An exotic car collection like none other
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Inspired by his challenging childhood and a battle with cancer later in life, a local man’s collection of exotic cars is one most people can only dream of owning.
“This is the car that made Porsche famous, this won Le Mans twice, it’s got 130 horse power, did 150 mph,” says Dale Besson of his 1958 Porsche.
Besson’s story is truly rags to riches.
By the age of two, he and his four brothers were without a father, the family had no indoor plumbing and food was scarce.
“The word ‘tough’ is what you had. I really didn’t like it, but that’s the hand I was dealt,” recalls Besson.
Besson’s classmates at Green Bay Preble High School didn’t hold out much hope for him, voting him most likely to not succeed. “That was not a good honor, but I wasn’t a great student either,” says Besson with a chuckle.
But inside, Besson was determined to change his circumstances.
“The only way I knew how was to work hard and work a lot, so that’s what I did, I was a workaholic,” says Besson.
By 21, Besson owned his first business, and before his 40th birthday he and a partner bought a commercial HVAC company leading to tremendous success.
But 9 years ago, Besson’s life changed in an instant. “I was in the bathroom shaving and I found a little lump on my throat,” remembers Besson.
Doctors discovered a form of throat cancer that required surgery, followed by aggressive radiation.
“Virtually stopped me from eating, so then I was on a feeding tube for two years, I was bedridden for two years,” says Besson.
Besson credits his wife for pulling him through his darkest days.
“She really did. I mean, she wanted me to live, and I thought about my children and my grandchildren and I said I can’t give up,” says Besson.
Before his cancer, Besson had dabbled in restoring cars, but once back on his feet he got serious about collecting them.
“After my cancer I needed something to do, so I just decided I’m going to buy some vehicles, and I bought more and more and more and more. I probably had 5 vehicles before I got cancer, so I really accumulated most of these in the last 7 years. I like Italian, that’s probably my favorite, but I like mostly European -- I got 3 Ferraris, 5 Porsches, Aston Martins, Bentleys, BMWs -- I got quite a few,” says Besson.
He owns 29 to be exact, with 12 on display at The Automobile Gallery in downtown Green Bay.
Besson prefers the color red with a saddle interior, and his cars keep him busy.
“I always have a lot to do, to keep them running, I do all my own maintenance, I do all my own buffing of cars, so I mean it takes me 3-4 days to do one car to just make them really cool, but I also try to drive them all so they’re not garage queens, and I’ve had them going pretty fast,” says Besson.
Now at 70 years old, Dale Besson is going strong, a cancer survivor with an exotic car collection that’s not quite complete.
“I’m sure there’s going to be more, I just don’t what exactly what because I’m kind of running out of exotics to buy, there’s not that many left, but I’ll find one,” says Besson with a smile.
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