(Photo above courtesy of Tom Collier Classic Motor Car Company Inc.)
Tom Collier is to classic car sales in Bend what the Chevrolet Corvette is to American muscle cars. At the age of 73, Collier has been in the automotive industry for 55 years. He has been a broker for 23 years and has operated Tom Collier Classic Motor Car Company, Inc. in Bend for the past 20 years. He has shipped classic cars all over the world including Saudi Arabia, France, New Zealand, Hawaii and nearly every state in the continental U.S.
Collier was born into an automotive oriented family. His father took pride in always having a new car in the garage and his grandfather bought 17 luxury cars over the course of 14 years. Collier grew up in a Post-World War II society with a strong emphasis on new vehicles with horsepower, tailfins and chrome. He started solo driving on the family wheat ranch in Eastern Washington when he was just four years old and bought and sold his first vehicle at the age of 12.
“I maintain that my blood will always test 100 octane,” Collier said. “True classic cars to me are of the late 20s, 30s and 40s. The many upscale brands were all individual in their styling, features and powertrains. I consider many of these cars to be rolling objects of art in metal and paint. The coachwork was superior and engines ran with a cathedral hush.”
Aside from the Tom Collier Classic Motor Car license plate frames adorning vehicles he’s sold, the majority of his business is based purely upon reputation.
“Over 98 percent of my business is to repeat and referral clients. I’ve worked with some of my clients for over 40 years. I sold 42 upscale vehicles to one client in 30 years,” Collier said.
With his passion for luxury vehicles, Collier has carved out a niche of selling high end vehicles and his ability to honorably conduct business in a fun but professional manner has earned him the trust and loyalty of his clientele.
Collier’s career began in February 1963 when he was tasked with washing vehicles at a dealership in Pullman, Washington. He began selling Chevrolets in Spokane at the age of 22 and after earning a bachelor of arts in business from Washington State University in 1967 he continued selling cars.
The flyer Collier hands to perspective clients advertises his company as, “Offering a pleasant and professional alternative to the method new and used vehicles are traditionally purchased and leased.”
Collier is as classic as the cars he sells. He wears a suit and tie every day and stays committed to the principles of his old fashioned upbringing which includes respect for others and maintaining professionalism. Every year he sends out 300-400 hand written Christmas cards to friends and clients. When a woman purchases a car from Collier there is always a dozen roses resting in the front seat.
Collier’s most life changing decision was declining an appointment to West Point to pursue his goals in the automotive industry. It was the regimentation and rules that was least appealing about the offer. Coincidentally, Collier learned a military-like discipline in his four and a half years working for Ford Division-Ford Motor Company that structures the way he conducts business to this day.
Collier simply loves collecting and sharing his passion for classic cars. His personal collection includes the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air that he drove during college, a 2006 GT 200 Vespa scooter with 982 miles and an original 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood ‘75 limousine previously owned by Gilchrist Timber Company.
Collier’s many accomplishments over the years include becoming Oregon Independent Automobile Dealer’s “Quality Dealer of the Year” for the state of Oregon 2002-2003. He has been involved with several organizations including Bend Chamber of Commerce and has been a member of the Rotary Club of Bend for 43 years.
The ability to contribute to the community is Collier’s proudest accomplishment. He has served on many boards and capital campaigns and has provided supplies for local schools every year for 19 years. He was named the 2018 Community Partner of the Year by Klamath Falls City Schools for his commitment to providing school supplies for students and teachers.
“Having been able to honestly and honorably serve the automotive needs of my many friends and clients, this business has afforded me the opportunity to do good things in the community such as providing the Steinway grand piano for the Tower Theatre in 2004,” Collier said.
In his spare time, Collier has a collection of ten special interest vehicles and a collection of luxury writing instruments. He is involved in real estate investments and owns a 70-acre ten megawatt solar farm east of Bend.
“You only go through this life one time so you should have fun doing it,” Collier said. “This business is fun and I’ve enjoyed doing nice things for people. I have done what I wanted to do and I would do it all over again. It’s been a really fun ride. I do not have any plans for retirement as I thoroughly enjoy working with my clientele.”
Tom Collier Classic Motor Car Company, Inc.
1183 NW Wall St. E • Bend, OR 97701