Vintage and classic automobiles find a spotlight at new Newport Beach showroom

Connoisseurs of vintage automobiles who also have the means to purchase them can find paradise at a recently-opened classic car showroom in Newport Beach.

Through a partnership involving Miles Morris and Malcolm Welford, both with roots in the United Kingdom’s vintage and race car industry, and JD Classics — a U.K.-based vintage car restoration and maintenance company — the 15,000-square-foot showroom titled Morris & Welford, a JD Classics Company, will take in vehicles on consignment and buy and sell cars outright.

“I think there is a great need in this area,” Welford said during a grand opening reception at the showroom Dec. 7. “It’s a beautiful part of the world. It’s car rich. It was a dream. Now it is a reality.”

According to Octane, a website covering the vintage car industry, Morris & Welford has brokered close to $650 million worth of classic car deals in the past 10 years.

Gems currently on display and for sale in the showroom that was once the site of a Rolls-Royce dealership include a 1948 Maserati A6/1500 selling for $995,000; a 1920 Stutz Bearcat Model H listed for $635,000; a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 going for $1.9 million; and a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC for $675,000.

Vintage cars more affordable to the masses include a 1959 Rambler Ambassador Wagon, a classic Newport Beach surf wagon for $55,000 and a 1971 Fiat 500 for $25,000.

The showroom is believed to be the only one of its type in the state, Welford said.

“We know that Los Angeles is a supercar mecca, but (in Orange County), you can breathe a little bit more,” Welford said. “The idea of the experience we are giving people is to walk around the car, relax, have a glass of wine, have a cup of coffee, come back and see it. Test drive it and enjoy the whole experience.”

Welford formerly worked for British auction house Christie’s as a senior specialist in its motor car division in the U.K. before moving to California.

Morris was a former head of Christie’s motor car department in the U.K. before relocating to Los Angeles to expand Christie’s U.S. presence. In June 2000, he became the worldwide head of Christie’s International Motor Cars Division.

Morris & Welford also have the backing of former Formula 1 world champion driver Jenson Button, a classic car enthusiast.

Button’s 2016 McLaren 675 LT Spider is for sale in the showroom for $480,000.

“There has one thing that has always been missing in California and that is good classic cars,” Button said.

While every vehicle in the showroom could be a museum piece, these vehicles are meant to be driven, Welford said.

“Driving one up-and-down the 405 is obviously not such a good experience for anybody but there are still beautiful roads in the States,” Welford said. “It can take a year to learn how to drive one till you understand the car and it understands you.”

Morris & Welford is at 4040 Campus Drive, Newport Beach. For more information, call (949) 679-2414 or visit morrisandwelford.com.

Lou Ponsi is a contributor to Times Community News.