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The Revs Institute's Car Collection

May 03, 2019 03:09PM ● By Patricia Letakis

Ooh and aah at some of the most impressive wheels in the world at The Revs Institute

The grace and functionality of motor vehicles are at our doorstep in Naples at The Revs Institute. It is here the theory of a motor vehicle’s impact can be measured. The Revs Institute has more than 100 significant vehicles available for close inspection. You’ll find multiple examples of exotic craftsmanship and refinement, racing cars, classics and one-of-a-kinds. The Revs also swaps out or sends its vehicles to world venues. However, what may appear at first glance to be a car emporium is not just a place to ogle cool vehicles and racing trophies, Revs is also a research facility and one of the world’s most comprehensive motor vehicle libraries.

Nestled in a quiet gray structure in Naples, Revs holds an astonishing selection of mostly European motor classics, early French and German racing power and innovative, ultra-sleek Italian motor vehicles. You’ll find nice examples of art deco and English design elegance, and other striking vehicles built by the Floridian Briggs Swift Cunningham, who later brought the first Jaguar imports to America. But there are many examples of American genius, including items and vehicles from racing legend Dan Gurney, classic Ford and Chevy racers, and a beautiful Model T. For true nostalgia, a wonderful Volkswagen Beetle with a touchscreen helps visitors discover the car’s peculiar history in pre-war Germany.

Porsche and Ferrari vehicles are plentiful at Revs. A 1948 Ferrari Spyder Corsa, for instance, the first in the United States is a favorite. It’s a sleek red racer once owned by Cunningham. The Ferrari Spyder was also the vehicle in which Sam Collier, one of the founders of the Automobile Racing Club of America, died racing in September 1950. Collier’s death was prominently reported in the New York press. The Colliers remain The Revs Institute’s benefactors. Miles Collier, the grandson of the advertising mogul and South Florida land baron, oversees the venue. Much of its collection is made up of Miles Collier’s cars, including a green 1962 Ferrari coupe. It was Enzo Ferrari’s personal vehicle (red reportedly was a buyer’s color). Miles Collier’s first car, a dark blue 1965 Porsche 356C coupe, is also on display. The car’s immutable style remains remarkable. It also strikes the visitor as acceptable vanity. The 356C is only unusual because it is his.

“The objects here are a testament to all that’s great in the human mind and spirit,” Miles Collier wrote in an online introduction when the former Collier Automotive Museum re-constituted itself as The Revs Institute in 2011.

For $25 and a reservation, a Revs visitor gets a docent-led tour of the 80,000-square-foot facility. Guests are instructed on the history of racing and technology, fun anecdotes in open exhibit space (try not to touch). Self-led tours are $17. It’s crazy not to spend the extra money, although smart volunteers, who are quite knowledgeable about the exhibits, offer help on each floor.

Most everything at Revs inspires and, perhaps, that is what sets it apart. Highlights include a nifty (and first) 1953 Porsche 550 racing coupe, which was discovered in parts at a shoe plant in Mexico. The owner raced the 550 in city-to-city venues and parked his cars in a barn. The Porsche then wasn’t worth much. Its value today, in its racing package, is immeasurable.

German, French, English and Italian racers of extreme importance dot the exhibit like golden apples, each with a story of the vehicle, a race or its owner. Some of the modern racers through the 1990s include Cooper Formula 1 racers, a Dan Gurney Eagle, Ford GT-40s, a 1971 Porsche 917K and a 1963 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport.

Whether you are a car aficionado or not, a visit to The Revs will leave you in awe at man’s ability to create these beautiful machines.