On a trip to California in the late 60s, Jack Safro was introduced to the RT40 Toyota Corona, a car then unheard of in his native Wisconsin. But everyone in California seemed to know it, and a dealer told him the quality was so good customers weren’t even bringing them in for the 1000-mile service. Before long, Safro had his own Toyota dealership back in Milwaukee.
According to this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, his franchise sold just 42 Coronas their first year, but it was enough to make Safro Toyota the midwest’s largest Toyota dealer.
From those humble beginnings, Safro expanded his business to five dealerships, including one of the first Lexus showrooms in the US. Over the years Safro also became quite the Toyota collector, with cars such as an 18RG-powered Corona coupe and the SCCA vintage race prepped 1976 Corolla SR-5 shown above.
Sadly, Safro passed away this January at the age of 72. As part of the resulting estate sale, his car collection is will be up for auction at the Mecum Spring Classic. Cars of note include cars like the sub-8700-mile Corona that sold a few years ago, JNCer robakun’s LHD Corona pickup, and a fully restored 1981 “Trekker” pickup. And if a MX73 Cressida limo, NASCAR Tundra or Paul McCartney Lexus RX should float your boat, Safro owned those too. It appears Mr. Safro was a dedicated collector and we can only hope that these cars will go to as good a home when they exchange hands later this spring.
The Mecum Spring Classic will be held May 13-17, 2009 at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds in Indanapolis, Indiana.
Thanks to Alex K. for the tip!