Michigan couple gifts $2M classic car collection to university

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EXCLUSIVE: A classic car collection valued at more than $2 million that is housed in a garage in Michigan is about to find a new home. 

All 35 cars, owned by Bandit Industries Inc. founder Mike Morey and his wife, Dianne, will be auctioned off next year to help fund scholarships at Northwood University. 

After years of treasuring and taking care of the prized collection, Mike decided that at 76 years old, it was time to give it away to a cause they both believed in.  

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"Dianne and I have been lucky enough to make a lot of money over the years owning our own business, and I thought that this would be the time to do something good for the college next door to us," he told FOX Business. 

Northwood University, a private institution in Midland whose mission is to develop free-enterprise leaders, is roughly 27 miles from the Moreys' home. 

Michael and Dianne Morey are donating 35 vehicles from their automotive collection to Northwood University. (Northwood University)

The school, founded in 1959, typically offers more than 1,000 scholarships every year to ease the financial burden of college education. However, most of them are not full rides. The school has a total enrollment of 3,277. 

The extra funds from the cars, which are slated to be auctioned off in January, will help fund more scholarships for new and returning students, according to Norwood University President Kent MacDonald. 

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"We will reinvest those dollars back into Northwood, in particular, scholarships," MacDonald told FOX Business. "As a private university… we want to continue to make sure we're affordable for young people to attend." 

MacDonald said he got the call about the Moreys' donation this summer.

Michael and Dianne Morey are donating 35 vehicles from their automotive collection to Northwood University. (Northwood University)

Mike's passion for cars began when he was 16, but he admitted that at the time he could never afford the cars that he would later collect.  

"If you were broke like I always was, you couldn't have the cars that I collected," he said. 

His dream started to become more of a reality after starting his construction equipment supplier company in the 1980s. In 1983, Morey invested in a small workshop where he and six other employees built a wood chipper that they believed would be better than any other model on the market. 

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The success of the Model 100 Brush Bandit, a 12-inch capacity disc-style chipper, is what helped the Moreys develop Bandit Industries in 1987. 

Michael and Dianne Morey are donating 35 vehicles from their automotive collection to Northwood University. (Northwood University )

The financial success of the company helped Mike buy his first car, a '57 Chevy convertible, for around $80,000 more than two decades ago, he said. 

However, it was the first of what would later become a large collection including a 1932 Ford Roadster street rod, 1932 Ford Hi-Boy convertible, 1937 Chevrolet pickup, 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1958 Chevrolet Impala and a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. 

Michael and Dianne Morey are donating 35 vehicles from their automotive collection to Northwood University. (Northwood University)

The funds from auctioning off the cars next month will mark one of the largest gifts to the university, "which means it's going to be one of the most impactful ones for our students," MacDonald said. 

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All but one of the vehicles will be auctioned off. A 1958 Chevrolet Corvette will be displayed on campus to honor the couple.

"Over the years, it's [Northwood] really become the country's premier provider of talent to the automotive and aftermarket industries," he said. 

Michael and Dianne Morey are donating 35 vehicles from their automotive collection to Northwood University. (Northwood University )

Today, Bandit Industries operates a network of more than 180 dealer locations around the world and is entirely employee-run. 

In 2018, after rejecting offers from private firms, the Moreys announced they would sell their company to their employees as part of an employee stock ownership plan. Currently, the company has more than 700 employees.

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