Los Angeles may be a car city, but West Hollywood itself is extremely walkable. So, imagine the irony of me pounding the pavements of Santa Monica Boulevard, to be stopped in my tracks by my dream car – a 1969 Lamborghini Islero S Coupé – sitting pretty in quiet, casual sophistication (not to mention temptation) outside of the Heritage Classic’s showroom, crying out, “Try me. Buy me.”
Nothing stands between a man of distinction and his dream car except a six-figure price tag, but to come face to face with one by accident is pure serendipity.
“The dry Southern Californian climate has preserved many of the best examples of the world’s vintage cars,” says Alexander Willems, a member of the family business Heritage Classics, as he creeps up on me from nowhere. He clearly has fined-tuned his intuition to know that I’m turned on by it, albeit his ability to smell the fact that I’m not a millionaire still needs some refining.
Heritage is one of just a few specialists who focus on rust-free ‘original survivor’ cars and fully restored collectables like the 1971 Porsche 917K, 1965 Ford GT40, and the 1951 Ferrari 166 Spider. In other words; dream machines from across the golden age of car design, probably owned by men of distinction who were part of the Hollywood set. It’s no wonder that so many of these lovingly made, limited edition super-cars of their era ended up being shipped here to L.A.
Heritage Classics have been mining automotive gold from the 50s to the 80s for Hollywood’s great and good for over three decades, with a long list of rich and famous clientele including Nicholas Cage and Bruce Willis. But it’s not all tough-guys, even Mama Ru got in on the act when those Drag Race dollars started rolling in. And who can blame her?
“These cars ooze personality, they have a presence. Park a 1958 Corvette or a 1957 Thunderbird that you bought for $60-$80k at Heritage, next to any new make or model that you just spent $250k on at a dealership, and see what people’s reactions are when they walk by both,” Alex adds.
He has a point. There is an undeniable allure to owning and driving a classic car that modern cars just can’t match, especially if your game is to stand out in this glamour-soaked city.
“The fact that some of these cars are so rare means that they continue to appreciate in value with time at a rate that many of us still have a hard time wrapping our heads around,” adds Alex.
As such, many international classic car enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to WeHo to find their latest investment piece.
“The majority of our clients are international buyers from countries like the UK, Italy, Dubai, Japan, and Australia. Many countries have exceptions made for classic cars over a certain age. And we can get almost any car to any part of the world within a matter of a few weeks.”
Photography by Martin Perry