It was back in 1966 when Tom Brown moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Kalamazoo, Michigan to begin work at the General Motors’ Fisher Body plant. During that time, he started amassing an impressive classic car collection, and in the ’70s and ’80s, he would fly halfway across the United States — from Michigan to California — driving vintage car after vintage car back to the Wolverine State.
“Buy a car, bring it back,” Brown told MLive. “I could make enough money to pay for my time off work, pay all of the expenses. Then one thing led to another and I just started doing it more and more and more.”
He would sell most of the cars that he would come back with, but held onto a decent amount as well. Now, with a total of 69 classic cars in his great collection, Brown is living every car enthusiasts’ dream. But, at 76 years old, Brown decided that it was time to part ways with his collection and put the cars up for auction.
“Now I’m old,” Brown said. “I’ve got to pull the plug and get rid of them.”
Working with Yvette VanDerBrink of VanDerBrink Auctions, Brown officially to let go of his prized possessions at an August 25, 2018 car auction. Some of the cars he put up for auction included a 1933 Ford 5-Window Coupe, a 1967 Chevelle SS convertible, and several Chevy Camaros from the late ’60s.
“These muscle cars like he has — the Chevelles, the Camaros, the Corvettes — are getting harder to find, and to have 69 muscle cars plus parts in one location by one guy is like a white buffalo,” VanDerBrink said.
As is the case with a good chunk of classic car collectors, Brown’s story is a sentimental one. He shared his love for classic cars with his son, Mark. When Mark was in high school, he and his best friend, Brett Audette, got $3 an hour to take apart the cars that Tom would bring back from California.
Of the cars that he kept, Tom had planned on passing all of them over to Mark. But then Mark tragically passed away. After Mark’s passing, Tom continued to remain close with Brett.
“He’s kind of my adopted son and he still helps,” Brown said.
While it’s sad that Tom’s collection won’t be able to live on through Mark, here’s hoping that they all ended up in the right hands.
This post was originally published on August 7, 2019.