Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Duncan 900-car collection

Are you ready?

Earlier this year, I learned about the existence of this vast car collection from Jalopnik. It's in the middle of nowhere-- Christiansburg, Virginia, near the Appalachian Mountains. Fortunately, my wife grew up 3 hours 15 minutes from the middle of nowhere, in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is infamous for being the capital of the Confederate States of America. Her 20th high school reunion was last weekend, so...two birds, one stone.

On Friday, I rented a second car and went to Christiansburg. Note: Car companies' computer systems cannot handle one person renting two cars simultaneously. I had breakfast along the way in Charlottesville, the scene of the recent white supremacist rally.

I pulled up to this non-descript warehouse in an industrial district.

Mr. Duncan is a successful businessman with around a dozen car dealerships, including a Honda store. This mannequin holding tiny Bibles greeted me in the lobby. Mr. Duncan's right-hand man Jerry gave me the tour.

The layout consists of a large warehouse, two annexes, and a yard. There are cars everywhere. Virtually every make and model is represented, except Italian cars. They are mostly ordinary cars that our parents and neighbors owned. Like this Oldsmobile. My mom had this and it was the first car I got to steer. I was around eleven and my step-dad let me scoot over on the bench seat and steer it on a windy road. I thought I would take a couple of photos of cars that interested me, but I promptly gave up after this Oldsmobile. There are so many cars!

With American makes, the collection had many unloved/mocked cars, like this Prowler and Maserati-Chrysler.

This fleet of Japanese trucks reminded me of the Toyota Museum in California, except there were more Toyotas here!

Here is a Japanese hearse, based off of the Crown, which is often used as taxi cabs.

More unloved Americana-- Reatta, Allante, Crossfire.

This is the only car that stumped me. Is this a Mazda Cosmo or some kind of RX? Note the huge speakers behind the back seat.


A Camaro next to three Soarers. I noticed the roof panels were ajar and yep, they're all Aerocabins. I had never seen one in real life, let alone three.

El Camino SS.

Centuries. Lots of them. When Jerry introduced himself, he asked: Are you here to just look at the cars or to test drive them too? I had never contemplated test driving them, but why not?!

Most of the cars, probably 3/4 of them, are for sale. The best Centuries are not for sale.

Now we enter Annex No 1, which was dimly lit. This might be a Rolls-Royce hearse, or just a weird station wagon.

This W126 hearse, with the dim lighting, was downright creepy.

This 7-Series has 6,000 miles.

The width and depth of this collection knows no bounds.

This XR4Ti unfortunately did not have the bi-wing rear spoiler.


Three first gen Integra coupes, with much less mileage than the one I drove to Radwood.

I note that a Celica in this condition is rarer than the NSX next to it.

The second annex consists of Figaros, Seras, Beats, and mini fire trucks. There are 125 Figaros in the collection. Mr. Duncan has contacts in Japan who pick out the best examples at auctions. There are not many left in Japan. Most are in Britain, the Netherlands, and this second annex.

There were a few Cappuccinos too. Look how small it is compared to the Honda City cabrio.

When I was visiting, a gentleman from North Carolina bought a Beat. He bought the second best example in the inventory. The best example was recently purchased by a Honda engineer in Ohio.

Seras, with butterfly doors.

I had never heard of a Daihatsu Leeza before.

I knew the red car was an Acura/Honda Vigor, but I did not recognize the other sedan. Turns out it's just a first generation Acura/Honda Legend with a Japanese face.

There were over 100 Japanese 4x4s, from Pajeros to Land Cruisers to Delicas to Samurais.

I took a picture of these Cimas because this is what my aunt and uncle owned just before the Japanese Bubble burst in the 1990s.

Two red Previas. One.


I would take this van on the Road of Bones in the Russian Far East.

A Subaru SVX with a Skyline and a Sera reflected.

I have not seen an Isuzu Stylus in over a decade. I knew a guy who owned one. He was a manager at a Chevy's Mexican restaurant and once told me the funniest dirty joke. He is a priest now.

An Isuzu Bighorn/Trooper, with handling by Lotus.

Mind boggling.

And then I saw this, an Impulse Turbo. It's a little newer, faster, and handles better than my 1983, but it's definitely an Impulse!

I took a photo of this Starion only because it says MMC up front (Mitsubishi Motors Corporation). Even though this came from Japan recently, it had an AC/DC sticker on the rear.

Suzuki Mighty Boy.

Another nostalgic car. I wanted this Trans Am so badly when I turned 16.

Test drive time. This was a 1991 Century with 100,000 kilometers. The driver's seat did not go back very far, presumably for the comfort of the rear passenger. I barely had enough legroom. Half the switches were in Japanese so I was a bit flustered. What was also discombobulating was the steering wheel location. Everything was reversed, from the column shifter to the turn signal stalk. It was also weird to look at the fender mounted mirrors.

I got to drive approximately six miles of a country road. The ride was soft and pillowy, reminiscent of a Citroen DS. I felt that the perfect speed in this car was 70 kph.

Next up, the Impulse/Piazza. It was a little difficult to start up the car. It stalled a couple of times. But once it warmed up, it was fine. I loved and missed the weirdo switchgear so I took some photos. The ride was meh. It was not a great driving car. This may be why it never had the following that other Japanese sports compacts had.

I really have to thank Gary Duncan and his assistant Jerry. This was definitely one of the most memorable automotive days of my life. Here is Duncan Imports' website.


@slirt said...

speechless. yowza. what prices on the Century & Impulse you drove?

and yes, that is a weird Mazda Cosmo coupe,a 2nd-gen Series CD 121, per Wiki:

@slirt said...

* "...the Landau"!!!

Edvin said...

Ok, this is amazing. I'm green with envy of both this and your visit to the Conservatoire Citro├źn.

edmondpogi said...

Are you selling any of these bad boys?