This man is selling 200 of the coolest cars ever made. You can buy one.
Over the past 22 years, Bruce Weiner has amassed the world's largest collection of the world's smallest cars. Next week, on Feb 15 and 16, he's auctioning off almost every single one of them. And Bruce Weiner isn't the least bit sad about that at all.
Oh, he also has a bunch of deadly chewing gum from 1850 just sitting around
All that's probably a lot to process, so let's start from the beginning. 52-year-old Bruce is a serial collector. In an age when people whose freezers are overloaded with dead cats get their own A&E show, Bruce is unequivocally not a hoarder. He draws a very thick line not made of dead cats between "true collectors" -- people like himself who gain a uniquely deep and nuanced understanding of a given thing, then devote themselves to acquiring only the finest examples -- and "accumulators", who "don't really know what they're buying, and don't get the history behind it."
But for 22 years, the thing that distracted him most from maybe-deadly candy was microcars, tiny vehicles mostly made in post-WWII Europe that technically should adhere to all sorts of varying standards (1 cylinder engine under 500cc, two seats max, etc), but can actually be defined by just one: the ability to cause gawking bystanders to ask "pardon me sir, but was this vehicle formerly owned by one Steven Urkel?
"Through a literature dealer friend of mine in Germany, I found out about a guy in Bavaria who was in his 60s and lived on a farm -- no phone, no communications. I would go to Germany about every three months because I had a gum factory there, and every time I went I'd take a side trip to Bavaria to try and see this guy. Well it took a year for him to finally answer the door. When he did, he answered it with an IV pole in one hand, and a German Shepherd in the other, and was wearing a big Glad garbage bag around his waist. Of course there were empty liquor and beer bottles everywhere. He said 'what do you want, what are you doing here, get off my property.' So I left
This went on for a number of years, and I kept going back four or five times a year. Eventually, he answered the door with a shotgun. No more German Shepherd, now he answers it with a shotgun. He let me in because he saw I wasn't going away, and we talked, and talked, and I listened to him tell stories about gathering 200 cars over about a 10-year period in the 50s and just sticking them in his barn. But he had six microcars in there, two of which were extremely rare. So after six years -- six years -- of negotiating with him, we finally come to terms on two cars.
And then he dies
So I go to the town, and I lie and say 'he owes me money, can you tell me who he has registered as next of kin?' He'd never been married, and the people in the village never heard of any relatives. So someone in town tells me he has a living sister with a different last name. I tracked her down on the Internet, it took six months. I get her on the phone, and she's screaming and yelling at me -- why am I calling her, who are you, what do you know about my brother, when did you last see him, and just went on and on. And then she wouldn't talk to me after that
So I send her a huge care package of bubble gum, because at the time I owned Double Bubble. I disarmed her. And she calls me to thank me for the bubble gum, and how sweet it was, and she was never married, and never had kids, and I was the only person who ever sent her anything in her whole life. So we started talking for about a year, until she finally said ok, let's do this. I sent her the money after we decided what the cars were worth. It took me about another year to get the cars out of there, because the barn floors were collapsed, and you couldn't come in winter, and you couldn't come in spring, it was too wet. We had to get hydraulic jacks to come in and lift the floor up. And eventually, I got in there, and got the two cars."
Who needs the actual cars when you have stories like that
Oh right, you do. So here's a look at five of the finest examples you can bid on (including over the World Wide Net... just click here and scroll down to see how) at next week's auction