In Memoriam: Gordon Apker


Gorden Apker, noted car collector, longtime SCMer and friend to so many in the vintage car world, died February 3 in Scottsdale, AZ after a long battle with cancer.

His wife, Janet, daughter Leisha and close friends Ken and Sami Waldrip were with him.

Apker won fame in the business world for Shakey’s Pizza, which he took over in 1966 and transformed into a stunning success, with more than 600 locations worldwide.

Said Sports Car Market Publisher Keith Martin, “Gordon was always a kind and thoughtful mentor to me through the years. His byline appeared in SCM in 2011 when he wrote about a 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible. When our relationship with Barrett-Jackson was going through a challenging time, he personally reached out to Craig Jackson and me and helped bring us onto the same page. He even bought a 1968 Mercury Colony Park Wagon from SCM. I will miss being able to pick up the phone and call him when I have questions about American Classics.”

A funeral service will take place in Des Moines, WA in March.

Photo credit:

Tony Piff

SCM Auctions Editor and Photographer

Tony has long trumpeted the virtues of collecting Japanese cars. His daily driver is a 1970 Toyota Hilux — the one with the turn signals on top of the fenders. His popular “Rising Sun” column keeps a pulse on the J-tin market.

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  1. My father played piano at Shakey’s pizza in Lake City, WA for many, many years so you could say I was part of Gordon’s influence from a young age. In my adult years I attended many of Gordon’s wonderful Affairs De Elegance at his spread in Des Moines, WA. Simply incredible gatherings with a different marque featured each year. He was truly a wonderful car guy of the highest order. He gave my wife and I a personal tour of his collection when we delivered a car he purchased from us and I will always remember how warm and caring he was to us and every automobile enthusiast he met, from the most well-to-do down to a regular Joe like me. I will never forget him pulling up to my house in a V-12 Jag convertible and us going for a test drive in my 1969 AMX with Gordon at the wheel on I-5 in Seattle going over 100 MPH and praying she would hold together for him as he said “Let’s just see what she will do.” Any guy that had a lift in his living room so he could look at any chosen car in his collection is aces in my book! One of the greats in our hobby has passed. Our sincere condolences to his family.

  2. I had the pleasure of personally meeting with Gordon over ten years ago when I did a Garage Story on his car collection for Vintage Motorsport Magazine. He had taken an old barn (called the Chicken Coop) in Washington and converted it into his private vintage auto museum and work shop. In his shop was a 1955 Hudson Italia that was being restored at the time along with a 1954 6-cylinder Chevy that he always dreamed of building. He was a class judge at Pebble Beach for over 35 years and was truly an artist and a knowledgeable connoisseur of automotive works of art. His demeanor was soft spoken and a joy to interview. Later, Matt Stone asked me to put together a piece for Motor Trend Classic for the Garaj Mahal page of the magazine that featured Ol Yaller’ #8 that appeared in the 1964 film, “Viva Las Vegas” with Elvis Presley.

  3. I bought my very first car at a Barrett Jackson auction, a 36 Ford 3 window, that belonged to Mr. Apker. I was impressed that he not only approached me after the sale to discuss the car and provide me with it’s “pedigree” but also to reveal it’s quirks and his personal experience in driving it. My takeaway….here is a man exceedingly passionate about our hobby and genuinely caring enough to see that others (in this case me) enjoyed it. In subsequent brief conversations, over several years, he still remembered the car..and our talks.
    A true gentleman that will be missed by many in our world.
    RIP and thoughts and prayers to his family.