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My visit to The Secret Lair of the Gmundmeister

On a recent trip to the Bay Area I stopped in to see the private collection of Jim Barrington, AKA Gmundmeister. It sounds like a pretty grandiose title but as Jim puts it,
“In total, I have owned 5 Gmunds, now just the one.”

Not that Jim is a boaster, far from it. How his collection is housed says a lot about the normal and non-ostentatious manner in which he collects cars. He gave me the address and I had to circle the block several times until behind a non-descript chain link fence I saw Jim waving at me. The building itself is very normal, almost hum-drum compared to the treasures behind its doors.
Jim has a very simple philosophy to collecting,
“I am a “car” guy, but I will admit Porsche’s are my main passion. As a result I have collected over the years all kinds of stuff, including Porsches, some of which I still have and others I have since sold or traded off.”
Where he gets eclectic is the Porsches that he has collected. Jim was one of a few who had the insight to search out those early Porsches, the ones most Porsche guys wanted nothing to do with. He tells it like this,
“I was always interested in the looks of the very early body bumper cars. Back in the late 60’s there were very few guys who had the same interests…I can remember,Vic Skirmants, Bob Raucher and a couple of others who were into these cars, but very few guys were. Skirmants set me up with chassis 057, shortly there after I bought chassis 41 from bill Jackson. I had a German friend who lived in Denmark. He traveled around in the Nordic area and sourced chassis 32, 45 and 50, which I bought or horse traded for. In total, I have owned 5 Gmunds, now just the one.”
If his collecting had stopped there it would be enough to be the envy of almost any Porsche fan but Jim’s collection is all over the place, but he does stick to certain themes.
“I have tended to acquire groups of the same cars because of an interest in a particular model or marque,” says Jim. “Thus the Gmunds, the speedsters, the split window VW collection, the arcane car collection (messershmits, kleinshnitgers, Issetas etc), and Husky motorcycles. Picking a car was more from the heart ( and the pocketbook).”
But this is only the tip of the iceberg, Jim’s other passion in vehicles are of the military kind. He credits his son for this sideroad of the collection.
“The military vehicles were sort of a side light because my son liked off road vehicles ( he owns a bunch of FJ-40 landcruisers). We more or less concluded that bigger was better (and badder), so started getting into the military stuff. The Alvis Spartan tank and halftracks are at his house so you didn’t see them during your visit. First military vehicle was a Mercedes Benz Unimog troop carrier in 1985”, says Jim.
One of the more remarkable things about Jim and his son Brian is that they actually drive the cars, on tracks all over. To most of us it would be terrifying to take a Gmund and haul ass around a track, but these guys are unfazed. Jim waves off the worry this way,
“We have had people suggest that we shouldn’t race the Gmund coupe because of its value. It is one way I enjoy the car, my son’s a good driver and its something we can do together.”
But the real question is with a collection like this one, how do you pick a favorite. Jim narrows it down like this.
“Of my current cars, I have a couple of favorites…the Gmund, a speedster you didn’t see, The T70 Lola and the Chevron B36. I also have a 67 Chevy Nova super sport that I really like…as you can see, I like them all.”
Of course there are also the few that have gotten away over the years.
“Of these cars I wish I still had no 57…it and number 50 are my favorites.”

I was awed by the sights at the secret lair of the Gmundmeister.

–Adam

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One Response

  1. Norm Miller says:

    Adam,

    Thanks for sharing these great tidbits on our passion.

    Norm

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