West Coast trip reveals SoCal treasures

For the second year in a row, Old Cars’ Associate Editors Angelo Van Bogart and Brendan Dooley took about a week away from the office to tour the plentiful vintage auto (and motorcycle) hunting grounds of Southern California.

During the week, we visited restoration shops, talked with collectors, met with readers, toured museums, and more.

Enjoy the following highlights from the trip, and look for the full stories in weeks to come in Old Cars Weekly and Vintage Motorcycles.

Sunday
3503a.jpgWe started the trip in Las Vegas, Nevada, and visited with collector Richie Clyne and his Isotta-Fraschinis and Duesenbergs, especially J-427, Clyne’s Murphy-bodied town car originally ordered by bandleader Paul Whiteman. Clyne also showed us around the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, which houses a shop and small auto collection to benefit the community. In the shop were a 1948 Cadillac pickup and a Keystone Kops “driverless” Model T, and the display collection featured one of Clark Gable’s Harley-Davidsons along with his trophy from the AMA, a Mercedes-Benz 300SL “gullwing,” and a twelve-cylinder Packard.

We closed out the first full day of the trip with a visit to the auto collection at the Imperial Palace on the strip.

Look for future stories in OCW on J-427, the St. Jude experience, and the IP collection. Clark Gable’s Harley will also likely grace a page or two in Vintage Motorcycles.

Monday
3503b.jpgAfter the drive to the Los Angeles area and checking into our hotel, we spent the afternoon with vintage sidecar builder/restorer/importer Doug Bingham in Van Nuys. Bingham is also a former sidehack racer. There will be a sidecar-themed issue of VM later this year.

Tuesday
We visited with collector, and Pebble Beach Concours judge, Bill Snyder this morning. He and his wife had some great stories about their years of “old” car ownership. He also showed us some of his cars, including a Muntz Jet and his son’s gorgeous one-of-a-kind Letourneur et Marchand-bodied 1930 Packard Victoria he recovered from Argentina. Bill’s son, Steve, runs a classic car dealership in Anaheim.

3503c.jpgIn the afternoon, we checked out a 1979 Volkswagen Westfalia Microbus from Vintage Surfari in Aliso Viejo for a vintage driving experience in SoCal. What a workout the next day would be, wrestling that around the L.A. freeway system ‘ but a blast, nonetheless.

We took the van across the mountains of the Ortega Highway to Temecula, to meet with Dave Bowman who has a now-found sixth Chrysler 300-G with a three-speed manual transmission. Bowman’s story turned from an expected 30-minute experience into a three-hour odyssey as he showed us around his complex, including his enormous and exclusive petroliana collection, his 1957 Nomad racers, his transplanted 1930s-era Texaco gas station and roadside diner, and astounding collection of other memorabilia.

Look for future OCW stories on driving the Vintage Surfari VW in L.A. alongside information about running a vintage vehicle rental business, more on Bill Snyder and judging at Pebble Beach, Steve Snyder’s classic car sales, photo layouts from the Bowman collection, and information about his 300-G.

Wednesday
3503d.jpgStill driving the Volkswagen, we began the day in Riverside at the Kiwi Indian restoration and parts supply shop.

Following that, we continued to Casa de Cadillac in Sherman Oaks. Casa de Cadillac is a new car dealer that maintains the same building and sign from when it was built new in the 1940s. They’ve also uncovered photos from the dealership’s earlier days. There will be a story and/or photo layout on Casa de Cadillac in OCW.

Thursday
3503e.jpgAnother banner Cadillac day! We toured the warehouse for Cadillacs of the Forties and talked with owner Ed Cholakian about the booming business with 1940s-’50s Cadillac parts and restorations.

In the afternoon, we met with 1970s Daytona Superbike champ Reg Pridmore at his business in Santa Paula. In addition to his six or so old bikes, Reg had a few vintage cars and a couple classic airplanes.

We also took photos of a vintage Harley-Davidson Knucklehead at Mike Egan’s shop in Santa Paula.

There will be a story in OCW on Cadillacs of the Forties. Vintage Motorcycles will do more on Pridmore in 2007, and look for Egan’s original, low-mile 1947 Harley FL in the 2007 Vintage Motorcycles Collectors’ Edition Calendar.

Friday
3503f.jpgAnother motorcycle-theme day, we visited two collections in Ojai for future VM stories, including the vintage Italian sportbike collection of Guy Webster, and the Bator International restoration shop, and collection of early American motorcycles, many of which are also for sale. Some of the Glenn Bator bikes will likely also grace the 2007 motorcycle calendar.

Saturday
3503g.jpgYet another motorcycle day! A trip through central California to San Jose netted another calendar bike, a 1956 Ariel Square Four Mk. II, during the 9th Annual All-British Clubman Weekend Show & Swap. Look for coverage of the event in Vintage Motorcycles’ club news as well.

Sunday
3503h.jpgDuring a “Meet the Editors” session at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, we also toured the museum and snapped nearly 200 photos of the displays. Be sure to watch for the coverage of this great museum of racing and early customizations in OCW.

That’s all folks! After that, it was back to Wisconsin for temperatures below 50 degrees, and cold rain. But the warm memories should fill our pages for months.

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