By Stacey Hershauer
This year’s Barrett-Jackson auction may be over, but the Valley’s classic car excitement continues at Phoenix’s Metrocenter Mall, thanks to a newly signed lease with the Scottsdale International Metrocenter Auto Museum.
The lease welcomes Arizona’s largest vintage auto museum into more than 7,000 square feet of in-line mall space and kicks off a year of special events that will include car shows, community street fairs and classic car auctions.
“Phoenix has a proven appetite for vintage cars. People here love them, and we’re ready to give them more of what they love,” said Tommee “Vegas” Ranger, who founded the museum organization in 2010 with industry icons Leo Gephart and Jack Gartley.
“Metrocenter Mall is centrally located in the Valley and the perfect place to keep that collector car excitement going year-round. We hope it serves as a prototype for mini-museums that we can duplicate in malls across the United States.”
According to Ranger, the Scottsdale International Metrocenter Auto Museum at Metrocenter Mall will house approximately $5 million in rare collector cars on display. It also features a unique boutique with a range of vehicle-themed products, from artwork and T-shirts to high-end apparel and custom products from the GRG (Gephart-Ranger-Gartley) and Tommee Vegas lines.
The first Scottsdale International Collector Car Auction at Metrocenter Mall is scheduled for March 15-16 in the Metrocenter interior loop/parking area. The auction will feature the 1936 Howard Hughes Aero-Mobile (appraised at $3.5 million and currently on display in the mall’s mini-museum) and the 1988 Mellow Yellow #51 NASCAR (valued at $350,000) that was used in the 1990 hit movie “Days of Thunder” featuring film stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. There also will be food, artists and vendors with vintage auto-related merchandise.
Many of the museum’s events will benefit nonprofit groups such as the Dream Catchers Children Foundation.
According to Metrocenter Mall General Manager Brent Meszaros, these are the types of attractions that not only align with Metrocenter’s repositioning efforts, but also are critical for malls that want to thrive in an era of Internet shopping.
“The community mall has always been more than just shopping,” said Meszaros. “It is about neighborhoods and friends and memories. This is Metrocenter’s legacy and we intend for it to be its future as well. The Scottsdale International Metrocenter Auto Museum is a great leap forward in that effort. We are thrilled to have them here.”
“We are all about the community, supporting each other and sharing our interests in a way that is fun and affordable,” said Ranger. “It is tough to do this at the big car auctions, where it costs $50 per person just to walk in the door. We are not like that. We are a fun place for husbands to visit while their wives are shopping, and for families to come together to see and learn and share the classic car experience.”
The Scottsdale International Metrocenter Auto Museum is located on northwest side/lower level of the mall, near Sears and across from Cinnabon. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Admission is a $5 donation per person and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.
Metrocenter Mall is also celebrating the Scottsdale International Metrocenter Auto Museum’s grand opening by displaying dozens of vintage cars, motorcycles, wooden boats and other items throughout the mall until March 16.