Event transforms region into a car museum
Doug Zumbach, who owns three vintage sports cars, says the hobby of collecting cars and attending shows has been growing in popularity for the past few years.
The New Canaan resident, a former human resources executive who opened Zumbach’s Coffee in town 21 years ago, said events such as the upcoming New Canaan Historical Society’s “House of Cars” exhibit help burnish a small town’s public profile.
At its recent peak, Zumbach’s own signature event, Caffeine & Carburetors has attracted 800 vehicles to be admired by onlookers.
“About 2 ½ years ago we noticed that cars were coming from longer distances,” Zumbach said of the Caffeine & Carburetors event. “Events like these, whether they be food, arts, shopping or special car events are great for local towns like New Canaan.”
Zumbach plans to attend the exclusive House of Cars: Curated Garage Tour and Gala Celebration to raise funds for the New Canaan Historical Society, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The day-long ticketed event on Saturday, Sept. 12, will give entrants a moving tour of a hand-picked selection of rare cars and motorcycles at garages throughout Fairfield and Westchester counties.
Tickets to the curated car tour are available beginning at $1,500, and tickets to a gala sit-down dinner later in the day at the Collector Car’s Garage in Bedford Hills, New York, are $1,000.
“I assume a lot of those attending will be surprised by the cars that will be shown and that will be great,” Zumbach said. “Some of the cars will be one-offs and they will get to see a wide variety of cars.”
Zumbach purchased the first of three Austin-Healey sports cars he would own from his older brother the late 1960s, a 1960 Mark II. He said driving the car gave him an appreciation of responsiveness and design sophistication of the car compared with other sports cars.
“I liked the nimbleness of them,” Zumbach said. “The muscle cars were full of horsepower, and don’t get me wrong, I liked those to. The (Austin-Healey) is meant to do a lot more than go fast in a straight line.”
Zumbach currently owns a 1977 Porsche 930 and 1972 Porsche 911-T, both of which are in good running order, and is restoring a 1964 Plymouth Fury he found in Staten Island, New York. Zumbach said he searched for a year and a half for the right Porsche 911 and the Plymouth for about six months.
“There are a lot of factors that go into it,” Zumbach said.
Guests at the House of Cars benefit will begin their day at Miller Motor Cars’ Stamford garage with a “Fuel Up Breakfast,” served amid a host of exotic cars, including a Rolls-Royce Wraith, McLaren 650S Spider, Aston Martin V12S, a Ferrari California T and others. Wayne Carini of Velocity Channel’s “Chasing Classic Cars” will be the morning’s host, sharing insights from his experience as a master car restorer and manager of car collections for clients. The dinner event will include an interview with actor Patrick Dempsey, a car enthusiast.
The breakfast will be followed by a curated tour of various private collections of motor cars and motorcycles at private garages throughout the area, followed by the gala.
Proceeds will go toward the often costly projects required to maintain historic buildings at the society’s property at 13 Oenoke Ridge Road, said New Canaan Historical Society Director Janet Lindstrom. A recent restoration and replacement project for windows on the 1772 Hanford Silliman House cost $43,000, she said.
The Rock School building, which dates to 1799, needs a new roof and the society is looking to further interior restorations of the Hanford Silliman house, which the society purchased in 1957.
“They are always unexpected costs of maintaining our buildings and collections,” she said.