From a vintage British roadster to a plain old Taurus wagon, John Leach loves ‘em all.
There’s a certain commonality that can be found among automobile collectors.
They have a tendency to focus on a certain make, (vintage Corvette Stingrays, for example), or a certain period in time (like Oldsmobiles from the 20s or Chevys from the 50s).
John Leach bucks that trend.
The retired homebuilder from Joliet has a vast collection of cars that is eclectic, to say the least.
His diverse automotive fleet includes Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals, Audis and Alpha Romeos, Maseratis and a Porsche, Jaguars and Rolls Royces; and Leach is equally fond of them all.
In fact, Leach proudly places his 1988 Ford Taurus wagon – about as common a vehicle as one could imagine – among the favorites in his collection.
Car collectors, as a rule, obtain vintage autos for a number of reasons They can range from collecting cars as an investment, to a desire to own a piece of a bygone era.
Leach’s motivation behind acquiring a vehicle is more intrinsic that all that, and his criteria is simple. Why does he decide to choose and pick up a particular vehicle?
“Because I like them,” he answers bluntly.
Rest assured, though, that Leach’s proclivity to gather automobiles is not going to make him the subject of an episode of Hoarders on the A & E network.
Last year, he pared down his collection by selling 16 of his vintage vehicles.
That said, his current fleet is not without its gems.
There’s a 1954 Jaguar XK 120. With its alloy cylinder head, twin side-draft dual overhead-cam 3.4-liter straight-6 engine, this car was ahead of its time when it rolled o ff the line.
Leach also owns a rare 1996 Panther. The Panther is a product of a Panther Westwinds, a British company that had a run of success designing and manufacturing retro-styled cars based on the mechanical components of standard production cars from other manufacturers.
Leach’s enthusiasm is contained to the British Isles. His French made 1972 Citroen SM was voted Motor Trend Car of the Year award in the U.S. that year.
He owns two Maserati Spiders, as well as a Maserati coupe. Yet, just when you slot Leach as a high-performance sports car enthusiast, he will throw you a curve by pointing out that he also owns three Volkswagen Beetles.
Some of his vehicles have a multi-cultural, international flavor.
While it’s common, nowadays, for domestic cars to be built on the platform of foreign cars and vice versa, it was far less common in the 1950s when Facel of France introduced the Vega HK500; a car that used a Chrysler V-8 engine, could go from zero to 60 in less than ten seconds and had a top speed of nearly 120 mph.
Leach owns two Facels, Leach also has an “Americanized” Austin. It’s a British car rebuilt with American components, and that’s something a vintage auto aficionado might frown on.
There’s also a facet of Leach’s car collection that might also have other collectors gasping. Not only does he own this wide selection of cars…Leach actually drives them all.
“It gets a little pricey,” Leach understates. “Especially with the insurance and plating, but…I like them.”
It must be concluded that any our of his cars that he drives on the road is the automotive equivalent of the mother lode.
Written by Dan Pelton