It was 1962 when 17-year-old Dave Larsen first bought a Triumph motorcycle from the young Dave Mungenast, Sr. The two would later form a long-lasting partnership after Dave Mungenast, Sr. selected Larsen to be his first employee at the original Dave Mungenast Honda Motorcycle dealership on Gravois. This original Honda dealership has expanded into a thriving automotive organization – The Mungenast Automotive Family – and as the company’s first employee; Larsen has helped the company thrive for almost half a century.
The Cyclic Nature of the Motorcycle Business
Dave Larsen and Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s initial motorcycle shop enjoyed an early success, moving a thousand motorcycles in the first year alone. They worked long hours, six days a week, and loved every minute of it. Trouble occurred later in the decade, however, when the industry took a nosedive during the war. Conscription removed much of their customer base, and the ones who weren’t drafted were unable to get their purchases financed – creditors weren’t exactly jumping to finance young men who were classified 1-A. The motorcycle dealership survived this turbulent era, and Larsen’s dedication saved the shop multiple times. Committed to keeping the doors open, Larsen even invested his entire live savings into store. The investment paid off; soon, motorcycle sales boomed again. In 1975, Larsen and the motorcycle dealership merged with Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s new Honda automotive dealership on Lindbergh and became unique for selling both Honda Automobiles and Motorcycles at one dealership.
Onwards and Upwards
Over the next few decades, Dave Larsen managed the Honda dealership while Dave Mungenast, Sr. rode in motorcycle competitions, worked as a stunt man in Hollywood, and continued to grow his businesses and investments. Much of the memorabilia Dave Mungenast, Sr. collected during these adventures is displayed in the museum today. Eventually, the Mungenast Family grew to include dealerships for Acura, Lexus, Hyundai, Toyota, and Scion, along with two Collision Assistance Centers.
Throughout this time, Dave Mungenast, Sr. and Dave Larsen had collected a lot of motorcycles, advertisements, posters, signs, shirts, trophies, and other memorabilia. They kepts all of it, secreting most of it into their building on Gravois that housed Mungenast’s Toyota in the late 1970s. When friends saw the automotive treasures that Mungenast and Larsen had collected, they joked that the two should open up the space as a museum.
The Museum is Born
To celebrate the company and Mungenast’s love for all types of motorcycles and automobiles, Classic Motorcycles LLC did indeed open the Mungenast Classic Automobiles and Motorcycles Museum on January 1, 2000. After Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s death in 2006, his family asked if Dave Larsen would curate the museum – not only as a place to show their priceless collection of motorcycle and automobile history, but also to honor Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s life and legacy.
The museum houses a must-see collection for any motorcycle or automotive enthusiast. However, the museum houses plenty of other treats: The retro signs and advertisements are charming for any lover of art, history, or advertising, and the many vehicles, and signed souvenirs from Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s work as a Hollywood stuntman will delight any movie buff. Curator Dave Larsen is perhaps the most valuable part of the museum, with his knowledge of motorcycles and automobiles and their rich connections with history, war, American culture, film, and art.