You wouldn’t think a former school teacher could have owned so many rare and exceptional cars in his life.
Gary, though, is different.
I met Gary, a 72-year-old retiree, at his home on Priest Lake in Coolin, Idaho. My family went to escape the Washington wildfires and rented his home on the beach. As we sat near the water and discussed life, we discovered a common love: cars.
Gary, it turns out, also dabbled in the buying real estate during his teaching career and amassed a small fortune that he used to invest in cars. One investment turned out to be a silly mistake, but the others ended up saving his life.
First let’s start with the silly mistake. Of all of the cars he’s owned, this is the one that still sits in his garage. It’s a Corbin Sparrow.
Fewer than 300 Sparrows were ever built. Although rare, this car that looks like a big toe isn’t worth much. The electric Sparrow was built in the late 1990s and uses antiquated EV tech that is best described with words unfit for a family website.
Gary would very much like to sell his yellow Sparrow, but as of yet hasn’t found a willing buyer.
One of the prides of Gary’s stable was a 1966 Griffith TVR 400. The car was number 46 of only 59 that were built. He purchased the car in 1979 in Boston and had it flown by Northwest Orient Airlines to Spokane, where the above photo was taken. The Griffith had a 289-cubic-inch Ford V8 and remained in Gary’s pampered possession until 2000.
Fans of the old TV show Get Smart will recognize the 1967 Sunbeam Tiger, a car that also had Ford’s impeccable 289 engine. Gary used this car as intended and raced it often and raced it hard. Today, according to Hagerty, the Tiger’s value of nearly $100,000 is about twice the Griffith’s. That car was also sold in 2000.
Gary’s pride and joy was a car that most of us can only dream of owning. In 1972 he borrowed on his house to travel to California and pay $18,250 for a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427, one of only 348 built. Today that car is worth somewhere north of $1 million but, as was the case with his other prized vehicles, was sold in 2000.
Gary won’t say how much he sold the car for, but smiles and winks when he tells the story of being able to retire after doing so.
Why were all of these cars sold 15 years ago?
Gary had to undergo emergency heart surgery and required a 6-way bypass. Selling the cars allowed him to pay for the surgery and not worry about working anymore.
While he regrets the fact that these classics are no longer parked in his garage, he can rest in peace knowing their purchase earned him at least another 15 years of life.
What cars would you invest in today that could pay off in the future?