In light of Swedish Motors' 40th Anniversary, we sat down with Rich Kushner to talk about the Classic Car Museum.
How did you begin your classic car collection?
I just had a love of cars and started purchasing customer cars that I liked. Then in 1989 a TVR dealer in Maryland went out of business so I purchased his remaining inventory over the period of a few years. I saw it as an opportunity and then just kept buying things I liked and it's grown to this collection.
Do you think it's a good investment to buy a classic car? Why?
Definitely, a good investment because those particular vehicles increase in value whereas the new car that you buy today from a dealer decreases in value.
What vehicle in your collection is your most beloved?
1962 Austin Healy 3000, bought in 1971.
Which is the most unique?
1977 Saab 99 Turbo - prototype, test car. Saab sent 40 of this model, 36 of which were 3 door cars (2 doors and a hatch), and 4, 2 door cars with a trunk. It still has the factory logbook and all documentation from when the car was new. This car was given to Saab factory reps to travel the country with and show the Saab dealers what the 1978 first turbocharged passenger car for production use would be like. This is a historical vehicle and this is the only one left known in existence in showroom condition.
How many cars are featured?
There are currently 18-20 cars featured, but it is an ever-rotating collection.
Are they all for sale?
Yes, kind of. There are some favorites that I don't want to give up, however, if the price is right, everything is for sale. My wife is insisting that we downsize only because we are out of storage space. Prices have increased so it is a little more difficult to buy to refurbish and re-sell. Everyone thinks that their rusty classic that has been sitting behind their garage is worth more than it is. It is best to buy something that has already been restored or slightly blemished (more valuable because they are unique).
Are there any classics you've sold that have become famous in any way?
A DeLorean and a 1972 Saab 9-8 both were purchased and are currently in museums.
A 1958 Volvo 544 Station Wagon that was featured at the International Car Show in NY and now located in Volvo North America's US Car museum.
The President of Volvo North America bought a car out of San Diego a 1967 Volvo 122 Station Wagon and had it shipped to Swedish Motors where we did some engine mods, accessories, etc. for him.
A Saab 1980 99 Turbo Rally - in the late 80s he raced in the US and Canada pro rally series, was purchased by a man from Sweden, and now is in a museum in Belgium.
Do they sell locally?
Rarely, some people will fly in to pick up their cars and drive them home, but mostly we ship them throughout the US and Internationally. Most recently we have shipped them to Ukraine, California, and Arizona, most of the time sight unseen. Our reputation withholds it's self, they trust us that they are buying a quality car.
What is the farthest you have shipped a classic car?
A 1966 Volvo 122 Amazon Station Wagon that we shipped to Japan 15 years ago.
How do you pick replacements?
I typically buy Saab and Volvo because that is what I know best, but we currently have 2 French Citroens. I buy cars that I like and can enjoy. People call me when they know someone that has a car through his network. Racing contacts have lingered so I communicate with them and they know what I have, what I do, and what I am looking for.
What is going on right now with the classic car market?
In the past year or two, more people are spending time behind their computers, less time going out due to the times, investing their money into vehicles because they can look at them, enjoy them and drive them with their families.
Exotic cars have been breaking records by selling in the millions, especially those owned by more prominent people (actors, politicians, etc.)