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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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October 2005 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Rick Lenz - 10 Years Later
By Robert McLellan
 

If there was one outstanding event in our 45 years of buying and selling automotive literature, it was 10 years ago when we received a response to our ad in the "Classic Car Club of America Bulletin". Rick Lenz began his lengthy letter by requesting our 40 page catalog, and then he proceeded to describe the history of his literature collection which began in 1941 at the age of nine. In his humorous style he told of his experiences in early collecting and photographing cars. To make things interesting he queried whether I had ever heard of a Hopperstand and proceeded to tell his experiences in detail. He had met the promoter at a Cleveland, Ohio, hotel in 1950. Thinking Rick was a prospective buyer, the promoter came to him! Of course all Rick wanted was some literature (none was available) and the opportunity to see and photograph the car.

Rick was interested in all makes, from all countries and for all years. With a goal of acquiring all the literature ever printed from 1930 to the present, plus whatever he could manage to find on earlier years, he had accumulated a tremendous collection of literature. When model years ended he would go to all the dealerships within 100 miles and collect whatever they had left over. Making constant visits through the years, they got to know him and began saving literature for him. Rick had collectors throughout the world whom he would trade with and, consequently, had managed to collect even more foreign literature than domestic.

To our surprise, in a second letter he mentioned that he had two warehouses full of literature and was at the point of selling it. He was rather disillusioned that the museums and libraries he had contacted showed little interest in obtaining it and certainly were not going to pay for it. They were not even interested in picking it up! I asked what he wanted for it and he did have a figure in mind and suggested that we come look at it. We did and we paid his asking price for over 1,000,000 items!

 
 
1940 Chrysler 1940 LaSalle 1942 Chevrolet
     
1951 Panhard 1967 Innovari 1966/67 Zil
     

10 years later and we are still cataloging the literature. Rick's literature was so disorganized, with no list of the contents, that it is doubtful that an institution would have had the time or staff to do the collection justice. Had they acquired it, thousands of collectors would never have had the opportunity to enjoy the literature. Over the last 10 years, and probably the next 10, we will continue to make it available to collectors, restorers and writers throughout the world. Rick enjoyed collecting it, gained a nice retirement from the sale of the collection, and knew the joy of sharing it with others.

Rick died February 17, 2002.

After selling his collection to McLellan's Automotive History, Rick sent out a letter to his friends and forwarded a copy to us. Here are excerpts of the letter, in his words, from May 17, 1996:

 
 
 
Two other articles about Rick Lenz
Rick Lenz
The Rick Lenz Story... A Memorial
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, October 2005
 
 
 
 
 
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