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An Afternoon with Dennis Collins – His Collection in His Own Words
Part 2

William Desrochers April 11, 2017 All Things Hoon, Featured 8 Comments

This is the second article in a series covering an afternoon long interview with Dennis Collins of CB Jeep, Black Mountain Jeep Parts, and the hit Discovery Channel T.V. series Fast N Loud.  Throughout the course of the interview, I was able to ask Mr. Collins about his business, his life story, and most prominently, his breathtaking private automotive collection.  In this article, Mr. Collins and I discuss two of the most unique and exclusive vehicles in his personal museum, representing the perfect dichotomy of modern racing performance and old-world excess and esteem.  

When last I left you, Dennis, Malcolm, Javier and myself had just arrived at Dennis’ private storage facility.  At this point, we’ve exited Dennis’ truck and are approaching the large, red building.  As Dennis begins undoing the multiple locks sealing his precious collection inside their paradise, my imagination begins to run a bit wild.  After all, past the gate and behind the heavily locked door, there could have been an infinite number of hidden automotive treasures.  I knew of a few vehicles that occupy permanent residencies in Dennis’ collection for sure, but other than being extensive and exceedingly rare I knew little else about the bulk of his personal museum.  One last “thunk” signals that the final lock has been opened and the fortifications have been officially lowered.  Dennis opens the door, and we all follow suite inside.

Our eyes are graced with a sight that few truly get to experience.  We’re immediately baptized in a brilliant, white glow that emanates from the blanche ceiling and walls.  The cleanliness of the cache room is strangely surprising; more show room floor than garage.  Adorning the space within the building, evenly spaced, are millions of dollars’ worth of some of the world’s most exclusive, overwhelmingly rare, astonishingly magnificent automobiles ever to be manufactured or hand crafted.  Vehicles representing nearly every faction of automotive intrigue are present, spanning eras and functions of engineering alike.  Choosing which machine to admire first was a choice not even Sophie could make, so I felt it best to just start with the vehicle immediately preceding me.

2013 Lamborghini Super Trofeo

“Even amongst Italian race cars, this is truly a rare specimen.  How did you come to own a Lamborghini like this?”

Dennis: “We I’ll give you the quick backstory on this vehicle.  These cars are like a Ferrari race car; by that I mean these cars are designed to be leased and they’re usually owned by the dealership that got them.  There were only 40 of these cars made, so they’re extremely rare.  Now, in round numbers, in order to get the rights to race a car and to get spare parts costs roughly $400,000.  Well, somebody who shall remain nameless was able to get a bank loan on one, so the MSO was put up at a bank.  Well, his company went bankrupt.  Before his car could go back to Lamborghini, I was able to buy it through the bank and get the MSO on my desk.  So, I believe at this time I’m the only private individual who owns one.  We took the car back, did a major service on it, raised the suspension up and inch and a half so that I could drive it on the street, put street tires on it, added a passenger seat, completely remapped and relocated the engine computer, added rear view mirrors and made it so that it could be realistically driven on the street.  Of course, we did a massive detail on the car as well.  As you can see, there just isn’t a nick or a scratch on it anywhere.  This car also had no damage history or harm to it whatsoever.  When they built these cars, they just kind of slammed them together because ultimately it was built as a race car.  When we put it back together, we fixed all the panel gaps, so this is probably the best fitting Super Trofeo in the world.  We completely redid and refinished the front splitter and clear wrapped the entire front end.  Now, I saw these when they were delivered brand new and I wanted one then, but I just simply couldn’t get one.  So when I got this car, I told my guys that I wanted it to fit better and look better than it did when it left the factory; and they did it.  The engine bay is perfectly detailed, we cut and polished all of the carbon fiber in shop ourselves, it’s just a neat car.  It’s only got 2,000 Kilometers on it.  

Something else that’s really neat about the Super Trofeo when compared to other purpose-built race cars is that this car actually has a serialized VIN.  Most other Lamborghini and Ferrari race cars are serialized as race cars, but the Super Trofeo has a real 17-digit VIN.  The last person I talked to about these cars who’s even more familiar with this program than I am, said that they thought there are 35 of these cars left, possibly even as low as 32.  At least five have been destroyed beyond repair for sure, so the Super Trofeo is getting to be an extremely rare super car.  Even more than that, though, this thing drives absolutely great; it’s a real monster.”

Seeing the Lamborghini Super Trofeo in person made me realize how truly extreme a car it is.  No Instagram picture or YouTube video can effectively convey how intense the aura that surround a track ready Lamborghini can be.  Everything about the Super Trofeo can be summed up in a word: function.  Every component of the Super Trofeo has a distinct, poignant purpose and the result of their summation is a raw competence of speed and panache.  

 

“Goldie” – The 1958 Austin Healey Earls Court Motor Show Car

“With all of these incredible cars in here, it’s hard to tell which to talk about next.  But I think we should shift to what might be my favorite car in this room today, the Earls Court Motor Show car, Goldie.  Now, you’re quite a big name in the Don Healey Motor Company collector’s community, aren’t you?”

Dennis: “Well, I’ve been buying and selling big Healeys since high school, I’ve always loved them.  104s, 106s, 3000s, I’ve owned them all.  When it got to the point where I documented owning 500 of them I just stopped counting. The car that I always wanted, even more than the 100S, was this car.  I chased this car for over 25 years; once or twice a year I would call the Phillips, who were the previous owners of Goldie, and try to buy the car.  They always told me ‘Dennis, we know you want it, when we retire we’ll sell it too you’.  Well, I heard they retired, and immediately called them.  Right away they started laughing and told me ‘the car is here, and she’s yours.’  We had a previously agreed upon price, and I went and got it.  Now, the Phillips had already fully restored the car, but it still wasn’t fresh enough for me.  So, when I got it back to my shop, I had the guys take it to the next level.  Our very own Malcolm was able to get us an invitation to the concours in Kuwait which is arguably the most difficult concours to win in the world, even more so that Pebble Beach.  What’s interesting about the concours in Kuwait is that the people who are invited to show there are generally representing a mark.  

So, Mercedes showed up with their 300SLR that they restored in house at Mercedes.  Balboni shows up with his Lamborghini prototype roadster; the only one in existence. Pagani is there.  Porsche is there with one of their RSRs that they restored.  You can see where I’m going with this, it’s almost an impossible concours to win.  Well, we won with this car.  One of the main reasons we were able to win is difficulty of materials and restoration.  Everything on this car that you can that shines is legitimate 24 karat gold.  It also has a John Thompson Motor Pressings race chassis and is the only Healey to ever get the John Dunlop racing 4-wheel disc brakes, which you could only get on the 100S race car.  All the materials on the dash are real ivory, the seats are real mink from Her Majesty’s own farrier in London as well as Chinese kin leather.  It was also the first Healey to leave the factory with a radio.  What else is incredibly special about this car is that they kept all of its construction under wraps while it was in-the-works.  This car cost them two-and-a-half times as much to build as it did to build a 100S.  

The current value of a 100S starts at $1,000,000 and go to $1,600,000-$1,800,000 depending on race history.  It’s really impossible to put a price on Goldie because I haven’t actually sold her yet, but in my opinion she’s the most valuable Healey in existence today.  Not only was she built for the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show, but she was the leading car for Earls Court that year.  So, when visitors walked into the magnificence that is the Earls Court show floor that year, the leading car (which was typically a Ferrari of Talbot) and the first vehicle they saw was Goldie.”

“Wow, it’s an absolutely breathtaking car.  But you’re not just a fan of Austin Healeys, you’re a fan of their American cousins, the Nash Healeys as well.”

Dennis: “I’m a huge fan of Nash Healeys.  One of the cars that I most regret selling is Nash Healey number one.  We did a knock-down, drag-out, incredible restoration on it and when I sold the car it set a world record by a mile; I sold it for $500,000.  That same car sold within the last 90 days for just shy of $1,000,000; and that’s in 24 months.  I shouldn’t have sold that car, but in a minute, I’ll show you why I sold it.”

To say that photographs don’t do justice in conveying the prestige that is Goldie would be more than an understatement.  Few automobiles in history have offered the elegance, the quality, the exclusivity or the sovereignty Goldie can.  In 1958, the Earls Court Motor Show represented the pinnacle of automotive luxury and excess, and the leading car at Earls Court was the crowning jewel of craftsmanship and prominence in the industry.  There have been few better embodiments of esteem, reputation and status than the 1958 Austin Healey Earls Court Motor Show car – Goldie.

The 2013 Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Goldie represent two of the most rare and collectible vehicles is Dennis Collins’ collection, but believe-you-me, the magic doesn’t end there.  The rest of the Dennis’ collection includes even more specimens of rare automotive history, racing triumphs and amongst the most desirable anomalies of the industry.  Many more of Dennis’ treasures are coming in the near future, and the specialty factor only increases from here.

  • Drnoose

    All this may be true, but he still seems like a hanger-on on Fast n Loud, just trying to be as cool as Richard.

    • acarr260

      I believe that Dennis actually owns the majority ownership stake in Fast n Loud.

      • 0A5599

        That helps explain why his license plate has Richard’s catchphrase.

        • PirateMC

          The catchphrase; GYSOT & the license plate is in fact Dennis’s. If you ever have a chance to talk with either Richard and/or Dennis they will tell you very openly. I think if you go back and check the GYSOT number plate can be seen on nearly every car Dennis has used when he’s rallying over the last 15+ years.

  • outback_ute

    William could you please post an interior shot of Goldie, given the ivory & mink? (ps probably furriers supplying that not farriers!). Looking forward to seeing more!

    I saw one of the (3) Rolls-Royce engined “4000” wide-body prototype cars at a car show a few years back, not surprising that they didn’t go ahead with those given the basic car was over 10yo at the time, but interesting to see. The same guys also had a replica of Donald Healey’s land-speed A-H on display that they had run at Bonneville.

  • 0A5599

    The Lambo story sounds like bull. If these were lease-only, then why would the original guy have had the MSO to put up at the bank? And if he did default on the loan, and the bank tried to foreclose on the car, why wouldn’t the real owner just show up, prove their ownership, and take it home?

  • Javier Herrera

    Cool Article! Those are the pics I took. I guess they don’t credit the photographer in their articles?