By: Brian Kendall
By: Brian Kendall
In Fort Worth, there is no shortage of interesting men who collect and love classic cars. We talked with 10 of them. Some buy cars that bring back memories of a special time in their lives—usually their teenage years. For others, cars are an investment, and they have no emotional attachments to them at all. Still others look for cars with an interesting history of days gone by.
Whatever the reason, they love to talk about them. Somewhere in the conversation, you will always hear: “Let me tell you a story about this one.” We hope you enjoy reading about these men and seeing their beautiful cars. Have a good trip down memory lane.
Don Davis Auto Group
Don Davis, real estate investor and owner of Don Davis Auto Group, sold 64 immaculately preserved vintage cars at auction in one day last April for $21.2 million.
The Don Davis Collection included everything from American cruisers to German classics, and much more. Several of these exceptional cars sold for more than $1 million.
Included were two Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadsters, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 RS, a 2005 Ford GT, a 1950 Oldsmobile 88 Deluxe club coupe, a 1965 Lamborghini 350 GT coupe, a Special by Ghia 1954 Chrysler GS-1, and a 1988 Porsche 959.
His 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS sold for more than $1.9 million. The 1967 Toyota 2000GT sold for more than $1.1 million; and the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing, for more than$1.2 million.
All were offered without reserve.
Davis has eclectic taste and currently owns 45 classics, including Ferraris, Porsches, Thunderbirds (1956 and 1957), Mercedes and a few muscle cars. Fifteen of his cars are in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Davis divides his time living in North Texas and Pebble Beach. He has collected vintage cars since 1981.
However, he doesn’t consider himself a collector. “I’m a seller,” Davis says. “I have no emotional attachments to the cars. Everything I’ve got is for sale except my dog, and I’ll rent him,” Davis said laughing.
His focus has been American horsepower and European sports and GT cars, preferably high-quality examples with limited production numbers and low mileage. He aims to collect the best and spares no money ensuring he has the finest example of its kind, he says.
Davis’ Ferrari 275 GTS is a very rare car, which probably will sell in excess of $2 million, he says. His two Mercedes-Benz SL Roadsters (1961 and 1962) should sell for $1.8 million each.
Davis pays someone to research cars, and he deals with brokers from the East Coast to the West Coast. He has developed an effective network. “I have a lot of friends who buy and sell collector cars,” Davis says.
If he could have any car in the world, it would be a 1962 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster. “I love those cars,” he says.
That’s quite a step up from his very first new car, which was a 1955 Chevrolet.
Everyday ride: Lincoln Navigator and Bentley convertible
Healthpoint Chairman and CEO Paul Dorman was a teenager in the 1950s and 60s, when the love of American cars was really coming about, but the first car he fell in love with was a British-made sports car, the Jaguar XK-E. “I feel it was the most beautiful car that was ever designed. I guess it’s been my standard always to compare to other cars.”
Dorman has a massive car collection, with some impressive Jaguars including: 360 Spyder, 575 V-12, 599 Super A, and 458 convertible, to name a few.
Dorman likes Ferraris, too. He took delivery of a high-performance 2015 F12 Ferrari this fall. “Out of all my Ferraris, I never had a red one, and I needed at least one,” he says. “This one is a unique color red to this particular car.”
It was the 360 Series that came out in 2000 that drew Dorman to Ferraris, he says. “Up to that time, I was aware of Ferraris and I had driven a couple of them, but it wasn’t a fulfilling experience. I fell in love with the 360 Series and have been very much a Ferrari person ever since.”
Dorman has a very special 1929 Packard convertible with a rumble seat in his collection. The rumble seat has windows. He also has old and new Rolls Royces.
Dorman buys cars purely for enjoyment and enjoys his cars equally, for varying reasons. “It depends upon what type of driving you want to do on a particular day and what kind of mood you’re in,” he says. “Some of the cars lend themselves to being out on a beautiful ride in the countryside. Some cars lend themselves to being able to make a sharp turn like you would have on a track. So it very much depends on the location and the environment you’re driving in, but they’re all very enjoyable.”
Dorman says his Lincoln pickup truck proves he’s a true Texan. “There were a few years when Lincoln made a pickup very similar to the Ford F-150, but it just has a nicer interior,” he says. “You don’t see them too much. They quit making them four or five years ago.”
Everyday ride: Mercedes 550
Carlos De La Torre
At age 16, the idea of any car was entertaining, says Carlos De La Torre, a now retired executive from Oncor/TXU. But a red Corvette convertible put a twinkle in his eye.
“To me, it was just a dream that was off the page,” De La Torre says. “I never would’ve thought that I’d own one.”
Today, De La Torre owns two beautiful 1965 Corvette convertibles. Their names are Pearl and Uncle Gene’s Car.
“The ’65s are from an era that’s called mid-years,” he says. “Those are from ’63 to ’67. But being practical and being realistic, any car that I would’ve been able to obtain back then would have been my favorite car. It ended up being a little red Plymouth Valiant. It wasn’t quite a sports car, but it was red and it had competition stripes on it, and it was mine.”
De La Torre bought his silver pearl ’65 Corvette convertible with a detachable hardtop from a fraternity brother in 1971. He paid $1,500 for it. “The only thing I had to do to the car was get a master cylinder and cosmetic work, so that was no biggie. The car has no options except audio.”
He bought the Nassau Blue ’65 Corvette convertible from his brother, who had owned it since 1973. “This one is a very special one because it has factory air, power steering, power windows, and factory side pipes,” De La Torre says.
This car once lived on Galveston Island, where De La Torre was born. And there’s a story here. In 2008, when Hurricane Ike hit the island, there was a surge of water from the Gulf and from the bay. The tide was about 8 feet high, and the blue Corvette found itself under water.
“My brother didn’t have the money for restoration,” De La Torre says. “So he sold it to me for $7,000.” De La Torre had the car shipped to Mid Cities Classics in Hurst, and the restoration began. It became what’s called a body-off rotisserie restoration. “There’s nothing on that car that wasn’t touched,” he says.
De La Torre is considering a red 1965 Corvette for his collection. “Then, I could have triplets instead of twins,” he said.
Everyday ride: Mercedes CLK convertible, Cadillac CTS
As a teenager, Tom Moncrief, a partner in Moncrief Oil in Fort Worth, dreamed of an Aston Martin. “I wanted that car because of James Bond in Goldfinger. What I got was a Suburban,” he says.
Today, Moncrief has an enviable eclectic vintage car collection, which is destined for a new restaurant, the Vintage Grill & Car Museum in Weatherford. Fort Worth chef and restaurateur Jerrett Joslin and Moncrief are partners in this venture.
Included in the museum will be President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 Lincoln convertible. “I wanted to find cars that were one-of-a-kind and have a unique history, something that people would enjoy seeing,” he says. It came from LBJ’s ranch. The car is weathered, and Moncrief says he plans to leave it that way because he wants to honor the history and keep it original.
He also has a 1948 Lincoln with 2,300 miles on it, and a 1948 Studebaker sheriff’s patrol car.
Moncrief owns a unique 1988 Jeep Wagoneer, which was built by Popular Mechanics magazine. It’s built on an ’04 Dodge Durango chassis. “It was a show car, first shown in Las Vegas. They called it a Durangoneer.
Moncrief’s 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix G8 is a General Motors concept vehicle and was in the General Motors Museum in Detroit. It has a Corvette V-8 engine and all-wheel drive and is the only one in existence like that, Moncrief says. “When GM went bankrupt, they liquidated a lot of their museum vehicles. Of course, it was not intended to be driven on a public road, so you can’t license it.”
Another interesting car in Moncrief’s collection is a 1975 Trabant, which is a Soviet car that was East Germany’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle.
Everyday ride: Audi A8
Fort Worth entrepreneur, Ken Hill, owner and founder of PDX, Inc., a pharmacy software and services company, is self-described as intense. That description certainly applies to his passion for exquisite cars.
Hill’s high school dream car was a Ferrari. He has always loved sports cars.
Hill’s car collection includes a rare 2008 McLaren Mercedes SLR Roadster with gull-wing doors. The car was a joint venture between McLaren and Mercedes. “It’s my understanding that there are only 36 in the United States, and this is the last one built by Mercedes,” Hill says. “It’s a collector car with not one blemish and only 1,600 miles on it.”
Hill just turned 19,000 miles on his 2013 Long Wheel-based Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Rolls was made to order with silver hood, and jet black with silver pinstripe exterior. The interior has red leather seats and black lambswool carpets. The door panels and dash are red, and it has two different burl walnuts in the paneling. The car has a full glass roof over the front and back seat. Luxury accessories include electric curtains on the side and back windows and a champagne cooler with crystal flutes. Both of the back seats recline and have massage and both have flat-screen televisions and marble tables. “It’s really designed for a chauffeur, but I like to drive it by myself,” Hill says. “It has about every option Rolls offers because I wanted it to be a special car I would keep.”
Hill added 24-carat plate to the “Spirit of Ecstasy” statue on the hood. It’s also inlaid in all four of the walnut panels on each door.
He has ordered the new Rolls Wraith model to be released next August and delivered late in 2015 or early 2016.
Most people in Fort Worth have seen Hill’s restored “Sinclair Station” on Camp Bowie Boulevard. It took three years to restore the old building, which he uses as a private man cave and to showcase some of his special cars.
Hill’s collection is extensive and includes a 1938 Ford Woody Wagon with a 1955 fuel-injected Corvette 283-cubic-inch V-8 engine and a 1932 Ford Roadster with the Ardun engine. His 1981 Mustang 427 Cobra was made in England. He also has a 2013 Ferrari California.
One of his personal favorites is a fully restored 1969 Daytona Spider, now worth about a million dollars. Complete restoration took three years. It’s exactly like the black Ferrari that Don Johnson drove in the TV series Miami Vice. “It’s a real special car,” Hill says.
Everyday ride: 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Gary Osier, of Encore Live, a Fort Worth-based entertainment and event business, buys talent in his real job and collects British-made cars as a hobby.
His high school dream car was a Jaguar.
Osier owns a Bentley 2011 Super Sports convertible, a 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith and a 1957 Jaguar XK140 Drophead coupe.
He had owned four Bentleys over the years—two coupes and two convertibles—before looking at the Super Sports. “They made the Super Sports with carbon fiber seats, which I did not like,” Osier says. “They’re real hard, kind of like a racing seat, and I’m kind of skinny. Trying to sit in them was uncomfortable for me. Eventually, I found one online that the owner had put standard seats in, padded, like from a regular Bentley. It only had about 1,000 miles on it. It was perfect.”
The Wraith is brand new to the Rolls-Royce line and is the company’s version of a sports car. It took six months to build. Osier likes it because it has lines almost like a Bentley coupe. “It’s sweet. I just liked the whole thing about Rolls making a sportier car,” he says.
Osier’s ‘57 Jaguar was a one-owner car. “It smells like a new car inside, and it runs like a bat outta hell,” he says. He drives it in the spring and fall when the temperatures are in the 60s or 70s.
Osier appreciates British-made cars because of their uniqueness and craftsmanship. “Even when they’re mass-produced, you feel like you have a one-of-a-kind vehicle. The whole look is what I like.”
His current dream car is a Bugatti coupe. “But I don’t know if I could afford that,” he says. “The ones I want are a million and a half.”
Everyday ride: Ford F-150 pickup truck
Owner, RLB Auto Group, Fort Worth
The Oldsmobile brand—one of the oldest in America—shut down in 2004, leaving a 107-year history. Robbie Baker, owner of RLB Auto Group in Fort Worth, aims to keep the brand alive.
His classic collection includes a variety of cars, but his heart is with Oldsmobile. As a teenager, his dream car was a 1977 Olds Cutlass S, a two-door with a triangular back window. He got the car, only to total it on Camp Bowie in Fort Worth.
Baker currently owns 25 classics, including a 1957 Chevy pick-up, 1957 Thunderbird, 1919 Ford Model T, 1969 Chevy Camaro, 1975 Oldsmobile two-door coupe, 1968 Hurst Oldsmobile, and a 1969 Hurst Oldsmobile. Not many of the 1969 Hurst Olds were made. Baker’s is all original, and he drives this one occasionally.
A favorite is his 1972 white and gold Oldsmobile 442 pace car. “It’s all original with 10,000 miles on it, and it’s just neat to look at,” Baker says.
“There are some that I buy and keep, but I buy so many that I can’t keep all of them,” he says. Baker has an emotional attachment to one—a 1972 Oldsmobile 442, yellow with a white top. “When my son Jack was three or four years old, he said, ‘Daddy, please don’t ever sell this car.’ There’s a car I’ll have forever.”
Many of Baker’s classic pace cars are rare, with limited numbers produced. One example is his 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix Hurst Edition. Only 60 were made that year.
Everyday ride: Chevy Tahoe
Fort Worth entrepreneur Ron Sturgeon has been in the automobile business in one way or another since his teenage years. His dad died when he was a senior in high school. “He blessed me with a Volkswagen Bug and no place to live,” Sturgeon says. “I started a Volkswagen repair shop, later going into the car and body shop business. In 1978, I opened a salvage yard, grew it, and sold it to Ford Motor Co. In 2003, I bought the subsidiary back from Ford with 35 locations in 18 states. Two years later, I sold it to a Fortune 500 company.”
During Ron Sturgeon’s career, he amassed a significant number of exotic and classic cars. He is well known in the automotive, banking, automotive toys, and real estate circles of North Texas. Sturgeon is a small business consultant and speaker, and the author of eight books. It’s rare to see a photo of him without his beloved King Charles Cavalier Spaniels: Willie, Dixie, and Lance. They have their own downsized classic cars.
Sturgeon has an impressive collection of 3,000 toy antique cars, a number of which are on display at his Fort Worth offices.
Sturgeon recently received a 2015 BMW i8 hybrid, of which he is justifiably proud. He ordered it four years ago. “Dealers are getting a few per year,” Sturgeon says. “It’s very exclusive.”
There’s special lighting inside the BMW i8. When you unlock it, it has a cool blue glow on the inside. In the center of the dash, where you would normally see a screen with mapping and controls, the i8 has one camera that goes forward, one that goes back, and a camera under each mirror that shines down and faces the ground. The computer takes those four integers and splices them together. In slow speeds, it shows the car as if you are hovering over it in a helicopter. Just think Google Earth.
Another interesting part of Sturgeon’s collection is a 1959 BMW Isetta. There were 87,000 produced from 1955-62. This car weighs only 775 pounds and has a max speed of 53 mph. It has seating for two. As the front of the car is opened, the hinged steering column also swings open, allowing for easy entry and exit.
Sturgeon’s favorite car is a Ferrari 458 Italia. His second favorite is his McLaren MP 12-FC.
“I don’t own a four-door car,” he says.
Everyday ride: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL 550 convertible
Tuscany and Regency Conversions
Wayne Davis, owner of Tuscany and Regency Conversions in Fort Worth—a van and pickup truck conversion business,started working on cars when he was 12 years old. He restored and sold his first car—a 1956 Chevrolet Nomad—when he was 14. His first new car as a teenager was a 1967 Dodge Coronet hardtop. “It wasn’t a big engine or anything because my dad wouldn’t let me have anything fast,” Davis says. “He knew exactly what I’d do.”
Davis owns about 50 eclectic classic vehicles and 24 of those are in his office showroom—everything from a 1966 GT 350 Shelby—which has been in his family since it was new—to a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado—the first one ever produced—to a 1948 Rolls-Royce. Davis has cars he’s owned for over 30 years.
“Trying to pick one favorite car is like trying to pick your favorite kid,” Davis says. “I like all kinds of cars, but I really like Cadillacs from the 1950s. My 1953 Eldorado and 1934 Lincoln Street Rod are two of my favorites.”
Every year he and his wife, Mary Ann, drive one of their hot rods on a “living dream tour” across the United States. “Last year, we put 15,000 miles on the Lincoln,” he says.
“Some people don’t drive their cars. We drive them and enjoy them, and I’m lucky I got to spend my life making a living doing what I love.”
Davis sold 89 cars at auction one Saturday afternoon in 2008 for $8 million. “That’s my 401k,” he says.
Everyday ride: Chevrolet Avalanche
Automotive Center of Texas
Wendell Poteet, owner of Automotive Center of Texas, collects classic Fords. Currently, he has 36, not counting the pieces and parts.
His first car was a black 1940 model Ford coupe that he got when he graduated from high school.
Poteet is 86. He says he’s slowed down but hasn’t changed a lot. He still enjoys a fast car. His collection includes a bright red 2007 Shelby Mustang convertible, 500 hp, that has only been driven 3,000 miles; a bright red 1969 Mustang Mach 1; a 1965 Mustang fastback that he bought new; and a rare 1994 Mustang convertible pace car (only 1,000 produced).
One favorite of Poteet’s collection is a black 1959 Ford retractable hardtop, which is one of the original cars with a hardtop that folds up and goes into the trunk. It’s a rare find, as they were only produced for three years. Another favorite is a fully restored 1939 Ford coupe convertible with a rumble seat. “I wanted that car for a long time,” he says.
Poteet says he likes Fords because they came out with a V-8 engine in 1932, which was far ahead of the horsepower performance of any other inexpensive car. “That’s why us guys stayed with Ford for so many years. It was a kid’s car without spending a whole lot of money.”
Poteet owns one token Chevrolet—a fully restored 1956 pickup truck.
Everyday ride: 2008 Mercedes
By: Brian Kendall
By: Brian Kendall