A lifelong love of Chevrolet and Corvettes has put a Pennsylvania man in the record books.
Charlie Mallon’s mom says he could tell a Corvette from other cars by the time he was 3 years old. Fittingly, she gets the credit for helping him get started with his record-setting collection of Chevrolet memorabilia that now numbers more than 2,200 (and is continually growing).
And it is official. Back in May, the Guinness Book of World Records officially certified Mallon’s collection as the largest collection of Chevrolet memorabilia in the world after making him jump through all sorts of hoops.
“Some guys play golf,” Mallon quips. “I do this. Everyone collects something. I’m sure other people have more than I do, and I’m certain that someday the record will be broken.”
But Mallon’s love for Chevrolets, particularly Corvettes, will likely go on his entire life.
After all, he can point to a treasured photo that shows him in a Corvette pedal car when he was just 2 years old, and by the time he was an “old man” of 10, he was picking up the basics of auto mechanics by osmosis through his job at a local gas station, where he swept floors and cleaned windows to get a chance to ogle the Corvettes that came through.
“The style is the biggest thing,” Mallon says, explaining his love of the car. “I like the shape and look of the Corvette. Lots of cars go fast, but the Corvette is different because it handles so well. There’s a mystique to it, and it’s a blast to drive.”
He should know. After 12 years of owning a classic C2 model, his pride and joy now is a 2005 LeMans Blue Corvette.
His mom inadvertently started his collection of memorabilia when he was 14 and she gave him four toy Corvettes that he proudly displayed on his bookcase.
Since then, the collection has grown and grown through the years. When he got married in 1988, he had 133 model cars. He should have known it was a match made in heaven (or perhaps Bowling Green, Ky.) when his wife Gina gave him a wooden display case for his cars as a wedding gift.
As he made trips across the nation for his work – he’s an auto industry consultant who helps dealerships improve customer service – he would bring home gifts for the entire family, including “little cars for me,” he said.
The collection had climbed to 754 cars by the late 1990s, when he was in his 40s, and by last year it had roared past 2,000.
Then it hit Mallon. Maybe his collection was even special enough for Guinness so he convinced them to create a new category for him: largest collection of Chevrolet memorabilia. A CPA counted the items, each had to be unique, and certified the total as an amazing 2,181.
“It was an awesome display,” says Dan Ahearn, the Chevrolet zone manager. “Chevrolet has a huge following, and the loyalty of Corvette fans is huge. There are a lot of diehard Chevrolet enthusiasts out there, and I’ve seen a number of displays but none to the degree of Charlie’s. He started at a young age and stayed at it.”
Most of the cars are miniatures, ranging in size from an inch to two feet, and some of his favorites are displayed in three cases in the basement of his home, which he lovingly calls his Corvette Hall of Fame. The collection also includes Corvette coffee mugs, shot glasses, hats, clothing, posters, signs, video games, a flag, a clock, a snow globe paperweight, and well, you get the idea.
When you’re one of the world’s most beloved cars, people like to put you on just about anything.
And when they do, Charlie Mallon will be there to collect it.
Photo Credits: Elise Wrabetz / Philly.com