Cars and Coffee Group Folsom holds Saturday morning meetups (this one is on Oct. 17) at the El Dorado Hills Town Center, featuring custom cars and their owners from across the Capital Region. (Photos by Steve Martarano)

Photos: Collecting Craze

Local custom vehicle enthusiasts take advantage of pandemic downtime

Back Photo gallery Nov 5, 2020 By Steve Martarano

Shelter-in-place orders this year have given the Capital Region’s custom collectible cars community more time to buy, sell and restore their vehicles.

It afforded Carter Leathers the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a DeLorean sports car made famous in the “Back to the Future” movie trilogy. After her skin-care business in Roseville temporarily closed in March because of COVID-19, Leathers went online from her home in Auburn, regularly browsing auto-selling websites to see if she could make her dream happen. However, her first purchase related to the movie, later in March, was a 1986 Toyota Tacoma similar to one also featured in the movie.

At 14 years old, Carter Leathers toured Universal Studios in Hollywood and posed with this DeLorean from the movie “Back to the Future,” and a dream to own one before she turned 30 began. (Photo courtesy of Carter Leathers)

Leathers, 34, says she’s seen the “Back to the Future” movies “thousands of times,” and was smitten with the DeLorean at age 14 after posing next to one during a Universal Studios tour in Hollywood. Only an estimated 9,000 of the DMC DeLorean sports cars, with its distinctive gull-wing doors, were reportedly manufactured by John DeLorean during its 1981-83 run and the car wasn’t all that popular until it was featured in the original 1985 movie as the character Marty McFly’s time-traveling vessel.

Carter Leathers, 34, this year purchased both a 1981 DMC DeLorean and a 1986 Toyota Tacoma similar to those featured in the movie “Back to the Future.” “I can’t believe it happened in one year,” she says, “but all of sudden, two came along.”

“There wasn’t much else to do so I started looking at auction websites,” Leathers says of those early months in the pandemic. “Everyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with the movie, and they were sending me links.”

On the website Bring a Trailer, Leathers found a 1981 DMC DeLorean in Pleasanton that she says was in “perfect shape” with just 4,500 miles after sitting unused in a garage for decades. Her bid of $45,000 in May made her the owner. “I cried when I won that auction,” says Leathers, who owns several other cars and motorcycles. “I could not believe it. I always wanted one by the time I turned 30, so I almost made it.”

This 1956 Rolls Royce was restored by Brian Moore for a client in 1990, he says, and then Moore bought it back from him four years ago: “A car is the only thing that not only can take you from point A to point B, but it can take you back in time.”

Brian Moore, who has restored older cars in the Sacramento area for 40 years, founded Niello Concours at Serrano with this wife, Michelle, 17 years ago in Gold River.

Brian Moore is restoring a 1962 Series II Bentley he bought at an auction in March. The original owner was Stephen Gaymont, a Hungarian bacteriologist who helped bring yogurt to U.S. markets.

He noticed the pandemic put more people online to buy and sell cars, like he says happened with a Rancho Cordova business he works with, GT Auto Lounge, which has maintained strong sales. “People weren’t traveling and they were at home, looking at the pictures online,” Moore says.

Brian Moore says he’s bringing the Bentley back to its original configuration inside and out, which should be completed in the coming months.

Placerville’s W. Spencer Davies, who runs a film, television and digital production company, inspects a 1971 Triumph Bonneville he restored in 2020. “I’m finally getting all of my automotive pleasure projects done,” he says.

Placerville’s W. Spencer Davies, 27, usually travels the world running a film, television and digital production company but found himself at home due to COVID-19. Davies, who collects and restores cars and vintage motorcycles, spent time this summer restoring a newly purchased 1971 Triumph Bonneville 650. 

Spencer Davies displays his collection of motorcycles at a storage barn in Placerville. From left: Suzuki DRZ 110; 1971 Suzuki TC125 oil-injected two stroke; 2019 Husky FE450; a 1971 Triumph Bonneville 650; and 2016 Kawasaki KX450. He owns nine motorcycles.

Davies says that since the pandemic began, he’s noticed a sharp increase in prices and a lack of imports from countries such as China and Japan. “Demand is high because there are lots of bored people,” he says. “Prices are through the roof.”

Eric Richmond, 44, shows off his 2020 wide body Dodge Charger Scat Pack in Vacaville that he redesigned this year as The Joker car of Batman fame, with lime green reflective pinstripes, airbags, custom Joker tank and engine, with Lamborghini doors arriving shortly. “This is Joker’s car. If Joker were to take a car out, this would be his car.”

Eric Richmond, who works in security in San Ramon, says this is the third Joker car he has built, adding it to a 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 and 2019 Dodge Charger. “I’m known as The Joker (in custom car circles),” he says. “Every car I build is The Joker car.”

Eduardo Ortega, Jr., of Sacramento, with his Mocha Brown 1978 Porsche 911SC Targa next to Cheyenne Randall’s “Lucy and Desi” mural in Midtown Sacramento on Oct. 27. The mural, part of Sacramento’s Wide Open Walls project, is on the building housing Honest Engine Midtown on S Street that recently installed Ortega’s Carrera rear duck tail spoiler.

The fiberglass spoiler was made famous by the legendary 1970s Porsche 911, Eduardo Oretega Jr. says. Ortega, a bridge design engineer with Caltrans, is a member and past president of the Porsche Club of America, Sacramento Valley Region. He’s owned the car for 10 years.

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