By Yvette VanDerbrink
JAB Collection Auction- June 15th, 2019 in Springfield, Michigan
When you ask a car guy why they collect the cars they have they generally swear allegiance to a brand or speak of a memory that the car triggers. For Jeff Begg, it was his love of engineering. Raised in Michigan, with the proximity to car manufacturers, there was always a car event or race in the area. Growing up Jeff had many memories of fixing cars to race them later that night or just cruising for girls. It was this automotive activity that triggered his love of engineering. In college he majored in engineering, and after graduating, he started working for Parker Hannifan as a hydraulic engineer. In 1999 he left Hannifan and started his own business in the basement of his dad’s veterinary clinic manufacturing a wooden battery box for Clark Forklifts.
Jeff loved British motorcycles. He would say, “Anyone can have an Indian, but a British bike is special.” He saw them as engineering marvels and in turn honored his love of British and unique bikes by naming the companies he started after them. Marshall-Excelsior was the name of his first company. The company grew and he moved out of the basement into a Quonset building next to a hospital in Marshall, Michigan. He produced propane fittings and valves. The Quonset building was a temporary starting point for the business and wasn’t in the best or prettiest location. Jeff was always at odds with the city of Marshall, Michigan and his neighbor, the hospital. They saw him as an eyesore and wanted him gone, but Jeff was always up for a good fight and wasn’t going anywhere. Eventually, the only option the city had was to condemn the building and sell him a lot in the industrial park for $1.00. In 1999, he built a new building for his business. Jeff didn’t want to draw any undo attention and wanted to fly under the radar. He assumed his brothers name and went by John Bregg in the brass fittings world. While at trade shows his wife would call him Jeff; nobody knew who she was referring to. Not only did he get a kick out that, he was able to keep his anonymity. It wasn’t until he sold the business in 2017 that he told his brother about the charade.
As the business grew, he acquired more product lines and businesses to better serve his customers. If you have ever used a propane tank, one of his fittings was probably on the tank. He acquired Lincoln Brass Works and called the company after another British Motorcycle - Matchless Valve Company. Jeff was extremely competitive and always wanted to be on the cutting edge. He found out a competing business in town had developed a machine to make similar fittings cheaper. Not backing down and settling for second, he grabbed one of his engineers and they marched into the plant and started taking notes until they were thrown out by security.
If you had met Jeff on the street you would have never know that he was a hugely successful businessman. Most of the time he dressed in ragged clothes and drove an old Cadillac. He was a lifetime learner and constantly surrounded himself with books. His mind was going fifty different directions at all times. He had one daughter, Megan, and to be better at “girl time” he would read gossip mags, if she liked art films, he would learn about them. He took the time to learn about her interests to be closer with her. She was the love of his life and he enjoyed spending time with her. For instance, the rough around the edges guy took the time to find out what Megan's perfect dress was and surprised her with it to show how much he cared. Eventually he learned that he was going to be a grandpa and was extremely excited, but sadly he passed one month before the birth.
Jeff sold his business in 2017 and also lost his wife that same year. She was a big eBay seller and he had to close out her affairs. Little did he know the eBay world would fuel his engineering and speed love affair. His family had no clue that he was filling up buildings with all of his favorite engineering and speed things. It was just too easy. He typed in something he wanted and there it was. Soon crates, trucks, and boxes would come to the office. Penny, his secretary, was the only one that knew his secret. eBay became more than a hobby. It was exciting, and he met people with similar interests. His son-in-law, and business partner, soon learned about the large collection after Jeff passed away.
Franco Domingo started going through Jeff’s affairs and found out there was more to Jeff’s love of engineering than he had led on. While visiting one of Jeff’s properties they found out it was filled with vintage race cars, British motorcycles, collector cars, and a hoard of rare speed parts. It was truly amazing. Nearly every property was full of engineering wonders.
They took on the task of moving it all to one location and are still working on it finding more of Jeff’s collection on a daily basis. VanDerBrink Auctions was conducting an auction in Vicksburg, Michigan when the call came in to visit the collection while in the area. On June 15th, 2019 in Springfield, Michigan, the entire world will be able to bid and buy a piece of the JAB Collection. So far 63 British motorcycles, including a rare 1952 Vincent Series C Rapide motorcycle, will be up for auction. There is almost every make and model including the namesakes of his business- Matchless and Excelsior Henderson. Panther, Rudge Ulster, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, and more with many rare bikes are up for sale. The collection hosts some note-worthy race cars as well. There are 38 in total, including a 1947 Kurtis Kraft, the Lockard Badger II, and other race cars with notable drivers and builders.
Jeff’s love for racing produced a hoard of rare and unique racing parts for vintage cars. The stash includes many Ford FH 4-cylinder and V8 motor parts for 60hp FH V8s, rare Riley cars and OHV conversions for Ford 4 cylinders, Offenhauser, Edelbrock, Rook, Eddie Meyer and more wonderful motors and parts.
The collection also has 70 collector vehicles ranging from a 1957 Chevrolet Belair convertible to a 1936 Ford 3-window coupe, which he would take to car shows. There is also a plethora of unique import cars including 2 Marcos, TRV’s, Maserati, and more. Several 1936 Pierce Arrows also grace this eclectic collection. Everything will be sold on one big day, June 15th, 2019 in Springfield, Michigan. The bidding will be No Reserve and On-Site with Online bidding. The JAB collection truly is an amazing collection of engineering marvels. You won’t want to miss this auction. Pictures, video, and inventory at www.vanderbrinkauctions.com or call 605-201-7005.