Classic car collections – Ken Lingenfelter

Wow. Talk about, ‘Dream Machines,’ this car collection has been listed as one of the top ten car collections…in the world. I believe Jay Leno’s collection is also on that list.

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The Lingenfelter collection is owned by, Ken Lingenfelter, who is an old friend from back in the…’60s. He’s all grown up and owns and operates a ‘speed shop’ type company called, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, http://www.lingenfelter.com, which has in the past specialized in modifying GM products, like Corvettes and Camaro, but now they have been expanding into some Fords, like Mustangs, as well.

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If you have the ‘need for more speed,’ but don’t want to buy another car, Ken is the guy to call. His speed shop will build muscle into your machine. They can also modify the car body, making dramatic statements, sometimes with spectacular results.

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Ken’s collection is in a very large building in Brighton, Michigan that makes a large new car dealership look small. There are enormous rooms and each over-sized room is jammed with classy cars. I didn’t count, but one person at the hot dog stand told me there were around 200 cars…indoors.

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Each room is filled with primarily one type of car. Like, one room had predominately foreign muscle cars like Bugati’s, Ferraris, Porsches, a Bentley, and one I wasn’t sure about.

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In another room is a lot of classic cars like ’63-’72 Chevelle SS’s, 442’s, Camaro SS’s, and too many to list. Check out the photos. One car was a ’64 or ’65 Pontiac 2+2 convertible, which had 421 inches of modified power. It was very similar to my old ’62 Bonneville convertible, but with more power per inch.

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In yet another room was a beautiful sight. It was packed tightly with wall-to-wall Corvettes. Mainly early ’54-mid-60s, but all the way up to a 2014 ‘vette. Walking into that room, I overheard a guy in the crowd, who was looking at a ’67 Covette with a 427 LS7 engine say, “Smells like America.”

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REEE-OAR!!! In the foreign room, Ken fired up a hot looking Enzo Ferrari and the loud blast from the sweet sound of high-performance power, sent the excited crowd running toward the rumble. By the time I got there, the large crowd was squeezed against the car and Ken was out of the car waving to a loud cheer, and now crushed by admirers and their high-tech questions on super-chargers vs turbo charged and power-tech issues that were way out of my league, but he could answer off–the-cuff.

 

Ken Lingenfelter

Ken Lingenfelter

I’m hoping to see Ken again soon at his very cool new summer-time Saturday morning tradition, ‘Cars & Coffee’ cruise-ins. They start May 3rd and go on every Saturday morning from 8am-10am. It’s at the ‘North Engine build facility’ of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering at 47451 Avante, at Beck Rd. in Wixom, Michigan.

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All makes and models are welcome to this cruise-in, it’s free and according to the printed announcement, the Cars & Coffee is, “a gathering of like-minded enthusiasts. It’s a place to take your ride, share stories and see some amazing cars.”

Of course, I prefer to call them; ‘Dream Machines.’

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Classic car collections – 1

Remember the ‘Cannonball Express?’ The race that Burt Reynolds made famous in his movies, was inspired by Erwin George ‘Cannonball’ Baker. Cannonball Baker, to create publicity for the Templar line of cars, was timed from New York City to Chicago, in 1920, covering 992 miles in 26 hours and 50 minutes (which included stops for fuel and sandwiches without turning off the engine). The race may be over, but the cars still exist; in a collection.

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I am constantly amazed at car collections, big and small. Car collections are a reflection of our history, which is sorely missing from our education today. Ask any college freshman what the constitution guarantees, our Bill of Rights says, or even what Abe Lincoln said in his historic, Gettysburg Address, and you’ll typically get a blank face reaction.

Car collectors I know normally have some kind of a car connection; like owning a car dealership. However, I found a classic car collection from the most odd source; my sister-in-law Chris. Her cousin, Dave Buehler, has a fascinating collection of cars manufactured in Cleveland, but were failures in mass sales; The Templar Motor car company. These are not what I’d call classic cars, but antique cars because they were built in 1917.

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I think the name kind of doomed the brand; Templar, which comes from The Order of the Knights Templar, which was a monastic order formed in Jerusalem in 1119 to protect the holy sepulcher and defend the crusaders. Yeah. We know how that turned out. However, free masons and the Masonic Lodge would be proud.

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These Masons wanted a beautiful, luxury car; their own ‘Dream Machines.’ The cars were very advanced for their early beginnings; like aluminum bodies and an array of nifty innovations like the closed circuit battery ignition system, Jacox steering gear, Perfection springs, Nigrum oilless spring bushings, Schwitzer universal joints and Goodyear tires.

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Apparently a lot of competition in auto manufacturing at the time is what killed the brand. After WWI, a long time ago, a lot of auto manufacturers thought that there would be a post-war boom for cars. Ford won this battle to prove at the time that, ‘less expensive’ was better. Smaller companies that offered excellent quality, but higher prices, went out of business.

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The Templar collection I visited is in an odd corner of Cleveland in a manufacturing building that the original Templars were built. I was shown how the final product had to be delivered by elevator to the main floor. According to everything I’ve read about the history of building cars, Henry Ford would not approve of car elevators.

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I asked Dave, who owns all these cars, what he’s going to do with the collection. He didn’t really know. I thought of the Crawford Automobile Museum, in Cleveland, but apparently they’re not sure what to do either. Anyone out there, especially Masons, know what to do with these antique ‘Dream Machines?’ Let me know.