A Wyoming man created a stir among Porscheophiles when he put a fleet of more than 60 vintage Porsches up for sale. But John Small's offer has enthusiasts debating the line between collector and hoarder.
Small, 47, figures he's had some kind of Porsche since he was 18. A mechanical engineer by training and a real estate investor by trade, Small harbored plans for many years to get into some kind of business with his fleet in Sheridan, Wyo., selling parts and swapping cars.
While he's owned a few 912s, and dabbled with newer models, the collection is nearly all 911s, housed in an old body shop for a Ford dealership, on land that once belonged to Buffalo Bill Cody. Taking up two floors, Small says he once owned more than 70.
"At this point," he told Jalopnik, "it's still a hobby."
And Small says it's time to get on with life. He has been thinking of moving out of Sheridan. He also said he was getting frustrated by "the looky-loos, the people I inadvertently spend a lot of time with where they buy anything or not."
"I'm stuck here, even though my interests are elsewhere," Small said. "That's most of the motivation. I can't take it all with me."
In a late-night decision, Small decided to post an ad for the whole lot on a Porsche enthusiast site asking for $100,000 block bids, which set off a stampede of responses.
And that's when the looky-loos spoke up.
John Small is a familiar name among some circles of Porsche message boards. And they tell a different story: of a guy who pops up occasionally with a trove of Porsches or parts, and then never actually sells them.
Back in 2005, Small was banned from the Pelican Parts forum after posters complained he would advertise cars and parts, then go silent:
Seriously, almost ALL the cars on this list have been posted for sale over the past couple years, without a SINGLE sale. He loves to generate interest and then never follow through with any sales, even at asking price or above. I have spoken to him several times by phone and he hems and haws and never will actually sell anything. I think it's a game he plays...getting people to beg for cars he doesn't intend to sell. Some neat cars, but this is really just a tease.
Several suggested Small had crossed the line from a car collector to a car hoarder, someone who gathers for the sake of gathering. Small's reply then:
i see now why i didn't visit this site for 4 months
it seems that pelican members are totally informed about everything under the sun and take every statement literally
when i said most cars i should have said some are already spoken for by potential buyers
sorry to have wasted anyone's time especially mine
In 2007, Nick Moss, a British Porsche enthusiast, reported a similar transaction:
The guy is called John Small. I tried to buy all his cars (about 20) as a job lot about 3 years ago, even sent someone all the way to Wyoming (?) from England to look at them, but could not close a deal. The man is not playing with a full deck.
Other posters on Bring A Trailer have chimed in to defend Small after his most recent ad:
I live in the building next to the building these cars are stored in. And I have helped him load a ton of them up that he has sold this year. I know he will sell to the buyer that shows the green. He just don't mess with the trash thats all talk and no paper. If you want the car and have the cash to back it he will deal.
The ad Small had posted has been updated with better photos. He says he knows there are people online who don't believe he will sell a single Stuttgart screw, let alone part with a collection built over three decades.
"I don't know how they have all the facts when I don't report every single sale to them," he said.
"They're kind of weighing me down at this point," he added. "I have enough to have some fun."