Yann Saunders was born in Switzerland on May 19th, 1939. Saunders lived in Switzerland for most of his life, moving to the United States in the early 2000s. He made Z. Taylor Vinson’s acquaintance--via mail--in the early 1970s through automobile ephemera collecting. In 1981, by pure coincidence and independent of their relationship, Vinson's sister married Mr. Saunders brother-in-law.
Saunders specialized in collecting Cadillac automobile ephemera, but sold his entire collection before moving to the United States. He created and manages the online Cadillac Database, which preserves the history of Cadillacs and tells the story of Cadillac automobiles.
Watch Mr. Saunders discuss his relationship with Taylor Vinson and their unlikely meeting in-person for the first time at a family wedding in West Virginia:
In Z. Taylor Vinson’s unpublished “Auto-biography” he wrote about his relationship with Mr. Saunders:
Yann is not really a trading partner but this story is too good not to tell.
My return east from California in '65 made [my] collection more accessible, but the truly significant year was '69 when it came over the mountains [from his parents home in Huntington, WV] to join me in Washington where I'd just bought a town house. At last we were reunited and I could devote attention to it every day. I was particularly interested in disposing of my duplicates, and when I saw a want ad for Cadillac stuff in 'Autoenthusiasts' from a Yann Saunders in Geneva, I sent him a list of what I had. He was interested in the principal '50 Cadillac catalogue which I had offered for $7, and about $5 or $6 more of stuff. The deal was concluded. This was '70.
A decade later, in '81, I was home in Huntington visiting my mother. My younger sister was in the process of divorcing and was there with a man she'd begun to see, Mike Chapuisat, whose father was Swiss. Mike, knowing of my interest in cars, remarked that he had a brother-in-law in Geneva who liked Cadillacs, Yann Saunders. That broke the ice. Yann remembered my name, of course, and we met the following year when he and Gita, Mike's sister, came over for the wedding of my sister and their brother.
They stayed with me a night or two. Every one of my Cadillac catalogues, and magazine and newspaper ads was examined in great detail. When I visited the Saunders the following year, '83, I could see why. Yann appeared to have every book and article ever written about Cadillac, and while his collection of sales materials was not perhaps as fully developed as mine, his [advertising] collection was a wonder to behold...I was in the nest of a true enthusiast.
Watch Mr. Saunders describe the Vinson collection and his work organizing it after Mr. Vinson’s passing in 2009: