It was 1960 when Diane Day walked into a hopping hamburger stand in Norwalk to buy a Coke, leaving her father's 1957 black and white Ford Fairlane parked outside of Scott's Drive-In. She returned to find a man sitting in the driver's seat.
Tom Day had seen the young blonde walk in front of his car and wanted to meet her. Apparently, the trick worked.
He picked the right car, and the right woman, and the right time. He has remained in the driver's seat ever since, they joke.
Fifty-one years later, at age 68, with three children, eight grandchildren, and about 100 classic cars, the Corona couple expects to finish the Day Family Classic Cars museum in Corona on Wardlow Road in about three weeks. The museum transports visitors to an earlier time with scenes from the 1920s to a rural mustang corral for Ford Mustangs and a Vets Vetts area with Corvettes honoring veterans.
Glistening Ford Galaxies from the 1950s and Mustangs from the '60s, along with other classic cars blanket the inside of a 33,000-square-foot building built by the Days specifically for the museum. Walls are covered with scenes from Mayberry, the fictional town portrayed in "The Andy Griffith Show," and Floyd's Barber Shop sits nearby shiny red gas pumps at Wally's Service Station.
Next door is a replica of the drive-in where the Days met and a few feet away is Gage Drive-In theater, the South Gate drive-in where they had their first date.
A pile of Lucille Ball Hollywood memorabilia and an autographed Shaquille O'Neal basketball sit a few car-lengths away from a 1929 speakeasy modeled after the bar near where the famous St. Valentine's Day massacre happened.
"I was born to live in the '40s and '50s," Diane Day said, who is the real person behind amassing about 100 cars over about seven years, with an invested value of about $4.9 million, and some costing as much as $220,000. "I just love old cars."
Diane Day said it started with a 1957 Chevy her husband sold for a newer 1963 Pontiac LeMans shortly after the pair married. She never forgot it and always missed it.
"That broke my heart," Day said.
The museum's first fundraiser was June 22, 2011 to raise money for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation that provides support and strives for a cure to paralysis. The event raised over $70,000 for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.
Source: The Press Enterprise