Bonding Over Classic Cars

Len Levin, Larry Somers, and John Kimberly pose in front of their beloved cars.

Since moving to The Hill at Whitemarsh in 2021, Len Levin has noticed that at least two other residents share his love of classic cars. Although most of them were more or less strangers to one another prior to Len bringing them all together, they have since bonded over their shared lifetime passion: beautiful cars.

“I’ve always been interested in cars,” Len said. “I remember sitting in my Dad’s Ford Roadster at 5 years old and just loving it. My family was in the auto parts industry, so I suppose loving cars came with the territory!”

Len has a long history of buying classic cars: a yellow 1949 Chrysler convertible, a 1955 DeSoto convertible, and a 1962 Corvette, all daily drivers. After seeing a black Aston Martin DB4 with real wire wheels and wide whitewall tires on the cover of “Road & Track” magazine in 1960, he was taken with the brand. In 1970, a dream was realized when he acquired a 1965 DB6.

“I found the DB6 after a few years of searching. It’s so rare–definitely not a typical occurrence to see one in your rear view mirror,” said Len.

In 1973, Len upgraded from the DB6 to a four-year-old 1969 DBS, equipped with air conditioning, an automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. It had been a daily driver for its first two owners. While never a daily driver for Len, in the early years of ownership, he was driving it about 5,000 miles a year.

“The car and I have grown old together, and I now use it for more casual service for shows and an occasional pleasure drive,” Len said. “In April, I will have owned that car for 50 years! I had every intention of selling it before we moved to The Hill, but we found a cottage with a garage, and I decided to keep it.”

Larry Somers also had a love of British sports cars. After learning to drive at the age of 14, which was the legal driving age in Virginia at the time, Larry’s goal was to one day have a fast car of his own. In 1956, he bought his first car: a blue 1956 MGA. His MGA was his most prized possession until having to sell it before leaving for the Air Force. When he returned to civilian life, Larry continued to indulge his love of sleek sports cars. After a few years with an Alfa Romeo Spider, he traded it in for 911-style Porsches. Larry continued to drive a Porsche for about 20 years, but they were always in the shop and difficult to maintain.

“About 30 years ago, there was incredible hype over the Acura model NSX, and I put myself on a waiting list to get one. I luckily got one when it first came out in January 1991, and it now has over 200,000 miles on it,” Larry said. “I like to feel the road, to feel the engine. I love to drive!”

Similar to Larry, John Kimberly also loves to feel the road when he drives, although in a different way. Over the years he’s owned a 1959, 1961, and 1962 Mercedes 190SL and a 1947 Jaguar Mark IV 3.5 three-position DHC.

“I’ve also owned a 1971 VW Super Beetle that my wife, Barbie, and I picked up at the factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. It was by far the most reliable of the lot. The others all have classic looks but are hardly high performers,” John joked. “Len’s and Larry’s cars could run circles around mine.”

“I like to feel the road, to feel the engine. I love to drive!” – Larry Somers

All of the men agree that despite which kind of car they’re driving, it’s bound to get them a good amount of attention from people on the road. Larry still takes the Acura NSX out at least once a week, and it’s not unheard of for people to ask him if they can take pictures with it.

“I’ve had that experience too!” said Len. “I was stopped at a red light once, and someone got out to take a picture. Cars have also helped me to make new friends at The Hill. It’s amazing how much they can bring people together.”