The two-alarm fire broke out around 9:30 a.m. inside a large garage located along the 900 block of East Westmoreland Street in Philadelphia's Port Richmond section.
There were no injuries and firefighters were able to keep the smoky blaze from extending into any other buildings, but there was no way to save the vehicles.
Edward Flores and Wilson Colon of the Latin Cruisers Car Club said they arrived at the club's garage Wednesday morning to work on their cars.
The Latin Cruisers kept about 18 classic cars inside the garage. There were also 15 other vehicles in attached rental garages. All of them were damaged beyond repair.
Almost as soon as they stepped inside, they heard a pop and then saw flames.
Philadelphia firefighters sounded a 2nd alarm on the blaze within 15 minutes of their arrival on the scene, but they could do nothing to save the building or the automobiles inside.
Firefighters needed about an hour to get the flames under control.
The Latin Cruisers were supposed to show their classic cars Wednesday night at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant at Aramingo and Butler Avenue.
The club has about a dozen members, and the vehicles inside the garage were estimated to be worth close to $1 million.
Flores' vehicles, a Shelby, a Maverick, a '49 Ford and a '64 wagon were worth about $200,000.
Members of the car club aren't worried about the money, most, if not all, of the cars were insured. But they stood for hours of father-son work and bonding.
The fire marshal will conduct an investigation as soon as the structure is safe enough for people to get inside.