Arizona’s dry heat is not only good for people looking to escape the cold, it is also a great place for cars.
This is one reason the car culture of Arizona is so rich and unique. The conditions are perfect for maintaining new cars and cars that are older than the state itself. Examples of cars that have been maintained can be found in private collections throughout the state.
Wayne Gould, owner of Wayne’s Toys, showcases a vast variety of cars in a private collection at his Tucson location, 990 S. Cherry Ave.
“I think it’s the best place to have a car collection,” Gould said. “Environmentally it’s dry here we don’t have the issue of rust, the only problem is driving them in the heat.”
Switching from the beautiful fins of 50s American and the small European sports cars, another collection lays on the other side of town at the Franklin Auto Museum. Here, we see swooping fender lines and pug-nose front ends of pre-war Franklin automobiles. The collection, started by the late Tom Hubbard, is now cared for by Bourke Runton.
“The absence of humidity helps, for the same reason the military stores airplanes here,” Runton said. “The only problem is the heat and the ultraviolet light.”
This is a hobby for the financially sound, difficult to get into because of the rising value of restored or original classic cars.
Some cars in these collections are even difficult to appraise. With Gold’s 1949 Studebaker Champion Business Coupe, for example, only 365 were ever produced. Another is Gold’s 1954 Chevrolet Corvette. It may look like any ’54 Corvette, but it is the 75th Corvette ever made, which increases the value in the collectors’ market.
“I don’t have a favorite car,” Gould said. “That is like asking someone if they have a favorite child.”
The collecting of cars is just one aspect of the hobby. Meeting people and simply talking to them about cars can be just as fulfilling — especially at the car shows.
Everyone involved in the community wants to do their best to show off their hard work to the other enthusiasts in town. Events are organized such as Ford’s on Fourth, where Doug Malson was showing off his car.
“I think the community does a really well job, all of the shows seem to draw a big crowd,” Malson said.
Louis Vitiritti is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for high-resolution photos.