A Lifelong Passion for Racing
When Jim Ladwig was a young boy, he turned a lawn mower and a wooden box into a racer; at 13-years-old, he took two batteries to be charged and used them to turn over his grandfather's 1927 Stearns-Knight. Jim and his friends knocked the car off of its blocks in the garage and cruised around Oak Park, IL until the police caught up with them. While in high school, Jim worked at a filling station and tune-up garage next to a used car dealership. In 1958, while a G.I. in France, he got his first taste of racing after seeing the famed endurance race, 24 Hours of Le Mans.
His passion for racing continued into adulthood; his first company car at AGI was a GTB4 Ferrari. When he flew to AGI's pressing plant in Indiana, he would have a Shelby Mustang rental waiting for him. In 1994, he was convinced by friends to compete in his first rally, the Copperstate 1000 Road Rally, from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon in a 1960 Porsche 356B Roadster.
Jim and his wife Paula shared a love of vintage cars and racing. Paula also developed a passion for cars when she was a child, as her father and uncle ran a successful Packard dealership in Stamford, Connecticut. Growing up, her favorite words were “Avanti,” “Plymouth Fury,” and “Barracuda.”
As with their other collections, Jim and Paula never had a “car barn” full of untouchable, pristine relics; they both believed in using something if you had it and truly living with what you love, whether that be an iconic photograph, a playful piece of folk art or a rare vintage car.
“He drove (and crashed) the real deal.”