Ray Ho – 04/08/2017
Growing up, I used to collect vinyl records and comic books while my brother was more interested in stamps. I am sure many of you can relate to collecting one thing or another (sorry MP3s and JPEGs don’t count). However, only a lucky few are able to amass a classic car collection.
Recently I had a chance to visit a private collection of classic cars. The owner, Mr M (who wish to be anonymous), started out as a Porsche/VW mechanic. He recalls purchasing a used Porsche 356 for a few thousand dollars decades ago. The car did not come with an engine. Luckily one of his friend was in the salvage yard business where they were required to keep wreck cars for a few weeks for insurance auditing purposes. Once a few weeks elapsed, his friend was free to salvage the parts. Through his friend, he was able to secure an engine and got his car back on the road. He was then hooked on buying cars and fixing them up. Later he was fortunate to made (in his words) “a lot of money in real estate”. So he started buying more classic cars and restoring them. His collection has grown to close to 300 cars today. Just last year alone, he purchased over 20 cars from the bringatrailer website. He does occasionally sell his cars when for example he has duplicate models or just ran out of room to store them. Even though money is not his primary motive for collecting cars, he did say his cars are for sale at the right prices.
His collection is being housed in a couple of warehouses in an unremarkable business complex in California. As you walk inside the main warehouse, to the left there was a throwback kitchen area complete with retro appliances and jukeboxes. To the right, there are vacuum tube TVs and some antique clothing and furniture.
These signs hanging from the celling would make Mike and Frank (from American Pickers) drool.
Right in front, you will encounter a 1964 Mazda R360 coupe and bunches of micro cars.
The collection is very broad and naturally there are lots of VWs and a area dedicated for classic Porsches. Look! Even a mini 356 with a working engine.
The back of the right hand side is the shop area for some restoration works. The owner occasionally still likes to get his hands dirty and at the same time try not to interface with his mechanics.
Take a few steps down the stairs on the left hand side to access the adjacent room where more prized cars are parked. There are many American muscles and European classics.
Mr. M also has a very impressive Japanese classic car collection; Datsun mini pickup trucks, a 240z, Subarus, Hondas, Mazdas and even a Toyota 2000GT worth seven figures. Just the collection in this non-descriptive main warehouse are worth 10s of millions of dollars.
There are also countless memorabilia plastered all over the walls.
Existing the main warehouse in the back, overflowed cars with car covers are parked outside. The back building houses more cars and parts. I imagine some of them will eventually be restored and displayed in the main building.
Seeing these classics can’t help but feeling nostalgic about my early rides. Notable ones include a 67 Mustang 289, a 85 Toyota MR2 and a 87 Honda CRX. I didn’t have the room, the money or the foresight to hold on to them. I did intend to keep my more recent acquisition of a 02 Porsche 911 (996) but unfortunately I totaled it. Perhaps it is time to start collecting again. Who knows, may be one day my 13 Scion FR-S will … never mind.
It is incredibly generous for Mr. M to share with us his collection and his passion for cars. I would love to be able to do the same in the future. At the meantime, if you come visit me, you will need to settle for listening to Madonna LPs.