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Another Car Guy Has Passed.... Mark Smith


Steve Moskowitz
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Mark Smith who had a massive collection of cars and memorabilia passed away early this morning.  His collection was extensive including every model of Model A's and the Ford alphabet collection.  Too many important original cars to mention.  Mark was at Hershey as always and had Ann Klein's Rolls-Royce skiff for us to see.  Pretty amazing car.  Mark suffered a stroke on the field but it was later discovered that the cause was his cancer returning.  Hate reporting news like this.  I had visited him in the hospital and I am only thankful he is not suffering anymore.

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I'm thankful I had a chance to visit with him at his tent during the week and get a few more good stories out of him. He was always overly generous to my brother and I and quick to share knowledge and his collection(s) with us. A few years ago I got a surprise package in the mail from him- a tail light for my car that he knew I had been looking for. I know Mark had a reputation for being a shrewd horse trader but to a couple of modest, younger collectors with interest he showed an absolute humbling amount of magnanimity and always went out of his way to make us feel welcome in his circles. 

-I always admired Mark for the fact that he actually knew how to work on his own stuff too. My brother went to meet Mark at a Bugatti rally up in Saratoga a few years ago and said when he got there the poor guy was covered in grease. He had been busy running around fixing everyone else's cars that day!

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Mark's knowledge of cars-especially prewar cars-was second to none. If you ever needed to know the history of a significant car, Mark could rattle it off without even thinking about it-and chances are he either owned it or was somehow involved with it.

 

One of my most recent memories of Mark was at the Bonham's Bothwell Auction a couple of years ago.  A few of us were sitting on the running boards of the Bothwell cars the night before the auction and Mark was in "great story" mode talking about all of the great cars he got from the Los Angeles area over the years. His entire life and purpose in life was dedicated to old cars.

 

Sometimes cantankerous, sometimes drunk and sometimes the nicest guy you could ever want to meet, Mark was always one of the Old Car Hobby's great characters. Horse trading with Mark was always an experience but at the end of the day, always worthwhile.

 

Mark was truly one of the hobby's legends and will be missed.

 

Godspeed, old friend. 

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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Very sorry to hear, RIP.  I only met him one time, at a Luray Caverns auction a long while back.  He and his buddy were standing under a tree, taking shots of vodka, while bidding on a Mercedes 600 which no one else had much interest in.

 

I had a friend here in Winchester, he had an early Indian motorcycle with side car and an early 20s Locomobile town car.  Our own Ed Minnie talked me out of buying the Locomobile, by the way.  It was word of mouth, no advertising, that they were for sale.

 

Soon after I passed on the car, Mark was towing a trailer through Winchester and “broke down” in front of my friends house.  What a coincidence.  Mark drove away with both vehicles, somehow his truck fixed itself while he was buying the cars!

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Mark was an interesting personality. He sure had a keen eye for great cars and automobilia. I've had the pleasure of spending time at both locations, but my favorite was the old store in Lynchburg. I understand it was once a carriage manufacturer with a street side showroom.. it was the perfect place for his cars and automobilia. The basement was stuffed with original unrestored Model As and Ts. 

I don't know what will become of the collection but wherever those treasures end up, they will always be known as Mark Smiths.. RIP Mark and I'm glad you got back to Hershey for at least one more.

Terry

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A humbling reminder, we’re here for a short time. Our old cars bring us much joy. Having friends in common with our cars is a treasure. It sounds like Mark was well known and respected in the old car community.
 

We can only hope they say similar nice sentiments about ourselves some day, when our time is up.  

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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I met Mark in Lynchburg just a few weeks before Hershey.  He gave me a nice tour of his collection, which left my head spinning.  An amazing assemblage, by a true aficionado of original pre-war cars.  Even the facility itself was over-the-top, with a story around every corner.  I hope some of those stories were recorded and will live on.  Thanks, Mark, for letting me look behind the curtain for an afternoon.

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It would seem to me very remote that the collection stays together.  I won't go into the personal details of Mark's life but I do not see a way that the collection will not be dispersed based upon what I know.  Bad on one hand good on another as the cars/memorabilia may end up being cherished by many.

 

It also brings up something I have reminded everyone for a long time, make sure your will is up-to-date!  No one really knows what life has in store for us and to not go through the process and get things in writing is irresponsible to yourself and family.  Too many cases of this happening.  Not necessarily fun to do but the right thing to do.  

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I only had a couple brief conversations with Mark Smith.  He had a wonderful original 1927 Packard 343 disappearing-top convertible coupe by Murphy he showed in the HPOF Class.   I was telling my compatriot about the car; Mark overheard our conversation and took time to show us how Murphy engineered the folding mechanism.  The other encounter was in his Chocolate Field site, discussing how proportions determine the relative aesthetic appeal of Classic Era cars.  He certainly had vast knowledge of and a sophisticated eye for great pre-war cars.   Here he was in his element.  RIP Mr. Smith.  My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
 

1928 Packard 443 & Curtiss Aerocar a.JPG

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Although I didn’t really know him, I do know some of the story.  Of course, Steve is correct, I don’t see a path that keeps these cars together unless someone with really deep pockets steps in and acquires them all.

 

Not necessarily a bad thing, lots of good stuff which can be enjoyed by others.

 

As time goes on more and more big stashes of good cars will come to market.  In spite of gloom and doom statements about the hobby, good cars find new homes.

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Heed what Steve mentions in his second paragraph! Make your wishes known while you still can!!! Get it in writing legally  - NOW.

My opinion is that most people who think they will be able to get something upon your demise do not share your passion or appreciation  for what you have gathered  in your life time of collecting. Most relatives aren't "car nuts" and I know for decades at first we may have been viewed as the crazy relative who spends his money on old cars that need work and are rusty - that changed as a general view by the public saw that those old cars /historic transportation became worth more $ - SO we crazies became the "rich eccentric" relative ( and all the time, effort, etc. we spent to make what we had acquired still exist was never taken into account) . We never changed but they did. I ( and I think most reading this) never looked at what they had as an investment, nor the knowledge I have from studying period material / documents etc has made me an "expert". To me there is no such thing as an expert - we are always learning. The preservation, sharing etc is what makes us all happy and is why we have  what we have.

Be responsible to yourself and your family - well stated Steve - sage words.

WG

Edited by Walt G (see edit history)
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Mark had great taste in cars. Guaranteed, any high end show you went to, he would be there with something cool, with a good chance you’ve never seen it before. As for his collection, I have no idea, but I’ll guess  it will be dispersed,  which is good for the hobby in general.

 

If any of us have specific ideas on what they want to happen to their cars then of course you need to make it clear. In my case, my wife has three names, I told her to just do with those guys say.

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Mark was an interesting guy with fantastic taste in automobiles. Unfortunately all my “Mark” stories, which there are only a few can not be put out in public. That said, all my dealings with him were fun and easy. Our time here is frighteningly short.........and the last ten to twenty years are not always what we hope for........buy a car now, drive and enjoy it. You can always work more and make more money.......no one has ever figured out how  to buy more time.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Would also like to share that if you have any of your belongings in storage with a friend or whatever, make sure their affairs are up to date. A friend stored a substantial amount of car parts in his friends barn and unfortunately that friend passed and his will cannot be found. This has created enormous unforeseen complications for our friend

Edited by playswithbrass
Fat finger (see edit history)
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26 minutes ago, playswithbrass said:

Would also like to share that if you have any of your belongings in storage with a friend or whatever, make sure their affairs are up to date. A friend stored a substantial amount of car parts in his friends barn and unfortunately that friend passed and his will cannot be found. This has created enormous unforeseen complications for our friend

Interesting, just had a similar discussion with a friend.  I have a couple of pieces of equipment (large air compressor and blast cabinet)  I have no room for, but want to keep and have use of it.  A friend just built a new shop, he’s agreed to put it in his shop and I can use anytime.

 

Additionally, we will have an agreement stating they are still my property, if something happens to him I get them back, if something happens to me he can buy from my wife for a pre-agreed amount.

 

Now to get the rest of my affairs in order!

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2 hours ago, trimacar said:

Interesting, just had a similar discussion with a friend.  I have a couple of pieces of equipment (large air compressor and blast cabinet)  I have no room for, but want to keep and have use of it.  A friend just built a new shop, he’s agreed to put it in his shop and I can use anytime.

 

Additionally, we will have an agreement stating they are still my property, if something happens to him I get them back, if something happens to me he can buy from my wife for a pre-agreed amount.

 

Now to get the rest of my affairs in order!

Make sure that any agreement is in writing (including a simple email communication) and clear.  And that the agreement is accessible in case the worst happens.  

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3 hours ago, Cadillac Fan said:

Make sure that any agreement is in writing (including a simple email communication) and clear.  And that the agreement is accessible in case the worst happens.  

Yes, in writing and a copy in my “if something happens to me” real (not computer) file.

 

My wife wants me to list everything I own and approximate value.  Sounds easy, except when you have a Pierce memorabilia collection that’s hundreds of pieces, not counting all the other odds and ends such as spare parts for cars…..

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

So sorry to see this.  I met Mr. Smith several years ago at his building here in Lovingston, VA.  There is a trailer parked there now from the Saratoga automobile museum.  I was driving by and he was loading or unloading a vehicle.  I am a muscle car guy and stopped to chat.  He was very gracious and invited me inside to see what he had.  Incredible!  While everything in there predated the muscle car era by several decades, it was obvious that the vehicles were high quality and very valuable.  Wish I had taken some photos.  I told Mr. Smith that I was seeking a painter for a  matching numbers 1970 Z28.  He said that someone in Roanoke was working on a car and to call him in a month or so to see how that came out.  I never made the call and certainly regret that.

Mr. Smith told me that when he was young he wanted to become an attorney, but instead became an Automobilist as stated on his business card.  When I was young I wanted to become an Automobilist, but became an attorney.  From reading these comments I think he would have excelled at anything he chose to do.

 

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While I didn't know Mark Smith, I do know many car guys with big collections, some of which have died recently.   Every time this happens we all are made aware of our need for planning.  The discussions that follow, like this thread, are very interesting and informative for those of us who can still read them and do what must be done for our own plans.

I had a career in the planning business and agree with a lot of what's said here.   For the last 2 weeks I've been  going thru my file cabinets and writing explanations of what's in each file and why we had it, as well as what to do with it.   Like who to call, what tax consequences are for investments, beneficiaries,  T.O.D's, Buy.Sell Agreements and what I'd like to see happen to my other stuff.   I type it all out and print it on colored paper for each file.  (Pink)  

I think I'm going to write my obituary too and say where it should be published.   A friend was just charged $1400 to place his wife's obit. in the Miami paper.  (Glad I don't have connections in Miami, FL)

Thirty years ago I wrote a booklet entitled "What To Do Now?  My instructions", that I gave to each client.  It was a fill in the blanks planning guide for Floridians with Living Will, Health Care Surrogate designation, Organ Donor forms included.

In recent years I found that the National Cremation Society and Funeral Homes had adopted a similar "Personal Planning Guide" booklet on better glossy paper and it is free.  Go ask for one at your local Cremation Society or Funeral Home.   You will find things you had not thought of.

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  • Peter Gariepy changed the title to Another Car Guy Has Passed.... Mark Smith
  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/10/2021 at 6:14 PM, Steve Moskowitz said:

Mark Smith who had a massive collection of cars and memorabilia passed away early this morning.  His collection was extensive including every model of Model A's and the Ford alphabet collection.  Too many important original cars to mention.  Mark was at Hershey as always and had Ann Klein's Rolls-Royce skiff for us to see.  Pretty amazing car.  Mark suffered a stroke on the field but it was later discovered that the cause was his cancer returning.  Hate reporting news like this.  I had visited him in the hospital and I am only thankful he is not suffering anymore.  فلل للبيع في اسطنبول

I had a few phone conversations with him, the car couldn't be bought. I've seen photos of parts of the collection, really great rare stuff. Bob 

Edited by konstantineaquavi (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

We only had a few conversations, but he was a true gentleman of the old school. May his magnanimous. spirit rest in peace! And May the Almighty guard, guide and bless those he leaves behind.

 

He was going to sell me a car after he came back from Hershey, but alas the fates stepped between us.

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There must be twenty thousand pieces of stuff all together. His collection was beyond extensive.........and his signs were known to be the best of the best. It will be interesting to watch. Many people have been asking about where the cars are going.......which I have no clue, but there are rumors many are already gone.

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In this short time we have on this small marble circling the sun, we are only care takers of the tangible items in or life. 

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47 minutes ago, edinmass said:


In this short time we have on this small marble circling the sun, we are only care takers of the tangible items in or life. 

SO while we can everyone try to be nice to the next person you meet, share the kindness and enthusiasm you may have, and the knowledge. Life is short , I just gave up on people, clubs etc 4 years ago who felt they were superior beings, because they had titles they knew and saw all so could make the ultimate judgement and were always right. I was close to the end of the road, but got steered back on to the path because of skilled doctors who knew how to do a "valve job". Great mechanics for which i am thankful for every day.  Gave me the chance to be here now and pass on pictures and stuff about used cars..................................

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  • 3 weeks later...

I joined this forum purely to express loss and sympathy for the family. I knew Mark because I worked on his Volvos over the years and he was always approachable and gave me a tour of his collections in VA. As someone who at the time was very inexperienced in the collector's market, it was a awe inspiring sight to see cars with so much history attached to them outside of a museum setting. 

Talking to him and visiting his collections inspired me to pursue cars in a very different way than I had before. In regards to how I saw cars it changed my life and I will forever be grateful to him.

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5 hours ago, Justin Martin said:

I joined this forum purely to express loss and sympathy for the family. I knew Mark because I worked on his Volvos over the years and he was always approachable and gave me a tour of his collections in VA. As someone who at the time was very inexperienced in the collector's market, it was a awe inspiring sight to see cars with so much history attached to them outside of a museum setting. 

Talking to him and visiting his collections inspired me to pursue cars in a very different way than I had before. In regards to how I saw cars it changed my life and I will forever be grateful to him.

That’s a great tribute to Mark, well said.  It also points out that how we treat people we meet in this hobby is SO much more important than the physical objects which bring us together.  Thank you for your post….

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/10/2021 at 8:39 PM, trimacar said:

Very sorry to hear, RIP.  I only met him one time, at a Luray Caverns auction a long while back.  He and his buddy were standing under a tree, taking shots of vodka, while bidding on a Mercedes 600 which no one else had much interest in.

 

I had a friend here in Winchester, he had an early Indian motorcycle with side car and an early 20s Locomobile town car.  Our own Ed Minnie talked me out of buying the Locomobile, by the way.  It was word of mouth, no advertising, that they were for sale.

 

Soon after I passed on the car, Mark was towing a trailer through Winchester and “broke down” in front of my friends house.  What a coincidence.  Mark drove away with both vehicles, somehow his truck fixed itself while he was buying the cars!

I had several longer phone calls with Mark in the beginning of 2021. Starting point was my asking for details of his 1924 Loco 48 chassis for sale in the HCCA, and soon I learned he also owned five complete Locomobiles, after having sold several in the past! And he mentioned his two museums where he stored a large number of fine cars, he especially loved original pre-war cars. End of last year I sent seasons greatings, but no reply. Today I tried to call, but the number is out of service. And just now I find these very sad news. I am shocked and sad.

I like to add something to this old story when Mark broke down and bought two cars: When we talked about Locomobiles, he actually mentioned this story. If I remember well he said it was really a coincidence and big surprize to him finding a rare Loco in this way. His car which was pulling the trailer was overheating or something not too serious.

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