Great balls of fire. Picture this, if you can. It's about 4 a.m., and two guys have the hood up on a beautifully restored yellow 1941 Ford convertible. The sleepy one in a rumpled T-shirt is Cincinnati dentist Jack Hahn and the visitor in a red jumpsuit, oh-my-God-yellow hair and a diamond ring on every finger is rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis. The Implant Tooth Pioneer meets The Killer.

"Can I fix you a drink?" Dr. Hahn says politely. "Some cornflakes?"

But Jerry Lee gets right down to business. He wants to buy this car and writes a check on the spot for $4,500. A few years later, in 1975, when the IRS took most of the singer's property for back taxes, he managed to keep the car.

"He just loved that car," says the dentist. "I don't know exactly why."

Not exactly. But Jack Hahn understands getting hung up on a car. His favorite is a 1971 Mercedes convertible. Powder blue, it's in pristine condition and pretty spectacular, even next to the others in his stunning collection of eight vehicles, including a 1953 Chevy pickup truck.

He's got a racing green 1967 turbo Bentley, fitted with a custom picnic bench. The car has 800 original miles on it. "Well, it's not exactly something you can drive to the grocery." He bought his 1972 Mercedes limo from Wayne Newton, who said the car's provenance includes a cameo as Jane Wyman's wheels on the old nighttime soap "Falcon Crest." He has a couple of Porsches and an outrageously splendid 21-foot-long 1976 gold El Dorado convertible. 

 "When I've had a crappy day, I come home, start one up and feel the tension drain right out of my body." He could, he says, stand in the middle of his two-story detached garage in Indian Hill and even blindfolded recognize each car by the click of the door, the hum of the motor, the feel of the leather. He chooses some, he says, for their beauty. And some for design or engineering innovations that were remarkable for their time but later became standard on cars like the new Porsche Cayenne SUV he drives to work.

During the late 1980s, he managed a limited partnership which included a portfolio of Ferraris. Malcolm Forbes tried to buy one for more than a million dollars, but the car went to the CEO at Gin'™s Pizza. That felt a little more like business than a hobby. The partnership was disbanded, and Dr. Hahn went back to his personal passion for cars, which started when he was growing up in Akron.

His first car, which cost him $40, was a 1941 Chevy with a beautiful body but no floorboards. He sold shoes after school to earn money for more jalopies, which he waxed and buffed as if they were Jane Wyman's limo, selling the last one "” a 1956 Ford convertible "” to finance dental school at Ohio State. There he met and married Barbara Shuller of the Wigwam restaurant family. Her father, Saul, was responsible for the first ding on Jack Hahn's first new car. "I hadn't had it 24 hours," he says, laughing. He soon had bigger things on his mind: a family "” he and Barbara have two sons and a daughter "” and a career gamble.

It began in 1969 when a woman showed up at his office on Barry Lane in Avondale with 15 sets of dentures in a shoebox. Dentures with magnets, dentures with rubber suction cups. Lots of metal and money. But no working teeth. "She was basically a dental cripple," Dr. Hahn says. "She couldn't chew and wouldn't go out in public." Her husband, a surgeon, had heard about a new procedure, dental implants. The dentist regretfully shook his head and gave the couple the standard answer, the conventional wisdom at the time, that implants wouldn't last and she'd be risking rejection and infection.

Six months later, he saw them at a cocktail party. The woman had traveled to New York for dental implants. "It has changed our lives," her husband told Dr. Hahn. "This is the future."
It was, Dr. Hahn says, a wake-up call. He went to New York for training. His first transplant patient was an impeccably dressed woman who had become a virtual hermit because she refused to go out in public without teeth. She had the classic shoebox full of badly fitting dentures. That was in March of 1970. Thirty years later, she told Dr. Hahn that her implants "are the only thing in my body that has lasted."

The comic Marty Allen was appearing at the old Beverly Hills Supper Club when somebody told him about Hahn and his implant dentistry. "He couldn't even eat a banana."  Dr. Hahn placed implants, and Marty Allen later opened his refurbished mouth to a reporter for Parade magazine, telling a national audience about the Cincinnati dentist that gave him his life back. Then a story appeared in the Cincinnati Post. The Cincinnati Dental Society took out an ad in the local newspaper blasting the practice of dental implants.

"Dad," asked Hahn's young son, "what's a quack?"

Furious, Hahn threatened suit, and mounted a public information campaign. "We were considered snake-oil salesmen," he says. "When I began doing them, sex was safe and implants were supposed to be dangerous."

Implant dentistry now, of course, is readily available, practiced by highly regarded dentists all over the world, a lot of them trained by Dr. Hahn. His remarks to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry were entitled, "A Return to Simplicity." He was followed by a speaker who discussed "Treatment Plans for the Completely Endentulous Maxille."

You can't exactly picture that last guy holding a conversation with Jerry Lee Lewis. "That's something I admire about these old cars," Dr. Hahn says. "The simplicity, the solid quality. They're luxurious but with no unnecessary amenities." No silly pretensions. No plastic. Steel under their handsome veneer.

 Although a lot of them were ahead of their time.