There’s something about automobile collecting that ignites an unbridled passion in certain folks. For three Marin car enthusiasts — a rock star, an advertising agency owner and a lumber store magnate — the fervor for classic automobiles and exotic sports cars can only be described as turbocharged. Click through the pages to read more about each car enthusiast, and be sure to check out the gallery below for more photos of Hagar's, Lauber's and Goodman's collections.
Sammy Hagar: Ferrari Amore
MILL VALLEY’S SAMMY HAGAR is one fun-loving guy, a well-known rocker and a bona fide motor head. The curly-coifed Red Rocker’s wildly successful career — lead singer and guitarist for Montrose, Van Halen and supergroup Chickenfoot; tequila tycoon, nightclub owner (Cabo Wabo), restaurateur (El Paseo) and author (Red) — has fueled his passion for luxury sports cars, Ferraris in particular.
Hagar’s San Rafael warehouse doubles as an office, music studio and repository for tons of amps, speakers and guitars. But also deep inside is his prized collection of Ferraris, along with a vintage Jaguar, Lotus Elise, Aston Martin Vanquish S, and muscle cars like an El Camino 454, a Ford GT and a custom-made ’68 Shelby Mustang replica (some paperwork lists it as a 1967), which, says Hagar, “makes too much noise, smells like gas and burns rubber. It’s too much for Marin.”
Hagar arrives at his San Rafael warehouse in a black BMW Z8 Alpina convertible with a red interior, one of 555 made. He parks it next to another rarity, the aforementioned Aston Martin, one of only 43 made. “It’s a little heavy and sounds fantastic,” he notes. “It’s one of the most beautiful cars on the planet.” Keeping company with the Aston: a 2008 599 Fiorano Ferrari, a two-seater supercar that’s a “scary death car,” according to Hagar. “It’s a real race car.”
Another of Hagar’s Italian steeds is a black 1984 400i Ferrari automatic, a four-seater V-12 “that makes a nice racket,” he says. “It’s a luxury car and Ferrari don’t make many luxury cars. I bought it brand new in 1984 when my son Andrew was born and I needed a four-seater.” Since Hagar is a diehard Ferrari guy, this mean machine was a perfect family car, Sammy-style.
But Hagar’s most prized Ferrari is a 1972 GTB Daytona, a front-engine V-12, all hand-made aluminum and glowing in classic Ferrari red. “When it first came out, it was the world’s fastest production car, 180 miles an hour,” says Hagar. “It’s a little scary on a track.”
Parked next to the Ferraris is one of Hagar’s favorite drives: the Lotus Elise, which he describes as “just a little race car, only 240 horsepower, but it’s as fast as anything here, especially around the track. It’ll burn any one of these cars; it’ll rip them out. It goes around a corner flat out. I’ve never been in any go-cart like this. This is a go-cart for the street. I drive this car and the Z8 more than any of my other cars.”
Hagar, who tours with his band Chickenfoot, one of the world’s premier bands, is rocking as hard as ever. But he’s also a family man. Outside his garage is a classic 1956 Chevy station wagon that his son Aaron converted into a whimsical woody, “a rum runner” complete with a slide-in tiki bar in the back. “I bought my wife a Tesla, which for a motor head is a giant step, but I love it. It’s an unbelievable car. I can’t say enough about what a different mindset you get driving that car,” he says. “I’m sure all the Mill Valley residents have seen all these cars at some point sitting out front of El Paseo.”
Hagar pretty much sums up his rock-star life in the lyrics to Chickenfoot’s “Soap on a Rope”: Got money, got fame, fast cars and everythang. With a custom-fitted LaFerrari, one of the world’s most exotic supercars, coming soon to his collection, the guy definitely can’t drive 55, even if he wanted to.
Martin Lauber: The Eclectic Collection
“THE TERM PEOPLE USE to describe people like me is a car enthusiast, and I’m definitely more on the enthusiast side, “ says Martin Lauber, a tall, handsome Swirl advertising executive of German- Guatemalan descent. Over the past three decades, Tiburon-based Lauber has amassed a wonderfully diverse, fun-loving car collection he describes as “mostly ’60s and ’70s stuff and very eclectic.”
“As a kid, I spent several summers in Germany and Guatemala. In Germany, I got to see a lot of cool cars and car races and, in Guatemala, out in the countryside, I got to drive tractors and trucks at a very early age, and the experience fueled my love of cars,” he adds. “I have an older brother and he and I race together. He was always fiddling with cars in the garage and I watched and learned a little bit from him. It’s always been a good hobby and has been a bit of an investment strategy as well.”
Lauber says instead of buying a particular type of car he just buys “cars that I like,” resulting in a collection that he keeps in a couple of garages at the Sonoma Raceway, one of the tracks where he races his blue Formula Ford and vintage pink Formula Atlantic racers. Collecting and racing vintage race cars is one of Lauber’s main interests. The first race car that got him hooked was a 1965 Alfa Romeo Spyder Veloce, which he bought because he wanted a “cool convertible,” but he soon discovered it had some racing history too. “I love racing with my friends and my brother and his friends. We race here in Sonoma, at Laguna Seca in Monterey and at Thunder Hill in Willows. I’ve raced as far away as Majorca, Germany, England and Italy.”
His first collector car was a 1965 Beetle, which he restored and still has today. Some of his other vehicles include a beige ’31 Ford hot rod with a Ford flathead V-8 from a ’51 Ford truck and two muscle cars: a ’70 Ford Boss 302 and ’67 Pontiac LeMans convertible, which he often cruises in around Tiburon and brings to the big Tiburon car show on Father’s Day weekend. Tucked in the corners of his garage are a classic 21-window VW microbus, a couple of Porsche 911s, a 1965 Alfa Romeo Super and a 1960 Fiat Millecento with backward-opening “suicide doors” that Lauber calls “a little clown car” and plans to convert into an electric car.
Lauber loves to drive the cars in his collection. “I have a lot of cars here that my collector friends wouldn’t be caught dead sitting in,” he says. “I’m very proud of the fact there’s dog hair in every car I own. My dog Lucy and I have logged many, many miles going over to Stinson for breakfast and driving up to Calistoga and Napa. I’m not really precious about any of these cars; they’re all a lot of fun.
“I love how on the side of the road you meet people, get the thumbsup and smiles, and when people tell you stories about their first date in a similar car. That’s what I love about it — they’re all little pieces of history,” Lauber says. “It’s less about how much they’re worth or fast they go and more about how much enthusiasm the cars engender and how happy they make me. I’ve made some of my best friends in the world just hanging around with cars.”
Charlie Goodman: Classic Americana
CHARLIE GOODMAN, SCION OF the Goodman Lumber family, was born and raised in Marin and has lived in Ross for more than 50 years. “My very first car was a ’58 Chevy convertible. It was a god-awful yellow with a green top and green upholstery. I had that for a couple of weeks and my father sold it,” he says with a chuckle.
The amiable former town councilman and three-time mayor of Ross bought his first car, a 1926 Model T Ford Coupe, in 1965 at age 20. The price: $600, a relative bargain. “But, as it turned out, what I really wanted was a Model A Ford because the Model T only has a two-speed transmission and can only go, maybe, 40 miles an hour, downhill. A few years later I bought a Model A Ford, which has a conventional three-speed transmission and 40 horsepower instead of 20. That’s what I used to drive around for a number of years.”
By the time he was 28, Goodman had 26 cars, mostly prewar Fords, and an undying passion for car collecting that today has resulted in a famed collection of lovingly restored classics from the late ’20s and early ’30s. Some of his prized vehicles include a 1930 Duesenberg Judkins sedan, a Studebaker Avanti, a supercharged 1937 Cord convertible and a 1938 DeSoto convertible sedan, but he also collects specimens of modern-era classics like Mustang, Mercedes, DeLorean and Alfa Romeo, all of which he keeps in a large warehouse in San Rafael.
Goodman has participated in a number of car rallies in California and beyond. In 2009 he originated the Marin-Sonoma Concours d’Elegance, which he chaired until 2012. That car event faded away but has reemerged as Shifting Gears, which hosts an annual three-day car rally attracting collectors from as far away as England and Australia. Rally participants tour the back roads of Marin and Sonoma wine country and each year the rally and its black-tie gala raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. This past October the event benefited Roots of Peace; next fall Shifting Gears will benefit another local charity, Beyond Differences, which strives to end social isolation in schools. “If you visit our website in January, you can register your pre-1972 vehicles and sports and exotic vehicles for the rally,” he says. It’s civic-minded car collecting at its best.