We visited with fun and gregarious Paul Kramer and his cool spot, Auto Kennel, in Costa Mesa, California. For enthusiasts of vintage European cars, this dealership is heaven. Paul spends time with everyone, wants to hear your story and your passions, and he’s definitely no “car dealer”; more of a cool easy going guy that loves cars at least as much as his customers, and happens to have some beauties for sale. 

Here’s our chat:

ARBOL: Where did you grow up?

PAUL: La Habra, California (north Orange County)

ARBOL: When did Auto Kennel open? What was the aim of opening the shop?

PAUL: We opened in the end of 2005, beginning of 2006.  I had already been doing a similar business with a good friend.  However, now I decided to make it more of a formal bring/mortar business.  Initially, our goal was to provide a classic car storage with a cool “hang-out” component.  However, quickly we realized that our clients needed help selling their cars more than the storage.

ARBOL: Were cars always a passion for you?

PAUL: Yup…ALWAYS.  In fact, my first word was “Truck.”  However, my parents said it sounded like I was saying something else. 

ARBOL: You organize events once in a while, do you enjoy talking shop with like minded others?  Do you enjoy the social aspect of your work?

PAUL: Absolutely.  You will hear over and over again car folks sharing that the cars are only the catalyst but it’s the people that provide the bond.  If it weren’t for the people, not sure I”d still be doing what I do.

ARBOL: What is the perfect car  for you? 

PAUL: That’s like asking what’s the perfect shoe, or meal, etc. etc.  There is no perfect car.  In fact, I think a true car enthusiasts needs at least 3 to fulfill the different needs.  

ARBOL: Do you race?

PAUL: Yes.  However, not as much as I used to.  As Steve McQueen said, “Racing is life…everything else is just waiting.”  It is one of the best things to do with a car.  It’s like a dance, playing chess, and a Stage on the tour de France all rolled up in one.  Unfortunately, the costs and time commitment are extremely high.  I look forward to getting back into vintage racing once our daughter is out of college.

ARBOL: Why vintage cars?

PAUL: I like their character or soul.   I like how they are a time machine and transport you to a different place.  They change your mood.  They are therapeutic.  New cars usually don’t appeal to me.  I appreciate them, but there is no desire for me to own or even drive one beyond a mild curiosity.

ARBOL: What was your favorite sale ever?

PAUL: My one favorite “kind” of sale is the car that changes my client’s life and they share it with me.  It seriously could be any kind of car.  It’s more about the person who buys it; how they enjoy it; and, what they share with me.  For instance, we recently sold a 100k mile 2001 Porsche 996 Turbo to a gentleman in his late 50s.  It turns out, this client has wanted a Porsche/fun car for decades and now he was at a time in his life where he could finally get it.  He is so happy and excited that you would swear he is a teenager again.  He shares with us all his modifications, his research, his drives, and all of his fun.  He comes to all of our events.  I think we added something good to his life. That makes me smile.

ARBOL: Do you have plans for Auto Kennel in the future, such as new events, or expansion?

PAUL: At one time, I considered expansion, but that’s not what I’m really about.  I never wanted to be your traditional dealer. I wanted to be involved with every car and every customer.  There’s a lot of ways to make even more money out there. However, none are as fun and rewarding as experiencing all these great cars as well as the people who drive them. Each year we push harder to attract more special and unique vehicles.  In fact, I don’t want to increase the number of cars we sell, but rather limit them to some of the most special cars we can find and offer a completely unique experience for connecting buyers and sellers in this transaction.  Vintage car buying and selling should be fun for everyone.