COLLECTING beautiful cars can easily become an obsession, especially if you have the means to acquire them – and a place to keep them.
That’s what happened to Dutch businessman Ad Palmen, who bought classic cars that he found appealing over a period of more than 40 years.
During that time, he acquired no fewer than 280 cars, everything from Aston-Martin to Panhard and a Bristol 401 to a Moretti 128 as well as the occasional moped and scooter. There’s even a rare grass cutter in the mix.
The vast collection was carefully stored in three buildings, two warehouses and an abandoned church in Dordrecht, the one in Holland — not its namesake in South Africa.
Now his secret collection has been unveiled and they’ll all go under the auctioneer’s gavel next month (May) during an online sale run by Classic Car Auctions.
The cars are so rare and so well-preserved that “it is unlikely that anyone will ever see a collection of this calibre and condition again in their lifetime,” the auction house said.
Ad Palmen began to hone his taste for classic cars in the mid-1960s while working as a professional dealer.
The first rare vehicle he bought was a yellow Lancia B20, with many other models and brands following over the years.
For many years Ad maintained on the vehicles by himself for many years, starting one up in turn to ensure the engines did not rust or seize up.
Unfortunately Ad, now 82, recently became ill and could no longer maintain his beloved vehicles, so he disposed of the whole lot to well known Dutch classic car dealership, Gallery Aaldering for an undisclosed sum.
Now, Gallery Aaldering has decided to offer up “one of the best-kept secret car collections of Europe,” to the public, as Classic Car Auctions puts it.
Most of the cars have not been restored but Nico Aalderling says they were a little dusty but otherwise in great shape.
“This barnfind collection is truly a unique opportunity for car enthusiasts and collectors around the world to expand their collection,” he said.
Among the rarest—and probably the most expensive—vehicles in the lot is a 1955 Lancia B24 Spider America, reports CNN’s Toyin Owoseje.
Because few were made, it is expected to fetch US $660,000 to $770,000. Other vehicles in the collection include a blue Ferrari 365 and a white Mercedes 300 S convertible.
Most car collectors focus on a particular brand, but Mr Palmen simply bought everything he thought was beautiful.
He seldom showed the collection to anyone, so very few people knew of its existence.
He loved Italian cars like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari.
But there are also French Facel Vegas and German BMWs, Mercedes, and NSUs.
The British are well represented with Jaguars, Aston Martins, and Rolls-Royces, while American classics include Chevrolets, Cadillacs, and Fords, the latter including one of its Edsels.
The collection also features Tatra, Monica, Moretti, Matra, Alvis, Imperia, and Villard.
The grasscutter? It’s a Master MTD.
The auction starts on Friday, May 19, finishes on June 7.