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An auto focus in O.C.

Home of the Week

March 23, 2008|Diane Wedner | Times Staff Writer

Thomas GEPHART had planned 10 years ago to house his exclusive automobile collection on the ground floor of an office building he would buy but was unenthused about the available real estate.

Then a 2 1/2 -acre spread came on the market in Coto de Caza -- a private, 5,000-acre gated resort community near Mission Viejo in Orange County -- with a palatial but slightly worn house for himself and his wife, Margie, and plenty of room to build a carriage house for the cars.

The venture capitalist and his wife refurbished the 1990 home, installed lush landscaping and constructed the carriage house, which can hold at least 20 cars -- including Gephart's 1929 Packard Opera Coupe and 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud -- and 300 party guests. The Gepharts often host charity fund-raisers, including a recent Valentine's Day event at which 144 people sat down, among the museum's cars, for a black-tie dinner.

The couple's 14 grandchildren visit often. They drive go-karts and enjoy the swimming pool and other activities that the Gepharts' grounds and Coto de Caza provide. "It's a joy here, a great place to share with others," Gephart said. "It has provided a way for us to give back."

About this home: Who needs a five-bedroom home when a family could live comfortably in the 8,000-square-foot, four-bathroom carriage house? It comes with a wine-tasting room, travertine floors, motorized skylights, an audio system, a home theater with a 12-foot roll-down screen, a restaurant-quality kitchen and butler's pantry, and Lalique bathroom sinks.

For those who prefer a more traditional living arrangement, the French Normandy-style home isn't too shabby either. The ample main rooms, with 12- to 30-foot ceilings, are light-filled and provide views of the property, which includes a boccie court and covered barbecue area with its own beer taps. Each bedroom suite has a balcony; a spacious office has built-in custom cabinets, a fireplace and French doors that open to a courtyard view of nearby Saddleback Mountain.

Asking price: $13.9 million, which includes a Chrysler Gem golf cart.

Size: The main house has five bedrooms and 6 1/2 bathrooms in 9,600 square feet.

Features: The house has a professional-style kitchen; a breakfast room; an oak-paneled library; a wine cellar; a billiard room/home theater; a workout room; five fireplaces; a four-car garage, separate from the carriage house; and a hobby room.

The property maintains its privacy with 30-foot-tall ficus trees. A short drive away is Coto de Caza's 44,000-square-foot clubhouse, two 18-hole golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., a racquet club and aquatic center.

Where: Coto de Caza, Orange County

Listing agent: Lyn Chadwick, Prudential California Realty, who can be reached at (949) 858-0234 or go to www.cotocarmuseumestateoc.com.

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diane.wedner@latimes.com

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To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos with caption and credit information on a CD and a detailed description of the house to Ruth Ryon, Real Estate Section, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012.

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