cars books harri classic automobiles books

Chasing Cars — The Classic Automobile Book Collection of Ed Harri

cars books harri classic automobiles books

Ed Harri’s collection of books on classic cars is vast and varied.

Quiet people make the best listeners, because they’re not so busy talking that they don’t hear others speak.

Ed Harri, who with his wife Pat started Wenaha Gallery of Dayton 27 years ago, was such a person. Lawyer, university professor, family man, Ed — who passed away in March 2020 — was described as an exceptional listener. When he did speak, it was after much deliberation and thought. And people, sensing this, listened, because what he said was worth hearing.

“Ed was a student of life,” Pat says. “He had interests in many areas– people, art, books, and . . . cars.”

muscle cars legends book harri

Muscle Cars are the focus in this volume from the Ed Harri car collection

Growing up in Dayton in the 1950s, Ed lived in a town that looks very different from what it does today. One of those differences was a car dealership called Pool’s, located back then at the corner of Front and Main Street. On his way to or back from school, Ed stopped in regularly to look at the cars, talk to the dealers, and pick up any brochures or information available. Often the dealers saved aside auto manufacturers’ display books, and at the end of the season, gave the books and binders to Ed.

“He read magazines and books on cars, as well as talked to people, asked questions. He often knew more about the cars on the lots than the dealers did,” Pat said.

Cars: A Lifelong Passion

“It was just a passion with him when he was a little kid,” added CJ Horlacher, a longtime gallery associate who remembers the stories Ed told of growing up in Dayton. “He said that, before the new models came out, the dealerships plastered the windows with paper, and then they made a big deal about tearing off the paper to unveil the new models.

“He hung around and hung around and was right there on the spot when the moment came.”

corvette yellow car book harri

The Corvette is the focus in this volume from the Ed Harri car book collection

Ed preferred American-made cars of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Pat said, and his collection included real cars (“He had seven Cadillacs of various years”), the brochures, dealer display items, car magazines, model cars, car kits, die cast cars, and books, the latter which is the focus of an Art Event at Wenaha Gallery, but we’ll get back to that in a minute. From young boyhood on, Ed enjoyed putting together model cars, and when he passed on, Pat entrusted that collection to Savonnah Henderson, Wenaha Gallery associate and framer, to sell, one at a time or in batches, to car aficionados nationwide.

Model Kits and Coffee Table Books

“His collection included more than 600 kits, mostly from the 50s through the 70s, unbuilt, and then he had built around 600 model cars,” Henderson says. “His favorite model car was the 1968 Pontiac GTO — he built that at least 10 times, painting it differently each time, and I also sold six-eight unbuilt ones. He also had 300 die cast models as well, most of which we have sold.

“And now there are the books.”

cars book red harri collection automobiles

The title says it all in this volume from the Ed Harri cars collection of books

The books. Ed also collected car books, again favoring American models from the 50s through the 70s.

“He always had a love of books and would buy them whenever he had money,” Pat said. “Anytime we went to a bookstore (and he loved bookstores) we would check out the car sections. Some of his books he received as gifts, because it didn’t take long for our kids to know that a car book was a sure hit for birthdays and special occasions.”

Through the years, the gifts and purchases accrued until the couple had more than 20 large bookshelves in their home for Ed’s many interests. A number of those shelves held coffee-table-sized volumes on cars — Corvettes, Cadillacs, Porsches, Camaros, concept cars, dream cars, Fifties flashbacks — large, photo-filled tomes that Ed found relaxing to pore through after an intense day of teaching future attorneys.

The Golden Era of Automobiles

“He loved cars, and books were a natural extension of that,” Pat says. “His collection is like a timeline of the Golden Era of auto making. Like the model kits and die cast cars, we are making this collection available to car aficionados like Ed himself. He enjoyed talking to other car lovers, and he would be glad to know that others, who appreciate these cars the way he did, have an opportunity to add these books to their own homes. In Ed’s honor, we are having an Art Event of his automobile books.”

Ed was a quiet man, but he was deep, and the young boy of Dayton grew into a man who asked questions, listened to answers, and, when you caught him in the right mood, told stories of a little town where there used to be a car dealership called Pool’s. And there was a boy called Ed. And Ed loved cars.

Wenaha GalleryThe Ed Harri Classic Car Book Collection is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from March 29 through April 25, 2022.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, 9-4 Fridays, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

Collectible car 1934 duesenberg model automobile nostalgic

Collectible Cars — All Wheels Art Event

collectible cars show automobile vehicles all wheels weekend

Sharing space with paintings and sculpture, the collectible cars of the All Wheels Art Event creative a festival air at the gallery.

It’s amazing how much you can do when you’re persistent.

Take amassing a collection, for example, whether that collection is stamps, or art, or tea cups, or, in this case, collectible cars. At first you start with one or two, develop an interest, start looking around for more, and pick up a new piece the next time you’re where they’re sold. When you do this regularly through the years, you eventually find yourself with a collection well worth seeing, enjoying, and sharing.

Collectible car 1934 duesenberg model automobile nostalgic

Most people couldn’t afford the full-size version of this collectible car — but it’s very much reachable as a collectible.

So it was for Ed Harri, the late co-owner of Wenaha Gallery. In addition to a lifelong passion for art, one that led to his opening and running, along with his wife, the gallery in downtown Dayton, WA, Harri was fascinated by collectible cars. Like many people with this fascination, he started by looking for the cars of his youth — the very first car owned, the most memorable car, the first new car, the favorite car. From there, he expanded his horizons, and over a period spanning more than 40 years, developed a collection that includes everything from a 1928 Mercedes Benz to a 1990 Lamborghini Diablo. There are Mustangs, Corvettes, Pontiacs, and Cadillacs. Convertibles, family sedans, coupes, James Bond vehicles, and delivery trucks. Cool cars and nostalgic ones. Foreign and domestic. Red, blue, black, white, metallic green. Hundreds of cars.

“Ed took great joy in creating his car collection,” Pat says. “And now, I take great joy in sharing that collection with people, through showcasing it at Wenaha Gallery.

All Wheels Weekend with Collectible Cars

“It is fitting to do so in June, around Father’s Day, when Dayton traditionally holds its All Wheels Weekend Event. While, sadly, the town will not be holding that event this year, we’ve created a mini-car show in the gallery. We laid it out in such a way that visitors walk the aisles as if they were on Main Street.”

Gallery associate Savonnah Henderson, who has spent the last two months inventorying the collection, is impressed by the depth and scope of Harri’s selections.

collectible cars automobile all wheels weekend show

Hoods up. Seeing the detail is part of an All Wheels Weekend show, whether the cars are full sized or collectible.

“He chose collectible cars with the same discerning eye he used for purchasing art,” she says.

As a celebration of Ed’s interest in cars, Pat is making the collection available to both online collectors and people who visit the gallery. Henderson says that the gallery has sold many cars already to buyers on e-Bay, as well as to gallery visitors who, like Ed, discover treasures from their past and present.

Stories behind the Cars

“I love to hear the stories that people tell when they find just the right car,” Henderson says. “It brings about a special memory of a certain time in their lives. Often, a particular car was part of that memory.”

After arranging a selection of the collection throughout the gallery, Henderson says she loves to walk the aisles and admire.

“It really is like a mini All Wheels Weekend, just without people sitting in the lawn chairs,” she says. “These collectible cars are their own form of art. They represent creativity of design and engineering.”

Wenaha GalleryThe All Wheels Art Event is featured at Wenaha Gallery from June 15 through July 11, 2020.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.