The warm sun of Palm Beach glistened off the hoods of many multi colored classics like jewels. The Breakers Hotel’s parking lot was transformed into a treasure chest for car enthusiasts and attending guests. Everyone was excited to see the classic American beauties in a relaxed, congenial environment.
My friend John Shibles from Ocean Ridge, Fla. and Sea Girt, New Jersey began collecting cars in the 1960s. His late wife encouraged him to collect cars as a hobby after fruitless forays at painting, golf and tennis.
John worked his way through college and started buying problem properties and properties with difficult to ascertain titles. At one point his real estate portfolio had 17 Home Depots. He uses the skills he acquired in real estate to find the history and provenance of the cars he purchases.
He prides in acquiring rare cars and finding out the history behind each and every one. He keeps in touch with the heirs, cousins and nephews of his cars. More importantly, six out of John’s 13 cars have been invited to the prestigious Pebble Beach Classic Car Show.
‘The Garage’ is how John affectionately refers to his museum that houses his prized cars. Visitors are welcomed.
When John enters his car museum, he says, “Hello kids!” to his 13 cars that he has named.
All the cars were named by John:
“Coco” A 1924 Renault
“Dick” 1933 Pierce Arrow Sports Coupe
“Lipstick” 1939 Laconde Coupe
“Pierre” 1938 Bugati Teal Type 57c
“Buttercup”1932 Muntz Jet
“Murph” 1929 Duesenberg
“Abe’ 1933 Lincoln
‘Michelle Ma Belle’1947 Targo Lago
‘Earle’ 1933 Packard 12 Roadster
‘Bella Via’ 1929 Tsotta Franschini
‘Woody’ 1939 Ford Woody
‘My Latte’ 1935 Auburn
And the last car was a big surprise for Jill. He bought her a 1935 Auburn Boat Tail Roadster.
He doesn’t play favorites and takes excellent care of his car family. He maintains a full time mechanic to look after them so he can use them.
“What good is having cars you can’t ride? ” he asks. “Classics are built to be driven!”
Jill came in second place in her category with the Auburn Boat Tail Roadster. Her Auburn lost points because the convertible top was not closed.
Every December 26, John has a holiday party at his Classic Car Museum in Sea Girt, New Jersey to put away the Christmas tree and decorations. Several years ago, Jill was invited to the party by a mutual friend. She left her reading glasses in the case with her business card. John phoned Jill and the romance began.
Jill learned all about cars since she was four years old from her older brother Dr. Craig Zarelli. He encouraged her to identify all the cars on road trips. She had learned how to drive with a clutch in High School on a FIAT sports car and in college on a colleague’s old car.
John was taken by Jill’s pizazz, classic beauty, and that unlike other women she could drive his cars with confidence and ease.
John and Jill were married with their families during the height of COVID-19 in October 2020. John loves being with his two sons and his grandkids, his friends and above all, John loves seeing Jill happy.