Cars & Guitars in the Arts District
At Walt Grace Vintage, classic cars and melodic guitars converge in a symphony of artistry and nostalgia. It’s where the hum of engines harmonizes with the strum of strings, creating an unparalleled experience for enthusiasts and dreamers alike. Keep reading for an exclusive interview with Johnathan Lewis, the maestro behind the wheels, as he shares insight on the immersive gallery in our Wynwood neighborhood.
Q: Where did the name Walt Grace Vintage come from?
A: Bill Goldstein, our founder was in the advertising world for 25 years and built an illustrious and successful career. When he reached the top (and no longer doing the work), he still felt unfulfilled. His family was pushing him to make a change. One day, while showering, a song on the radio came on that oddly felt relatable to him. The song speaks of a character by the name “Walt Grace”, who is building a submarine in his basement. The “submarine” is a metaphor for the thing in life you put on the back burner. After a revelation Bill decided to quit his job and follow his heart to do what he loved, in this case, it was cars and guitars, and he would call it Walt Grace Vintage.
Q: Why did Bill choose Wynwood for the business location?
A: At the time, Wynwood was a budding arts district and Bill decided to open a gallery celebrating the history of two things he loved. His passion for vintage cars and guitars was never based simply on their utility, instead, focused also on the beauty and artistry of each. With little to no competition in his industry, he felt it was an appropriate destination for his gallery to develop and create the car culture we have in Wynwood today.
Q: While some may see cars and guitars as opposite ends of interest, they happen to blend seamlessly in a vintage, high-end gallery atmosphere. How did this come together? A: A lot of people walk through the doors and ask what is this place? And we try to explain that it’s exactly what it says on the doors. Our professionalism and expertise reside in both cars and guitars. Often, we have people who come in and are completely unfamiliar with either and what we do here is help celebrate the art and history of both. Notably, everyone is familiar with a car or a guitar here, such as the shape of a Stratocaster, and the silhouette of a 911. The familiarity of these two cultures is easily identifiable, so when you put them together, all of a sudden, they seem like natural parallels.
Q: What is the process behind obtaining new vehicles and how are they selected?
A: The process is very natural; we normally get calls from people who are looking to sell their vehicle or consign their vehicle. We specialize in cars that don’t have much of an auction history, mostly looking to deal with the owners themselves. We are fortunate to have a very strong following that is mostly backed by word of mouth with a reputation that is national and international. A lot of people do seek us out and many owners want to see their car in here.
Q: How has the cafe served a role in the complexity of the store’s activity?
A: We are geeks about our coffee. The cafe opened when we opened and we’ve been specializing in coffee ever since. We carry La Colombe, which was founded in Philadelphia, it was a very small company at the time. Our founder, Bill, is a complete coffee guy, enough so that we could embed some uniqueness into that part of our business.
Q: Knowing some of these cars and guitars are highly valuable and rare, could you tell us a little bit of the history of these pieces?
A: It’s important to mention that there is a true love for Porsche here. Luckily the vintage marketplace also favors Porsche for many reasons. They are typically easy to maintain, and there’s a huge community aspect behind them as well. As many as you see here, we can never get enough and there’s always someone looking for something special.
Q: Are there any pieces in the room that are not for sale, maybe part of a personal collection/ sentiment?
A: A few things are floating around here that are not for sale, including a black Porsche that has a “sorry, not for sale” sign and it’s really one of Bill’s babies that he is not willing to part with. From a guitar standpoint, it is important we make sure that everything in the store is available for purchase however we do have a few that are very unique and almost priceless to us. One example is the Paul Reed Smith Guitar, which was made as a prototype for Carlos Santana. It’s a double-neck guitar that he was photographed with and while it is quietly for sale, we cherish it to be a total masterpiece.
Q: How does Walt Grace Vintage engage with the Wynwood neighborhood to continuously be a present face to the public?
A: It’s interesting we are always looking to do the right event and change the paradigm and dynamic of what happens in our industry and allow the community to recognize the fact that we are an intricate part of that. The same way you can walk in here and be educated on vehicles and music is exactly the same way we approach events. In addition to that, we always try to play a hand in the Miami F1 Grand Prix. This will be our 3rd year participating.
Learn more at https://waltgracevintage.com
300 NW 26th Street