steelers fan.
Four years ago, he bought a used Toyota Scion iQ subcompact car simply because its shape resembled a football helmet. In order to customize it into a mobile tribute to his favorite football team, Elliott:
• painted the car black and gold.
• replaced the interior with black and gold custom-leather seats boldly embroidered with the words, “Big Ben” and “#7.”
• installed a black and gold dashboard and steering wheel.
• added 17-inch custom wheels featuring Steelers logos in the center of the caps.
• affixed to the roof two “Big Ben” Steelers helmets and above the rear bumper, adhered decals depicting all six Super Bowl trophies.
• installed interior cabin lights that shine at night with the words, “Big Ben.”
“Ben Roethlisberger is my favorite player, and my car is actually a tribute to him,” said Elliott, 57.
His wife, a retired teacher, thinks he's crazy for spending $8,000 on the customization.
“I tell her, ‘You can't take your money with you (when you die), so why not do something unique with it?'” he said.
It took Elliott three months to design all the Steelers features on his car, and another six months to implement the design, which continues to evolve. This year, he added the autographs of 20 Steelers rookies — including T.J. Watt, James Connor, and Mike Matthews — to the dashboard.
He would like to add 20 more autographs to the doors.
Ultimately, he hopes to get Roethlisberger to sign it, even though he has never met him.
“At least 100,000 people have taken their picture with the car. A lot of them ask me if I work for the Steelers and if this is my company car,” he chuckled.
Elliott delivers pizza for a living.
He drives one hour from his home in Washington County to the three pizzerias that employ him — Pizza Roma in McCandless, Pomodoro Pizzeria and Ristorante in Franklin Park, and Sorrento's Pizza Roma in Oakland.
“I've been delivering pizzas for 44 years. I work 109 hours a week,” he said.
He drives his Steelers car to each and every one of his deliveries.
When he is not working, he washes the vehicle, inside and out.
He dusts the dashboard, wipes and conditions the upholstery with a moist chamois, and cleans the vents. He washes the exterior with a touch-less hose that gently sprinkles water, then applies a protective wax coat using a soft microfiber terrycloth.
“It takes me about an hour and a half,” he said.
Elliott, a Steelers season-ticket holder, predicts the team will win the Super Bowl this year, and believes Roethlisberger will retire at the end of the season.
If that happens, Elliott will retire his car, as well, which means parking it in his garage, next to his black 1977 Pontiac Trans Am with 5,012 miles on the odometer.
He already is working on his next project: a car to honor Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“My plans are secret and my plans are hidden,” he said. “But I'll tell you this: I'm expecting to spend $26,000 on it. It's going to be awesome. It's going to have fender flares and slotted rims with Penguins logos in the middle. It's going to have an unbelievable lighting system and all four Stanley Cups on it.
“Best of all, there will be two Penguins players on the roof that move via remote control.”
Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.