My Car Quest

March 31, 2023

Ten Tips To Help Protect Your Cars From A Disaster

Recently the Sonoma/Napa area of Northern California was hit with the worst wild fire in California history. More than 40 people died, thousands of homes and other building were destroyed and at least one car collector lost several cars.

A friend of mine, Buddy Pepp, was caught up in this disaster with his Sonoma area home and some of his cars. There were a few days when he could not get to his home so he did not know if the home or the cars survived.

Buddy’s cars include an Iso Grifo, De Tomaso Pantera and an Aston Martin among others. Below he provides a list of actions to help others avoid a disaster.

Fortunately Buddy’s family, home and cars are all safe.

Mike Gulett

by Buddy Pepp –

Below are 10 things to ponder from a car collector/homeowner who sweated out the recent Northern California fires.

1) Make certain you can open your garage doors and electric gates if there is no power. We could not. Our garage doors are 8″ thick wood pocket doors that retract into the walls. With no power, we could not get them open short of destroying them.

2) Are all of your vehicles operational? Batteries fully charged and capable of being started within a minute of getting into the car?

3) In case of a fire or other emergency, do you have a place to take your special interest vehicles? A warehouse, friends facility or?

4) If more than a few cars, do you have plenty of drivers that you can call upon on very short notice to assist you in removing the vehicles?

5) Do your volunteer friends and family know how to drive stick shift cars? My wife and two of my three children do not. My driving age grandchildren have no clue whatsoever what to do with that third pedal.

6) Have you revisited your collector car insurance policy recently to make certain all of your vehicles are insured for replacement value….not what you paid for them?

7) Is your “garage art” insured? (i.e.: porcelain signs, metal signs, neon signs, framed posters, memorabilia, graphics etc)? Mine were not. Surprising the value of “stuff” that is hanging on our garage walls.

8) Are your valuable spare parts and tools insured? Mine were not. If destroyed, what is the value of two rolling tool boxes full of tools that one has accumulated over a few decades? $5000? $10,000? More?

9) If all or part of your automotive library is in your garage, have the books been valued and are they insured? Mine were not. Surprising how much money it would take to replace a few hundred books that one has accumulated over 20-30 years.

10) Do you have photos of the contents of your garage? It’s a good idea to take pictures and videos every so often and put them in the safe deposit box or other fire proof safe which is not in the same location as your residence and/or garage. I do now but did not 45 days ago.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Buddy Pepp's Iso Grifo

Buddy Pepp’s Iso Grifo

Ten Tips To Help Protect Your Cars From A Disaster
Article Name
Ten Tips To Help Protect Your Cars From A Disaster
How can you prepare for a disaster before it strikes? He are ten tips to help protect your collector cars.


  1. Ken Phillips says

    This is good advice.
    Also you may need an atty. check the coverage for different events like flood vs fire.
    Maybe most important is choice of an insurance company that will actually PAY anything.
    Some like State Farm have an internal rule to denie every part of every claim. I recently witnessed them denied every dime of their own insured medical part of a mulity $million coverage including 50 vehicles . The injured State Farm client recd NO funds or backing from State Farm from a legally simple accident whare another driver with different insurance co. Ran into the stopped car of the State Farm insured.
    The injured succeeded with his own lawyer to get some back from the other insurance co..
    He should have sued his own State Farm insurance company.
    Everything was switched to a speciality insurance company. In this case Hagerty.

  2. Nice looking Grifo!

  3. Diamonte Randal says

    I remember seeing this car at Concorso in 2015. One of the nicer series 2 cars out there.

  4. wallace wyss says

    Always have your collector car in your garage aimed outward, and nothing (no old boxes, tires, etc. in the way. Besides not wanting to foot the bill for a full restoration, I prefer the keep-the-car-always-operational approach where even if missing bumpers, glass, upholstery, etc. it could still be driven out of a garage. Once you immobilize it, you make it prey to a fire.

    As far as other people in the house being able to drive a stick, if you leave it at a shop, check if everyone there knows how to drive it or even start it. I speak from exp. having driven one of my gullwings (ah, those were the days) out of a burning business I had left it at. They were all panicked, didn’t care about my car. I hadn’t gotten 100 ft. from the shop when I heard the first explosion, rhen ran back got in my car and drove it out.

  5. On the insurance side, Hagerty does insure tools and more, along with classics, and they’re great to deal with. And I’ll give a lot of credit to Farmers, who had multiple service trucks/buses up in Sonoma right after the blaze to handle claims, get checks paid, and give people a place to sit, talk, connect (phone/net) and a shoulder or two. My rep said they had about 70% of the claims covered within a week.

    But I do need to get more photos and videos of the automotive stuff in the house and garage, so great reminder — thanks.

  6. wallace wyss says

    CJ: HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR car if you live in a fire prone neighborhood? I have some fantasy idea of a temporary tent of asbestos type material with inflatable tubes on the roofline on all four sides. When the fire hits it, the plastic of the tubes melts and the water flows down. I have driven through a forest fire and got the impression the fire , when it encounters the least resistance, decides to go some other way. The fact the structure is temporary ought to stifle protests from the permits people. Getting the tubes filled with water is the part I haven’t figured out yet.

    I have one friend who has ten real Cobras, worth together about $10 million, and he lives in a fire-prone neighborhood but I don’t know what his plan is.

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