Tammy Allen’s love affair with automobiles runs deep. Her father was a car enthusiast who bought new models every couple of years, polishing and detailing them himself. She fondly remembers family road trips into the American heartland, riding along in the back seat of vehicles that have become part of automotive lore: a 1954 Ford, a 1957 Oldsmobile, a 1957 Chevy and a 1960 Mercury station wagon.
Tammy got her first collector car in 1984, a cherry red 1960 Jaguar. But it wasn’t until her father gave her a rare 1988 Amaretta that she transformed from a car lover into a car collector. She loved the fiberglass-bodied car for its “gorgeous and extravagant lines,” and began to see cars as rolling works of art. Her criterion for collecting was the uniqueness of a vehicle, rather than the type, make or era.
Her collection grew and grew over the years, to the point where she decided to open a museum to showcase them all. In 2010, Allen Unique Autos opened in Grand Junction, Colorado, providing a fitting home to more than 80 rare, vintage and distinctive vehicles, as well as related memorabilia. Her collection represents more than nine decades of the automobile, from a 1918 Millburn electric car to a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Stretch Sedan. It includes many with celebrity provenance, such as a 1979 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow once belonging to actress Zsa Zsa Gabor and – most notably – a pair of 1966 Mustang convertibles customized by George Barris for Sonny and Cher.
Allen Unique Autos provided a unique venue where visitors could imagine themselves behind the wheel of an elegant 1938 Cadillac Fleetwood Touring Sedan, marvel at the tiny 1956 Messerschmitt KR-175 or revisit their youth at the sight of a 1969 Good Humor Ice Cream Truck.
Following the sudden, tragic death of her only son in the summer of 2015, and her mother’s diagnosis of cancer shortly thereafter, Tammy’s priorities and focus were, understandably, redirected to her faith and family. In keeping with that plan, in late 2015 Tammy announced her plans to close Allen Unique Autos.
As a longtime friend of Barrett-Jackson, where she acquired many of her vehicles, she could think of no one better to help her sell her expansive collection than the world-renowned auction company. Barrett-Jackson is honored to be entrusted with Tammy’s collection of more than 80 eclectic vehicles, which will be making their way across the block at Barrett-Jackson’s 9th Annual Las Vegas Auction, October 13-15, 2016.
A select preview of the Tammy Allen Collection was showcased at the recent Northeast Auction, where six were on display in the Future Events area at the Mohegan Sun, Connecticut, auction site.
Among them was a 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton. The Cord 810 of 1936 and the 812 of 1937 were born from a design for a “baby Duesenberg” and featured V8 engines putting out a respectable 125 horsepower. Like the L-29, this Cord 812 features front-wheel drive, but has a 4-speed transmission with electric preselector. The 810 and 812 were the first cars to have disappearing headlights, and the wraparound grille gave rise to the “coffin nose” nickname. Fast, stylish and technically ahead of their time, the Cord 810 and 812 found favor with many celebrities, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Clark Cable, Gary Cooper, Ida Lupino, Amelia Earhart, Tyrone Power and Tom Mix.
Joining the Cord 812 in Connecticut was a 1947 Studebaker Champion Starlight custom coupeknown as “Black Bart.” Built by the late award-winning Tony Carlini as a 4-wheeled version of his famous custom motorcycles, this car has an all-steel body and features the “bullet nose” front end of the 1950-51 Studebaker models. Upholstered in Mocha leather, the interior of this custom features Auto Meter gauges and air conditioning, while under the hood is a 462ci Chevrolet big-block crate motor powered by a TH400 transmission
Another custom from the Tammy Allen Collection to make the trip to Mohegan Sun was “Wasabi,” a 1950 Mercury with a drool-worthy pearl paint job in a lustrous shade of green befitting its name. Originally customized by “Sultan of Chop” Dick Dean, this wild Mercury underwent a 2,000-hour, $140,000 restoration in 2005, when the original flathead V8 was replaced with a 383 stroker driving through a 4-speed automatic. At the same time, the cool custom was fitted with just about every modern amenity imaginable, including a top-notch sound system, navigation and even a back-up camera.
The 1954 Kaiser Darrin Sports Roadster featured in the special preview is one of only 435 built. The Darrin was the first fiberglass sports car in America and featured unique sliding doors – unmatched on any production car before or since. This example, featuring a Willys 161ci F-head Straight-6 and a 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive, was given a high-quality restoration in the 1990s.
A ride worthy of presidents and princes, the collection’s 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible is sitting pretty after a body-off restoration in 1997. Featuring the “rocket” tailfins distinguishing the post-1955 Eldorados from other Cadillacs, this car’s 365ci V8 engine and 3-speed Hydramatic transmission were rebuilt in 2000, when the top, tires, shocks and wiring were also replaced. Like all top-of-the-line Cadillacs, it is well-equipped with power steering, brakes, windows and seat.
Rounding out the half-dozen cars that provided a sneak peek of the Tammy Allen Collection at the Northeast Auction was a beautiful1962 Jaguar XK-E 3.8 S1 resplendent in Old English White. The early flat-floor car with welded bonnet louvres and an aluminum dash and console has been comprehensively restored with excellent attention to detail – and a Heritage Certificate confirms that it was completed to correct specification.
“I’m honored to assist Tammy with her collection,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “She’s been a part of the Barrett-Jackson family for many years. Her collection encompasses many highly desirable vehicles that will be favorites amongst the many bidders in attendance at our 9th Annual Las Vegas Auction.”