POMPANO BEACH — Shortly afterwards Thomas Eichloff came to America, he absent aggregate — except his admired car, a 1978 amber and biscuit Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Collector Edition.
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That was aback in 1984.
To accomplish ends meet, Eichloff took a job at Sonny’s Carwash on South Federal Highway.
But he’s not abrasion cars anymore — he’s affairs them.
As the buyer of Sunshine State’s Convertible Heaven at 1380 S. Federal Highway, Eichloff has added than 140 alien cars for sale, account about $2.5 million.
“World’s better accumulating of convertibles and aboriginal low-mileage archetypal and aged cars” is how Eichoff describes his business.
“In 1984, I invested in a restaurant and biking bureau and absent all my money. Again in 1986, I bankrupt cars at Sonny’s,” Eichloff says in a blubbery German accent.
Eichloff, 44, a built-in of Berlin, opened the business in 1987. While alive at Sonny’s, he got the abstraction to advertise specialty cars.
“Cars were my amusement in Germany. I accumulating alone American cars over there,” he says. “I alleged my mother in Berlin to abode a baby advertisement about affairs your dream car in America. Again bodies beatific me money and I looked for a car for them. That’s how I started.”
He knew others in his built-in country aggregate his adulation of American cars, so he absitively to tap that market.
In six years, Eichloff has congenital a advancing consign business, affairs best of his cars to Europeans, mainly Germans.
Because across barter acquirement cars by buzz and never see the cars afore they buy them, Eichloff makes his own videos of the cars and mails about 25 a ages to -to-be buyers. The camera pans 1970s Lincoln Continentals and Cadillac Eldorados, and added archetypal and aged convertibles from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.
In amid car viewings, barter are advised to snippets of boats canoeing Fort Lauderdale waterways and American flags aerial in the breeze.
Germans “love American convertibles. It’s a cachet attribute to them,” Eichloff says.
He says he opened the business because he admired his American car so abundant that “really, I was abashed that the (1978 Eldorado) would get 100,000 afar and I wouldn’t be able to alter it.”
To ensure adjoin that possibility, he has for auction seven Eldorado Biarritz Collector Editions that advertise for $35,000 and up.
“Europeans like those Eldorados because they’re big and flashy. Very impressive,” says William H. Smith, controlling administrator of the Aged Automobile Club of America.
The club, based in Hershey, Pa., has about 53,000 members, including about 4,000 Europeans, Smith says.
Eichloff’s allure with Cadillacs is evident. Almost one-third of his account is adherent to Eldorados fabricated in the ’70s, best of them 1976 convertibles.
Eichloff still drives a ’78 Caddy identical to the one he accumulating in Germany, but this one has alone 4,200 afar on it.
Some added aged and archetypal cars for auction include: a 1933 Packard Victoria Super 8 Convertible, for $145,000; a 1967 Corvette Big Block Roadster, for $65,000; and a 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible, with a mural of James Dean corrective on the back, for $42,000.
In accession to specializing in American classics, Eichloff says he runs the alone accustomed Stutz Motor Car dealership in America. Stutz makes the allegorical Bearcats — rare, hand-crafted cars fabricated in Torino, Italy. Alone a few are fabricated anniversary year.
Because he has so abounding cars, Eichloff keeps abounding of them in barn accolade a few afar abroad from the showroom.
Eichloff and sales administrator Rex Pace, 31, run the specialty car dealership. Pace gets the cars from collectors or acreage sales, mostly in the Midwest, again Eichloff sells them. Sales absolute about $1 actor a year and Eichloff says he makes a accumulation of 10 to 15 percent on anniversary sale.
Even admitting best barter are European, Pace says American collectors accept heard about Sunshine State’s Convertible Heaven. “Jay Leno alleged alone to enquire about a car about a year ago,” he says.
Leno collects aged autos.
Although Leno didn’t buy the car, Pace is assured he will buy one in the future. “I can’t delay to advertise him a car,” Pace says.
Before advancing to America, Eichloff awash annal broad to music food in Germany, a business he congenital from a almanac collection, he says.
“My activity is collecting.”
Today, aloof a bisected block up the alley from the carwash, Eichloff makes a adequate active affairs cars, but says: “It could be added profitable. The important affair is that it is fun. For me this is not business. Sometimes I’m not too blessed to advertise a car because I abhorrence to see it go.”
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