Westport’s Best Rides
A new Post Road showroom for the Dragone brothers’ classic car business provides collectors and browsers with an eye-popping inventory of iconic vehicles.
For over thirty years Manny and George Dragone have bought, sold, repaired, restored, rebuilt and displayed a long parade of beautiful vintage cars in the buildings they own in Bridgeport, attracting a worldwide following for their business. But last year, when the former home of Westport’s Saab dealership became available, the brothers took the opportunity to provide a high-profile space to exhibit their constantly changing, and totally amazing, inventory of classic automobiles.
“This space gives us the opportunity to just have cars for sale,” says George Dragone, as he walks me through what seems like an ocean of perfectly restored and polished vintage cars, some dating back more than a century. “We had been looking for a location, since our facility in Bridgeport is much more of a working space than a show space.”
From pristine Packards and Porsches, to sleek Italian roadsters (a Moretti, anyone?) and a nearly priceless Duesenberg, the Dragones quickly reveal their encyclopedic knowledge of cars. Visiting their showroom is akin to touring an auto museum, and it’s free.
As cars come and go, and move between the Bridgeport facility and the Westport showroom, various models will take center stage. But the Dragones have also packed the garage with some of their best and shiniest finds.
In these days of subcompacts and hybrids, the dimensions of the classic models from the 1930s and 40s seem enormous. George Dragone notes that the business recently shipped a 1935 Packard, carefully wrapped in its container for the transcontinental journey, to a Russian tycoon.
The Westport experience goes beyond window shopping, or even active car-shopping. George and his brother obviously have the collector’s gene, and in addition to the automobiles themselves, there is an enormous range of memorabilia on display, all for sale. Model cars, hood ornaments, license plates, and rare advertising posters have all found a home in the showroom, on view for any visitor who takes an interest.
In Dragone’s office, I even got a peek at a large, hand-carved desk that once belonged to famed stockbroker E. F. Hutton.
“He had been married to Marjorie Merriweather Post, and when we went to buy her Packard, we saw the desk, and bought that, too,” recalls George, who also has a library of early twentieth century novels, mostly written for adolescent girls, that revolve around cars and driving. After years in the business, Dragone has noticed one facet of the supposedly mostly male world of car collecting: there are lots of women who love cars, too On the walls of the showroom are a number of prints and original paintings by Litchfield County artist Chris Osborne, who takes as her subjects classic American vehicles—think pink Thunderbird and butter-yellow Caddy—with equally classic celebrity drivers, such as Elvis, Marilyn, and Westport’s own Paul Newman, shown in an Osborne painting with his racing Datsun at Lime Rock Park.
Because they now have a large facility with plentiful parking, the Dragones host “Cruise Night”—an opportunity for car collectors to gather in the evening with their own prized automobiles, and have a look at others—twice a month during the summer. George asks interested car fans to check the website, or call for dates and times.
And there’s an opportunity for auction fans to bid on rarities. Having held its first event in May, where a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Beverly was the top lot, gaveling down for a sum in seven figures, the Dragones are planning their next auction on October 20th.
176 Post Road West
Westport, CT 06880 USA