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2017.04.05 Canadian car collector makes intriguing offer

By RICH FOLEY

I’ve just read about what might be the real estate deal of a lifetime, assuming you have a mere $1,450,000. It also helps if you like cars, because if you don’t, that’s a lot of cash for a very small home on five acres, one storage and one shop building, and hundreds of automobiles, most of them undriveable.

This particular listing is located in the Canadian town of Tappen, British Columbia. If you’re unsure of the location, the realtor says it’s only 10 minutes from Salmon Arm, which has just replaced Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, as my favorite Canadian city name. If you like the big city, Kamloops is just an hour away.

Owner Mike Hall has made his fortune working as a rock scaler in the Canadian Rockies, removing loose rocks from cliffs near highways before they fall on the road or vehicles. At age 60, he just signed a five-year rock scaling contract and fears he’ll never get around to restoring all of his project cars, thus the sale.

Hall started collecting cars at age 20 and bought a 26-acre farm where he stored them until his wife put a stop to it after the total reached 200. He then bought the property in Tappen which held 300 cars when he first listed it for sale a year ago. In the meantime, he’s purchased at least 40 more cars and although he’s sure there’s a minimum of 340 vehicles on the property, the real number could be quite a bit higher.

 He values the cars at $500 up to $35,000 each. That sounds like a big price spread, but Hall has quite a selection of vehicles. His job has taken him all over British Columbia and he took advantage of the opportunity to buy cars from throughout the province. He told one reporter he hauled them back home any way he could, even in the back of dump trucks. That might explain what is probably the least desirable car in the sale.

Photos of the cars posted online reveal an early 1960’s Studebaker Lark that look like a wrecking ball fell on the roof. Or perhaps it went over one of the cliffs Hall was scaling. Either way, I’m sure it probably came home in a dump truck.

On the other hand, he has a selection of very solid looking cars from the late 1930’s and 1940’s, plus a line of 1955 through 1957 Chevrolet station wagons waiting to be restored.

Hall seems to have a thing for 1960’s and early 1970’s muscle cars, with many examples of Chevrolet Chevelles, including an Acadian Beaumont, a Canada-only version of the Chevelle with grille and trim pieces from the Pontiac GTO. Hall’s Beaumont, with a V8 engine and four-speed, is one of only 45 built with that combination.

He also has a wide variety of Chevy Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds, plus Plymouth Barracudas, Satellites and Roadrunners. There’s a good selection of Dodges, including several Super Bees and at least two Demons. There’s even a hard-to-find American Motors AMX and two AMC Javelins.

Although that’s a lot of cars to sell at one time, Hall still will have plenty left to keep him busy if he ever gets the chance. He has more cars stored on the property of an auto museum located next door to his lot, plus he has a special project car or two, or maybe 20.

He owns five Pontiac Firefly convertibles plus two turbo coupes. If that name sounds unfamiliar, that’s because in the United States, the car was known as the Geo Metro. Those seven are roadworthy and Hall uses them as his daily drivers.

He also restores cars for others, recently finishing a vintage Dodge Challenger. He’s currently concentrating on a 1966 Plymouth Satellite convertible for another customer, but wishes he had time to work on a certain car for himself.

Hall hopes to put together a mid-60’s Sunbeam Tiger. Readers with long memories will recall that as the preferred vehicle of secret agent Maxwell Smart on the television series “Get Smart.” 

He has purchased six Sunbeam Alpines, the car on which the Tiger was based, to aid in the project as parts cars. That seems appropriate, as the Alpine served as what I guess you’d have to call a “stuntcar” on “Get Smart,” rather than risk damaging the Tiger during filming. Actor Don Adams liked the Tiger so much he took it with him when the series ended. Obviously, Hall likes the model as well.

All this is enough to make me consider making a road trip to Tappen. Now if only I could find someone willing to finance the purchase.