Built in 1935 on what was originally the “Lankershim Ranch”, the Roadster House is located in North Hollywood and is a great example of pre-war Southern California architecture. This Spanish Colonial home was commissioned in 1934 for $5000 by car collector and Chicago transplant, Raymond E. Nelson. Ray opened a successful North Hollywood hardware store and as a hobby, he built one of the greatest early antique auto collections on the West Coast. To house his growing "museum" of steam cars and other Brass Era cars, Ray began building additional garage space at the Roadster House property. After Ray's death in 1974, his wife, Naomi, sold the home to fellow vintage car collector and restorer, Tom Sparks and his wife, Laura. Tom was a leading member of the Los Angeles car community and continued Ray Nelson's devotion to all things vintage cars. Because the Roadster House has always been owned by car collectors, little has ever been changed in the garage and workshop areas since it was built in 1935. From the well worn workbenches, to the hand tools still hung in place by its first owner, the time-capsule feel of the Roadster House is now lovingly curated by its newest owners, the Steeles.
Sept. 26, 1909: "Largest and Most Notable Deal Ever Made Here," read the headline in The Times as the newspaper announced that "a syndicate of local capitalists" had purchased "the great Lankershim Ranch of 48,000 acres in the heart of the fertile San Fernando Valley." Later announcing, "proceed to subdivide and sell it in small parcels to home-makers," Map courtesy of the UCLA Library Special Collections.
Built by Raymond Nelson in 1935, the Roadster House retains almost all of it's original details.
A dapper and dandy Ray Nelson posing in the backyard of the Roadster House property with arbor and fencing that he built, all of which still remains today.
A line up of automobiles that included early Pierce Arrow, Stanley Steamer, Minerva, Mercer and Duesenberg.
A vintage Thor Motorcycle was also part of the original Ray Nelson car collection.
The Tom Mix Cord was saved not once, but twice, by Ray Nelson. Here he is seen restoring it for the second time in the mid 1960's at The Roadster House.
Working in the bay of the Middle Garage, Ray is seen here in the mid 1960's restoring the Tom Mix Cord for the second time.
A friend of Ray Nelson's drops by The Roadster House for a visit in his brand new E-Type Jaguar.
1967 - Ray and his wife, Naomi posing for their annual Christmas Card in front of The Roadster House.
The Sparks were the second owners of the Roadster House (purchased in 1978), and were life long hot rodders.
Tom Sparks was one of the original early California hot rodders. After Ray Nelson died in 1974, Tom bought The Roadster House from Ray's wife, Naomi in 1978, exchanging steam cars for hopped Up 32 Fords.
Tom Sparks made good use of the Big Garage that Nelson had built, storing as many as 50 cars at a time on the property.
An excerpt from its feature in the Phil Berg book, Ultimate Garages.
The second and third owners of The Roadster House - Sparks & Steele.
Former Nashville Americana musician, David Steele standing with his first car and high school ride, a 1971 Chevelle Supersport.
The Steeles - Two LA based musicians and lovers of all things vintage.