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A classic car museum running on hidden gems | Bartell's Backroads

A farming family's collection is a classic car fan's dream

MENIFEE, Calif. — Don’t let the rusty old building off Highway 74 in Menifee fool you; inside is a car lover's paradise. If you’ve ever heard a car enthusiast use the term “barn find," you'll see plenty of examples inside the Motte Historical Car Museum.

“A lot of them are family cars. We are farmers so we had barns to keep them in,” said museum curator Leon Motte.

Motte’s family has bought and barned antique cars from all over the Perris and Temecula Valley since 1951. Some have sentimental value.

“The 1926 Chevy, this was the first car my dad bought, for $15,” said Motte.

You won’t find a price like that on the used car market today. Leon comes from a long line of produce farmers dating back to the 1930s, and each family member drove a different car.

“Uncle Frank drove Buicks, Charles drove Cadillacs and my dad drove Lincolns,” said Motte.

Over the years, the family would buy, trade or salvage vehicles from around the Perris Valley and restore them. They even have the Perris High School bus from 1924. If you think school bus seat are uncomfortable today, you should see the wooden seats installed in the back of the converted pick-up truck.

“A farmer out here, when he was a student, he would drive it for Perris High,” said Motte.

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In all, there are about 25 cars in the barn dating back to 1910. Some run on gas and some are electric, like the converted battery-powered Model T.

Motte even has the 1936 Plymouth he used to take his wife on their first date.

The car collection tells the story of the community through automobiles and upstairs they even have some artifacts and family history. It’s a great place to stop, stretch your legs and reminisce about automobiles of the past.

“It's a way of sharing what we have instead of just keeping it in the barn,” said Motte.

The Motte Historical Car Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

ANOTHER CLASSIC CAR ON THE BACKROADS: Back in the 50s, two brothers from Sacramento built a ground breaking dragster when they were just out of high school. John Bartell learned what it was like to create a world record-setting icon.

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