“It’s a car enthusiast’s collection, right,” says John Campion. “I don’t have cars because I want to impress anybody. If you don’t know what a rally car is, you’re kinda like, ‘That’s a dirty car, there are cracks on it’… But I find the passion I have for these cars goes back to the individuals who drove them.”
Beginning as a “lucky” immigrant to the U.S. in 1984 with $26 in his pocket, Campion has worked hard for the last few decades and is finally able to indulge in the vehicles most meaningful to him. From a Lotus Cortina similar to the Ford Cortina his father bought new in period to World Rally Championship rally-winning group B cars, his collection is definitely filled with fog lights and Martini stickers.
“I grew up in Ireland in the late-’60s and early ’70s, and had a fascination with all things mechanical,” he says. “My father was a mechanical kind of guy, and we grew up restoring old tractors and steam engines—so once I started making a few dollars, I started purchasing cars, and went through the wholy myriad of cars and ended up where we are today, which is predominantly cars from my youth—rally cars.”
He makes no mistakes in recognizing his limitations as a driver, because piloting some of the fastest all-road vehicles ever conceived takes a steel will and full committment— “I drive the car for 15 minutes, and I’m exhausted…” he says to convey how amazing Group B pilots were in period.
“Group B drivers were the best of the best of the best…” he says. “But it’s still humbling to drive the same car as these rally legends; to be able to show the cars, drive the cars, and get a wider audience for these cars.”
“If you own them and don’t show them, and you own them and don’t drive them, and own them but don’t share them…it’s a rich man’s folly.”