Cool Collections! Dan Wathor Crafted a Well-Weathered Workshop for His Collection
In an old farm town on the outskirts of Sacramento, California rests an unassuming building filled with tons of cool old automotive memorabilia. As you drive down the small-town two-lane road, all you see is a rusted corrugated metal building with a couple run-down gas pumps out front. And if you look really close you may notice an all-original, “pulled from the field” 1930 Model A roadster sitting behind those pumps.
That unassuming visual is exactly what Dan Wathor was going for when he started building his collection back in 2015. Dan had been collecting old tools, signs, and memorabilia since 2005, but it was a promise his wife made to a family friend’s daughter that escalated the collection to what you see here. That friend’s daughter envisioned her wedding in a rustic setting, and Dan’s garage was the answer.
Dan bought the old wooden 1,600sq. ft. building in 2012 then reinforced and covered the wood exterior with corrugated metal. In 2014 he added a 5,000sq. ft. extension to the back, which is a fully functional workshop. The four walls of the extension are new, but the inner structure was built using reclaimed materials. Specifically, old chicken coop wood from neighboring farms and 4,600 vintage bricks – 600 from old storefronts in Sacramento and 4,000 from a demolished school in Bakersfield that was built in 1904 which included firebricks from the 1800s.
What Dan had collected since 2005 wasn’t enough to fill the building, so he hit eBay in early 2015 to expand his collection and establish a theme in preparation of the October wedding date. What he gathered and assembled is an amazing collection of old tools, signs, gas cans, repair shop manuals, oil cans, hubcaps, and more. Needless to say, the wedding went off in perfect style!
It’s not just old “junk” purchased off eBay on display. There’s a selection of road-worthy rides and a few projects in various stages of completion. They include two rides built by Kenny’s Rod Shop in Idaho – a bitchin’ ’31 Hudson coupe powered by a vintage Hemi topped with a trio of original Stromberg carbs, as well as Dan’s ’37 Ford that won Goodguys America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod in 2016 (it was also a Detroit Great 8 recipient as well as a Top Five finalist for Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance and Street Rod of the Year the same year).
Other rides include a ’38 Ford business coupe, which Dan and his father-in-law purchased together and was Dan’s re-introduction to hot rodding in 2005. There’s also a cool ’56 Ford F100 that looks like a perfect Bonneville push truck. Up next for Dan to finish is a ’32 Ford before he dives in to a ’31 Model A coupe build. The ’68 Firebird is his daughter’s car that they plan on starting on soon as well.
During our visit Dan joked multiple times, “I spent way too much being the highest bidder on eBay buying all this junk.” But what he calls junk, we see as preserved history. Items that were saved from the landfills and recycling centers. Tools that tell a story. And memories he will pass down for generations.
Photos by Steven Bunker