Santa Fe New Mexican – His grandfather was a construction contractor and his father worked on Wall Street, so ask Tom Linton where he gets the bug for vintage cars — especially Porsches — and he just shrugs.
At age 9, Linton was already making model cars and tinkering in the family garage. After earning a fine arts degree from Cornell University, Linton started racing sports cars and restoring vintage vehicles, including a 1975 Porsche Carrera that he restored, raced and then sold to Jerry Seinfeld in 2005.
“I know Jerry’s car guy. I called him and said, ‘Jerry should have this in his collection.’ So we made a deal,” Linton said.
For the last 18 years, Linton has been known in Santa Fe as the car-storage guy, as he has built and managed the only secure storage area for vintage cars in town. The units are gated, alarmed and have lights and electricity so owners can keep vehicles charged and ready to drive.
Last week, he broke ground on his newest building on Mallard Way, behind the Tractor Supply store on Airport Road. It will feature a spot — already leased — for a rock ’n’ roll-type traveling tour bus. The expansion comes at a time when all his existing units are full and, for the first time in 18 years, there is a waiting list.
“Everything is full, this is a banner year,” Linton said. “The car culture is growing in Santa Fe. They’re moving here, and I’m meeting them.”
Linton, 60, first came to New Mexico on a family ski trip to Taos in his mid-20s. He had graduated from college and was restoring cars in Los Angeles.
When he relocated to Santa Fe, he got into the business of restoring Porsches, but there wasn’t any place dry and secure to store the vehicles.
“I was working as a mechanic, I had four cars in a two-car-garage. I thought, ‘There have to be other guys in Santa Fe that have this situation.’ ”
He incorporated Collector Cars of Santa Fe in 1998 with 26 units of storage. In 2005, he expanded to an adjacent parcel with 18 units that were taller and could fit a vehicle lift so one unit could store two vehicles.
The building now under construction will be slightly different. In addition to the tour bus, the facility will have six storage units for 12 cars. There also will be five office warehouses, which can accommodate those who want to work on car restorations or other industrial-type businesses.
A unit with two vehicles stored — one on top of the other with a lift — costs $300 a month at Collector Cars. A regular unit for one vehicle is $180 a month. One of Linton’s customers lives in New Orleans but is a part-time Santa Fe resident and has 10 cars stored with Collector Cars.
“People that live here with very nice cars can actually drive them,” Linton said. “You go to Dallas or L.A., it’s just concrete.”
The new building will keep with the heavy industrial look of the street, with neighbors including Cartwright’s Plumbing, Heads Up Landscaping and IT Connect.
Sarcon Construction is handling construction, which is expected to take about six months.
Contact Bruce Krasnow at email@example.com.
Collector Cars of Santa Fe
Address: 7508 Avenger Way and 7515 Mallard Way