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Classic Car Corner - September 3, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

I was recently able to attend the 35th annual LeMay Family Collection Car Show in south Tacoma.

Harold LeMay was a successful “garbage man” from Tacoma who once had the world’s largest car collection of over 3,000 cars. When he ran out of storage room he would just buy another building to put them in. It’s rumored that there are still some unopened buildings full of his cars in the Tacoma area. He was not  too selective and would buy almost anything so his collection is extremely diverse. You name it and it’s probably in the collection, from a turbine powered hot rod to a driveable stilleto shoe!

In the late 80’s Harold bought the Marymount Academy from The Sisters of St.Dominic and promised to preserve the buildings and grounds and grant the Sisters access as long as they wanted.  Everyone I’ve ever talked to said Harold was a nice guy.

Harold passed away in 2000 and left over 600 of his cars to what is now known as America’s Car Museum and they have built a $65 million exhibition area next to the Tacoma Dome on land donated by the City of Tacoma  where they have exhibition space, gift shops, restoration shops, lecture hall, galleries, a banquet room and a cafe.  Truly a world class venue.

The Lemay family puts on their annual show at Marymount which is a beautiful site. There are mature trees, lots of grass, some great vintage brick buildings full of cars and two newer buildings also full of cars, some stacked on “shelves” three high.

It’s a laid-back affair and anyone with a vintage car can park right on site on the grass. I parked between a 60’s Bentley and a pristine 1930 Packard 12 cylinder convertible that was headed for a 1,000 mile trip.  My little 62 vette looked odd between those two luxury cars. On the lawn were model A’s, hot rods, cars that needed work, modified cars of all sorts and my favorites, the 50’s and 60’s cars that looked like they just rolled off the showroom floor.  The LeMays have about 500 of their 2,000 vehicles displayed on-site also so it was a classic car guys heaven.

There was also a car auction with some of the LeMays’ family vehicles. Most were in need of lots of repairs, some were just parts cars and some rusted hulks that had no use that I could think of. They also auctioned off some vehicles from the estate of a collector, some of which had potential.

I just missed out on a 53 Dodge Texaco fuel delivery truck with all the stuff still intact.  I shoulda bid one more time!!!  Of course, often when I win a bid I think “I shoulda bid one less time.”

Next year on the last Friday of August I suggest you plan to attend the 36th annual LeMay Family Collection car show at Marymount.

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