The warm sun of Palm Beach shone like jewels on the hoods of many colorful classics. The Breakers Hotel parking lot has been transformed into a treasure chest for car enthusiasts and guests in attendance. Everyone was excited to see the classic American beauties in a relaxed, personable setting.
My friend John Shibles from Ocean Ridge, Florida and Sea Girt, New Jersey started collecting cars in the 1960’s. His late wife encouraged him to collect cars as a hobby after unsuccessful forays into painting, golf and tennis.
John worked his way through college and began buying troubled properties and properties with hard-to-find titles. At one point his real estate portfolio had 17 Home Depots. He uses the skills he picked up in real estate to find out the history and provenance of the cars he buys.
He prides himself on acquiring rare cars and finding out the story behind each one. He keeps in touch with the heirs, cousins and nephews of his cars. More importantly, six of John’s 13 cars were invited to the acclaimed Pebble Beach Classic Car Show.
John affectionately calls his museum, which houses his valuable cars, “The Garage”. Visitors are welcome.
When John enters his car museum, he says, “Hello kids!” to his 13 cars, which he has named.
All cars were named by John:
“Coco” A 1924 Renault
“Dick” 1933 Pierce Arrow sports coupe
“Lipstick” 1939 Laconde Coupe
“Pierre” 1938 Bugati Teal Type 57c
“Buttercup” 1932 Muntz Jet
“Murph” 1929 Duesenberg
“Abe” 1933 Lincoln
‘Michelle Ma Belle’1947 Targo Lago
“Earle” 1933 Packard 12 Roadster
‘Bella Via’ 1929 Tsotta Franschini
“Woody” 1939 Ford Woody
“My Latte” 1935 Maroon
And the last car was a big surprise for Jill. He bought her a 1935 Maroon boat tail roadster.
He doesn’t play favorites and takes excellent care of his car family. He maintains a full-time mechanic to take care of them so he can use them.
“What’s the use of having cars you can’t drive? he asks. “Classics are built to be driven!”
Jill placed second in her category with the Maroon boat tail roadster. Her Maroon lost points because the top was not closed.
Every December 26th, John hosts a Christmas party at his Classic Car Museum in Sea Girt, New Jersey to clear away the Christmas tree and decorations. A few years ago, Jill was invited to the party by a mutual friend. She left her reading glasses in the case with her business card. John called Jill and the romance began.
Jill learned all about cars from the age of four from her older brother, Dr. Craig Zarelli. He encouraged them to identify all cars on road trips. She had learned to drive with a clutch in high school on a FIAT sports car and in college on a colleague’s old car.
John was drawn to Jill’s panache, classic beauty and the fact that unlike other women she could drive his cars with confidence and ease.
John and Jill were married with their families during the peak of COVID-19 in October 2020. John loves being with his two sons and his grandchildren, his friends and most of all John loves to see Jill happy.