Car collection tour aids Boys & Girls club

About 400 car fans yearning for a look at a private collection of chrome-laden rides mostly from the '50s and '60s anteed up a fiver apiece Saturday for the privilege.

They got a chance to see some tasty examples of Detroit's styling excesses, while the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada got a $2,000 donation from the admission charge.

The Saturday public tour was a first for the 150-car collection belonging to Garth Richards, the developer of the Silver Oak Golf Course and subdivision.

"People were absolutely amazed, overwhelmed by the quality of the cars and the whole presentation," said Roger Williams, the club board member whom Richards contacted to suggest the tour.

Richards' two bunkers on College Drive showcased more than just the cars he has collected over the past three decades.

The walls are nearly covered with hundreds of auto company, oil company and other vintage signs. About 90 percent are originals, personally collected by Richards or bought at auto swap meets.

Several original gas pumps topped with glass globes dot the rooms, looking ready to provide a full-service fill-up of Ethyl at 29.9 cents a gallon.

In one corner, Richards set up a nearly complete Shell service station, complete with a rack filled with several brands of original oil cans, the type that needed that special dispensing spout that was standard equipment in American garages not so long ago.

The buildings are packed with convertibles and sedans bumper to fender, since they were not designed as a museum but as a means of stylish transport. Volunteers from the Boys & Girls Club stood by to remind visitors to stick to the aisles and to resist the temptation to touch the displays. Several manikins and some life-sized cutouts of James Dean and George Burns were more privileged - they were right there in the middle of all the vintage goodies.

Cadillacs by the dozen and a whole aisle of Thunderbirds set off cars from other makers that have faded from the highways - a 1951 Henry J, a 1953 Nash Heeley roadster, a 1953 Muntz Jet roadster, a Kaiser Darren sports car whose doors, when opened by sliding forward, disappear into the front fenders.

In one of the buildings, the cars share space with the Silver Oak offices, a vehicular wonderland in its own right. The salvaged noses and tails of Cadillacs and other makes have been converted into couches, a desk, a conference table, room dividers, entertainment systems and a bar has been crafted from the tail of a 1959 Chrysler Imperial, the type with the "toilet seat" fake spare tire cover on the trunk lid.

Hundreds of model cars cover the horizontal surfaces, while the verticals are loaded with framed advertisements for vintage iron.

The public tour was a first of Richards' collection but not the last.

"We'll do it again sometime," Richards said, though nothing specific is scheduled.


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