Car Collector's Corner: Hidden Treasure - A Great Classic Car Museum At An Undisclosed Location

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland
car collector s corner hidden treasure a great classic car museum at an

Some of the greatest car collections are not public friendly for a very simple reason. You can’t trust the public. That’s why some guys keep their collection on a “need to know basis”.

This is one of those cases where you don’t seem to have it. Not to worry, we smuggled-in a camera.

Harold was the caretaker of this incredible collection. When he passed away recently, the hobby lost a true pioneer. Harold’s last name is being withheld by his own request because he valued his privacy and the privacy of this collection.

Harold knew that the cost of armed guards or CIA-rated security to protect their treasures was just too much for many collectors for another simple reason. They’ve spent all their money on old cars.

This is a classic hidden collection – it’s the automotive equivalent of Shangri-La, but like that fabled city, the location was always a mystery, so the only clue is that these cars are definitely in the Western Hemisphere.

Here’s another clue. A Snopes search will turn up nothing because this isn’t one of those Internet myths like ghosts in pictures or “Family in Trouble” scams that separate concerned grandmothers from a ton of cash.

Harold was a hardcore car guy for over 50 years and he loved the old iron.

Harold’s late father in law was a pioneer in the vintage vehicle arena and many of these cars reflect the last vestiges of his personal collection. This is one of the most eclectic car collections short of Jay Leno’s because it spans nearly 100 years and 2 continents. In fact, Leno might even get car envy for the first time since he was a starving comedian.

The collection begins before the horseless carriage with a few horse drawn carriages.

Harold’s collection then moves into the earliest era of cars with a Holsman that was built before 1905. This car was actually used in a major parade in 1963 where it kept getting stuck in the streetcar tracks, but it made it through the miles long route without a problem.

Harold also owned a 1918 Model TT in mint condition. This truck looked like it could start work tomorrow because its current cargo is a 1966 Ski-Doo snowmobile.

Harold’s collection also included a 1922 Kissel Speedster, and that’s not something you’ll see at any local cruise night. This is a museum quality example of an extremely rare vehicle from the Great Gatsby era.

The Pierce Arrow was purportedly owned by legendary silent screen star Mary Pickford. Harold was a very careful guy and like most car guys, he’s a detail guy, so he was reluctant to add a 100 per cent confirmation on the Hollywood connection to the Pierce Arrow. But simply looking at this rare car in person confirmed that it was a big part of 1920s luxury.

This1928 Essex epitomized Roaring 20s upper echelon society because even without a movie star connection, this beauty carries its own glamour.

The 1930 Ford Town Sedan was not quite as upscale but every bit as important. In person, this old Ford looked right at home as a museum piece.

One of Harold’s prized vehicles was a 1931 Stutz 8 (DOHC straight 8). This car sports engine technology that is still being used in the 21st Century.

The collection also had a few classics from the 1940s including a Lincoln convertible that was the ultimate touring open vehicle of the time. A pristine Ford sedan from the same era represented a more mainstream, but no less glowing example of 1940s automotive styling.

Fittingly, a 1948 Willy’s Jeep reflected the proximity of the late 40s to the industry standard. This was clearly a military vehicle that was the workhorse of World War Two before its role as the 1st Generation SUV.

The 1950s are represented by a mix of classic British racing style with classic 50s North American style because an MGA (title picture) is only a few feet away from a 1959 Cadillac.

This finned icon of the era defined the late 50s styling Space Race in North America.

There was another Cadillac a few feet away. This convertible picked up the torch for the 1960s era. The underlying theme is luxury in the collection and this immaculate white Caddy is a fine representative of any era.

The 1970s continued the upscale theme with a one owner 1978 Diamond Jubilee Lincoln. This car is so complete it still has the factory issued umbrella and the case containing the factory issue garage opener.

Clearly, late 1970s Lincoln owners didn’t like getting wet and Ford accommodated them.

Harold remembered another facet of this Lincoln – he tried to clean the gold color-coded “white”-walls.

Like most car guys, Harold was a philosopher. He reflected on the Essex with the comment; “the 50s, 60s and 70s cars are going for big bucks, but old classic stuff isn’t worth as much. 20 years ago the Essex was worth more than it is now”.

He added that the Lincoln convertible is “the ultimate car” but looking after these cars “has become a chore.” This classic fleet was a full-time job for Harold. There’s a never-ending battle to change the fluids, upgrade the gas, start them periodically, maintain the tires and keep the batteries up to full charge. He also had a horse that’s so friendly it thinks it’s a Golden Retriever. Everything was labor intensive for Harold.

The building that housed them was also historical and that added to Harold’s workload. It’s an old dance hall that was moved to the site after many decades of service back in an era when many of the cars inside were brand new. Harold steadfastly refused to replace the original labor-intensive wooden dance floor so it was a constant battle to protect the old timber from the ravages of leaking old cars.

Despite the workload, Harold was still extremely proud of his eclectic fleet, so he continued to baby these classics from the past to his final days.

He did it as a labor of love, but as he said, “If I got somebody else to look after them I’d have to tell him where the cars are.”

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2 of 20 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jun 25, 2012

    Its nice to know the contents of my imagination physically exists somewhere.

  • CRConrad CRConrad on Jun 25, 2012

    "This [DOHC -equipped 1931 Stutz 8] car sports engine technology that is still being used in the 21st Century." Yeah, well, so does any old Ford model T or Opel Laubfrosch: Regardless of where they keep and how they turn their camshafts, all cars (save the RX8) still have their crankshafts down at the bottom, connected to pistons by rods.

  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.
  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)