When good friend and fellow car enthusiast Erik Langerak mentioned something about making a trip to photograph a private collection not too far from Madison, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The Midwest has a way of turning up some automotive gems when least expected, so I cast aside any preconceived notions before we went.
On reaching the location, I was pleasantly surprised. In addition to the picturesque little town that we were in, the cars themselves were a worthy attraction, especially after a long and drawn out winter, which leads to a scarcity of special machines. After assisting Erik that evening, I vowed to return with my camera and capture what I had seen.
A little more than two weeks later, I headed back to the town of Lake Mills, half an hour east of Madison. Located just off the highway, the town seems to be frozen in the 1950s or so. Red brick buildings, an old church and similar architecture gave the town a quaint vibe and pleasantly so. In fact, I began to get the distinct feeling that the town would not look out of place in a cowboy movie, with a duel taking place on the Main Street at noon.
Rock Lake Motors – the collection I was visiting – was a number of things. First and foremost, it hosted one of the largest cars and coffee events in Wisconsin on a monthly basis. It also housed the collection of a gentleman who stayed in Lake Mills, along with a couple of his friends. Finally, the ‘dealership’ aspect was a recent development, with occasional car sales keeping the collection fresh.
Now, on to the cars themselves. A black 964 Turbo, a modified R-Gruppe 911, part of a set of five ‘Neunelfers’. A new Porsche Cayman GT4, a 914, a Sunbeam Tiger, an Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint, a Ferrari 360 and the showstopper: a Ferrari 246 GT ‘Dino’ in Grey with a red interior.
Listing these cars off may sound relatively ordinary, but seeing them all in one place was a real treat. The 911s were lined up one side, as if standing to attention representing the Stuttgart platoon.
The Dino took centre stage, with the 360 behind it. On the left was the Sunbeam, with the Giuletta and the 914 with it. The youngest member of the bunch, the Cayman, stood apart from the rest, figuratively and literally. An MV Agusta and an old Ducati stood in the corner, adding a bit of two-wheeled fun to the party.
While all the cars were special in their own right, my eyes kept wandering back to the Dino. Usually, prancing horses are resplendent in the brightest colors available. Sometimes, however an understated exterior color can set it off just right. The combination of the red interior set it off perfectly.
Additionally, I liked the diversity of the collection. While it was partial to Porsche by a large margin, the inclusion of the Sunbeam, the Alfa Romeo and the two Ferraris gave it a different air. This was further supplemented by the numerous signs hanging on the wall for brands like Gulf Petroleum, Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche, Esso and the like.
Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by the Midwest’s ability to hide gems like this, in little towns, which have not yet fully embraced the 21st Century. In addition to hosting the Lake Mills Cars and Coffee, Lake Mills is one of the best ‘mancaves’ I’ve seen, especially for an auto enthusiast.
As the temperatures continue to rise and car season gets fully underway, I certainly hope that the cars get their fair share of action be it on country roads, highways or the track. Alternatively, the cars have the type of presence that can be enjoyed with a cool beer on a hot summer day. Either way, they’re too good to be tucked away during car season and I have a feeling that the gents who run the place know that very well.
Special thanks to Ryan Seufzer for showing me around Rock Lake Motors and to Erik Langerak for telling me about Lake Mills in the first place.