Thinking Big

John Gunnell |
The “outside” cars like this ’57 Chevy lure highway travelers in.

The “outside” cars like this ’57 Chevy lure highway travelers in.

 

Russ Noel of Country Classic Cars LLC (www.countryclassiccars.com) thinks big. Why else would he have 500 vintage cars stuffed into four buildings along the pie-shaped juncture of Route 66 and I-55 in Staunton, Ill.?

If you’ve driven past that location you have seen Noel’s cars, because you can’t miss them. Even on the snowy day in early December that we stopped there, there were dozens of cars sitting outside attracting attention.

“Isn’t it hard to take care of 500 cars?” I asked the proprietor of this overpowering car store. His answer was as straight forward as his approach to the classic car sales business. “I used to be a hog farmer and I had 500 hogs,” he said. “Compared to those animals, cars are a lot easier to care for.”

Noel and his family and hardworking helpers sell about 35 cars a month to collectors all over the globe. He was just in the process of shipping a Model A Ford to a buyer in South America.

 

The mixture of brands, body styles and model years makes a visit exciting.

The mixture of brands, body styles and model years makes a visit exciting.

Russ has a 12-car hauler that he drives to auctions and car shows all around the country buying up “pretty good” old cars and trucks that he can resell for “pretty good” prices. He told us he had just picked up a Maserati at the Mecum auction in Kansas City because he had only bought 11 cars and needed a full load. But most of the cars he has in his steel buildings are Chevys, Fords, Plymouths and American makes. The kinds of cars country boys like.

You don’t have to be in the market for buying a car to stop at Country Classics. Russ and his crew will be happy to sell you a hat, a T-shirt, a tin Route 66 sign, a model car or lots of other goodies. And even if you don’t need any of those, poking through the inventory of full-size vehicles is like a trip to a giant-sized car museum.

It’s fun to think big and Noel is having lots of fun.

 

Country Classic Cars has lots of old trucks, too.

Country Classic Cars has lots of old trucks, too.

 

 

 

 

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