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Car collecting world turns its eyes to San Diego for annual La Jolla Concours

John Wilkens, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

Spielman's tastes are eclectic. "Just about anything with wheels gives me joy," he said.

If there's a specialty, it's Corvettes, a nod to his first love. He has five vintage ones from the '50s and '60s, including a duplicate of the 1960 silver roadster with red seats that his father gave him. In front of it is a sign: "Proof that your parents were cool once."

He's had cars that have won trophies at major events such as Pebble Beach, and vehicles that serve mostly to make people people smile, like the Good Humor ice cream truck that's in his museum now.

If there's a common thread that runs through the ones he's owned over the years, he said, it's this: They leave his hands in better shape than they were in when they arrived.

He downplays talk about the money involved, even as he shares stories about some of his biggest financial windfalls. "It's more about the preservation and the history for me," he said. "Every one of my cars, they tell stories."

As such, there's a welcome sign painted on one of the doors at the museum:

Cars from the past are artwork in motion, and they also allow history to unfold in three dimensions. They demonstrate that at one time creative people existed who weren't afraid to make true creations personal and who would have been horrified by the fact that today all cars look the same.


You can be a serial fumbler in the world of old cars and be proud. It doesn't matter if you're not good with tools. You've got two essential irreplaceable ones. They are your eyes. They make interpretation and appreciation possible and wonderful for everybody. Use them!

Walking among the cars, Spielman recites details of each from memory. The type of engine it has. Where he acquired it. What's rare about it.

When he drives one around town, he's often greeted by thumbs-ups and honking horns. Lately, people like to pull up alongside him, cellphones out, to take pictures or videos. They don't always stay in their lanes, which gets a little scary, he said.

But not scary enough to make him stop driving them. Or to stop collecting.

"The best car I've ever owned," he said, "is the next one."

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