The Greater Toronto Collector Car Museum was founded by Jim MacLean. Jim has had a lifelong passion for Automobiles and anything to do with an engine. Growing up in Orillia afforded Jim many opportunities at an early age to master the art of driving. Jim’s first experience came when he was four 4 years old. With his Mom in the neighbour’s house and his 3 year old sister as a passenger, Jim backed his Dad’s ’55 Pontiac down the neighbour’s driveway over the road and into the ditch. It was an exciting adventure for the young lad but not soon to be repeated. His next self-taught lesson came at age 10 while visiting his Uncles farm in Carleton Place. Jim had not quite mastered the “3 on the tree” of the red ’62 Ford pickup giving his protesting younger sister a bumpy ride. Next up were the many solo rides down the family’s Lake Simcoe cottage road in Dad’s ‘67 Pontiac Parisienne 2+2. At age 14 one needed to be ready for your driver’s exam and what safer way could you learn but on a nice long private road! Soon Dad had a newer car and the ’71 Lemans was a perfect vehicle to hone those neighbourhood driving skills in anticipation of the big day. It finally came and Jim was licenced two weeks after his 16th birthday. It would have been sooner but Christmas holidays got in the way!
Working as a student at one of the local discount gas stations allowed Jim to see up close the various makes of the day. Discounted gas usually attracted the younger crowd who generally drove the fastest and hottest cars of the recent era. Road Runners, Camaros, GTO’s, Mustangs and other muscle cars of the day rolled in on a regular basis.
Jim’s summer job at the local Hostess Potato chip distribution centre gave Jim the funds to buy his first car. This was a massive 1970 Mercury Marquis brougham 2 door hardtop with a 390CI 330HP motor.
This was soon followed by a more sporty 1971 Camaro sport coupe, then a ’67 Camaro RS/SS convertible, replaced by a more reliable new 1978 Camaro Z28. Fun to drive but not very fast, a 1968 Camaro RS/SS L78 was the perfect replacement. Solid lifter engines complemented with headers and low restriction exhaust make for an impressive symphony of mechanical music. Unfortunately neither the gas tank nor the wallet were large enough for the owner and the Camaro was regrettably cast aside for a low mileage one owner 1972 Buick Skylark convertible.
Thankfully at the time a company car provided year round transportation allowing the Buick to be driven sparingly. Soon a new job necessitated a new car as the company vehicle was no more. With a summer ride in place, a more utilitarian vehicle could be acquired and a 1983 low mileage one owner Chevrolet Blazer was just the ticket. It wasn’t long before the Buick was starting to get a little “old” and something new and different was required.
Foreign makes were just that, foreign but intriguing. Starting with the epitome of class and distinction a 1972 Mercedes 450SL came home. This was soon trumped by an immaculate one owner 1987 Toyota Supra Turbo which in turn fell to a classic black 1984 BMW 325i convertible.
Finally the day came to own the one and only Porsche. A beautiful low mileage black on black 1986 Porsche Targa found a new home. With the unmistakable whine of the flat boxer engine the 911 was a driver’s car. The newly revised convertible Camaro Z28 for 1994 with a 275HP LT1 engine was hard to resist and soon a brand new black on black 6 speed was in the driveway and the Porsche was gone but not forgotten.
A few short years later the tug of the Porsche won over with the arrival of a pristine 1981 Porsche 911 Turbo at the expense of the Camaro. With 300HP in Euro spec tune, the turbo was an exciting and unforgiving beast. What better way to test the limits of the car and driver than at the track and before long the Turbo was happily singing its way around Mosport and Shannonville. This went on for a number of years until someone else decided that they should own the Porsche but neglected to pay for it.
A search was on for a replacement but before this could be found the same 1984 BMW 325i convertible owned years before reappeared on the scene and reunited with the surprised owner. A great fill in until the next Turbo could be found. After a lengthy search a one owner black on black pristine low mileage 1987 911 Turbo arrived. Unfortunately a host of electrical gremlins made this example very unreliable. Thankfully there was still the fallback year round 2001 PT Cruiser to rely on. Out with the Turbo and in with the new Boxster S. With 250HP on tap, the Boxster S was a quick and agile performer but not a 911. So it was gone and in came a one owner very low mileage 2003 Porsche Carrera 4 Cabriolet. With sport exhaust, a 6 speed, 315HP on tap this was one sweet ride but not a turbo. Within a short period of time a new opportunity arose to acquire a very low mileage one owner midnight blue metallic 2007 911 Turbo Tiptronic. Now both heads of the household could drive the car! At 480HP, this was one exciting and very quick experience to say the least.
However old habits die hard and with the arrival of the new Camaro in 2011 the Porsche was in jeopardy. Thankfully the versatility of the Tiptronic saved the day and the new 2011 Camaro Convertible Z28 6 speed with 426HP happily resides together with the Turbo.
In between these cars were an assortment of Blazers, Chevelles, Trans Am’s and a host of Players Challenge Cars. It was an expensive hobby but there were still so many more cars to own but not much time to do so. There must be a better way.
Always one to seek out local car cruises, automotive museums or muscle car dealers while on vacation, a chance encounter in Los Angeles gave Jim the idea for the GTCCM. It was on this trip in 2010 that Jim visited the Automobile Driving Museum and the light went on. Here was a way to experience many different automobiles by becoming a volunteer at the museum. But this wasn’t just any museum where you look but don’t touch a static display. This was a museum that you could actually drive the cars! By simply volunteering his time working at the museum and helping maintain the collection or acting as a docent to visitors, Jim could live and breathe the cars of his dreams. The only problem was this was LA not Toronto. But why not Toronto and the idea was born!
As we all know a dream is not possible without the help of a number of people. I would like to thank my Board Members: Carolyn Starshuk MacLean, Lorne Goba, Dale Johnson and Jean Debos for their continued help and guidance. I would also like to thank Dale Johnson for his help with the web content, pictures and sage advice, Linda Godel and her staff at Torkin Manes for their legal work, Sputnik Design for the web creativity and design on our original site, Joe Ruddy and Janet Emmett for some great advice early on in the process and Ailsa Robinson of Collaborative Haus Marketing for the updated website and marketing materials.