Walking through Memory Lane Classic Cars on 27th and Holgate, you feel like you’ve jumped into a Pleasantville movie set. Surrounded by in exquisitely crafted, well-polished antique, classic, hot-rods and retro-rods, we sat down with Dale Matthews, owner of this SE staple shop. In 2009 Matthews wrote a book about the car business entitled Every Deal’s Different and that’s the motto he lives by.
Matthews started his career as a lot boy at age twelve in the early 50’s. Working for a man who opened the first Portland car lot on 82nd Street in 1953, Matthews would go there after school to wash and clean the cars. Thus began his love for cars that led him to open his own shop in 1960 he became the youngest car dealer in the City. After living in Southeast Portland his whole life, he figured there was no better place to open a car shop. In fact, he has never left Portland because he can’t think of a single reason to do so.
E+E: How do you find these beautiful cars?Dale Matthews: People don’t want to deal with the public when they are selling their vintage cars. They come to me because I’ve been in business forever! They come in the door, sell their car and a lot of them actually purchase new ones that same day.
This is just a big toy store. Every now and then there is a car that’s a true investment, but for the most part they are just toys. I like to tell people, “Cars take your mind off common sense.”
E+E: What are some of the more memorable cars you have had in the shop?DM: Oh, just for the sake of name dropping, I’ve had Debbie Reynolds’ ‘59 Chrysler Imperial that she bought new. Some of these cars are extremely rare. There are a couple ‘48 Lincoln Continental Convertibles on the floor right now. They only made 450 of them and I have two of them in stock. Right here in Portland, Oregon.
E+E: What’s your favorite thing about Portland?DM: Well that’s a tough one because I’ve never been anywhere else. Portland’s just home. I do love the seasons. I guess I like the summer best because it’s car selling weather.
Whether you are in the market for a new vintage toy or not, Dale doesn’t charge for looks or sit-ins, so stop by and dream a little.
Memory Lane Classic Cars2608 SE HolgatePortland, OR 97202503.231.1940
Monday - Saturday 9-5pm