Day Family Classic Cars Museum about to take off in California
It was 1960 when Diane Day walked into a hopping hamburger stand in Norwalk to buy a Coke, leaving her father's 1957 black and white Ford Fairlane parked outside of Scott's Drive-In. She returned to find a man sitting in the driver's seat.
Tom Day had seen the young blonde walk in front of his car and wanted to meet her. Apparently, the trick worked.
He picked the right car, and the right woman, and the right time. He has remained in the driver's seat ever since, they joke.
Fifty-one years later, at age 68, with three children, eight grandchildren, and about 100 classic cars, the Corona couple expects to finish the Day Family Classic Cars museum in Corona on Wardlow Road in about three weeks. The museum transports visitors to an earlier time with scenes from the 1920s to a rural mustang corral for Ford Mustangs and a Vets Vetts area with Corvettes honoring veterans.
Glistening Ford Galaxies from the 1950s and Mustangs from the '60s, along with other classic cars blanket the inside of a 33,000-square-foot building built by the Days specifically for the museum. Walls are covered with scenes from Mayberry, the fictional town portrayed in "The Andy Griffith Show," and Floyd's Barber Shop sits nearby shiny red gas pumps at Wally's Service Station.
Next door is a replica of the drive-in where the Days met and a few feet away is Gage Drive-In theater, the South Gate drive-in where they had their first date.
A pile of Lucille Ball Hollywood memorabilia and an autographed Shaquille O'Neal basketball sit a few car-lengths away from a 1929 speakeasy modeled after the bar near where the famous St. Valentine's Day massacre happened.
"I was born to live in the '40s and '50s," Diane Day said, who is the real person behind amassing about 100 cars over about seven years, with an invested value of about $4.9 million, and some costing as much as $220,000. "I just love old cars."
Diane Day said it started with a 1957 Chevy her husband sold for a newer 1963 Pontiac LeMans shortly after the pair married. She never forgot it and always missed it.
"That broke my heart," Day said.
For the last several months the Days manage the museum full-time.
Family members and hired professionals erect mannequins, fix electrical wiring, lay carpet and drive in cars from two other warehouses.
The pair own a Corona aerospace testing equipment company, Eclypse International Corp., and investment properties.
Each grandchild in the Day family receives a car when they receive their driver's license. And the museum is a family inheritance. Their eldest son has already started his own collection.
The museum's first fundraiser is scheduled for June 22 to raise money for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation that provides support and strives for a cure to paralysis. The Days expect to open the museum to the public by July 1 for two days a week and on weekends, Tom Day said.
Bruce Ward, director of the Riverside International Automotive Museum, says he is eager to have another museum open in the Inland area where there are relatively few.
His museum displays about 50 cars and focuses on the famous racetrack, the former Riverside International Raceway.
"I think it's terrific. That's the great thing about museum people. We do what we can to advertise and support other museums," Ward said.
His museum sees anywhere from a dozen to 300 people a week and is located in an industrial area off Iowa Avenue in Riverside.
Source: The Press Enterprise