WHAT REMAINED OF AN AUSTIN CAR COLLECTION: DICK'S CLASSIC CAR GARAGE
On the day I went to visit Dick’s Classic Car Garage in San Marcos, Texas, the weather weirdly resembled the mood of the visit. Prior to arriving, I had been corresponding with Thom Fortney, Museum Curator, who informed me that the owner of the collection, Richard L. Burdick (better known as Dick), had passed away almost a year prior to my arrival and that most of his collection had already been sold off. That didn’t entirely matter though because what I was able to witness during my tour was nothing short of incredible.
A LEGENDARY COLLECTOR
I may not have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Burdick personally or seeing his collection at it’s prime but, as soon as Mr. Fortney unlocked the main door allowing me in, I instantly knew I was stepping inside the home of a legendary collection. It was eerily quiet, but the presence and quantity of classic, well-kept cars helped to block out the silence. Thom gave me a brief rundown about Mr. Burdick and what remained of the collection before leaving me on my own to tour and shoot for a bit.
As I walked down the aisles, it became quite clear that I didn’t know about most of what I was looking at. Rather than berate myself for not knowing, I realized that I could still get a lot out of the tour by appreciating just how well preserved each vehicle was. And judging by the pictures I took, it’s pretty difficult to argue that most of the cars weren’t in outstanding condition!
Continuing on, it quickly became apparent that Dick liked to collect just about anything, not just cars. Next to most of the cars that were on display sat all sorts of toys, posters, and other automotive memorabilia. Mr. Fortney explained that, in general, Dick was a very sentimental person, and when he started a collection, he usually added anything and everything he could to it.
BUILDING IT UP TO BREAK IT BACK DOWN
Seeing what remained of Mr. Burdick’s collection was saddening, but making my way into the shop was equally as upsetting for me. A space that was originally meant to repair monumental pieces of automotive history to add to his collection was now exclusively designated for reviving and preparing what was left for the auction block. As I finished that thought, the guys successfully revived Dick’s Bentley race car, which both my eyes witnessed and lungs felt.
Continuing to peruse the shop, I walked up to the loft space, which served as a reminder of just how passionate Mr. Burdick was for collecting things. There seemed to be manuals and books neatly organized on shelves for every vehicle he’d ever owned during his lifetime. With all the spare parts I saw scattered around the shop, I knew the guys had a lot of work cut out for them. Lucky for them, it looked like they had every tool and machine they needed to get the job finished.
GOODBYE FOR NOW
Dick’s Classic Car Garage will likely be closed well before anyone reads this piece. Normally, I’m not a person who believes in serendipity, but I do feel fortunate that I was able to see some of Dick Burdick’s car collection before the museum closed. On a more positive note, it’s reassuring to know that, since most of his priceless gems will be heading to auction, they should end up in better homes. It will be the responsibility of new automotive enthusiasts young and old to care for these cars and help preserve automotive history.