Campbell and his wife, Catherine, in his 1960 Corvette.
Although the Riviera and the Cord have sentimental worth, some of his cars are actually very valuable. Campbell won’t reveal how much his collection is worth, but the car rarest among them is a 1958 Cadillac Edorado Brougham, of which only 704 were ever made. It was the most expensive car in the world in 1958. The average price in 2009 was north of $90,000.
“Sinatra had two, John Wayne had one,” Campbell said. “It was a who’s who of the rich and famous.”
Campbell, who won’t choose a favorite car, admits to driving the Brougham more than some of his other vehicles. In fact, he aims to drive each of his cars at least once every 90 days, but he has trouble keeping up when he spends so much time in Washington, D.C.
“I’m here so often,” he said. “I miss them.”
Because he especially misses his 1957 Thunderbird, he has plans to bring the car to Washington next month. He normally drives a 1999 Ferrari 950 Maranello or a 2006 Porsche 911 around the capital.
Besides keeping him from his cars, Campbell’s political career has had another effect on his collection. In the back window of every car in his collection is a Republican bumper sticker from a campaign that matches the year of the car. On his ’57 Thunderbird is a Richard Nixon campaign sticker, and on his ’66 Mustang is a sticker to elect Ronald Reagan governor of California. A Reagan sticker also decorates his 1970 Buick GS.
The political bumper stickers in his windows mark Campbell as no ordinary car collector. Unlike many who leave the washing and waxing of their precious cars to the professionals, he likes to get his hands dirty. Campbell, a University of Southern California Trojans fan, loves nothing more than turning on the football game in the driveway and working on his cars. A complete detailing job might take 10 hours, but Campbell doesn’t seem to mind.
“I’m no mechanic,” he said. “But I can make the paint on a car shine as good as anybody.”