Central New York

Syracuse Collector Turns Unique Hobby into World Renowned Business

By Andi Mucasey SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — For Walter Miller, a cluttered desk and messy floors are the key to finding success.

“People are kind of neat freaks and they want everything to be in its place,” Miller said.  “I’m exactly the opposite.”

Inspired by his Great Uncle Louie, Miller started a unique automobile literature collection at a very young age.

“A typical four-year-old would hang out with the guy for a minute or two and then want to leave because he’s so boring,” Miller said.  “But I was very fascinated, and every time I went to his house I couldn’t wait to go back.”

Miller started his automobile literature collection in his parents’ house.  He collected everything from a leather wrapped owners manual for a 1950 Porsche to an auto brochure for a 1965 Mercury.  His business morphed from just one box in his parents’ house to the world’s largest collection of automobile literature in the world.  He said at that point he realized this could be more than a hobby, and said even his parents’ opposition didn’t stop him from growing his collection.

“Eventually my business got to be so big that they had to park outside in the winter, every spare bedroom in the house was car literature,” Miller said.  “Finally my father said you’re out.”

While his collection is unique, some of the objects he collects can be found in many cars today.

“These things are collected like people collect baseball cards,” Miller said.  “People who are crazy car geeks.”

Miller even owns some of the cars he collects literature for, and he shared his passion once on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, another car buff.  In 1996, he turned his collection into a museum in Syracuse.  He said it fell on hard times, so he closed it and sold everything inside.

“I kind of did it, but then it started losing money and I realized it was not so much fun anymore,” Miller said.

While Miller says the future of his collection and business is uncertain, he says he does not plan to stop pursuing his passion anytime soon.

“Maybe I got hit on the head when I was younger, but I haven’t stopped collecting ever since,” Miller said.