By Joe Bortz
When I was 15 years old I was very proud of the fact that people took me for 18, I felt that it had its advantages and allowed me to do things that required you to be 18 years old — like impressing the girls with my maturity. When you are younger you want to be older and of course when the years are creeping up you want to be younger.
Larry Klairmont is 84 now. He’s a legend in Chicago real estate, a former marine and now one of Chicago’s biggest car collectors. Klairmont has not only developed a collection of 350 cars in less than three years, he is now managing to put this collection into a 125,000-square foot building and turn it into what soon will be Chicago’s most significant car museum. The museum will open in September, with well over 300 cars will be on display, along with airplanes hanging from the ceiling, motor scooters, motorbikes and a fantastic train layout that came from the New York’s World Fair in 1964.
Klairmont gets up at 6 a.m. and works until noon in his real estate office and then heads back to his “museum in progress” at 3111 N. Knox, Chicago (just east of Cicero & Belmont). During the annual Lake Forest car show in Lake Forest, Larry showed up on his motorcycle with his girlfriend riding in tow. His greeting to me was, “Hey kid, what you up to?” That is when I realized that 84 years old is very young, and 70 ain’t so bad either.
Starting around September 1, the museum will be open every Sunday it will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and serve as a meeting place for anyone who rides on wheels: Classics, antiques, sports cars, motorcycles and motor scooters. There will be free coffee and donuts every Sunday morning and Klairmont hopes that his museum becomes a regular meeting and hang out place. There is even a dining room that holds 100 people and Klairmont is now working on a separate unit in the building of 40,000 square feet to act as a antique classic and motorcycle sales room.
For more information on the museum, keep checking the pages of Old Cars Weekly, and visit www.oldcarsweekly.com.