Sunday, January 27, 2019

Manhattan business owner to offer dream car museum in former Ray’s Apple Market - The Topeka Capital-Journal

When CivicPlus owner Ward Morgan decided to open his car collection to the public, he thought the collection would be more of a museum.

Then, thinking that sounded too “stuffy,” he changed the exhibit to “The Midwest Dream Car Collection.”

Now he is worried the cars won’t live up to the hype. But with vehicles that include a 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, 1961 Morgan Plus 4 Drophead Coupe and a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Morgan admits he might be overthinking it.

“We’ve got about 60 cars,” Morgan said. “They’re somewhere between automotive icons and dream cars. We’ll see — I think people will find it interesting no matter what, but I always set a high bar for myself and am probably overanalyzing and thinking about it too much.”

What began as a simple storage facility for his cars grew rapidly after Morgan bought the 54,000-square-foot former Ray’s Apple Market at 3047 Anderson Ave. in Manhattan. Morgan bought the property in April 2018, but after the building flooded this fall, the opening date was pushed to this spring.

It gave Morgan time to add additional attractions, such as a self-service bar, in addition to planned amenities, such as the mechanic shop to service vehicles and two event spaces with a caterer’s kitchen and conference room.

Morgan said patrons will be able to load money onto a prepaid card to purchase self-serve beer and wine while relaxing in the refreshment area and recreation room.

Morgan said he had to be convinced to buy his second collectors' car. At the time, he had no plans to start a collection. He wasn’t particularly keen on spending time maintaining them, and he had no place to store them. But once he committed, Morgan went all out.

He and his wife, Brenda, began going to auctions, and they bought the 60-car collection in the last 18 months, with the majority purchased in the past nine.

When researching which cars he thinks will best fit the museum, Morgan said, he does a lot of his own research but is also working with Drew Casper, the museum's full-time curator. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the vehicles, Morgan wants to tell their history and each car’s story.

“The proceeds are all going to the museum for preservation and display of the cars,” Morgan said. “To share automotive history and also the history of automotives with people, that’s our mission.”

Morgan said he hopes to act as a volunteer at the museum. He and Brenda don't plan to sit on the nonprofit’s board of directors, but Morgan said he will lend a hand in selecting future cars for the space.

The Midwest Dream Car Collection is tentatively scheduled to open in April. Admission will cost between $5 and $8, and the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets will be discounted online.

For updates, visit the Midwest Dream Car Collection Facebook page.

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