The Collier family has a long history with automobiles and motorsport. Using their success in subway and rail car advertising as a springboard, the Colliers would go on to found the car club that would become the SCCA, have great success at Le Mans, and grow one of the most extensive collections of cars, and automotive literature in the world. The Collier Collection and related "Revs Institute" in Naples, Florida, have a world renowned reputation for excellence, and until recently, have been kept under wraps to public visits.
In the mid-1980s, Miles Collier, a third generation sportscar fanatic, flew to the Briggs Cunningham museum in California with the intention of purchasing a few of the cars in the museum. After some negotiation, the entire contents of Cunningham's museum would transfer to Collier's home in Florida. From that day forward, Miles continued to amass an impressive collection of significant racing and road cars.
At one time, the collection was entirely available for public display, but in 1994 they closed their doors. Since that time, the focus of the collection has been on preservation, attempting to dissuade collectors from the restoration of significant historic automobiles. Though the collection has remained accessible to scholars, researchers, students and certain car club members in that time, the public eye has been excluded. [Editor's note: FLATSIXES.com had the good fortune of a private tour a few years back after an introduction made on our behalf by Porsche. At the time, as the collection was still private, we were asked not to publish our visit. We'll do a full write up after our next visit.].
Having developed under the shade of relative solitude, the collection has gradually grown over the last twenty years. Many cars have been added to the roster, some of which are extremely rare and significant. They have also worked diligently to develop their archives and research library, expanding by leaps and bounds.
From a Porsche standpoint, many of the best racing cars from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s are housed in the halls of the Collier collection, from the very first 550 (550-01), to the 1971 Le Mans winning Martini 917 (917-019), and everything in between. The collection houses a 904, a gaggle of 718 derived racers, and nearly every iteration of the "plastic-fantastics" (906, 907, 908, 910, etc.). Having seen a small handful of their cars in person, I can say that this collection is well worth the trip.
General admission tickets are $17 (admission with a docent-provided tour is $20, and highly recommended). All visitors must reserve a specific time and date for their visit, as walk-up visitors can not be accommodated. Visiting hours are from 10am-4pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays only. Plan accordingly, and you're sure to enjoy your visit.
Murray Smith, Motorsport Consultant -
“The automobiles on display at Revs are some of the rarest and most important cars ever built at anytime, anywhere. They are the ones that variously blazed technical pathways, redefined aesthetic standards, made history, and changed the world.”
Scott George, Vice President of The Revs Institute -
“There has been an ever-increasing number of requests for tours of the automobile collection, and we will now be able to accommodate those eager to learn more about the cars we hold in our Naples facility. We hope that increased access to The Revs Institute’s collections will further enhance people’s understanding of the automobile, as one of the most significant creations of the twentieth century.”
Miles C. Collier, President -
“The automobile is, quite simply, the most significant technologic object of the 20th century. Our mission is to create awareness of the automobile’s role, past, present and future, in shaping the modern world. Through the preservation and conservation of important historic automobiles, through the collection of an extensive archive of documents and images, and the assembly of extensive book and periodical libraries, we comprise one of the most comprehensive historical automotive research facilities anywhere. And now, in partnership with Stanford University through the Revs Program at Stanford, we are also building an exciting online database that will allow access to select images and other archival material for the benefit of researchers, students and enthusiasts outside our respective institutions.”
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Feature image courtesy Charles Goolsbee, all others from revsinstitute.org