Dick Burdick traded 5 rolls of Thermon heater cable for his first collector car, a nearly original 1927 Ford Model T. That happened in 1979 when Dick was attending a meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the representative of his company, Thermon. His 2nd car was a 1933 Murphy Duesenberg. The Dusenberg’s seller threw in a 1977 Excalibur, and a new car museum was inevitable.
That growing collection became the now closed Central Texas Museum of Automotive History near Smithville, Texas, not far from Austin. It grew to 250 cars. Since Dick had an eye for quality, the collection was excellent and included cars owned by famous people like Johnny Cash and Lyndon Johnson. But then 90 of the cars were auctioned to provide funds for a new facility. That auction occurred in 2012 and collected $4.83 million. The top seller was a 1930 Cadillac Model 452 Fleetwood Rumbleseat Coupe.
Dick’s Classic Garage opened in San Marcos in 2009 at 120 Stagecoach Trail. Its focus is American made vehicles from 1919 through the 1950s. During these years American roads went from rutted to smooth and many cars became accessory driven luxury items. Dick’s collection reflects these cultural changes. His 43,000 square-feet building in San Marcos has room for about 60 cars, but its hard to beat the blazingly red 1948 Tucker Torpedo pictured above. It was Number 50 of the 51 cars made by the Tucker Corporation in its one-year history and was featured in the 1988 movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Jeff Bridges as Preston Tucker. As it turned out, this was the last Tucker made, and it has 0.5 miles on its odometer. I’m a sucker (as in a person irresistibly attracted by something) for a Tucker.
But this Tucker isn’t the only reason to visit Dick’s Classic Garage. Also on display are Dick’s 1st and 2nd cars, a 1921 Stanley Steamer, a gorgeous 1929 Cord Convertible, the Chrysler Imperial that Queen Elizabeth and her husband King George VI used during their visit to the New York World’s Fair in 1939, a loaded replica of the original Batmobile, etc.
If, unlike me, you plan your visit in advance, you can attend a Cruise In. On the 3rd Saturday of almost every month, collector cars from all over Texas are on view at Dick’s Classic Garage accompanied by food, rock ‘n’ roll, etc.