We often talk about the eccentric collectors out there that horde cars, never selling, only ever buying. There are a lot of mixed feelings about these individuals, but I for one am grateful for them. Without them we wouldn’t have collections like this! John “Hawkeye” Hawkinson, the owner of these cars, was a bit eccentric but he was dedicated to preserving history as best he could. Sadly, he passed away this past July at the age of 83, leaving behind his home and several barns filled with 43 antique vehicles.
One of those vehicles caught the attention of Wayne Carini, who happened to know Hawkeye when he was a kid. Wayne’s father worked for the Packard Motor Car Company where he met and befriended Hawkeye. The car in question is a 1930 Minerva Type AM with a Hibbard and Darrin body. These Belgian built luxury cars are quite impressive and are worth serious money. When Wayne found out about the car and that it was for sale, he had to have it. So he arranged for a visit to Hawkeye’s estate to film an episode about the car and the man behind the collection, which you will be able to watch in a future episode of Chasing Classic Cars on Velocity Channel.
The story of how John came to own the Minerva might be as incredible as the car itself is! He purchased the car from a guy in Connecticut, but he couldn’t afford to buy it all at once, so he started making payments. He made the first payment in 1959, each time he made another payment he brought home another piece of the car. He did that until every last piece of it was safely in his barn, which happened to be in ’74. Talk about perseverance!
While the Minerva is amazing, it wasn’t the only amazing machine that John managed to acquire. He owned several fire engines, tractors, Packards, Buicks, Cadillacs and even a Pierce Arrow or two. I would love to have any of his vehicles, but I wouldn’t mind having one of his Packards or the Minerva. I’m not sure I would put on a fur coat and drive around with the top down in the dead of winter on a frozen lake like he did, but I’m game for trying something at least once!
Things might look a bit dilapidated, but from what Hawkeye’s close friends have stated, his goal was to simply keep these vehicles safe until interest in them increased. He clearly knew one day he would leave this world and the cars would go to new homes, so he left a box of photos, letters and a note in the Minerva to the next owner so that they could find out more about who he was.
I can only imagine how incredible it must have felt to pull open the barn doors and see these cars everyday. If you haven’t ever had the chance to see a prewar luxury car in person, I’d highly recommend it. Compared to today’s cars, they are behemoths that will leave you in awe. As Wayne put it, “You open the door of a barn like that, and you look at it, and, ‘Oh, my God. It’s unbelievable’”. It really is unbelievable!
They weren’t kept in the best of condition or protected as well as they could have been, but there’s no denying that Hawkeye managed to save these cars for future generations to enjoy! If you’d like to read more about John or his collection, you can read more here at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. And if you ever happen to come across a find like this, we sure would love to hear about it!
Photos and Video courtesy of Josh Clement Productions