Self-proclaimed sports car nut and gear head Don Levin has been working in the automotive industry his whole life. He’s been hooked on cars ever since 1949, when he discovered the first Road and Track magazine at the corner drug store in Clayton and got his mother or uncle to buy it for him. It wasn’t automotives, however, but motorcycles that brought him into Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s automotive business. Don was attending college in St. Louis when the first small, imported Japanese motorcycles hit the city in 1958; he and his friends at the Volkswagen/Porsche dealership he worked for in Clayton discovered them firsthand in 1962. One friend insisted on taking Don to Bob Schultz’s Motorcycles, where Dave Mungenast, Sr. worked, to see these Honda motorcycles up close. After that, Don began hanging around the shop regularly and became friends with Dave, Sr.
Dave Mungenast, Sr.’s first automotive dealership was a Toyota franchise – one of the first in Missouri – built in 1966 in the same building that houses the Mungenast Classic Automobiles & Motorcycles Museum today. Under its original management, the Toyota dealership was not performing well after a few months had passed. Because Dave, Sr. knew that Don had experience working in automotive dealerships, Dave, Sr. turned to him to help rebuild the franchise. As the story goes, Don’s entrance into the Mungenast Automotive Family occurred over lunch on February 15, 1967. Dave, Sr. bought Don a white-bread sandwich and offered him a salary of $300 a month and a Toyota Corolla to drive. Since then, Don has started up four new dealerships in the Mungenast Automotive Family, and still works at the Mungenast Automotive Family Management Company as a Senior Advisor.
Dave, Sr. and Don never thought there were riches to be had – they were in the business because they wanted to fix cars, sell cars, make people happy, and do their own thing. It was a labor of love; it was a personal mission. The museum stands as not just a monument to this mission, but as a rich resource commemorating the history of motorcycles, imported cars, and the city of St. Louis.