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Auto Antiques in the press
After visiting the Palmyra store in early 2019, 55 Plus columnist John Addyman wrote the following feature article which was published in the March-April 2019 issue of 55 Plus magazine:
It's All About Model Cars, Memories
A visit to the Palmyra store is a chance to be reacquainted with one's youth
By John Addyman
The store is remarkably quiet except for the murmurs of customers who have found a memory.
You hold it in your hand. And in nanoseconds, stories about your youth — or last summer — suffuse within you, taking you to another place.
In your mind, the memory is vapor. Vivid, but vapor. But you’re holding something in your hand now, something bright and shiny and rich.
A model car: A Ford Thunderbird. A Mustang. A ‘57 Chevy, A Shelby Cobra. A Camaro Z-28. A Dodge Viper. An Audi TT or Alfa Romeo 4c.
It’s detailed. Real rubber. The steering works. The engine is in detailed splendor. A car you dreamed about is in your hands. A car you drove is here to share with friends. A car that you and your wife made out in — right there in that tiny back seat — is a memory you can take home and put on a shelf.
Auto Antiques, a very special store at routes 21 and 31 in Palmyra, has thousands of die-cast cars just like the one in your hand. And books and sales literature about the car. And drag race versions of it. NASCAR models, too. Special TV cars and trucks and motorcycles and ambulances.
Mark Theobald 60, is the owner, curator and collector who softly greets clients. He has years of experience as a car wholesaler, is a nationally known expert on coachbuilders (the companies that made special bodies for high-end cars), has created successful websites that compared crash-test data for car buyers, and has accumulated a museum’s worth of stuff for Auto Antiques, his third store.
For gearheads, a visit to the store is to be reacquainted with your youth in everything from $2 Hot Wheels up to $600 rare drag racing cars (Grumpy’s Toys, for instance).
Theobald is in constant touch with the market selling below eBay prices, with an inventory you don’t have to wait for the Postal Service to deliver — you walk out of the store with it.
Collecting model cars is a male preoccupation mostly, and sometimes it’s not easy.
“Guys may have a collection but it’s not on display in their house,” he said. “They may have a cool man cave where their wife lets them keep the stuff that she doesn’t want to see. One thing I noticed just coming into the store — a guy will coerce his wife into driving up to the store. They will sit in the car and argue for a few minutes. Sometimes the guy will come into the store and sometimes they will leave. Many wives are averse to it because it’s money that could be spent on them, as simple as that, or on something she wants.”
That’s half the problem. The other part is sadder.
“Very few people collecting anything today
are under the age
of 50,” he said. “Ten years from now if I’m alive, you might see this
still open I may make a little money. If I weren’t as well off as I am,
“The stuff will go away when we die. Very few people come into the store under the age of 40. There are teenagers who come in here, who have been exposed through video games. Most of them are just content to play the video games, but there are a couple of kids who come in here who are thrilled to be in here. When we were kids, you were either into sports, cars or music. I was into cars and music.”
Theobald and his wife, Sarah, a psychiatrist, were living in Vermont when he opened his first store, Motor Library; offering only books, yet it was successful. A second store, in Holland Patent near Utica, sold fewer books but a lot of die-cast cars, with a huge NASCAR selection.
Now, in the Palmyra store, Auto Antiques has books for sale, thousands of them. But he’s still waiting for the market to return — most of them are half-price.
“I love automotive books,” he said. “I’m an automotive historian. I need books to do my research. I started off as a rare automotive book dealer 25 year ago. Books were popular then. I would buy three or four copies of a popular title because I would sell them. Virtually every book in the store is half-priced because I last marked them 10 years ago. And they’re still not moving and I probably have 5,000 books in the store. That’s kind of sad.”
Want a book about Ferraris? He has 80. And 60 Porsche books. 70 Mercedes books. And lots of Ford and Chevrolet and, well, you name it.
The store answers a lot of, “Do you have?” questions.
Looking for a dealership sales piece on a particular car? Ask Mark.
A Pirelli tire sign? Ask Mark.
Old issues of Hot Rod magazine, say from the 1960s? Mark has them, and a lot of other popular publications from inception to demise. “They’re really cheap,” he said.
Magazine ads for cars? He’ll sell you the whole magazine. “It breaks my heart to tear up an old magazine to get the ads out” he said.
The selection of die-cast cars extends in racks from the floor to the ceiling. Walk in the door and turn left and in a few steps you’re looking at the “A’s” — Audi, Alfa Romeo and AMC. At the opposite end of the store are the “Z’s” — Zimmers, for instance.
Most of the cars in the store are from $20 to $60, and in many cases, he has different years and colors available. Theobald will school you on the quality models and point out the details of each.
He has Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint-issued cars in special cases and more are in storage. “The market for them is dwindling” he said. Most of them were $100 — $125 when they were new. With some exceptions, they’re $40 now; but they are beautiful cars. Nobody is ever going to make cars this detailed again.”
Theobald also stocks a few airplanes and boats and even has material on electric trains, but quickly adds, “That’s another dead subject. Railroad fans are dropping like flies. I also have tons of inventory of Mack trucks and snow plows, but people don’t care about them anymore. That’s the story of my store… I have lots of stuff for old men.”
What he stocks in the store has changed a little with the new location in Palmyra, where he’s still in his first year of operation. He now has DVDS, race clothing, piles of photos and posters.
On this day, two men came in. One was in his 60s, the other in his 30s. Father and son. A few minutes in one of the aisles and Theobald heard a familiar conversation begin.
“Look at this,” the younger man said. “Do you remember this car?” And the men started a talk, jogged by a memory.
There’s so much more to a model car than holding it in your hand.©2019 John Addyman, & 55 Plus Magazine
Sun & Record Wayne County Mail managing editor John Addyman visited the Palmyra store in late 2018 which resulted in the following feature which appeared in the January 31, 2019 issue of the Sun & Record Wayne County Mail:
American Car-loving gearhead? This is your store full of treasures
By John Addyman
PALMYRA, NY, January 17, 2019 - It’s a gearhead’s trip to Nirvana.
Stop at the intersection of Rts. 21 and 31, glance south, and you see flashing red and green lights in a shop up a small incline. That’s Auto Antiques.
Inside, Mark Theobald, sells memories in large and small doses. He has thousands and thousands of car models. And so much more.
For instance, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars are on display and in bins. "Customers are welcome to come in and spend a couple of hours looking through them," Theobald said.
The majority of the cars are larger diecast modelš in various scales 1/24, 1/8, 1/43, 1/64 and others.
Walk in the door turn left, and go all the way to the wall. There, stacked to the ceiling are diecast cars beginning with ‘A’ — Audi, Alfa Romeo and AMC.
Come in the door and go all the way to right, and you’re looking floor to ceiling at Zimmers and Willys cars.
Higher up around the store are specialty models — famous drag racing cars and NASCAR racers and military vehicles and police cruisers and ambulances. Some of them cost over $150, but most of the cars in the store are from $20 to $60.
And they’re beautiful, because the store’s owner is fussy. Very fussy. We should all have garages as neat and orderly and organized as the Auto Antiques store.
Pick an interesting car, and Mark Theobald, who owns the store, will take you to models of it.
“Adults in this area are totally averse to anything foreign,” Theobald said, “even though they may be driving a Kia. In their collections, they’re American 100 percent all the way, and primarily they want muscle cars, Mustangs, Corvettes.”
TV and movie cars are also good sellers — he can’t keep models of the A-Team van in stock. . . . .If you re looking for a Maserati or Lamborghini, or MG or Triumph or 240Zmodel.... he has plenty of those.
Theobald, 60, got involved with cars when he was 4 years old and managed to drive his dad’s car down the driveway and across the street without hurting anything or anyone.
An exemplary musician and bookish historian of coachbuilders and cars, he’s written an encyclopedia about coach builders who made some of the most beautiful cars every produced.
He’s been a car wholesaler. He’s worked on cars. He played in the Syracuse University jazz ensemble. And a few years after marrying a psychiatrist, Sarah, whom he met while working at Strong Memorial Hospital, he opened a store in his father-in-law’s barn in Wells, VT.
That store sold
only automobile books but had a humming market.
Today, in Auto
in Palmyra, he has 5,000 car books; 80 Ferrari books, 70 Mercedes
books, 60 Porsche books, 60 Rolls-Royce books, books on Corvettes,
Mustangs, Camaros, Mopar, Ford... you name it, he’s got it.
And most are
Sarah had stopped working, to take care of her
mom. After five years, Sarah needed more, and took a job with the state
of New York, and the Theobalds moved to Holland Patent, NY, near Utica.
store, a converted 1875 country store, sold books and cars, with a huge
Coming back to the area last year (he was raised in Greece), Theobald looked at 10 properties east of Rochester and found Palmyra. The intersecting highways and traffic light were perfect, although he’d like a much bigger store.
Auto Antiques sells cars and books, yes. But also magazines — many complete sets from the first edition to the last, like Sports Car Graphic. He’ll sell you two vintage Hot Rod issues for $6. Not too many years ago, they were $20 apiece.
He sells automobiliana signs. Oil signs. Gas signs. Car brand signs. Oil filter signs. Some start at $12. He sells the literature you used to find in car dealerships. He has press kits. Advertisements. Brochures. Photographs. DVDs. Posters. Model kits. And everything is neatly arranged and alphabetized. It’s easy to come in for one thing and leave with several.
And then there’s Mark, who is conversant with just about anything automotive. Start talking to him for a couple of minutes and asking questions, and pretty soon an hour has flown by.
If baseball fans have a hot stove to gather around, gearheads have Auto Antiques. It is a unique place, a rewarding experience.
©2019 John Addyman, Sun & Record Wayne County Mail
Apex Auto Magazine staff writer
Brian Coupe and photojournalist Jordan Polizzi visited the Holland
Patent, NY store in late 2015 which resulted in the following feature
appeared in the January 2016 issue of Apex:
Car Enthusiast Shop // Collectibles & Books
by Brian Coupe
Nestled in the Village area of Holland Patent stands a quaint, two story building for the Adirondack Motorbooks & Collectibles. We had an opportunity to meet with the owner, Mark Theobald, who is an incredibly knowledgeable individual when it comes to all things automobile. Entering the store brings about the feeling of stepping into the pristine wood interior of a magazine quality camp many of us would enjoy spending time in during weekends. The entire location is alphabetized and organized in an almost too good to be true manner. Looking to the far right corner of the front section we see numerous 1/18 scale diecast models near the ceiling and it continues around and behind our heads at the front entrance. With a glance to our left, we see the wrap around and continuance to the back of the store. The floor level shows us rows of documents, classic magazines, article blurbs, and brochures. All in like new quality. I quickly pulled a random magazine from 50+ years ago and it looked like it had never been opened. Something like that is both exciting and heartwarming to see how well kept everything is in the store. Mark certainly takes great pride in finding quality pieces for automobile enthusiasts to come check out in person or decide to take home and add to a personal collection.
Continuing on inward through the store brings about factory vehicle literature and enough hard cover books of all shapes and sizes to embarrass any chain bookstore automotive section. The 1/18 scale diecast models are still at ceiling height, but we are now also greeted with Matchbox sized vehicles neatly placed on pegs at eye to floor level. The room furthest away from the front entrance is filled to the brim with additional models all still in their retail boxes, each lovingly placed on the shelf to prevent box damage. At this point in time we had already been at the store for over an hour, only seen 50% of it, and moved about 30 feet from the entrance. Tracing our path back towards the front of the store we can choose yet another path which leads to even more diecast vehicles and Matchbox cars of various, but alphabetized, makes and models. The outside of the store is certainly deceiving in regards to the amount of items able to be stored within. DVDs…and I think I saw some VHS tapes, are also available. This store is just another example of “I can’t believe this place is right here in Central New York”.
In addition to being the owner of the Adirondack Motorbooks & Collectibles website, www.motorlibrary.com, Mark is also the curator of www.coachbuilt.com. This website is an incredible resource and glimpses into the world of custom, coach built vehicles from yesteryear. It’s difficult to put into words the amount of work completed here by Mark to compile and post this amount of information. All we have to do as viewers is simply locate and click on any of the 1,200+ represented builders. Please, after reading this article take a little bit of time to check out either of these web pages and complete a browse. There is an absurd amount of information here and will take less time than a Google search on the same subject matter. We here at Apex Automotive Magazine would like to thank Adirondack Motorbooks & Collectibles for taking the time to meet and show us around the store after hours. This article simply cannot fully describe the experience. Be sure to head up and check it all out for yourself. Perhaps indulge in a sweet diecast vehicle purchase to remember the initial visit like I did. We look forward to future visits because the store is in constant flux of what may now be available and what may have been sold since the last visit. However, make sure you set aside a couple of hours to do so because this store is certainly a time vortex. What feels like a half hour visit will suddenly be discovered as three hours passing. Have fun!
©2019 Brian Coupe, Apex Auto Magazine
John Sturbin visited the Holland Patent, NY store during late summer of
2014 which resulted in the following feature which
appeared in Racin' Today:
John Sturbin | Senior Writer,
– John Sturbin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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