As a collector of old American cars, Benjamin wants to open a museum

The owner would like to create a museum in Saint-Langis. ©Le Perche

It has only been installed for a few days at the height of Saint-Langis-les-Mortagne (Boar), but an American flag is already flying at the entrance to the parking lot. Just turn your eyes a little to see Chevrolets, Dodges and other Mercurys fill Benjamin’s garage.

Straw hat on his head and floral shirt on his back, this collector returned to Normandy with his partner (he grew up near Bayeux) after living for a long time near Perpignan in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Young collector

Due to his great passion for vintage cars, his move did not go unnoticed. Three trucks were needed to transport her four-wheeled jewelry. He has twenty in total.

“It’s a passion that arose somewhat by chance. I loved old cars, but I knew nothing about them. When I turned 25, I took the plunge and bought my first American, a 67 Dodge Dart. For a long time I was the youngest at the rallies,” says Benji Barker on social networks.

Benjamin's son's car, repainted according to his wishes.
Benjamin’s son’s car, repainted according to his wishes. ©Le Perche

He then skims tutorials and other forums and learns the mechanics on the job. So much so that near Bayeux he wants to open a resale shop with spare parts for old cars. “One day a friend asked me to import a car. This was my first time doing this and it went pretty well. Through word of mouth I imported several. »

As a specialist recognized for his in-depth knowledge of models and the stories of these 70 or 80-year-old models, he is called upon by sellers in a market that is becoming prosperous and sometimes very profitable.

“For some, buying a classic car is a very lucrative investment. In 10 years, some models have gone from 11,000 to 60,000 euros. An American, it never fades with time. »

Don’t talk to him too much about Mustangs, though very popularized by the movie Bullitt with Steve McQueen. “The prices of these models no longer have anything to do with their true value. Benjamin prefers to talk about passion rather than money. These cars, he likes them to get the kids traveling, not to show off on Sundays in the summer.

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In the garage we mainly find cars from the years.
In the garage we mainly find cars from the years. ©Le Perche

With the success of his business, Benjamin and his wife scour gatherings and play Kustom Culture to the fullest (Rockabilly spirit, 50’s and Pin-up in particular). They decide to go to the United States and then to Canada to live in the element that fascinates them. They then export cars to Europe and especially France.

Soon monthly releases

As soon as they arrived in Perche, Benjamin and his partner looked for clubs that offer excursions and gatherings of enthusiasts. “We especially saw some in Mamers and near L’Aigle. Our desire is to participate in these groups and organize an excursion on the 3rd Sunday of each month. “To better enjoy it, he is currently looking for a place to land, such as a parking lot. “I already have a track, but I’m waiting for confirmation,” said the subject. Between his 1961 Chrysler Newport, his 1992 Buick Roadmaster, his 66 Cadillac Fleetwood, his 75 Pontiac Grandville, his 66 Imperial, his 76 Mercury Meteor, his Dodge Dart, his 78 Chrysler Newyorker and his 85 Chevrolet Suberban will say Benjamin, spoiled for choice on Sundays.

But in the end, by dressing like the 50s, we were sort of in disguise there. So we came back two years later.

A living museum

The clothing range is a little tidier in the closet, but the desire is still the same. Since then, the couple have become a foster family and have lots of projects in their large house in Saint-Langis.

As a former parts dealer, Benjamin learned to tinker on his own.
As a former parts dealer, Benjamin learned to tinker on his own. ©Le Perche

“I really want to get involved in local life and why not open a museum. It has been my dream for a long time. Benjamin is already considering building a building over his home after talking about it with the town’s mayor, Bernard Surcin. “It would not be a traditional museum with the wires and the ban on touching cars. But rather something open, where you can have a drink, eat and exchange with enthusiasts. What a living museum”, projects the 30-year-old.

Benjamin got his first American at the age of 25.
Benjamin owned his first American at the age of 25. ©Le Perche

Meanwhile, he struggles to organize monthly gatherings of local enthusiasts via his French Redneck association (see box). Cool dad, he also “offered” a car to his son. A 1977 Pontiac Grandprix.

Benjamin has a car specially dedicated to 400m.
Benjamin has a car specially dedicated to 400m. ©Le Perche

“I told him that we could paint it as he wanted. I try to transfer my passion to him, without pressuring him either. “Walks on the roads in Perche are nevertheless becoming more and more rare. “With a consumption at 20 or 30L/100km we try to be careful at the moment.We enjoy it more with our eyes.

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