16 collectors and the passion that drives them.
Text and photos by Sean Smith
Porsche 912 Hot Rod
Nat Mundy, Mount Kisco
Pushing his bicycle up a hill on the dirt roads between Bedford and Mount Kisco, a young Nat Mundy was on his way to a skateboard shop one day, when over the crest of the hill came a tangerine 911 at full roar. It made quite an impression. At 17, with only a year on his license, Mundy was searching for tools at a tag sale in Boston when he wandered into a garage and found a Porsche 912 sitting on four flat tires. No tools that day, but Mundy had his first Porsche. Over the years, he has given the 912 plenty of love and some more horsepower, via a later 3.0 911 motor. He’s added a ’77 911 to his collection, along with a Spec Miata racer, but you never forget your first love. The 912 has a permanent home with Mundy.
Nicola Soprano, Bedford Hills
Nicola Soprano doesn’t think of himself as a collector, but as an enthusiast. He’s driven and raced many stellar examples of automotive art. He also feels an emotional and physical need to express himself in steel and aluminum. Over 25 years, Soprano has created the Sensuale, an embodiment of and tribute to all the great racecars and GT cars of his past. Using drawings he’s been perfecting since his school days, Soprano built this car in the old-school style (no computers), shaping the body by hand — first in clay, then aluminum. His creation is the purified essence of driving. No electronic minders, just a Ferrari engine, four wheels, and an elegantly aerodynamic body — all a real driver needs.
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Alfa Romeo Spring Veloce Confortevole
Santo Spadaro, Rye Brook
Santo Spadaro was given a difficult choice at a young age: His father offered him a Porsche 911 or an Alfa Romeo GTV. But this was not a gift from a wealthy father to his spoiled son. It was a master mechanic offering two cars in need of TLC so that his son could learn how to maintain a car of his own. Spadaro felt a Porsche might be too flashy for a high-school student; his heritage won out, and he choose the Alfa. Countless Alfas and other Italian cars have since lived in Spadaro’s collection. One that holds a place of honor is the “Mighty 555,” a 1958 Sprint Veloce he found in California. Only 199 Sprint Veloce Confortevoles were ever built. It’s raced with the Vintage Sports Car Club of America, used the way an Alfa Romeo was meant to be used.
Lancia Aurelia B10
Venera Spadaro, White Plains
Venera Spadaro had little interest in cars until age 14 or 15, but on snow days, she and her brothers would listen to recordings of iconic auto races, like Sounds of Sebring and Sounds of Le Mans, each absorbing the music of the engines. The siblings would then be tested as to what car made what sound. Subliminally, cars were seeping into her DNA. Her father was a Lancia dealer and sold other cars, as well. Spadaro’s first car was a 1964 Alfa Romeo Berlina. It lasted three days before her father sold it. She had a career on Wall Street, but one day in 2007, with her dad and brother Frank ill, and her brother Santo off on a rally, Spadaro had to open the shop. She has been there ever since.
Charles Spiegel, Armonk
Charles Spiegel wasn’t around cars as a kid; he lived in a fifth-floor walkup in the city. He put himself through college and law school, playing and teaching piano, and he needed something to get to gigs; a Renault Dauphine was the answer. Later, his rides got a bit grander: XK120 Jags, Bentleys, Lancias, and Bugattis. A recent addition to his collection is this Jaguar SS100, made by Suffolk Engineering in the UK. He can’t fit a piano in it, but it sure makes him smile.
Bob Torre, Bedford Hills
Bob Torre started rebuilding a Porsche 356 before he even had his driver’s license; next up was a Fiat 124. When he finally got his license, he drove around in a Corvair. At a Bonhams auction in Greenwich in 2010, he’d already picked up some books and automotive art when the Miura came up for sale. He thought it would be beyond his reach, but the auctioneer said the car was selling — and it wasn’t a ridiculous price. Torre’s hand went up! It was his. Torre’s collection is not curated to any specific marque; rather, it’s populated with cars that make him smile. He has a ’64 pickup next to an Aston Martin DB2, a McLaren, and a Fiat taxi.
Sergio Michilli, Thornwood
Cars have always been a part of Sergio Michilli’s life. He started out as a mechanic and then moved on to his other great love: music. Music has allowed him to feed his car-collecting obsession with a number of different marques, including Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, and Fiat. Michilli loves his classic cars and still gets under the hoods to root around, maintain, and repair the cars he owns. Michilli wants his cars to be spotless, so, for fun and relaxation, he cleans his rides himself. When he needs more fun and relaxation, he starts in on his friend’s cars. All the cars in his collection are equally loved, whether 4, 6, or 8 cylinders — even his 2-cylinder Fiat 500. For Michilli, they all make beautiful music.
Rippon-Bodied Bentley Shooting Brake
Bill Jacobs, Cortlandt Manor
Bill Jacobs seems to have oil running in his veins. His dad was a mechanic, and other relatives owned taxis in the Bronx; cars were always a joy for him. His collection includes an original and a new Gullwing Mercedes, an XK 120 Jaguar, a Ferrari, and a new Bentley. When asked why he wanted to add this car to his collection, Jacobs gives three facts: It’s a Bentley; it’s a Shooting Brake; it’s blue. It’s also only one of two built in this style. Jacobs’ sister has said, “His toys are no different than when he was a kid. They’re just bigger.”
Stephen Grisanti, Somers
Growing up in Mount Vernon, Stephen Grisanti wasn’t aware of exotic foreign cars; his dad drove a Cadillac. One day, walking around town, his eyes fell on a bright-green Porsche 914. It was love at first sight. The 914 belonged to a friend of his brother; young Grisanti got a ride. The die was cast. Grisanti was in the process of restoring his 914-6 when he went to see a Golden Green 1968 912. Right next to the 912 was a perfect 914-6. So a trade was made for Stephen’s 930 Turbo Porsche (plus “a good sum of money”); he got the 912 and the 914-6. He shows his dedication with a tattoo of the Porsche crest on his right forearm.
Bob Lowe, Ossining
When Bob Lowe was in the police academy, every day he saw an Austin-Healey 3000 drive by the station house. One day he skipped roll call and in full uniform flagged the driver down. The driver started yelling. “I’m innocent!” Lowe just wanted to know if he wanted to sell the car. He did. This started Lowe’s “affliction” with British cars. Along the way, he met fellow car-enthusiast Bob Millstein, who had the same car. Millstein told Lowe about this Jaguar; Lowe’s wife fell in love with it at first sight, and the rest as they say... Now, the whole family rides comfortably in the Jag (it was getting kind of tight in the Healey) and Lowe and his wife still take out the Healey to relive old times.
Carter Kelly Kramer, Chappaqua
At 6 years old, Carter Kelly Kramer could tell you the model, make, and year of most any car — and rarely was he wrong. He went through all the standard boy stages of loving anything with a motor: trains, heavy equipment, trucks, and cars. As a youngster, he got a ride in a Ferrari; that was when he was truly hooked. Kramer discovered the BMW 2002 while playing Gran Turismo. His father had owned one, as well — so why not him? He’s had a few Beemers, but this one, known as The Pumpkin, is a keeper. Many love the story of Kramer and his 2002; he’s had more than 1.8 million views on popular classic-car-enthusiast website Petrolicious.
Bob Millstein, Pleasantville
Growing up in Washington Heights, Bob Millstein says you were either a Vette guy or a Jag guy. Millstein went the way of the British cars. His older brother was racing in Sports Car Club of America; Millstein tagged along and really got the bug. Instead of fixing people like his physician father, he went into fixing cars and created a one-of-a-kind automotive business, Briarcliff Classic and Imported. Millstein’s E Type has been in the collection for more than 40 years. Bought for $300, it has been raced hard and restored twice. Aston Martins, Austin-Healeys, and other Jaguars have come and gone from his collection, but the XKE is a keeper.
A110 Alpine 1600s VC
Chris Robbins, Rye Brook
Chris Robbins’ collection is eclectic. It started with a 1973 Alfa Spider he got from his father. Another is an icon from before his day: a 1954 Lancia B20 that Robbins takes on 1,000-mile rallies. Other cars are memories from childhood: his 2002 tii, and 3.0 CSI BMWs. Robbins loved the rally cars of the ’70s and ’80s, so finding a 1600 S VC Client Competition model in Portugal was a dream come true. The diminutive machine lets Robbins create his own rally stages on the back roads of Westchester. “There is no rhyme or reason to the collection, other than it makes me happy,” he says. His father’s Alfa is still in Robbins’ garage, and he even taught his kids to drive stick on it.
Lancia Integrale Evo II
Mark Everett, Valhalla
Mark Everett is a very focused collector. He remembers as his starting point an automotive book — written in Italian, so he couldn’t decipher it — but the pictures spoke to him loud and clear. They were rally cars of the early ’70s. Everett’s cars don’t live indoors and get treated to weekly wax jobs; he is a rally driver, and he drives the cars as they were meant to be driven. His Mazda, Ford Escort, and Alpine do battle on rally stages throughout the Northeast. The Integrale doesn’t compete like its stablemates, but it doesn’t hide in the barn either.
356SC Porsche Outlaw
Mike Bruno, Armonk
The car obsession started small for Mike Bruno. He had every Corgi and Dinky toy there was as a kid; the cars just grew along with him. More than 200 European sports cars have been through the Bruno collection. Mike is a Ferrari guy, a Mercedes guy, and a Porsche guy. Porsches speak to him with their quality, style, and performance. But, he says, sometimes even a Porsche can seem boring — so a little hot-rodding is in order. A very recent acquisition of his is this 356 Outlaw coupe. It’s a 356 taken to the next level: all the 356 joy, with a bit more kick.
Richard Schickman, Yonkers
Richard Schickman has always loved air-cooled Porsches. He had his first, a 1971 911E, before he had his license. It was a basket case, but Schickman used it as a learning experience, rebuilding it and putting it on the road. Later, he had a beautiful Concours 912. His dream was to own a 1973 RSR Porsche. As only 57 were ever built, it wasn’t likely Schickman would ever get his hands on one, so the next best thing was to build one for himself. He found a proper donor car and painstakingly recreated his dream car. But he did such a good job, someone else wanted to own it. So he started again — and the same thing happened. With that, a business was created. Shortly, one of the RSR Project cars will actually be able to stay in Schickman’s collection.