Thu | Jun 20, 2019

Simeon Alexander - a collector of classics

Published:Sunday | February 24, 2019 | 12:28 AMKajamba Fitz-Henley - Automotives Writer
1982 Ford Mustang
1982 Ford Mustang

This week, Automotives spoke with data-centre engineer and proud classic collector of classic cars Simeon Alexander. The passionate owner of a 1982 Mustang, 1958 Ford Zodiac, 1981 Mustang, and a 1976 Ford Pinto stated that the car collection was accrued largely over the span of 10 years. The interest began in his late teens, through his father, who was an auto technician. The interest only grew when Alexander eventually got his own work and started developing his mechanical skills, which he now dedicates to restoring and maintaining his classics collection. “However, the cars were originally, that’s how I maintain them – no modifications in terms of boosting the engine or anything like that,” Alexander said. He does all the maintenance work on his vehicles, with the exception of bodywork and paint job.

“Some of them, I got them not in driving condition, so those would take a longer time [to restore]. Of course, I don’t sit on them. Once I purchase a new classic, I start to work on it, but I only have time to do so on the weekend.”

Acquiring the classics

In addition to the natural history that comes with being a classic, Alexander’s vehicles are made even more intriguing by the stories of how they came into his possession. The vehicles were purchased from somewhat random strangers as well as acquaintances and work friends. The classics collector told Automotives the story of how he acquired his oldest vehicle – the 1958 Ford Zodiac – from an elderly gentleman who he befriended. “I used to visit that ... to persuade him to sell me the car. I was just driving by and saw the car and stopped to inquire. I became his friend and just sat and chatted with him, some evenings we wouldn’t even talk about the car. One day I went back to talk to him and I saw his wife so I asked her, ‘How is he?’ and she said, ‘He’s fine in heaven’. He was an old man. She said that he told her I should get the car.”

Similar experiences might lie in the future as Alexander described acquiring his classics collection as a “continuous search”. “I’m always looking. Whenever I go to communities, I’m always peeping into yards to see if I see cars that I can get to buy. It’s a continuous search. Some of them I see, and I’m not really interested, so I introduce it to a friend of mine. Some of them are too expensive. Some of them are too far gone for me to consider restoring. I’m always looking around for cars.”

A genuine love for the classic vehicles

When asked about any favourites from his collection, Alexander relayed that he liked each vehicle for different reasons. “Of the Mustangs, one is standard and one is automatic. I prefer the standard one because that one is more fun to drive. The automatic is a more relaxing drive. It’s more for cruising. I really fixed that one up for my wife because she said she liked it, so that one was really for her, but I’ll still drive it.”

For the car enthusiast, this appreciation for classic cars extends beyond merely driving them. Alexander shared his admiration for the classic cars as restored antiques rather than just ready-made automobiles: “For me, a new car is new, and it’s supposed to look good, so if it looks good, there’s nothing to it as far as I’m concerned – because it’s supposed to look good. When a 1976 or a 1958 looks good, it’s really something to look at because you would expect a car of that age to look like an old junk. So when it looks good, it’s really a fascination. And the fact that it looks good and I’m the one that brought it to that state, it’s really a good feeling.”

He expounded on his love for the restorative work on the cars, stating that he would rarely purchase a car that was already in stellar condition. “That wouldn’t be fun for me. I would never buy a car that’s in tip-top shape.”

The mechanical work is not done in vain as Alexander frequently displays his vehicles at the Jamaica Classic Car Club showcases. He also makes it a priority to take the cars on driving excursions, where they tend to turn heads. “They draw a lot of attention, sometimes too much, but you never have a dull day driving a classic car. People call to you. They admire it and ask all kinds of questions. It draws so much attention to it that when you go to your regular car, it’s as if nothing is happening.”

Though hesitant due to the cost it can incur, collecting and restoring classic cars is something Alexander plans to do for as long as possible. He is currently on the look-out for a classic convertible, describing the vehicle as one of the models he is yet to own.