Edited by Old Cars Weekly staff
Cars have been his life, and now “Cadillac Man”
Lew Lazarus is ready to sell his collection of
automobiles and automobilia and enjoy retirement.
Calling 2009 his swan song in the automobile business, Lew Lazarus takes a lot of pride that his family has been involved in the industry since 1913. Following in the footsteps of his parents, Lazarus has been in the car business since 1966, but is winding down his operation with an eye toward retirement.
“If someone wants to buy the entire operation, I’d give them a wonderful package deal,” Lazarus explained.
Lazarus invited Old Cars Weekly to tour his Rockford, Ill., collector vehicle sales outlet named Collector Cars, Ltd., which is one part of his operation that is for sale. According to Lazarus, the entire operation consists of the Rockford site and several warehouses filled with automobilia and approximately 500 vehicles, most of which are collector-era cars with some late-model vehicles mixed in.
Lazarus defined the inventory at his Rockford location as ranging from “$500 projects to show cars.” Most are stored outdoors, with a few under canopy-style garages and several parked in a combination office and maintenance shop building also located on the grounds.
Lazarus said his parents operated a Chevrolet dealership in Forreston, Ill., for 60 years. While he’s a fan of the bowtie brand, it’s another General Motors make that is his favorite. “I’m a Cadillac man,” Lazarus told Old Cars Weekly as we toured through rows filled with examples of the make in his Rockford lot.
While Cadillac is well represented in the collection, a visitor would be hard pressed to pick something that doesn’t show up among the Rockford rows.
Sounding like a man who had not quite come to terms with parting with his beloved collections, Lazarus stated, “There are lots of dreams here; projects I had hoped to get done before I got old.” Knowing now that completing all his projects is an unattainable goal, Lazarus is eager to see his collection get purchased by those better able to finish what he started and put the cars in his collection back on the road.
Cars of significance
While Old Cars Weekly was able to view Lazarus’ Rockford inventory, he stressed that many of the cars stored in remote warehouses were historically significant and needed to be called to everyone’s attention.
Among those are a left-hand-drive 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II town car with American coachwork from Springfield, Mass., ’51 Frazer convertible sedan that was formerly part of the Universal Studios Collection, ’70 Eldorado Del Caballero that was created by and purchased from George Barris of Barris Kustoms of Hollywood, and a ’82 Cadillac Cimarron sedan that is a first-year production model with serial number 00001 and believed to be the first built.
As mentioned previously, the Rockford site’s inventory is predominantly 1950s-and-newer domestic brands, with light- and heavy-duty trucks, foreign cars and quite a few ambulances sprinkled among the rows. Most of the vehicles are complete, and the ones that are not complete are generally missing either glass, trim items or wheels.
In a storage area next to his office at the Rockford lot, Lazarus keeps a rare 1925 Flint touring that he said is one of three known to exist.
Alongside the Flint is parked a trio of vintage motorcycles that, according to Lazarus, were acquired from an owner who showed the bikes 179 times and won 179 first-place awards. The motorcycles are a 1947 Indian Roadmaster Chief, ’47 Norton B-3 and Czechoslovakian ’48 CZ with seven original miles. In keeping with the two-wheeled theme, Lazarus also is selling motorcycle stunt legend Evel Knievel’s red-white-and-blue jumpsuit and autographed helmet and another suit and helmet signed by second-generation stuntman Robbie Knievel.
Anyone interested in purchasing part or all of the Lazarus Collection can contact Lew Lazarus at 888-724-3211, ext. 100118 and make an appointment to see the vehicles and automobilia. Or e-mail Lazarus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lazarus told Old Cars Weekly that even though he is selling his collector vehicles and automobilia, he will remain connected to the old car hobby by continuing to perform certified appraisals of collector vehicles, also by appointment.