Four people who truly love their cars
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve rounded up the stories of four people who really, really love their cars. These people make avid collectors of classic cars look lukewarm.
Collecting cars – and the stories behind them
Tammy Allen of Grand Junction, Colo., got her first car — a black 1976 Ford Mustang — at age 16. Since then, she’s cultivated a passion for classic cars. When her father, Bill Allen, gave her a 1988 Armaretta, she realized that classic cars were works of art and began amassing a large collection of them.
Allen also is interested in the stories behind the cars – so much so that she’s purchased cars of historic significance. For instance, she owns the ambulance that whisked President John F. Kennedy to a Dallas hospital after he was shot. Allen also has bought vehicles that were owned by pop culture icons, including a Rolls Royce once owned by Zsa Zsa Gabor and a pair of 1966 Mustangs once owned by Sonny and Cher. One of her most prized possessions is a limited-edition Mustang built by Lee Iacocca himself; the $352,000 car is one of just 45 that were built.
Rather than keeping her collection to herself, Allen has opened Allen Unique Autos, a museum in Grand Junction that displays more than 60 cars worth at least $6.5 million. The museum also offers chauffeured limousine services, although it’s safe to say you won’t be getting a ride in the limited-edition Mustang.
A stockpile of ’32 Fords
Bob Regehr, owner of a filling station, got rich off an invention: the “Moon Walk” inflatable trampoline. He’d always had a passion for old cars, and he’d seen many of the nicest cars in town pass through his gas station. So, once he had enough money, he started buying them.
Although Regehr is private and rarely shows off his collection, one-time assistant Henry Platt shared the details of Regehr’s collection in a 2009 article in Hot Rod magazine. By that point, Regehr had collected every model of Henry Ford’s original ’32 Ford, including a pair of roadsters, two phaetons and two unrestored B-400s. He also snapped up many classic Fords from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, as well as several Corvettes and Chevys, a ’53 Buick Skylark, and muscle cars such as a ’68 Camaro and a ’69 Indy pace car.
As of 2009, Regehr had more than 230 cars, which were spread among various locations in the Midwest, such as barns and garages.
A classic-car pack rat
In 1939, Michigan building materials dealer Barney Pollard got his first car, a 1910 Cadillac, as repayment for a debt. It didn’t take him long to catch the car-collecting bug. Within a few years, he had dozens of cars surrounding his home.
During World War II, the federal government insisted that Pollard sacrifice his car collection to support the war effort. According to grandson Jim Dillon, Pollard made a deal to give the government tons of scrap metal and to give up one car a week. Once the war ended, however, he kept collecting … and collecting … and collecting.
Dillon recalls that when he was young, his grandfather had a collection of about 1,200 cars, which were stored in several huge buildings. The cars were stacked end to end and even hung vertically. “All this creates an automotive jungle that even the hardiest old-car bug hesitates to explore,” according to a Mechanix Illustrated article from 1950.
In a post in an online forum about classic cars, Dillon recalled: “The cars standing on end were a sight to behold and pretty eerie at that. Although I walked in them numerous times, I always felt there was an element of danger and I would always catch hell when I got home as the grease on the cars ruined many sets of clothes.”
Pollard collected just about everything under the sun. The Mechanix Illustrated article claims that he had nearly all of the 2,000 makes that had been produced in the U.S. since the car had been invented. Even later in life, his passion for cars persisted. He frequently would embark on 400-mile drives, searching through junk heaps and yards for diamonds in the rough that he could add to his collection.
Pollard lost 110 cars in a fire in 1976, according to Dillon, including a 1911 Cadillac, but he kept most of the cars until his death in 1981. Since his death, most of the cars have been auctioned off to collectors.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Porsche obsession
Jerry Seinfeld’s estimated net worth of $800 million gives him plenty of cash to spend on cars — and he’s made it clear that Porsches are his true love. Although Seinfeld never has revealed exactly how many Porsches he has, he’s rented out an entire aircraft hangar to hold his collection, which is rumored to be one of the world’s largest Porsche collections. His collection includes rare and valuable cars such as the 959 (worth $700,000), 10 Boxsters and several classic 911s.
In a 2011 interview with a German newspaper about his collection, Seinfeld said that “looking at a Porsche sets free feelings like no other car. I love the Porsche story, and I am building my collection in a way that does tell this story; from the beginnings in (the German town of) Gmuend to the latest models.”
Recently, Seinfeld launched a web TV series called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” In the show, he drives around with other car-loving comedians, including Ricky Gervais, Larry David, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.