“A Spectacular Selection of Some of the World’s Finest Automobiles Under One Roof”
I recently took a trip back in time and around the world—without ever going out of town. In fact, I didn’t even have to get in a car and drive halfway across the country to cover this story. Merely a block and a half from my house sits one of the most fascinating foreign car collections in the state of West Virginia, and one that rivals some of the most unique collections of anything else in the world.
I was given the privilege to an exclusive interview with Mr. James “Jim” Bandy of Weston WV who gave our Classic Car Round-Up team a tour of his incredible car collection—a smorgasbord of 25 hand-picked foreign machines from all around the globe—most of which are conveniently nestled inside of a nostalgic, historical building with a few rides that pour out onto the streets of the city for all to see.
My history with this avid collector reaches back to my college days at Glenville State College where I took a few world political courses with Mr. Bandy, who was a professor at GSC at the time. Because of the love of cars we both shared, we immediately hit it off and a connection was formed forever. I knew one day I would have the opportunity to visit him and see his spectacular collection. This is his story.
Like many rare car collectors’ origins, you hear about today, Mr. Bandy’s story dates back to his teenage years. Growing up reading various books, Mr. Bandy immediately grew an affinity for European cars.
First off, you have to understand that when it comes to cars, Mr. Bandy is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. According to him, some of the French trucks were engineered so that you could drive through a plowed field with a carton of eggs in the back seat without any of them cracking. The Italian cars were built for speed and reliability. And then you throw in the English Jaguar V12 which was both powerful and smooth at the same time—and it was love at first sight. “It is the accumulation of all of these great things that I was reading about when I was growing up and studying and learning about all of the neat mechanics that foreign cars had to offer that really drew my interest,” explained Mr. Bandy.
It wasn’t long before he joined the service and was sent to Germany. It was at that time that he knew he was going to buy a Mercedes. However, he got there and couldn’t afford one! Later, he moved to France. Eventually, Mr. Bandy was able to save up enough money to purchase a car or two along the way. Some he sold and some he brought back to the states.
It was at this point in time that he really appreciated the Italian and French vehicles. He eventually came back to the United States after traveling abroad and settled down in the small town of Weston, WV. To this day, Mr. Bandy still travels to Europe a couple of times per year to see the astonishing cars and the remarkable people out there in the world.
“Most of the cars I have, I have had at least since the 80s, some since the 70s,” an excited Mr. Bandy reminisced. It is a fair estimate to say that his fascination with the world is something that has affected his entire way of life. He lives that way each and every day, whether it be voicing his opinions locally and supporting local causes or educating students at the local colleges, Mr. Bandy is something that is special and very much appreciated throughout the world.
Don’t get him wrong. He does love his American cars. For instance, he would love to have an early-model Hudson, a Lincoln from the 30s or 50s, or perhaps a vintage Buick or 40s Caddy (I’m guessing a Series 62 would do the job).
However, his philosophy in cars boils down to this. “The engineering on most foreign cars was geared first towards mechanics and then they looked at styling,” Mr. Bandy elaborated. “Engineering cars in the U.S. were geared for looks to make more sales and then the mechanics came secondary,” Mr. Bandy continued. And that particular fascination of mechanics of foreign vehicles is what has kept Mr. Bandy captivated and drawn to the foreign car market for this long.
Most people think importing cars are expensive and complicated, but it’s not. “You just have to do it the right way,” Mr. Bandy described. “There are shippers all over the world. The shipper puts the car in a container and straps it down, closed and sealed. Then it is transported to a port. At that point, the car is then x-rayed. A truck picks it up and brings it to you after the inspection. Once you open it up you have around 12 hours to see if the car is OK. It’s an average of $3,500 shipping to and fro,” Mr. Bandy clarified on the shipping overseas topic.
The saying rings true—“Who wouldn’t want to own a Porsche or Rolls Royce?”—or any other type of high-end foreign classic for that matter? “Everyone has to have a Porsche. Or, everyone has to have a Rolls Royce in their collection,” Mr. Bandy amusingly commented. Yes, it is every kid’s dream to own and drive a car that is something very amazing.
Some of my favorite cars from Bandy’s incredible collection are the super rare 1960 Deutsch Bonnet HBR 5, the 1965 Panhard 24BT, the 1969 Citroen DS 21, the 1972 Lancia Montecarlo, the 1974 Jensen, the stunningly stylish 1967 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and his son’s beautiful 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera.
One could theoretically cover a story on each and every one of Bandy’s vehicles because they are so unique—because, as we all know, every car has a story and a cool history that is unique to its own existence. And, we’re discussing 25 of the most unique foreign cars around. However, due to time and space constraints, we are limited to a small space in this publication to elaborate on these mesmerizing vehicles.
Aside from the cars, Mr. Bandy has quite a collection of vintage bicycles and his various foreign art memorabilia is tattooed throughout his garage and accompanying residence. There is no doubt that he is very much a world connoisseur that appreciates fine art when he sees it.
Well, just as I thought things we getting started, the local church bell rang, indicating it was time for lunch. Mr. Bandy looked at his watch and realized it was time for his next meeting. And, as if in some mystical faraway fairytale tucked beneath the dusty bookends of your child’s bookcase, Mr. Bandy sprang upon one of his numerous vintage bicycles, tooted the horn and yelled something in a language I couldn’t quite understand while disappearing down an alleyway to his next adventure.
That is the legacy and awesomeness of the great Mr. Bandy. Whether its Lancias, Mercedes, Delahayes, Jensens, Citroens, Panhards, Porches, Rolls Royces, Jaguars, Volvos, Chinese motorcycles, double overhead cams, automatic lifts, fabulous construction, manufacturing built for several centuries or an imagery of the impossible, the engineering of some of the greatest vehicles in the world is what drove Mr. Bandy to a lifetime of collecting some of the most incredible and unique cars in the world. And, as his bicycle tires disappeared into the alleyway in what I thought was some foreign land in London, I could still hear the church bells ringing, and it was then, at that very moment that I realized that I was witnessing something truly remarkable—a part of history that’s theme was in some far-off memory overseas.
On another note, Mr. Bandy believes that Auto Round-Up Publications should produce a Foreign Round-Up publication to feature cars for sale exclusively from around the world. Well, we just might one of these days. Weigh in with your thoughts and let us know what you think!
Until next time, Au Revoir!