At the tip of Cape Cod lies Provincetown, where an eccentric community of artists, vacationers, and beach lovers mingle by the sea. Nearly at the end of Bradford Street in Provincetown, is Gale Force Bikes, a bicycle shop and beach market that can claim to be the closest enterprise to Ptown’s large swath of beaches and bike trails. Partners Jeffery Epstein and Dany Soucy have created a haven for beach goers and biker riders alike. But behind their shop lies an inconspicuous garage that houses a collection of cars, rather than rental bikes.
At age four, Jeff estimates his passion for automobiles began. He started collecting matchbox cars, a collection that he still maintains today. Like any young adult, lack of money and a need for a set of wheels caused him to turn to used cars for transportation. It is during this time period that he presumably developed his mechanical know-how, thus allowing him to inexpensively maintain whatever car he was driving.
Twenty-five years ago, Jeff purchased his first classic car, a 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible. The car features a silver interior and exterior, suicide doors, and a number of electrical pieces that make the car a fine example of 60’s era luxury. The car features electric everything – windows, seats, headrests, even a totally automated folding top. A series of hydraulics lifts the car’s massive trunk lid high into the air as the convertible top contorts itself, folding neatly in the trunk. Then the trunk-lid seals itself shut with a series of spinning screws. The car has been renovated over many years, and today Jeff estimates that its condition is a 2, 1 being the best, 6 being the worst. The car, like the rest of the cars in Mr. Epstein’s collection, is in a condition that encourages use. Each car is driven regularly, and Jeff balances his desire to maintain the cars with his desire to use them guilt free.
In a town where the outrageous is encouraged, the Lincoln is decidedly subdued. No wild fenders, no extreme use of chrome. Instead the Lincoln is reserved for a car of this vintage. It was produced with a busy executive in mind; the Lincoln is ideal for long trips, as its road manners soothes the brow of its occupants.
The 1960 Studebaker Lark is a flashy four-seat convertible with a perky V-8 and a bright red interior. Of the cars in Jeff and Danny’s collection, it’s the one undergoing the most work at the time of this article. It was recently partially repainted, with chrome and interior work to follow. Like the Lincoln the car has been restored a great deal. A year ago, rust required that new floorboards be welded in.
The Lark was created to be a compact car, and in 1960, Studebaker introduced the Lark as a two-door convertible, its first since 1952. Jeff and Danny’s Lark features Studebaker’s 4.2 Liter V-8 engine which propels the car from 0-60 in around 10 seconds, a very respectable number for the time period. The Lark represents tasteful styling while concealing a V-8 that burbles confidently as it cruises around – top down.
In the aftermath of World War II, Germans needed an inexpensive mode of transportation. BMW’s response to this need was the micro-car the Isetta 300. Powered by a one-cylinder engine the Isetta is an ideal car for city driving. It’s truly an engineering marvel. Passengers enter through the front of the car, as the door opens the steering wheel moves with the door to allow for easy access to the bench seat. The Isetta represents the best of utilitarian design, the shifter sticks up through the left fender arch, and the shift pattern is simply painted on the same arch. Jeff and Danny’s 1958 Isetta is a totally original car. With less than 5,000 documented original miles on it, the Isetta is truly special. So special that it has on occasion attracted so much attention as to stop traffic on Commonwealth Avenue, Ptown’s main drag.
Jeff and Danny’s collection represents some of the best in understated post-war design. Despite it’s size, the Lincoln is understated for an American luxury car of the era. The Lark opts for modest proportions as opposed to long fenders and lots of chrome. And the Isetta is a minimalist car for post war buyers.