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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The "A Tough Choice To Make" Story

Mr. Omar Landis with his '57 Chevy.  Photo taken by Lancaster
Newspapers photographer Jeff Ruppenthal.
It was an ordinary day.  Just passed Landis' Auto Dealership on Rt. 272N on my way to my brother's house in Ephrata, PA.  The used car dealer, Omar Landis, has been in business for as long as I can remember at the same location on the busy highway.  Many times I pass and there are a few limousines parked next to each other at one end of the lot.  Mr. Landis had decided, after 60 years of selling and collecting automobiles, to put 14 of his prized collection up for auction at the Mecum Auto Auction which just finished a very successful four day auction at Harrisburg, PA's Farm Show Arena.  Omar Landis is not only a car collector, but one of the most influential car auctioneers.  At the age of fourteen he went with a relative to the Manheim Auto Auction, which is near his home, and was hooked.  He reported that after leaving the auction he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.  At the age of 20, back in 1954, he demonstrated his auctioneer's chant to one of the owners of the Manheim Auto Auction and was given the chance of a lifetime to show his skills at the annual antique auto auction that year.  After the auction he knew he not only wanted to be an auctioneer, but wanted to be involved with collectible cars.  Ten years later he opened his own auction company known as Garden Spot Auto Auctions in Ephrata.  Then, in the early 70's, he and a friend opened a classic-car auction company.  When his friend died Mr. Landis became sole owner of "Dutchland Collection Auto Auction which thrived for over 30 years.  Eventually his son, Jimmy, got the auctioneering bug and became an auctioneer.  The father and son's most memorable auction they presided over was the one where the car featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was auctioned.  Well, when I made a day trip to Harrisburg recently for the Mecum auction I had the chance to see Jimmy in action, since he is one of their most recognizable auctioneers.  It was during that auction that Omar offered 14 of his prized collection of collectible cars for auction.  Had to be one of the toughest choices he ever made in his life when he decided to let those 14 cars go to auction.  I recently posted a story on the auction and showed photos of his 1931 Ford Model A Roadster.  It was one of my favorites in the auction.  Others that were part of Mr. Landis' collection were a '78 Corvette Pace Car that had only 3 miles on it, a '59 Ford F100 pickup, a '63 Ford Thunderbird, a '57 Chevy Bel Air 4-door, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Sedan and probably my second most favorite at the auction, a '46 Lincoln Continental Coupe with a 3 speed trans. One of the first cars I saw when I entered the arena that Friday morning and it was ...... well, it was a piece of art.  The wire wheels with wide white-walled tires, the shiny chrome grill, the fender shirts, the Continental kit on the rear, .......... I could go on and on, but I may as well show you why I was impressed. 








So, see what I mean.  If you appreciate collectible cars and designs that were one of a kind, you'd also have to admire this car.  Didn't get to see it auctioned off, but I'm sure it brought six figures.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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