In reality the Ramshead Automobile Collection began many years ago in the playroom of John White’s boyhood home in Garden City, New York. On the shelves, neatly parked and forever on display, were literally hundreds of toy cars – many from Corgi of England, Schucco of Germany, Marx and Wyandotte from the USA and a few marked “made in Japan.” Nearly everyday the cars would spring to life and be “driven” around the playroom floor complete with the sounds of “vroom vroom.” The cars never were in any kind of accident. In fact, they were perfectly cared for while other toys were ignored. Every evening they were parked in perfect order when the call came to “close your garage and come for supper.”
John’s father came home each evening, mostly in a different new car. His father was a Dodge dealer in New York City– a perfect occupation for the dad of a kid that loved cars. When he was old enough, on special days, John would be taken to the dealership and left alone to inspect the new and used cars and the service department.
After that John walked “auto row” and collected auto brochures from other dealers. Many of those brochures he still has today and serve as excellent reference material.On his 13th birthday, John received an English bike, which served the important service of transporting him to dealerships in nearby suburban towns. This was especially important in the late summer and early fall when the new models were being delivered to dealerships. It was the custom then to enhance public suspense by hiding the new cars in the back lot until new car announcement day, but that was no match to a curious car loving kid on a bicycle. Dealers even soaped up their showroom windows so people could not see the new cars until the big day.
Later, at 16, John got his first real car – a 1948 Triumph, an old English trade-in to the dealership that nobody wanted. The purpose of this was to serve as a car to learn to work on. It was soon determined that John had absolutely no aptitude for working on a car. A mechanic was called to put the Triumph back together and take it away. Since service was out of the question, John’s father found work for him on the used car lot working summers detailing cars. One of the older men told him to always check under the seats of a trade in because there were often coins that had fallen from people’s pockets. He was right, and that coin cash supplemented John’s 75 cents-an-hour salary.
Eighteen came quickly and John drove many new and used cars from the dealership from a ’36 Dodge parts chaser to a brand-new ’58 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer D 500. Imports became more popular and the dealership took on Triumph. A one-year-old ’59 Triumph was traded in and he was able to purchase it for $1,700.00.
By now the 75 cents-an-hour went to a per car detail charge of $5.00. In the summer of 1960, he paid off his Triumph in full. He kept that car all through college. College led to the service. Service led to a career in sales. The sales career ended all the boyish car activity. It was time to get serious – or was it?
Along came a ’49 Cadillac Convertible in 1966, and he could buy it for fifty bucks. The fifty bucks was plunked down immediately. The Cadillac was kept until ’71 when he needed money to put down on a house in East Sacramento. The Cadillac was sold for $1,500.
Although Hemming’s was read religiously each month, a dry spell occurred until 1978 when a ’41 Cadillac Convertible was purchased. That car has seen many others come and go and is still in The Ramshead Automobile Collection today as the collection has jumped to more than 25 vehicles.Oh, where did the Ramshead name come from? From a bar called The Ramshead in Bermuda back in the 80’s. Many drinks were consumed that day. The subject was “we need a name for the collection like the one just named in the Bay Area called Blackhawk.”