Grandfather’s Influence

Brad Jamison, a fourth generation jeweler in Mitchell, SD, has a strong love of cars. As a youngster, Brad would ride around with his grandfather, Fred Woelfel, to check out the area car lots and look for the next new car. Fred always had a new Cadillac and Lincoln, and a Blazer for the winter. Brad credits the car shopping with Grandpa as the reason for his own enjoyment of shopping, dealing, and hauling home newfound automotive purchases. From 2000 to 2008, Brad operated a used car lot in Mitchell. During those years, Brad found that he really enjoyed the people he’d meet while dealing with cars.

When Brad and Donna’s two kids, Kari and Chase, were old enough to be “doing their own thing” with friends, Brad found he needed a pastime to occupy his hours when not at his jewelry store, Woelfel Jewelry. While driving to work one day, Brad spotted two men working on a black Pontiac Trans Am. After visiting with them, Brad gave the men his card and told them if they ever got tired of their project, to give him a call. Weeks later, they did call; a deal was struck and in 2005 Brad became the proud owner of a 1977 Trans Am Special Edition.

This cover-worthy Trans Am is like Burt Reynolds’ “Bandit” car from Smokey and the Bandit.  Brad was only the third owner of the TA. Soon after purchasing the vehicle, Brad had a full restoration done. Purchasing this car and going through the restoration process was all it took to get Brad thoroughly hooked on the car collecting hobby.

After the kids were through college, Brad started looking for cars in earnest. Nightly, he shopped eBay, craigslist, and sources like The Motor Market to see what might be out there. He started without a specific make or model in mind, but eventually found that he gravitated towards pace cars, Trans Ams, and sports cars. The fact that Brad had a 1980 Firebird in high school probably was an influence on his decision. Ultimately, regardless of the model, if a car caught his eye that was solid, priced right, and was within driving distance, Brad was interested. Presently, the collection stands at 27 collector cars, plus a few “daily drivers” for Brad and Donna.

With a collection this size, one would think there must be a few favorites. The ‘77 Trans Am SE “Bandit” car is Brad’s overall favorite. The car is equipped with a 6.6L engine and automatic transmission. Most cars in the late 1970s aren’t known as ultimate performance machines, but this Pontiac Trans Am model ranks near the top for its day.

While the Trans Am was still in the restoration process, Brad bought another favorite: a red 1967 Camaro. This car is an SS clone and was restored prior to Brad purchasing it. Motivation here comes from a later model fuel injected Vortec 350 engine through a TH350 transmission. It’s hard not to like a red Camaro from the 1960s.

While you can’t go wrong with a red Camaro, a red Chevelle isn’t far behind. In this case, it’s a 1972 SS396 clone. Chevrolet didn’t build an SS396 in 1972, but this car is a nice representation of what might have been. Horsepower was on the decline by 1972, but this car has a serious 396 coupled to the four-speed Muncie transmission. With headers and a throaty exhaust note, this car sounds downright menacing.

Another top favorite for Brad is the 1978 Indy Pace Car Corvette, one of 6502 built. While Brad usually tries to buy locally, this car came from Mike’s Corvettes in New Hampshire. With only 23,000 miles on the car, Brad had this one hauled here after purchase. Brad and Donna really enjoyed taking the Corvette to the Black Hills Corvette Classic this year.

One of Brad’s best eBay buying experiences involved his 1993 Indy Pace Car Z28 Camaro. The black and white Camaro is one of 645 built and came from Chicago. When Brad arrived to claim the car, it was “under a car cover and was spotless.” Brad says he’s never had a terrible buying experience, as we often hear about, but most cars aren’t nearly as clean and well presented as this Camaro was.

Oh, and by the way, Brad also likes motorcycles. He has 14 motorcycles total, nine of which are Yamaha TT 500s. All the Yamahas are from 1976-81, and Brad has them in the various colors offered over the years. Although Brad never raced the bikes, he “did do a lot of wheelies!” 

With a collection this size, space doesn’t permit us to cover all the various cars, motorcycles, and memorabilia in Brad’s collection. You’ll want to take a look at the listing of cars for a complete itemization of the collection. You’ll note that it’s quite an eclectic variety of cars. There’s even a nice red Porsche 944 in the mix. Brad drives all his cars although, as one might understand, with 27 cars, most of them don’t get driven a lot.

Brad and Donna view their car collection as an investment in their future retirement. Brad once dabbled in the stock market, but he now sees this collection as a more stable investment. Brad has traded a few diamond rings towards cars, and he always tries to “buy right” on any car he invests in. He gives Donna credit for being supportive of the car hobby, letting him build a 60x80 building for the collection, and traveling along to pick up most of the cars.

Brad has a three-year-old grandson named Diesel. He’s hopeful that soon he and Diesel can begin shopping area car lots together just like Brad used to do with his grandfather. I think we might be safe in predicting that Diesel is one younger person who may carry on the future of the car hobby.

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