Inside Ken Lingenfelter’s Eclectic Car Collection
Tucked away in an unassuming industrial park in Brighton, Michigan, is one of the most awe-inspiring car collections in the United States. It’s owned by Ken Lingenfelter, head of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, himself an unassuming man. But with a helluva car collection. It’s a collection only a true car lover could curate because it’s built on a love of exotics, Corvettes, and other random additions that Ken just sort of has a thing for. There's no method to the automotive madness that is the Lingenfelter Collection. RELATED: Watch Ken's 200MPH Camaro ZL1 Blitz the Track
We had a great conversation at the Chicago Auto Show about his 2015 Corvette C7 and Lingenfelter Reaper — the Chevrolet competition for the Ford Raptor. Over lunch he mentioned, “If you’re ever in Michigan, you’re going to have to come see my collection.”
Fortunately, my talented 10-year old daughter was part of a team that won a competition requiring a trip to Lansing, Michigan — just 90 minutes away. Of course, I was excited for her, but partly for me, too. A couple of e-mails later the appointment was booked and it was time to visit this magical space.
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Ken has built a collection that is 40 percent Corvettes, 30 percent exotic, and 30 percent muscle cars. It’s 100 percent stuff he likes. It’s a compilation that might make purists scorn, but the average car nut swoon.
The best part is 100 times a year Ken throws the doors open for charitable organizations to come through as a fundraiser. Fortunately, he has tolerant neighbors and understanding local cops (who have been through the collection themselves) who don’t mind thousands of folks showing up.
RELATED: See Photos of the 2014 Lingenfelter Reaper
What most catches the eye in this 40,000-square-foot collection of 190 cars plus are the domestics tucked away in the back third of the space. There are Ferraris, a Lamborghini and Bugatti upfront, but there’s something about Pontiac GTOs, a classic Dodge Challenger, and even an Olds Toronado that just catch the eye.
It’s the latter that probably has the strongest tie to Ken. It’s a car his dad helped developed while an engineer at GM. It’s symbolic of Ken’s curatorial style. He bought the car because his dad built it.
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He also buys other cars because he has the financial means to help charities. Such is the case with the Eric Blake Faulkner Memorial Dodge Charger Funny Car. Ken bought it at Barrett-Jackson to support a foundation that helps families who lose children.
Plus, he sometimes buys cars just because he used to own them. Case in point is a Pontiac Fiero. Two more dramatic examples would be the 1969 Camaro and 1971.5 SS 396 Camaro.
RELATED: See More Photos of the 1969 Camaro Z28
The Lingenfelter Collection isn’t open to the public, except for charity events, which are frequent. You can visit his website for more information.
And when you go bring a camera, clear your schedule, and be prepared to stare in awe. Your jaw’s going to hurt from dropping to the floor so much.
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