Collectors share their love of cars
It was 1968 in Westchester County, N.Y., and 17-year-old Jeff Griffin had just bought his very first car — a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle.
Giffin, now 68 and a lifelong car collector, is once again the owner of a 1963 Beetle.
“I bought a ’63 Beetle just because I want to feel what I had back then,” he said.
Griffin was an organizer of the fourth annual Collectible Car Show on Saturday, July 13, at the Darien Sidewalk Sales and Family Fun Days on Day Street and Post Road. The free show is run by the Darien Chamber of Commerce.
There were about 30 cars in the show, dating from as early as the 1960s to brand-new cars. All were welcome to explore them and ask the owners or collectors questions.
Griffin, a Norwalk resident who works in car sales, said people purchase collector cars either because they think the model will go up in value, they used to have them when they were young or they can finally get the chance to buy what they never had.
Griffin had several cars of his own in the show, including a 1979 VW Microbus Little Miss Sunshine.
He also entered a 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III. “It’s what rich people drive,” Griffin said. “It has a big square grill on the front. It’s a version of what Queen Elizabeth has.”
His third car in the show was a 1973 blizzard white Volkswagen. “They were very popular as beach cars because you can take the doors off and fold the windshield wipers down, and the windshield itself. You can drive with it completely open and take the doors off and leave them at home,” he said.
Cars don’t have to be old to be considered collector cars, according to Griffin. “Some new cars are very, very rare and expensive, such as the Ferrari. People often don’t get a close-up look at them,” he said.
He added that the Internet now can provide people with any car part they need. “Years ago, you had to go to a car show to find parts,” he said.
Norwalk resident Richard Errington owns a 1989 Nissan Pao, a Japanese car he personally imported.
“They made this in a special factory called the Pike Factory,” said Errington, who grew up in Darien, but was born in Tokyo. “They were trying to revitalize the brand in the late ’80s to early ’90s. They made three cars: the Pao, the S-Cargo and the Figaro.”
The Pao was put up for presale, for 10,000 units, according to Errington. “It sold out in one day. They completely underestimated the demand and they undervalued it at the time they sold out. Now there’s less than 1,000 worldwide,” he said.
“It has ’60s stylings on it. I love the lines and the smoothness. It turns on the dime. The AC and the heater still work. It’s quirky,” said Errington, adding that the vehicle gets about 50 miles to the gallon.
He added that while the car is “not powerful,” it’s “fun as hell. People are always happy to see it. You get attention while driving it.”
Sabrina Forsythe of Greenwich, who owns a 2007 silver CLK 550 Mercedes Convertible, said she grew up around cars and helped maintain her father’s car collection.
Forsythe’s car is a roadster, which is a sporty two-seat convertible.
She said she regularly drives every car she has ever owned. “Drive your cars,” she recommended. “I am against autonomous cars because I think it’s a privilege to be able to drive a car.”
Nick Ord of Darien, owner of a 1984 BMW Sedan, said that part of this car’s appeal is he is “only” its third owner.
The first owner had the car for 20 to 25 years. It has been through many modifications since then, he said.
“It’s got a newer engine, newer transmission — everything on it has been replaced,” Ord said. “So, it’s a one-of-a-kind car because there’s nothing original in it anymore, but it’s in really good condition.”
Ord had the same car 30 years ago. “I drove it when my family was much younger,” he said. “It’s a car I really liked and wish I had kept it, so when I saw it online, I knew I’d want it.”
Skip Decker of New Rochelle, N.Y., owns a three-wheeled 2015 Polaris Slingshot, which is technically a motorcycle, but with seats and a steering wheel like a car. A motorcycle license is required to drive it.
“This is my big toy, my pride and joy,” Decker said. “It’s nothing but fun. It’s the safest motorcycle you’ll ever drive.”
He added that he likes it because of the “open-air experience. You can just drive it and feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere,” he said.
Decker grew up collecting motorcycles. When his hip began bothering him and he could no longer hold the motorcycles up, he discovered the Polaris.
“My wife loves it,” he said, adding “The back of the Harley, never.”
Westport resident Joe Fuller entered two collector cars in the show: A 1956 Austin-Healey 100 and a 1972 Cutlass.
Fuller, who works an architect, races some of his cars at Limerock in Salisbury with the Vintage Sports Car Club of America.
The Austin-Healey, a four-cylinder car, was originally purchased in Hamburg, Germany.
Its first stop was at the famous Nürburgring racetrack, near the Belgian border, “and that was its first exercise after it was broken in,” Fuller said.
He said the car needed a