Thursday, November 15, 2012

A rare look inside the Evans Garage private auto museum

This week, the good folks at Lincoln gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a really spectacular car collection. Evans Garage, located in San Diego, is a private museum and meeting space that contains some very rare and interesting cars. But not everyone can go there. Only companies that have people staying in the luxurious Torrey Pines Resort can hold a meeting there. Why? Because William Evans, Jr. owns the hotel, and William Evans, Jr. owns Evans Garage. Those are the rules!

Among the special vehicles in the collection is an exact replica of the 1909 Blitzen-Benz. The original went 125.94-mph in 1909. That was a speed record that held for a decade. Evans Garage actually built this very impressive machine with the cooperation of Mercedes out of vintage parts. Once you see this thing in person, you won’t forget it. I can’t imagine what it cost to build this car. And I can’t imagine what it’s worth.

That prompted me to ask where, exactly, the Blitzen-Benz was built. Well, it was right there at Evans Garage, of course. Obviously not in the pristine showplace we were standing in, but an accompanying private garage. I tried to get someone to let me go see it, but it was a no-go.
Since this was a Lincoln-sponsored event, it was only fitting that one of the cars in the collection was a Lincoln. In this case, it was a very nice 1947 Continental convertible. The elegant Continental first appeared in 1940, and the ’47 model continued the tradition of flathead V12 power under the long, elegant hood. This was a formidable car in its day, and it sets off an aura that Lincoln would certainly like to emulate with their current offerings. A nice car like this would be worth around $100,000.

They always say that the German-produced Amphicar was a lousy car and a lousy boat. But unlike most vehicles, it could travel on land or by sea. They built around 3,800 of these between 1961 and 1968. I remember watching a NASCAR talk show about 20 years ago on which NASCAR driver Ken Schrader said he went in on half the purchase of one with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. At the time, it wasn’t much money; just something those guys were playing around with. But they’re not a joke anymore. One sold at the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson auction for $124,200 in 2006.

There weren’t many hot rods in Evans Garage, but this one was really interesting. First of all, the attendant that worked at the museum was convinced that it was all stock and original save from the rare supercharger atop the hopped-up flathead V8. But clearly, it was more than that. This was obviously a car that was built in the 1940s or so. It was a little lower, staggered tires, louvered hood, banjo steering wheel, and pleated seat. I also thought the slots behind the doors were interesting. European swing-out turn signal arms, perhaps? Anyway, this car was cool. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if I could find a picture of this car in one of my old Hot Rod magazines from back in the day. The stories this car could tell …

There were just so many interesting things there, it’s hard to describe them all. Some of them were familiar: 1957 Thunderbird, 1958 Buick Caballero station wagon, 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible. Some of them are things I know nothing about: race-driven 1913 Isotta Fraschini Indy race car, 1905 Pope Toledo, 1894 (!) Benz (looked just like a stagecoach with a steering wheel). But all of them were fascinating.

Of course, I’m leaving you with a photo slideshow below, or a better version at this link. This place doesn’t have a website, and there isn’t a tremendous amount of coverage about it online, so this could very well be the first time you’ve ever seen inside of Evans Garage. I know I enjoyed going there, and I hope you enjoy checking out the pictures.


  1. As my Dad usta say... "Boy, you're wiping on the top leaf there!"

  2. Ha, yeah, I guess that's true. But if I run across a junkyard, I'll trudge out there and take pictures of that for you too. lol.