Rudi Klein emigrated to Canada as a young man and later to the USA. There he started a strange trade: he started buying up fine accident cars. His first model was a Mercedes 300 SL. The broken cars cost almost nothing. Shortly afterwards, he began to acquire vehicles from prominent previous owners for his car recycling, such as the Rolls-Royce convertible from Tony Curtis. Klein struck on a large scale in the first oil crisis. He bought noble fuel guzzlers with large engines. After the crisis ended, he sold them on at a profit.
You can find eleven photos from the volume in the photo gallery:
Weird business practice
His classic car and spare parts empire was a trade at first, but Rudi Klein was a owl and nerd who was reluctant to part with his treasures. He hated greedy souvenir hunters and, even though his business looked more like an endless junkyard, he knew the value of each grille.
His warehouse in South Central Los Angeles had grown to 16,000 square meters when Klein died in 2001. Full of car treasures that hoped for better times under dust, dirt and bird droppings. Shielded from the outside by high walls, only a few initiates knew that the largest open-air mausoleum of automotive treasures from all over the world was hidden there. The dimensions of the car dealership are unimaginable: Klein is said to have owned 200 Porsche 356s alone. He hoarded priceless one-offs, such as Rudolf Caracciola’s 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster limousine. The volume “Junk Yard” was created during a visit from Rudi Klein’s lifetime. The photos of the rotting dream cars lead into a surreal parallel world of rust and chipped paint in the middle of Los Angeles.
Klein’s business decisions were unclear. He sunk millions by investing in a new luxury car brand, but was considered a tough negotiator when it came to his wrecks. If a customer did not like him or a prospect failed with an unsuitable answer, Klein simply asked twice or sold nothing at all.
BMW is said to have tried to acquire lost classics for the factory collection, but for some reason Klein did not want to sell the cars to the manufacturer, they continued to bumble away. It would have been easy to better protect and cover the expensive cars. Klein was not interested in this either, or in restorations. “I prefer the original,” was his short explanation. After his death, the sons gradually dissolved the collection.
Junk Yard – dream cars on the junkyard – Dieter Rebmann, Roland Löwisch