EXCLUSIVE: Massive Collection In Kansas!

A while back, I received an email from a reader who had a large collection of cars sitting in a barn in Kansas. They asked if we would be interested in helping them clear everything out. I emailed back and asked for some photos. As soon I opened the first one I was completely blown away! This listing has been a work in progress for a while now, so I’m very excited to be finally featuring it. Please be aware, there are some very special cars in this collection that Don has allowed us to document that aren’t necessarily for sale, like the incredible Manta Ray! That being said, he has lots of great cars for sale and many are low mileage survivors. So if you see something you’d love to have, be sure to message him using the form below!

Since we couldn’t make it over to see the collection ourselves, we sent Scotty (he happens to be a professional photographer, so it just made sense)! He journaled the experience for us and it’s almost as good as going and seeing it in person, so here is Scotty’s adventure in his own words:

Just to see, let alone take photos of, the D.E. Lacer collection is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me! I had spoken with Don Lacer a couple of times in the weeks leading up to my trip there and he was as nice of a gentleman as I have ever met – funny, kind, humble, welcoming, honest, and just a great person down to his core. I was looking forward to meeting him and seeing his vehicle collection. I left home at 5 am for the 9-hour drive to Junction City, Kansas in my 20-year old Subaru Outback winter beater. Since it was “only” a 9-hour drive I wasn’t too worried, even though the car has over 346,000 miles on it. It turned out to be perfect driving weather, slightly overcast and in the 40s. As always, I go around toll roads and that has the added benefit of possibly running across old cars along the way, too. I got to Junction City and checked into my hotel for the night.

Don met me at my hotel in the early morning and took me out for breakfast. I could not wrestle the bill from him, he insisted on paying it since I was a guest in his town. That’s just another example of what kind of person he is. After gorging myself (3 french toast, sausage, 3 scrambled eggs!) we drove separately to his dealership downtown where he has a part of his collection in several buildings. The first spot we went to was a carpeted office where he keeps a few motorcycles, a really nice wooden boat, and a few other non-car vehicles. A couple of them really caught my eye, a Suzuki RV90 and a PPV, which is a “people-powered-vehicle” from the 1970s; a side-by-side pedal vehicle which is very cool. He said that he actually got a speeding ticket in town with it years ago; ha! Unfortunately, he wanted to hold on to both of those or they would have come home with me.

We then walked over to his main showroom where a team of folks were busy helping customers with their vehicle inquiries. In the showroom sat a 1964 Cadillac Coupe DeVille (which isn’t for sale), a 1955 Thunderbird, and a perfect 1935 Chevrolet resto-mod with matching teardrop trailer! Along the edge of the showroom were several perfectly-restored small parade-type cars, a museum-quality bumper car, and a reproduction Schwinn Whizzer. Parked outside was an original 1975 Dodge Charger Sport with the split grille in classic 1970s green and in great condition; one-owner.

In a building in back of the showroom was a Citroen DS in what appeared to be very nice condition, but it was partially-covered and surrounded by parts and other things. Also there was another perfect boat in there.

The temperature was supposed to be in the 50s, but it was slightly foggy and cold – in the 30s. It was time to head to the mother lode of the collection, the huge storage building just outside of town. Don blindfolded me and.. no, just kidding, although I couldn’t find it again if I wanted to. We pulled down a gravel driveway and were met by a locked gate, which Don opened, and there it was (insert angel-like music here)! It was still cold out, and unfortunately, it was even colder inside the building. But, wow, wow! What a sight! A person hears about things like this but rarely gets a chance to see them in person. Car after car after car, surrounded by so much priceless memorabilia that it would fill a museum in and of itself.

Don’s dad was a railroad man and he loved cars. Since Junction City is the home of the huge military base, Fort Riley, there were several decades of servicemen and women coming home with unusual vehicles from other countries. Don’s dad was the go-to person for buying them when nobody else would. He was known far and wide as the person who would buy your car, and he ended up with a lot of them, and I mean a lot, around 120 at the peak. He had everything from BMW 328s to Mercedes-Benz 190 SLs and even a Gullwing! When Don’s dad passed away in the 1980s, his mom had quite a chore on her hands to figure out what to do with those cars. A lot of the most valuable ones were sold, and some were divided up among her kids. Don ended up with a large portion of them, and I was looking at them in person. And, it was cold, and dark, and dusty; but as fun as you can possibly imagine.

The cars were all in the same condition as when his dad got them. If they had a ding on them back in the 1960s or 70s when Don’s dad bought the car, that’s how they are now. Some of them have been sitting in this warehouse for literally decades, some of them for 4+ decades. It was an amazing sight. They were parked right next to each other and only a few of them ran or were used periodically so the majority of them would have had to be dragged out to get better photos; my apologies. A couple of them were actually touching, door-handle-to-door-handle. A lot of them looked like you could just pull them out, polish them up and you’d have a new “old” car on your hands. Some others will need work as they had a couple of dents or their interiors were starting to get frayed from sitting for so long. I didn’t see any rodent damage which was amazing.

I immediately picked out a few favorites: a 1958 Fiat 1100 and a 1954 Austin A30 two-door! Also a 1970 Toyota Crown with a factory 4-speed and factory AC was pretty amazing and unusual. Not to mention a nice Honda Z50 Mini-Trail that needed a restoration, but it would have fit nicely into the back of the Outback. There were really too many to pick any real favorites other than, of course, the amazing Manta Ray! Good grief, talk about a car! Don had just been invited to take the Manta Ray, arguably the first fiberglass concept car, to a Concours in Houston and he was in the process of getting it into his shop to have the brakes and everything else looked at to make sure that it was safe for the transport trip to Texas and back.

After a few hours looking at and taking photos of the cars in the warehouse, and with numb fingers, nose, and toes but a warm heart and soul just being around these cars, it was time to head back to town. Yes, Don had a few more cars in even more locations. We stopped at a shop where his Honda N60 was parked outside and it was another nail-biter for me, I’ve always wanted one. Then we went back towards his other buildings in town where he had a Fiat 1500 spider, a 1965 Ford Mustang and an early-50s Ford F6 truck. I know that I’m forgetting a few of the details but the biggest detail of all is what a nice guy Don is. What an honor it was to meet him and to see his collection.

Since collections like this are just as much about the people behind them as they are about the cars, I asked Don to share a bit about himself and his dad with us! From Don – I’m a Kansas native, born and raised in Junction City. We are Fort Riley’s home town. I started detailing cars after high school and my career eventually grew into a late model retail dealership. I’ve been in the car business for nearly 40 years.

As long as I can remember, my parents had a passion for classic cars. My father worked for the Union Pacific most his life, while collecting classic cars along the way. During the 50’s and 60’s, soldiers brought a variety of European cars to Fort Riley to include Jaguars, Delahayes, BMWs, Rileys, Mercedes, etc. At that time, there was little interest in the Midwest for these types of cars. Most regional auto dealers would contact my father and he would buy them.

For instance, I can remember coming home from grade school one day, and there were two 300 Gullwings parked in the driveway. My brothers and I never knew what to expect and my mom was very understanding. My father would buy the cars, park them inside the warehouse, and that is where they remained from the time of purchase. These cars are totally original, low-mileage, and unmolested. At the time of my father’s death in 1989, he had 120 cars in his collection. Unfortunately, many of the cars have been sold.

My favorite car is certainly not one of the most valuable, but was my first automotive purchase. I was 16 years old and a junior in high school when I saw an ad in the Manhattan Mercury for a 1970 XKE grey 2+2 Jaguar with 27,000 miles. The same ad listed a 1963 split-window Corvette. Both were priced at $4,500. I’m not saying I made the right decision, but I bought the Jag and still own and drive it today

I know this post is a bit longer than our typical feature, but we felt it deserved some extra! Don is hoping to have this barn cleared out by the end of the year, save for a few cars, everything has to go including the automobila, motorcycles and any spare parts that don’t go with a specific car. If we were close by, we would already have stopped in to buy some of the signs, possibly the Sunbeam Imp and to see the Manta Ray!

Speaking of the Manta Ray, he is thinking about selling it, but he’s already turned some very serious offers. I wouldn’t want to sell it either. When will you ever find another one? But I’m sure for crazy money, he might be swayed.

Be sure to take a look at the list of cars below. He has prices in mind, but is motivated to sell, so make him an offer on anything you see here that you’d like to have. I want to thank Don for listing his collection with us and for letting Scotty come and photograph everything! I also need to thank Scotty for doing such a fantastic job, I could seriously spend hours just looking at these photos. You can see all 300+ photos here.

1951 Borgward 2d – $4,000
1951 Ford Taunus – $3,500
1952 IH Firetruck – $5,000 – Sold
1952 Dodge Pickup – $1,500
1955 Mercedes 220 – $1,500
1958 Fiat 1100 – $4,000
1960 Citroen 2CV – $5,000Sold
1961 Borgward Isabella TS Coupe – $5,000
1961 Austin Cambridge 4d – $3,500
1963 Austin A30 – $6,000
1964 Mercedes 220SEb – $6,000
1964 Datsun Patrol 2d – $3,000
1965 Sunbeam Imp – $4,000
1972 Honda Civic Coupe – $5,000
1964.5 Ford Mustang – $2,000
1970 Toyota Crown 4D – $5,500
1960 Mercedes L319 Bus – $25,000 – Sold
1939 Packard 120 Sedan – $20,000
1936 Buick Special – $9,000
1948 Oldsmobile – $6,500
1926 Chevrolet 2d Sedan – $8,000Sold and shipped to Beirut, Lebanon
1950 Mercedes 170V – $9,500 – Sold
1951 Rover 75(P4) – $6,000

Manta Ray – Not For Sale
1939 Graham – Not For Sale
1952 Riley – Not For Sale
1964 Cadillac Coupe Deville – Not For Sale

If any of you have a barn full of cars, or even just one vehicle that you are thinking about selling, please consider listing it here as an Exclusive. There’s no risk and as long as your car is priced right, it should sell quickly.

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Comments

  1. 68 custom

    wow what a collection. that Manta Ray bears a lot of resemblance to some 50s GM concepts cars, or is it one?

    • Josh Staff

      There is a lot of interesting history with the Manta Ray. I’m going to be doing a special feature on it, where I will be sharing it’s story and how it ended up with Don.

      • Mitch

        I want to say I saw the Manta Ray in a book somewhere years ago, but don’t hold me to that. Either way it looks very familiar.

      • starsailing

        Great story Josh!!!!!

    • David Wilk Member

      There is a good story about the Manta Ray in Hemmings here: https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2016/02/08/unseen-for-more-than-60-years-the-one-off-manta-ray-will-once-again-return-to-the-spotlight/

      It’s a one-off custom from (where else) California, built in the early fifties by Glen Hire and Vernon Antoine on a 1951 Studebaker frame. It looks like a GM dream car because they were inspired by seeing Harley Earl’s 1951 XP-8 LeSabre.

      This beautiful car was featured in Rod & Custom magazine in 1954.

  2. Rabbit

    At first glance, I thought that WAS the LeSabre. All I can say is “Wow. Just Wow.”

  3. Mike Looney

    I think these cars were featured on chasing classic car’s

  4. jerry z

    This collection was featured on “Chasing Classic Cars”. I guess Wayne didn’t buy any of them.

  5. Christopher

    In 1976 I was 14 years old and I lived in Manhattan, Kansas about half an hour from Junction City. My father had a friend who was in the car club with Mr. Lacer…Tri-State, tri-County? I don’t remember. But he knew that I loved cars and arranged for me to see the collection as a birthday present to me.
    Here are the highlights and I haven’t looked at the whole video yet because I have very poignant memories of that day and I want to write them down first. Walked to that blue barn and at that time there was a railroad car or two parked outside. Then when he opened the door there was an actual museum. No sign, nobody knew they were there but it was an actual museum. First one I remember was a 32?, 34? LaSalle that he took on his honeymoon. On the left side of the display was a T-bucket with Edelbrock valve covers which were vintage even then. I remember a fire truck from a town that he bought when the town was being cleared out to flood it with Tuttle Creek reservoir.
    We walked and talked and it was a magic day. He took me downtown to a ratty building with older, rougher cars and the one I remember was a Rolls converted to a pickup truck.
    Mr. Lacer told me that he preferred unrestored original cars to restored ones. That was unusual for the time.
    That was almost forty years ago to the day and I can close my eyes right now and see the price list he gave me of the cars he was willing to sell typed on a piece of colored construction paper. I kept that for years.
    I tried to convince my dad that the t-bucket was a steal at 3300 dollars but he didn’t fall for it.
    My deepest respect to your family and please thank them for the memories of those cars and that man.

    Like 1
    • D.E.Lacer

      THANK YOU i miss my dad , he had a heck of a collection

      Like 1
      • Christopher

        I felt like King Chukkabobo that day. Stupid teenager right out of American Grafitti who used to think it was cool to cruise Manhattan in my Roadrunner and then ALSO cruise Main Street in Wamego. Dare to dream, right?
        Your Pop couldn’t have been nicer to me and for absolutely no reason. He was the personification of the old saying that “Character is what a man does when nobody’s watching”. I turn 55 next year and I have never forgotten him and his simple kindness to me. If the equivalent is what I leave when I pass, I’d feel like I had accomplished something important.

        I remember him talking about trading a Jag for the LaSalle or vice-versa. Anyway, thank you.

        Like 1
      • jesus bortoni

        Dear Mr Lacer, you ought to be very proud of your collection but also of your Dad. Around here he would be known as “good people” as would you.
        Thanks again.

        Like 1
      • george holt

        Hi , how much is the Mercedes 220

  6. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Here’s the clip from Chasing Classic Cars:

  7. David Frank David F Member

    What an amazing collection, huge thanks to Josh for making this happen and to Scotty for making the trip! (Did Scotty really make it out of there without buying something?

  8. David Wilk Member

    I saw that episode too! I remember the pinkish color of this car was quite noticeable. Here is more on the car and that episode:
    http://www.forgottenfiberglass.com/fiberglass-car-marques/one-offs/1953-manta-ray-appears-wayne-carinis-chasing-classic-cars/
    And there is a fun video about the Manta Ray in anticipation of its appearance at Amelia Island Concours last year on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T7-uK9ht5k&list=PLS-FDfQKoPM3jFNQW4kQpnOHd0ZdheDnC

  9. Geoffrey Hacker

    Hi Gang…

    Here’s a short video on the Manta Ray – a music video – we did for its debut at Amelia Island in 2016:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T7-uK9ht5k

    Hope you enjoy…

    Geoff

    • Don Lacer

      A huge thanks goes out to Geoff Hacker! He’s done an incredible amount of research that uncovered the history and the story behind the Manta Ray. Because of his hard work, creativity and knowledge in the field of Concept Cars, we were invited to attend the Amelia Island Concour de Elegance in 2016. The video he created is top-notch. His work has lead to many magazine articles featuring this one-off car and it continues to be a highlight in the automotive world. Thanks Geoff!!

  10. Rock On Member

    The owner seems like a real down to earth guy. His cars are reasonably priced to sell.

  11. Neil

    Just to be pendantic – the Sunbeam version of the Hillman Imp was called the “Stilleto” – at least here in the UK :-)
    And that price for the Series 1 Landie is possibly the bargain of the year – here they change hands in excess of £10,000 and upwards depending on condition.

    • Evan Allen

      shhhhhhhhhhh

    • Roger

      To be even more pedantic… In the UK, the Stiletto was the Sunbeam version of the Hillman Imp Californian Coupe. We also got a Sunbeam Imp saloon. Both had twin headlamps, unlike the Hillman and Singer versions. Think the Sunbeam versions may have been in a (slightly) higher state of tune, although still 875cc.
      As I understand it, by this period Rootes used the Sunbeam brand (instead of Hillman etc) in export markets such as the USA.

    • Murray Mitchell

      Not really, there was the Hillman Imp, the Singer Chamois, and the Sunbeam Imp Sport. Also a Singer Chamois Sport. The coupé version was the Singer Chamois Coupé, or the Sunbeam Stiletto. There was also the Hillman Husky (estate/station wagon) or the Commer Imp, a commercial panel wagon. The Husky was a Commer Imp with windows in the side panel.

      Most Hillmans were sold in export markets, especially left hand drive ones, as Sunbeams. Australia, New Zealand, & South Africa used CKD kits assembled locally with extras for the local market. Early Imp were sold in the Netherlands as Hillmans but soon after were rebadged as Sunbeams.

  12. Jim

    Saw the manta ray at McPherson college car show last year it was parked close to mine she really could use some TLC I hope he dose sell to someone who will give her the love she deserves that pink paint job really needs work

  13. Evan Allen

    Someone please assure me I’m not crazy and tell me that not all the cars listed with prices are pictured (even in the google drive).

  14. Blyndgesser

    I’m in love with the Mercedes bus.

    • DE Lacer

      Ha ha it’s been in my family for as long as I can remember

  15. mark

    Incredible story. The world needs many more people like the ones featured in this article.

  16. BRAKTRCR

    Fantastic automotive journalism. Fantastic American. Thanks folks for the story, and videos. Thumbs up.

  17. Woodie Man

    Buck Rogers had nothing on the Manta Ray! Looks like 55 Lincoln tail lights…….

  18. DaveT

    Yeah I’m in love with the Mercedes bus too, more information is needed!

    • DE Lacer

      What do you need. It’s been in family for as long as I can remember,hasn’t been run for at least 40 years, it doesn’t show rust that is all I know

      • Randy Carlson

        No price on the Bus?

  19. Ken Nelson Member

    Josh, how can one contact Don re possibly buying one of his cars? My very first car was a ’59 Borgward Isabella TS, and I’ve never even seen the earlier BW he has there – but both engines look similar – it had an interesting cyl head in that the carb sat smack on top of the head center and it breathed thru the head that way. You set the valve clearances thru those side ports by removing the covers one by one. It was a very solid car, intended I think to compete with Mercedes. I often drove it at 90 and it didn’t mind a bit. Had a funky split rear swing axle a la Mercedes, with one boot on the Ujoint side. I was always a little leery of losing the rear end but it never really felt dodgy. Sadly I lost it to an accident when another guy ran into me. It was a tough little sedan.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Ken, there’s a form to contact Don right at the end of the story above.

  20. Johnni B

    Great story and also a great man. If anyone does go to Junction City Kansas while there I highly recomend stopping by the old salvage yard there called Easy Jacks. He has rows and more rows of old automobiles. He’s got Model T’s, Model A’s, Trifive Chevys, Pontiacs, Olds, etc; all sitting in their respecting manufactured areas. If I remember right it is a 40 acre lot. Lots of old cool stuff and you can walk around it and look. My wife and I drove from Kansas City to there one morning and spent the whole day walking around

  21. Robert White

    A very respectable collection IMHO. Clearly, I have never seen such a tidy collection stored away without seeing piles of flotsam & jetsam piled all over the place. Moreover, I would never sell that concept car if I did not have to. That concept car is just about the coolest car I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing the views, BarnFinds.

    Bob

  22. John C.

    May the old car hobby live on forever! But my worry is that some day kids won’t be able to say that was my dad’s or grandfather’s car, it will be their great great great grandfather’s car whom they never met and probably won’t care about the cars he had. What gonna happen to all the old great cars down the road?? No one knows for sure.

  23. Mike Williams

    Poor old Mustang :(

  24. Paul S.

    I see that the Red Thunderbird was owned by a Warrant Officer since the USAWOA plate is on the front of the car. I am a retired US Army Warrant Officer.

  25. Doug Towsley

    Thats a great story and how vintage vehicles brings interesting people together,, Most of my friends all over the world are from our involvement in both the hobby and business side of it. While almost all are somewhat crazy or eccentric, some of the nicest people as well. This story just re-enforces that.
    Thanks.

  26. John b

    Any body haveing issues viewing the photos? The link will not open for me. Thanks

    • Robert White

      I’m having page loading issues too so it ain’t just you.

      Bob

  27. Frank Opalka

    Was in the army at Ft Riley during Koren war, sorry I never met Mr Lacer, I would be interested in the Riley, contact me @ xkssfrank1@concast.net

  28. John P

    No one has said it yet… But one name comes to mind when these collections have come up for sale recently– “Vanderbrink”.. Their auctions are top notch and fetch tons of attention.. I know the prices above look very fair–but Don deserves an honest return on his families proper maintenance of all these beauties.. And it is likely that a well publicized auction would provide that-

    • Josh Staff

      John, why would he go to an auction house when he has real buyers lining up to buy stuff right now? He doesn’t have to wait months for an auction house to catalog it, promote it (most likely right here on Barn Finds, by the way) and then they will take 15% of what everything sells for. Listing it here, he bypasses all those headaches and gets right to the people that would attend the auction anyways. With hundreds of thousands of people visiting this site every month, I think his ad is going to be seen by far more people than what could ever even attend a physical auction.

  29. Richard

    Cannot see the back window on the little Austin,but the grille tells me it is an A35 with the 1000cc motor. A far superior car to the A30.

  30. Steven

    I just saw where Chasing Classic Cars guy Wayne Carini was there and made few offers on some of those cars..

  31. Nic Brown

    This is an amazing story and the pics are great, this is what Barn Finds is all about and the reason that I look forward to read the emails every day!
    Truly a great collection and the story tells the tale of a good family and a passion. A pleasure to read and look at the pics, I’m sure what ever is sold will go to another cherished home for the future enjoyment of automotive style and a look at what once was and still is amazing designs.

    Thanks Don for letting us see you collection, it’s fantastic and I’m sure we have all enjoyed it.

    Nic

  32. Bryan Cohn

    I’ve lived within an hour to three hours or so of Junction City (Wichita, Joplin, El Dorado and now Lawrence) for the better part of 14 years, visited the area once and yet never knew about the dealer, the story, any of it. Well done bringing this to everyone BarnFinds guys!

    I’m sitting here drooling over the Citroen DS but I have a self imposed one car limit and since I’m still racing. But one of these days when I stop this silly fun of racing cars…..

  33. Warren Pray

    A true walk down memory lane. I lived on west 3rd st. in the late 50s. Our home backed up to one of his early storage garages, actually an old barn on 2nd street next to the Raplees. I always enjoyedpld cars. Mike and I were friends thru scouts. I remember going to a car show in Abilene along with Mike and his dad. First thing we did was put on white cotton gloves so we didn’t mess up the chrome on the interior trim. Mr Lacer was a true jewell! Great memories. Thanks for sharing.

  34. don lacer

    I remember that warehouse well , thanks for the good words

  35. scott

    I’m curious, what is the music in the video?

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