Here is an update on the news posted yesterday:
Well-known lawyer and car collector John Maurice O’Quinn was killed on Thursday, Oct. 29, when the Chevrolet Suburban he was driving skidded on a rain-soaked Houston, Texas highway and slammed into a tree, causing heavy damage to the SUV. The 68-year-old attorney was famous both for securing $17.3 billion settlement from tobacco companies and for his collection of some 800 vintage cars, which had previously been featured in Old Cars Weekly. O’Quinn was said to be working on the creation of a car museum.
Houston police reports said the fatal accident took place on the city’s Allen Parkway. Also killed in the crash was Johnny Lee Cutliff who was believed to be O’Quinn’s personal assistant. News photos show that t\he front end and other sections of the black Suburban the men were driving was severely damaged.
O’Quinn was born in 1941. His father was an auto mechanic who raised him alone and gave him a stiff upbringing. The family was of modest means and John had no opportunities to have hobbies such as collecting cars. It was not until he struggled to his celebrated status as a top-ranked attorney that he was able to buy the car he enjoyed and dreamed of owning.
His collection includes a half-dozen Duesenbergs, a Lincoln-Continental limousine once owned by President John F. Kennedy, a Barris-built Batmobile, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Packard Limousine and a Ford Escort once owned by Pope John Paul II. O’ Quinn brought four cars to the recent Louisville Concours d’Elegance, a 1930 Stutz Model M Supercharged coupe with low-slung Lancefield of London coachwork, a 1934 Duesenberg Model J Brunn Riviera Phaeton, a 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Riviera Town Brougham with a massive 4468-cid six-cylinder engine and the famed TV Batmobile.
O’ Quinn’s personal life was one of ups and downs. He was a self-made man who reached the pinnacle of success in his field and made friends and enemies while rising to fame as one of the top tort lawyers in the country. However, his influence in the world of car collecting was as powerful as the huge Texan’s “Big Man” persona. Enthusiasts throughout the world were looking forward to the opening of his museum, which visitors say was being planned so that each floor would represent a different decade in automotive history.
Newspaper reports said that Q’ Quinn had no wife or children. Darla Lexington, the woman in charge of the corporation that managed his automobile collection, is said to have also provided a positive influence in the lawyer’s life in recent times. Both of their names were seen on the vehicle identification plaques at the Louisville Concours d’Elegance.
O’Quinn’s death behind the wheel of a car is an ironic ending for an enthusiast who drove fast sports cars and spent the last 10 years or so putting together one of the world’s newest giant-sized classic car collections. Old car professionals like John Mark, of Illinois, who visited the collection earlier this year, marveled at the investment that O’ Quinn was making in his hobby. Many news stories about the tragedy discuss the hills and valleys of O’Quinn’s personal life, but there can be no doubt he will be missed in collector car circles.
One of John O’Quinn’s classic cars was this 1930 Stutz Model M Supercharged coupe with low-slung Lancefield of London coachwork. (Jim Rugowski photo)
An unidentified driver parks John O’Quinn’s 1930 Stutz Model M Supercharged coupe at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ken. The Stutz has a 322-cid overhead cam vertical eight that produces 134 hp. (Jim Rugowski photo)
O’Quinn brought his 1934 Duesnberg Model J Brunn Riviera Phaeton to the recent Louisville Concours d’Elegance with three other classic cars. (Jim Rugowski photo)
O’Quinn was a big Texan and liked big, impressive cars like this 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Riviera Town Brougham with its massive 468-cid in-line six. (Jim Rugowski photo)
Cars that were owned or built by famous people were also part of the Houston-based collection and included the Batmobile that customizer George Barris designed for the “Batman” television series. (Jim Rugowski photo)