Seeing Dalfred Goodman’s toy collection for the first time is like entering Santa’s Workshop. Every surface of the room is filled with shiny, colorful cars and trucks—all brightly clean and perfectly organized.
Goodman’s eyes twinkle as visitors gasp at the magnitude of his collection, which numbers over 2,500! He doesn’t just buy the cars, many of them he has hand-restored, returning their rusty metal hulls back into gleaming newness. Proudly, he points out his favorites. “That one’s called a tether car….Look here, this one has a working motor…Cadillac gave a toy version of the car to new owners…”
Although the 75-year-old began seriously collecting as an adult, his love of cars goes back to childhood. He was a World War II baby, raised in a small two-bedroom house. The family had little space and few toys. “My dad handmade two wooden cars for me when I was seven. They were about the only toys I had, so I played with them for years and years, and I still have them,” Goodman said. “Dad got me my first real toy car from a garage sale.”
As a young man, Goodman mowed lawns so that he could save to buy a car. His first was a brand new Super Sport Impala. Later, he bought a 1935 Pontiac Coupe. Cherrylnn, Goodman’s wife of 51 years, said her husband has always appreciated cars. “He loves the beauty of cars, the chrome, the engine, the paint job, the artistic build.”
The couple’s first date was at a stock car race at the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds. They’ve spent their lives traveling the country showing cars, which have ranged from a Model A to a 1961 Corvette. Although Goodman no longer follows the car show circuit, he’s still fired up about his toy cars. “My love of the toys came from loving the cars,” Goodman said.
Each item is cataloged and identified with a handwritten tag. He has a pristine Lincoln and travel trailer, a replica from the 1954 Lucille Ball movie, The Long Long Trailer.” His rarest car is a 1923 American National fire captain’s car, which he has left in original condition. “I’ll never sell it,” Goodman said. “I usually fix them up and make them bright and shiny–but not that one.”
Collectors by nature, the Goodmans also have other collections tucked around their house, including old-time cash registers, metal lunch boxes, cookie jars, autographed guitars, stained glass, and Oklahoma car tags dating back every single year since 1915. But no collection rivals his vintage cars.
“Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a lot of toys growing up,” Goodman said, with a catch in his voice. “I’ve put a lot of time and work into these cars. Sometimes I’ll spend a month taking one apart and fixing it, so there’s an emotional connection for me. Let’s put it this way. After Cherrylnn goes to bed, I’ll go stand in the room looking at those toys. I can’t explain it–but I just like them.”