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How one collector found a $250,000 vintage Porsche in a forgotten garage

While most high school kids in the 1980's gathered in arcades and dance clubs in their spare time, Blue Nelson had a different hobby.

"I remember going in and looking in people's garages and barns, pulling out classic cars," recalls the Los Angeles-based film director and producer.

That's perhaps not surprising for a guy whose father, TV and film director Gary Nelson, raced Porsches for fun and whose mother, Judi Meredith, drove around town in a 1973 Ferrari Dino GTS.

Over 30 years later, Nelson remains just as awestruck by vintage cars as he was as a teen. He has become one of the country's most prolific auto dealers and car collectors.

On the latest episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," Nelson treks to San Diego, California, for one of his routine barn examinations. There, inside a secluded wooden garage, he uncovers a beige 1953 Porsche Pre-A coup worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Untouched for over 50 years, the car is covered in dirt and laden with rat carcasses. Animals had nested under its hood and died there.

For Nelson, these physical remains of time past is part of what makes old cars special. "To see it in this shape is the best thing, because once you wash it, it just slowly turns into every other car," explains Nelson.

Blue Nelson’s extensive car collection consists of a 1962 twin-grille Porsche 356 roadster and a yellow Rometsch, the same type of car that was owned by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
Blue Nelson’s extensive car collection consists of a 1962 twin-grille Porsche 356 roadster and a yellow Rometsch, the same type of car that was owned by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Whether Nelson is building his own car collection — housed in a large, warehouse-like garage at his San Fernando Valley home — or whether he's helping build the collectiona of others, the one thing all of Nelson's car finds have in common is a good story.

Take Nelson's 1949 navy blue Plymouth Deluxe, a Chrysler manufactured-car which sold for approximately $1,272 in its heyday and whose current value is $30,000.

Nelson looks for vintage cars with a personal story. "These very personable experiences drive the passion for me and really for all classic car owners," he says.
Nelson looks for vintage cars with a personal story. "These very personable experiences drive the passion for me and really for all classic car owners," he says.

Nelson uncovered it in the garage of one of his uncle's neighbors, June. June's husband had passed away in the late '70s and the car had been sitting in the garage since his passing. When Nelson went through the car with June, they found an untouched bag of groceries including a box of Corn Flakes in the trunk as well as a photo album of the couple's honeymoon from 1949.

To preserve the car's history and story, Nelson keeps the antiquated box of the Kellogg's cereal brand in the car's trunk and has a photo of the day he and June uncovered the car on the front dashboard.

"Every time I drive the car, I see a picture of that day and I am reminded how lucky and fortunate I am to be the next caretaker."

"Jay Leno's Garage" airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET/PT.