When it comes to car collections, there has been an ongoing and exhaustive debate among aficionados. “Who has the best car collection?” Could it be one of the billionaire tycoons trundling around stashing away investment cash? Possibly, there is an unknown curmudgeon with a farm in the Midwest or Northeast hoarding a stash of priceless pieces that have not been seen in 50 years.
Many knowledgeable enthusiasts will examine this subject with piercing questions: What makes a great car collection? Rarity of cars? Era? Depth of the collection? Uniqueness? Diversity? Size? Commitment to a brand? Or could it possibly be just the caliber and the “wow factor”?
In the world of car collectors, there are a few names that spring to the front of the line, like The Sultan of Brunei. There are also very astute collectors that you may not have heard of, but range from tyrannical despots to business moguls (almost the same thing. Isn’t it?); every one of them discerning in their selection and passionate about their precious metal.
People like The Lamay Family have always enjoyed a vast collection of rare automobiles, but with a mere 200 cars, Jay Leno has endeared himself to the masses by showing his collection and educating the enthusiast via television, YouTube and guest appearances at shows and events around the world.
Many consider him to be more of a procurer and restorer than a collector, but Wayne Carini (star of “Chasing Classic Cars”) will certainly make my list. His stash is not vast, but it is interesting. He chooses cars he loves and besides, he is around million dollar rides all the time. I will personally add “Mr. October” to the list. Despite the terrible fire that consumed 30 cars from his valuable collection, I still consider Reggie Jackson to be a major player in the game (no pun intended).
Let us not overlook those who have become superstars on the auction circuit by acquiring high-brow cars from places like Barrett-Jackson and RM Auctions. They make fifty-thousand dollar bids behind the shadow of a paddle with no fuss. However, try to bid against them for a rare Voisin or numbers-matching original Yenko and you’ll quickly realize that royalty is in the room.
Many of these collections are private with a few being shown to the public, rarely. The Bahre collection is shown once a year to raise charitable monies. Ralph Lauren will lend out his multi-million dollar trophies to museums for display every now and again. Some prized collections are even housed in museums for the lovers of cars (that’s you and I) to admire.
I make no proclamation as to who has the best car collection. I just offer a list of those out there preserving the legacy of the automobile in grand fashion. In my research, I have run across names I know and some I don’t. None of those mentioned in this conversation ever came up short. Every collector we speak of is a king or queen in their own right. I provide for you here a few names that have been resounded in the midst of discussion. You may have more. Whatever the case, the discussion will grow, as do the collections. When searching for the best toy box, it’s not a matter of who gets the most toys, it’s who gets to play with the most before the game is over.
THE LAMAY FAMILY
THE NETHERCUTT COLLECTION
JOHN HENDRICKS (founder of the Discovery Channel)
THE SULTAN OF BRUNEI
THE SCHLUMPF BROTHERS
(They had the best collection until France took control of it and it’s now the French national motor museum.)