Ted Segerstrom calls his vintage car collection a “Shelby Shrine.”
He and his wife, Rae, own a collection of more than 80 classic cars—primarily Ford Mustangs and high-performance Shelby and Shelby Cobra models, along with some other rare and vintage muscle cars here and there.
The immaculately restored collection has gotten its share of attention in the auto world.
“If there’s a better collection of Mustangs than Ted and Rae Segerstrom’s, we haven’t seen it yet,” noted a profile by Autoweek, one of several publications that has written about the collection in recent years.
Standouts of the collection include a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1, a Shelby Series 1, a 1966 Shelby GT350 and a series of ultra-rare Shelby GT500KR convertibles. The couple also has nearly the first of every series of Cobras and Shelbys ever produced.
Segerstrom, a Newport Beach resident, declined to put a value on his collection.
It’s not uncommon for older Shelbys in “concours condition” to sell for $1 million or higher, according to auto trade reports.
Legend has it that the late Carroll Shelby, the designer of the namesake vehicles, once turned down a $35 million offer for one of the most prized cars bearing his name. Segerstrom said he’s heard of other Shelbys selling for more than $12 million. He’s right—the very first Shelby Cobra, CSX2000, sold for $13.5 million last August at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey.
A number of vehicles in his local collection were picked up at relatively affordable prices in the wake of the last recession, when it was a buyer’s market, said Segerstrom, who added that many of his cars also needed a fair amount of restoration work.
The costs of restoring the vintage cars can equal the purchase price, Segerstrom said. He’s been working lately with Tim Lea, a renowned classic car restorer based in Massachusetts, on a number of recently purchased vehicles.
Segerstrom calls his hobby a “labor of love.” His first car was a hand-me-down ’66 Mustang. “The rest is history,” he said.
Despite the time and costs, “It has definitely been a good investment,” he said.
The collection has been housed for years in what Segerstrom calls a “20,000-square-foot Man Cave,” a nondescript industrial building he owned a few blocks from John Wayne Airport.
Along with the cars, whose origins and specifications are extensively detailed, the space included numerous vintage-era gas pumps and other associated automobile memorabilia.
“It was a Tim Allen garage on steroids,” he said.
The Man Cave has closed shop for now. Scottsdale-based Meritage Homes bought the building from Segerstrom last year for $8 million, according to CoStar Group Inc. records.
The builder is planning to tear down the property—at 17821 Gillette Ave.—to make way for a 39-unit townhome project, according to city records.
Segerstrom’s car collection is being stored at a handful of sites, he said.
Bigger plans are in store, with an eye on opening the collection to more car enthusiasts and raising some money for charity thanks to another Segerstrom investment in a building elsewhere in the city.
He recently closed on the buy of a 32,255-square-foot building at 5 Whatney in the Irvine Spectrum.
The building—not far from a collection of car dealerships, as well as the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center and the new office of Karma Automotive—had been marketed for sale as a potential corporate headquarters site.
A time frame for moving the collection into the building and opening the new facility is still in limbo but could occur late this year, Segerstrom said.
The collection didn’t get too many visitors besides the occasional car enthusiast or small gathering at the Gillette Avenue location.
“Right now it’s just my private collection,” he said.
Segerstrom said he plans to work with the city to get the necessary permits to open the Whatney location to the public as an event center and perhaps a museum.
“It would be available for rent” for small events, he said. “But it will take a lot of planning for that to happen.”
Money from the events would go to a shriners children’s hospital. Segerstrom said he and his family have long been supporters of the Shriners.
Segerstrom is no stranger to real estate transactions. His family has some of Orange County’s best-known real estate developers and owners.
His father, Hal, served as managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons with his first cousin, Henry Segerstrom, until his death in 1994. Henry Segerstrom died in 2015.
Ted Segerstrom’s sister, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, is a managing partner of the family firm.
C.J. Segerstrom & Sons is responsible for turning lima bean fields into much of Costa Mesa’s downtown and arts district. The family business owns and operates South Coast Plaza shopping center and a portfolio of high-end office buildings in Costa Mesa, among other holdings.
Ted Segerstrom said he stepped back from the family business about 15 years ago.
That recently restored Whatney building he bought went for about $8.8 million in December, according to property records.
Steve Wagner and Louis Tomaselli, with the Irvine office of JLL, represented the seller of the building, a Yorba Linda-based entity listed in property records as Eastpark Drive LLC. Segerstrom was represented by Larry Schuler, with the Newport Beach office of CBRE Group Inc.