IT’S not known if John Dixon ever visited India and toured the Taj Mahal, but the famed car collector of Dayton, Ohio, built up a fabulous collection of Porsches and VWs and stored them in his warehouse, which he called the Taj Ma Garaj.
Thousands of enthusiasts visited it through the years, even after John died in 2013, but now his cars, many of them one-offs, have been sold.
It all started while he was still at high school and he had a hopped-up Camaro.
His badass Chevy had a 396 cubic inch V8 pumping out 375 of yesterday’s horses, and he was on a highway when a 911 passed him.
So he gave chase.
“I couldn’t believe how fast this guy was going,” he said at the time.
“I mean, he wasn’t walking away from me, but to keep up with him, my brakes were fading and my wide-track belted bias-ply tires were plowing all over.
“You think driving on an interstate wouldn’t be hard, but at 100 mph, you do have to lean and brake, and my brakes had completely faded just trying to keep up with this Porsche.”
He bought his own Porsche a year later, and really got serious about his car collection in the 1990s.
The Taj Ma Garaj collection was later considered to be one of the most eclectic of Porsche and Volkswagen collections, along with Porsche unobtainium, rare literature, engines and an assortment of arcade ephemera.
His family eventually called in RM Sotheby’s to sell the Taj Ma Garaj collection, also known as ‘Porsche Paradise’ and the 32 cars and 356 lots of auto- and memorabilia fetched $5.7 million – that’s $8.4m in Australian cash.
RM Sotheby’s said the auction was held before a full house and “drew spirited bidding activity from no less than 20 countries around the world.”
Top money was for a rare 4-cam 1957 Porsche 356 A Carrera GT Speedster by Reutter that sold for $1.38 million (about AU$2.1m.)
“This auction was an emotional process for our family as we celebrated our father’s love for Porsche and the place in our hearts that the Taj Ma Garaj holds,” Dixon’s daughter, Hillary Dixon West, told RM Sotheby’s.
“It celebrated John’s humour and creativity as well as his attention to detail and passion for collecting only the very best of the best,” she said.
“Throughout the entire auction, the smiling caricature of John as the Taj Ma Garaj genie was behind the podium, and we’re sure it took place exactly as he would have wanted, smiling and enjoying every bit of it.”
“Every corner of the Taj Ma Garaj space was a fun, witty, and off-the-wall idea that represented his personality, and clients were treated to an exciting auction as well as the amazing collection setting that he envisioned and realized,” Donnie Gould, RM Sotheby’s senior car specialist, said.
“It was an honour to work with the Dixon family on this special sale, and we’re delighted to see outstanding prices achieved across multiple categories of the Porsche market.”
The cars on offer were primarily Porsches and Volkswagens, and some of them were quirky custom builds, including a 1953 Porsche 356 limousine that sold for $207,200 (au$310,00).
Standout lots include the wrought-iron Volkswagen Beetle “Casa Linda Lace” by Rafael Esparza-Prieto, which featured some 2600 floral curlicue hand-crafted designs.
More than a piece of art, it’s fully functional and can be driven.
Elsewhere, the Taj Ma Garaj Collection presented incredible pieces such as 1958 Porsche 356 A Sedan Delivery “Kreuzer” — a one-of-a-kind delivery van that features period-correct details and clocks just 51 miles. Kreutzer translates to Cruiser, but most who saw it called it a ‘356 breadvan.’
There was also a 1953 Porsche 356 Limousine Custom, 1957 Volkswagen Beetle Outlaw “Death” by Franz Muhr, and an “exceedingly rare” red 981 Porsche 924 Carrera GTS Clubsport that somehow had less than 30 miles on its odometer, which fetched $$357,000 ($535,000).
“John Dixon was as knowledgeable about his cars as he was passionate, and what he has assembled represents sought-after high watermarks in Porsche production, alongside cars like a wrought-iron Beetle that are just plain fun,” Donnie Gould said.
Other highlights included a maroon 1952 Porsche 356 Cabriolet by Gläser and an opalescent white 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo.