The other day we heard Christmas carols being played in a Big Box store and when the words “Noel, Noel” rang out we thought of meeting Russ and Anita Noel just about a year ago. We were on our way back from a road trip to the National Funeral History Museum in Houston, Texas.
We made several stops along the way, despite running into a massive snowstorm in Arkansas. We had just left an incredible classic car collection in St. Louis and we wanted to stop at Country Classics LLC in Stauton, Ill. That’s where I-55 and Historic Route 66 come together. We had passed the place filled with old cars several times. On this trip we were going to stop.
Country Classics LLC is basically four very huge steel building filled with cars. It was winter and most of the buildings weren’t heated, but we still spent hours walking around checking out the 500-plus cars. Then, we went to talk with Russ and Anita (Noel, Noel). Russ told us that he had been a farmer who tinkered with old cars, but now he was an old car dealer who lived on a farm.
We asked Russ if it was hard to take care of 500 cars. “I used to raise pigs on my farm,” he answered. “And let me tell you, it’s easier to take care of 500 cars than it is to care for 500 hogs.” Russ sells cars that are in various conditions and he admits that some of them aren’t going to win trophies at Pebble Beach. He knows that most people are price conscious, so he specializes in collector cars in the “affordable” price range. Some of the cars are ready to drive home and go to a car show. Others are going to be fix-me-up projects.
Russ doesn’t often go for fancy cars, but he told us he had just bought a Maserati at a Dana Mecum auction. “I don’t know a darned thing about Maseratis,” he admitted. “But I had an extra space on my big car hauler and I never come home with an empty space."