How Car Collector Tom McIntyre Rolls

The contents of one Burbank warehouse aren’t just a gallery of great car design. They’re a road trip down memory lane

When McIntyre was nine, his mother asked how he planned to spend his allowance. “I told her I was going to buy a car,” he says. Within five years the towhead had saved $300, enough to acquire the 1930 Ford Model A marked for sale in his Sherman Oaks neighborhood. A local mechanic showed McIntyre how to restore the vintage auto in exchange for sweeping his garage. Today the car holds pride of place in McIntyre’s 32-vehicle collection, which is stored in a former auto body shop​ in Burbank.

The Ford has distinguished company in a 1963 Corvette Stingray that he bought to help out a friend, though the car was in forlorn shape. After McIntyre refurbished the vehicle and took it public, he was contacted by a Corvette expert. “I’ve been looking for this car for 20 years,” the man said, explaining that it was a rare test model inducted into the Bloomington Gold hall of fame. McIntyre kept his mother’s 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, now worth a mint but priceless in terms of personal value. Even more precious is the 1950 Ford Custom Deluxe Tudor sedan, purchased because it resembles the car his mother had ferried him in to summer outings at Paradise Cove.

While studying engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the late 1960s, McIntyre launched a business designing and producing car emblems. Among his first customers—he still pinches himself at this—was Carroll Shelby, whose sports cars were snapped up the minute they rolled off the factory floor. McIntyre continues to race a 1966 Shelby Cobra that’s one of his most prized possessions. He also treasures a 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7 G that’s covered in emblems made by his company, and the 1959 Porsche 356 cabriolet that was a gift for assisting a racing team in Europe. The 1951 powder blue VW Beetle—he’s dubbed her Elizabeth—was an impulse buy one night at the home of a fellow collector. She needed to give up one car to make space for another. McIntyre, on the other hand, is loath to part with any car that he owns. “My collection is like a diary,” he says. “Each one is a snapshot of some point in my life.”