Tammy Allen car collector interview: 'Women shouldn't be afraid to go to auctions and look at cars'
After months of mystery, we finally chat to collector Tammy Allen about her incredible new car museum
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"Extravagant", "elusive", and "mysterious" are all words that have been used to describe the car collector Tammy Allen. And we've certainly found that to be the case at Paul Fraser Collectibles, ever since Ms Allen emerged as the world's #6 top Google search in August of last year...
The thing is, we couldn't find out a great deal about her at the time. And the mysteries continued as Tammy appeared again and again at high-profile car auctions, demonstrating a great taste for stylish automobiles - particularly US muscle cars like classic Dodge Vipers.
But even hardcore Dodge Viper fans were nonplussed... As one forum poster wrote: "Anyone know who this Tammy Allen chick is? Man, she's buying up cars like Ron Pratte!" (Pratte being the elusive rich Arizonan businessman and big-money car collector who refused all media interviews.)
Tammy Allen photographed with
At the same time, tentative rumours circulated about Allen's plans... These included that she was planning to set up a car rental business somewhere in the US, or perhaps even a museum devoted to her growing car collection.
Fast-forward to the present day and the build-up of hype has passed to reveal that Tammy Allen has, in fact, been compiling one of the world's top classic car collections. Even better, the rumours about her car museum and rental business were all true.
So, to put the mysteries surrounding Tammy Allen to bed once and for all, Paul Fraser Collectibles decided to get in touch with Ms Allen for an interview. Here, Tammy chats to us exclusively about the Allen Car Museum, her love of Dodge Vipers, and reveals her other rather unusual collecting hobby...
PFC: Hi Tammy. You have been very talked about among car collectors over the past year or so. How did you first get into car collecting?
Tammy Allen: Well, my Dad always had nice cars. We followed the oil field because he was a welder and he always kept his cars immaculate. And then, as he got older, he started collecting cars because he was always like, "Oh look at that car!"
So that's what got me started in looking at cars, and I have just always liked them. After my older kids were raised, I thought: 'Well, I'm gonna really start doing this and collecting cars.' I started going to Barrett-Jackson and it went from there to a crazy obsession.
One thing I do want to say is: I just want women to know that there are a lot of women who are interested in cars. It's such a man's world, it can be kind of scary or intimidating to get into. But it's really a lot of fun. I want them to know that, so that they're not afraid to go out and go to auctions and look at cars.
Many collectors keep their extensive collections in private garages. What made you decide to form a car museum?
Because I'd bought quite a few and people kept asking me to see them. At the time, I had them in an airplane hangar out by [Colorado] airport. I went to a few car shows and stuff, and I really liked the cars and everybody in the car industry. Everybody I met was really nice and accepting.
And I just watched people at car shows, families, kids... I want younger kids to see automobiles, and the classic ones and really appreciate the automobile industry. I just thought: 'Y'know, I should open a museum and people can come and see it when they want.'
We had the Girl Scouts here. They brought their grandpas and dads instead of their moms - it was a real bonding thing. Y'know, like, "I'd like to have that car!" So I just want them to know that girls can do those kinds of things with cars.
The Wasabi Mercury, painted in Johnny Vegas's five stage Candy Pearl custom mix
Have you encountered any problems as a female car collector, or has the collecting community been welcoming?
Everyone's been really nice - everybody. I haven't really had one bad experience. They've all been really welcoming and, in fact, they kind of enjoy it.
Johnny Vegas, who painted the Wasabi Mercury [in a five stage Candy Pearl custom mix called "Wasabi"] that I got at the last Barrett-Jackson, he painted some high-heeled shoes to match the car for me.
And he said it was really fun because there are not that many girls buying cars and collecting cars.
Are the shoes going to be shown in the museum?
Yeah, they're in front of the car right now. And then he did me two pairs in that green colour, and one of them he did the fading paint job like Gene Winfield [legendary car customiser] does! So that was nice. And then inside it, on the sole of the shoe, it matches the interior of my car. It's like a white pearl colour.
Looking back at the January sale at Barrett-Jackson, you also bought the President John F Kennedy ambulance [believed to have carried him after his assassination in 1964]. Why did you decide to buy it?
Well, Barrett-Jackson usually send you a book before you go. I looked in there and I saw that. And I've always been interested in the Kennedys and everything that goes with them - it was like Camelot or the American Royalty.
I just thought it was an interesting piece that it would be so nice. JFK was here [in Colorado] in, like, '59 and said he really liked the sunsets. I just felt it was a neat place for it [the ambulance] to end up. And I wanted it to go in a museum so it would get a lot of respect. It's interesting on its own, even if it wasn't [the ambulance that] supposedly carried JFK's body.
Classic cars aren't a girl's only
I have a Plymouth Gran Fury, a Chief of Police car and all that, so I like interesting cars. Somebody sent me a picture of the hearse that I guess brought JFK to the graveside. But I never really checked into that too much. I'm busy trying to get all my cars in here [the Allen Car Museum] and arrange them.
Something like the JFK ambulance will likely always be of interest to museums and historians... Along those lines, would you recommend classic cars as an investment?
Yes I would. I mean, the market went down a little bit. But I think that they [buyers] will always be interested because they just don't make them like that anymore.
Are there any other celebrity-related cars that you would like to own?
Yeah, I'm always interested in them, all different kinds. But I'd like to get something that maybe Marilyn Monroe had.
I have Nicholas Cage's Rolls-Royce, and Zsa Zsa Gabor's [1979 dark green Silver Shadow] Rolls-Royce, and Evel Knievel's Mercedes. I have the Sonny and Cher cars [a pair of 1966 Mustangs built by legendary customiser George Barris' team].
I like cars where the stories are fun, but I like all kinds of different cars. I always get asked the question: "Do you have a special favourite or anything?" And, y'know, I just like them all for different reasons.
And I love memorabilia, too. So I try to collect some of that to go in my museum with the cars.
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Images: Barrett-Jackson and other images courtesy of Tammy Allen