Woman channels car collecting into museum, gallery

By Melinda Mawdsley

The Daily Sentinel

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 15 2010 7:19 p.m. MST

Tammy Allen sits in one of her favorite cars, a 1957 Elvis Cadillac, in her collection in the Allen Car Museum in Grand Junction, Colo., on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. The car museum that Allen, 50, has longed to have for decades is ready to open, giving the Grand Junction woman a chance to share her extensive collection of rare and expensive cars with the public.

The Daily Sentinel, Dean Humphrey, Associated Press

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Girls just want to have fun. But Tammy Allen is confident she knows a place where guys will want to hang out, too.

The car museum that Allen, 50, has longed to have for decades is ready to open, giving the Grand Junction woman a chance to share her extensive collection of rare and expensive cars with the public.

The Gallery and Showroom at Allen Unique Autos on River Road, opens at 11 a.m. Dec. 18. The museum shares warehouse space with Allen Unique Autos, the limousine rental business Allen also owns.

The museum also can host special events. The event rental space is available at varying rates depending on the size of the party and includes a full bar area, games, TV screens, and space to set up tables and chairs with a simple rearrangement of the nearly 80 vehicles already stored in the museum.

Allen owns more cars kept at a separate location, which she plans to rotate with the cars already at the showroom.

"She's really excited," said Misty Allen, 24, one of Tammy Allen's daughters.

The hundreds of hours of preparation that went into opening the museum, from designing the lobby to selecting what mirrors to hang in the bathrooms, is nearing completion. However, there are additions that will be made to the museum in the days and months ahead, Tammy Allen said.

Those additions won't stop the museum from opening in time for Christmas, which is among Tammy Allen's favorite days of the year. In fact, opening the museum by Christmas was important to her to give her the chance to hold a toy drive in conjunction with the museum's opening.

From 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Dec. 18, every person who brings an unwrapped toy to donate to The Salvation Army will receive free admission into the museum. One toy per person. Allen plans to match the donations, and she is ready to go shop for toys.

The museum's regular admission rate is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 4 to 12. Children younger than 4 get in free. The museum will be open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on most Fridays and Saturdays throughout the winter. People also can visit the museum by appointment. Misty Allen said the hours may change as the weather warms, depending on demand.

The walking tour of the collection of cars inside the museum will interest both knowledgeable car collectors and novice car enthusiasts alike.

For example, Allen has the 2007 Rolls Royce previously owned by Hollywood star Nicolas Cage. If luxury isn't your desire, check out Sonny and Cher's 1966 Ford Mustangs. If the cars of actors or musicians aren't interesting to you, maybe you'll like the '47 Studebaker, the '38 Cadillac or the dozens of sports cars with fancy engines sure to enrapture avid muscle-car lovers.

But don't go thinking Allen has opened a clubhouse for boys. Her museum is a place for the ladies, too. After all, she's a woman who loves cars. Has ever since she was little.

Step through the museum's front doors, and animal-print pillows and floor-length, pink, velvety curtains greet you. Glance up, and you'll see a large statue, made to look like a hood ornament, stuck to the side of a wall. There is a statue of Marilyn Monroe in one corner and Santa's sleigh in another.

Other than family, Allen loves few things more than cars. Now, decades after she started her collection with a red Jaguar, she has a limousine business and a car museum for men, women and children to enjoy.

"Cars have stories," Allen said of watching people's emotional reactions to some of her vehicles. "It's neat to watch. When I started getting more and more cars, I said, 'I need to share it.' "

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