Written by Barbara Toombs
To Miles Collier, the automobile is far, far more than a mode of transportation. It is an invention that has profoundly contributed to our culture and history; a powerful and influential cultural icon that became an agent of change and human progress.
Collier knows a thing or two about automobiles. He was born into an American automotive dynasty, with his father Miles and uncle Sam credited with introducing sports car racing to the United States during the 1930s. A retired business executive, Collier is an artist, investor, philanthropist – and a noted authority on vintage automobiles. He spent the better part of a decade racing in an E-Production Porsche Speedster as well as behind the wheel of other vintage automobiles.
In 1986, Collier acquired the Cunningham Museum collection, which included the first Ferrari racing car ever sold in the United States and one of six Bugatti Royales ever produced. Now known as the Collier Collection, it consists of more than 100 automobiles manufactured between 1896 and 1995, each thoughtfully curated for their rarity and historical significance. Attended to by a staff of full-time restoration technicians, these meticulously selected pieces of automotive history are still operational, frequently demonstrating their engineering prowess on racetracks and roadways all over the world.
The incredible Collier Collection is now an important element of The Revs Institute in Naples, Florida, which was founded by Miles Collier in 2009 to serve as a physical and virtual resource for the study of the past, present and future of the automobile. It serves as a haven for scholars, preservationists and passionate connoisseurs of automotive history.
Of course, the vehicles in the collection – which blazed technical pathways, redefined aesthetic standards and made history – provide an incredible resource for study, but The Revs Institute is also one of the leading repositories of historical automotive documents, photographs and other related objects of significance in the automotive world. The treasure trove is almost unimaginable, including original letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photo albums, engineering drawings and corporate documents gathered from organizations and individuals who have left their marks on automotive history and the spectacle of motor sport. “The objects here are a testament to all that’s great in the human mind and spirit,” says Collier.
The Revs Institute’s mission of scholarly study was given a huge boost in 2011 when it acquired the library of Karl Ludvigsen, a former General Motors consultant and past editor of Car and Driver and Motor Trend magazines, who had assembled more than 7,000 automotive books, 300,000 photos and hundreds of research files. Researchers with an interest supported by the collection can apply for access, which is available by appointment only.
The general public, however, can visit The Revs Institute’s museum housing the incomparable Collier Collection, although tickets must be purchased in advance for specific dates and times. The Institute is housed in a three-story, 80,000-square-foot building, best explored through a guided tour led by a docent. The tours take a minimum of two hours and can be tailored to visitors’ particular interests.
The vehicles are displayed in four distinct exhibit areas: Automobility (automobiles that shaped the 20th century), Vitesse (the evolution of high-performance auto racing), Porsche (focusing on the marque’s 30 years of innovation) and Revs (paying homage to the racing men who shaped the world of auto sport). Expect an incredible experience, as the automobiles are displayed free of protective barriers, allowing you to stand toe to tire with everything from the collection’s oldest vehicle – a Panhard et Lavassor Wagnonette – to Gary Cooper’s short-chassis 1935 Duesenberg SSJ.
For more information, visit RevsInstitute.org.
Plan to visit The Revs Institute’s Collier Collection just before or after the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction! For a look at the collector cars on the 2018 Palm Beach docket, click HERE.