2017 Women's Transportation Hall of Fame

How a car made in Buffalo inspired the 'Playboy' name

"Jim Sandoro" - Hemmings Classic Car, November, 2011

Framed paintings. Thousands of mounted and stacked vintage posters, arranged by subject matter. Toys, including both cars and electric trains. Thousands and thousands of automotive postcards. Indescribably vast numbers of automobile-related signs--glass, metal and porcelain--numbering in the thousands and very likely the largest such collection in the world. Most people would need a dedicated building to hold all this stuff. Jim's got 13 of them, all of them lovely old brick industrial structures, clustered near the Lake Erie port area.

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"The WRIGHT Way" - The Buffalo Current, 2006

The man behind Frank Lloyd Wright’s soon-to-be-realized filling station recently received a pledge of $3 million from New York State and he’s optimistic that construction and renovations to the museum — including a greasing station with balconies and banquet facilities to view the filling station — will begin this spring.

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James T. Sandoro Receives Lee Iacocca Award


James T. Sandoro, the historian, collector and expert witness on automobile values from Buffalo, New York, has been presented with the renowned Lee Iacocca Award, presented for lifetime achievement in the world of antique cars. The award, named in honor of the legendary auto executive, is sponsored by National Parts Depot, and was presented by Hemmings Motor News at its recent annual Concours d’Elegance in Saratoga Springs, New York. The award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary strides in the world of collector cars through preservation efforts, club participation or outreach to the public. It is linked to the foundation’s ongoing, primary effort to identify and fund a cure for diabetes.

Jim was recognized, in part, for his expertise in navigating one of the hobby’s touchiest areas, the practice of determining an antique car’s true value. The son of a prominent Buffalo trial lawyer, he has developed a global reputation since the 1960s as an appraiser of high-dollar classic cars and as an expert trial witness in disputes such as taxation, divorce and insurance litigation. His professional reputation is such that in many cases where his services are retained, the disagreeing parties usually agree to settle rather than face trial with Jim as a witness.

His lofty role in the world of collecting goes far beyond Jim’s professional credentials, however. Active research and acquisition since his childhood in the 1940s, on a continuous bases, has seen Jim amass one of the world’s largest private collections of automobilia, more than a quarter-million individual items ranging from published material to postcards to artwork to blueprints to more than 80 classic cars and antique bicycles. His collection resides in several rehabilitated industrial buildings that Jim acquired in his hometown.

That vast collection has also cemented Jim’s standing as one of Buffalo’s foremost civic boosters, particularly when it comes to preserving the heritage of the city’s once-vibrant automotive history, which saw 85 different makes of vehicles produced there at various times. Jim is a literal walking encyclopedia on Buffalo-built vehicles such as Pierce-Arrow, Thomas and Buffalo Fire Apparatus. He helped to develop the Buffalo Transportation Museum, which houses pristine examples of the city’s automotive past, plus a recent expansion that includes a re-creation of a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gasoline station that was intended to be placed in Buffalo but never built. The museum is unusual in that it’s focused on the automotive output of a specific city, not on a single make of car.