Old Gray SedanIt is said that old habits die hard. It can now be said that old hobbies don’t die at all. This is at least the case with lifelong Marin County resident and classic car connoisseur, James Holmes. Picturesque, pristine, prestigious or pretty close to perfect are instant adjectives that come to mind when discussing the characteristics of the wealthy Marin County. These same features can just as easily be used in describing Mr. Holmes’ preciously preserved 1962 Dodge Lancer GT. His cream-colored two-door sedan is easily mistaken for a 1950 Plymouth Valiant with both having comparable grill, lights and other design features.


James Holmes became only the third owner of the 1962 Lancer when he purchased it in 1995 from chairman of the Marin Historical Society, William Vanderbilt. It would seem destiny that Mr. Holmes should become the owner of the treasure with the back window bearing a sticker from his alma mater, UC Davis. Further sweetening the purchase came along the perks of the original sales slip, operating, and maintenance manuals. Unlike the pocket-sized encyclopedia-encoded auto course manuals in contemporary cars, these easy-to-follow guides actually make troubleshooting seem as simple as ABCs.

As if to go back to the future with a feature copying today’s automobile models, the 1962 Lancer has a push-button transmission and a Slanted Six engine. Though the push-button process is largely appreciated on many devices including cars today, jamming still poses a potential problem. Other minor problems with the car could be with finding engine parts for such a rare ride. Holmes usually remedies this with a ready list of wrecking yards that are centrally located in the Deep South. His experience with wrecking yards has generally resulted in retrieving the part or a solid referral to another wrecking yard.

Despite a few quirks, Mr. Holmes’ 1962 Lancer still stands out in a class of its own amongst a flurry of elegance in Marin County. He has become accustom to hearing comments like “cool car” and “nice ride” when others reference his car. He even gained so much admiration from a Jaguar driver that she rear ended his Lancer. The new Jaguar was nearly totaled in the collision while the Lancer and Mr. Holmes fortunately drove away with barely a scratch.

The year 1962 is momentous and memorable for so many reasons. It is the year when the Mona Lisa was first exhibited in the United States. It is the year when Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points in an NBA game. It is also the year when Dodge discontinued the Lancer to make way for the now popular Dodge Dart. Mona Lisa’s exact smile is unlikely to be replicated. Wilt Chamberlain’s triple-digit NBA game is unlikely to be repeated. But thanks to the new number one recycled consumer product, the automobile, the 1962 Lancer can be infinitely restored. In a place like Marin County where natural beauty and affluence seemingly symbolize the setting, James Holmes’ preserved 1962 Dodge Lancer GT holds its own amongst the litany of luxury vehicles.