Yvette Vanderbrink will admit she has a special place in her heart for Chevys. The lady stamped her name on the vintage vehicle auction industry back in September 2013, when she took on the monumental task of selling some 500 Chevrolet (and a few mixed brands) cars and trucks in tiny Pierce, Nebraska from the Lambrecht Chevrolet collection. She has since found another motherlode of Chevys, an amazing stash of big-block Chevrolets at that.
Not only are these Bowtie beauties some of the very best that can be found anywhere in the world, but the majority of this collection is big-blocks, that magical term every Chevy enthusiast recognizes as the holy grail of the incredible muscle car era.
Vanderbrink, who spent several months retrieving all 500 of the Lambrecht Chevrolets, had a bit of assistance from the owner of this collection, the late Roy Langlitz of Rathdrum, Idaho, another tiny town on the border of Idaho and Washington state. This two-day auction will be held on September 15-16, mixing both onsite and online bidding.
“It’s nuts,” exclaims Vanderbrink as she describes the huge cache of vehicles including 1960s and ’70s Camaros, Chevelles, El Caminos, Novas, Impalas, and Corvettes. “Many of these vehicles have been totally restored and awaiting final assembly of correct drivetrains, interiors, and trim. It’s just amazing.”
Organizing A Massive Collection Of Big-Block Chevys
Langlitz was organized, providing handwritten notes attached to both vehicles and drivetrain components, making certain that the proper documentation was in place as a vehicle or drivetrain went through his restoration process. His daughter Michelle described her dad as “extremely committed to his collection” spending vast amounts of time attending to eight to ten projects at one time, making certain all elements of a vehicle or drivetrain were in place before putting them aside.
“He was meticulous about everything, and the family knew when dad set his mind to anything, he would go all-out to get it accomplished.” And judging by the 150 vehicles and over 180 engines he managed to accumulate, it is readily apparent. Roy Langlitz loved cars his entire life. And big-block Chevys held a special place in his heart.
Building A Big-Block Haven
Where does something this big get its roots? Roy Langlitz was a drag racer. Like many of his hot rod brethren, he raced at Fremont Drag Strip after moving to Fremont, California following a stint in the Navy during the Korean War. Langlitz opened a service station in Fremont, feeding his need to get involved in all things automotive, and cutting his teeth on handling performance equipment for customers.
Roy sold the station in 1960, moving his growing family north to Lassen County, where he opened a second service station. The muscle car era was just beginning and Langlitz was right there, ready to join the ranks of the muscle car faithful. He found success with his repair business, learned the ropes well, and moved once again to a small farm outside Post Falls, Idaho.
With a bit of extra money in his budget, Michelle said her dad began buying some vehicles he could work on, eventually beginning what many enthusiasts do — trading.
My dad had a knack for finding cars either in pieces or needing assembly, then trading one to get a couple more. The collection grew because he seemed to know what to buy and what to watch for in a trade. – Michelle Langlitz Johnson
Langlitz initially focused on Corvettes, “The first collectible cars he purchased,” Michelle says. But over time, he expanded his interest in all things GM and brought in Chevelles, El Caminos, and anything that had some performance attached to it. “He was a Chevy guy and thought Corvettes, though he loved them, might be a bit too narrow for his interests.”
The Langlitz Collection Expands In Size And Scope
Michelle described her dad trading one Corvette for two Chevelles or maybe a nice Chevelle for a couple of El Caminos. “He rarely purchased completed cars,” she said. “He loved bringing those cars back to life, but he wasn’t afraid of finding donor cars, stripping parts from them for use in later projects.”
The collection continued to expand and Langlitz, who had done a bit of property development and custom home-building, purchased 160 acres of land in Rathdrum where the family home could be located. That was followed by a multitude of buildings that grew to over 24,000 feet of shop space. Michelle said she wondered at times if her dad might have been better off simply putting a roof over the entire property. “My three brothers and I would tease him occasionally about the amount of covered space he had, but we all knew Dad sincerely loved what he had the opportunity to do.” She said when her mom (who also shared her dad’s passion for the collection) died in 2007, he went after building his collection with even more enthusiasm. “It wasn’t unusual for him to be working on eight to 10 vehicles at the same time.”
The Big-Block Stash Gains National Attention
By the mid-2000s the collection was starting to draw the attention of other enthusiasts and in 2008, Hot Rod magazine did a story entitled “American Addiction”. The feature, authored by Cam Benty, went into detail about five collections in different parts of the country that Benty described as totally pre-meditated collections or groups of vehicles their owners had built because they simply loved them. “None of the folks noted here are rich guys in the normal definition of the car auction stereotype,” wrote Benty. “They don’t buy and sell cars like pork belly futures on the commodities exchange. They really love their cars, and in many ways, the cars define who they are.”
While the feature got national attention, it provided no solid clues of the locations, and in Langlitz’s case, he wasn’t identified, using the pseudonym Rob Carter in the story. “My dad worried about too much information getting released,” Michelle explains. “And who could blame him?” The feature quoted “Rob Carter” saying, “I have lots of projects going on at the same time…but when I take a car apart, I know where all the parts are and how it goes back together.”
That all changed shortly after Langlitz discovered he enjoyed showing the collection and talking with other enthusiasts. “My dad started hosting car shows and inviting local car clubs to come and see what he was doing and sharing in his enthusiasm,” Michelle says. “He loved talking with fellow enthusiasts.”
Some Highlights Of The Langlitz Part Collection
There are some small-blocks and related cranks and heads, but the majority are big-blocks. Not included in this count are the engines and components for Olds and Pontiac; a small number but performance grade, nonetheless.
List Of Engines, Crankshafts, & Heads
It’s hard to grasp the immensity of what one individual can collect, but this group of cars, parts, and memorabilia took some 40 years of determined effort to get to this impressive scope. Here is a partial listing of engines and components from the Langlitz collection:
Engine (count) Crankshafts (count) Heads (count)
265 1 (1956)
283 9 5 16 (including fuelies)
302 4 1 3 (1969 Z28)
327 30 5 14
348 5 8 6
350 16 4 12
396 69 2 (includes 402) 13 (includes four 1965 425hp)
427 15 20 21 (includes five AL2 rectangular-port)
454 31 8 24 (includes LS6 and LS7)
Corvettes include a 1962 (fuelie), four 1965s, three 1967s, two 1969s, and three 1970 sharks. Chevelles include three 1966 SS variants, four 1967 SSs, one 1969, seven 1970 SSs, two 1971 SS, and one 1972 SS. Camaros include one 1969, one 1970 ½ Z28 tribute, one 1970, one 1971, one 1972, one 1973 and one 1979 Z28. El Caminos include one 1966, five 1967s, four 1969s, six 1970s, three 1971s, one 1972, one 1979, and one 1986.
There are some off-brand and odd ones in the group, including a 1958 Yeoman two-door wagon, a 1957 two-door Delray, a 1967 Biscayne, a 1970 Olds Cutlass SX convertible with a 455 (ready to assemble), a 1966 Pontiac GTO, and a 1970 Ford 428 Cobra Jet in pristine condition. One of the odd vehicles, but interesting anyway, is a 1956 Dodge Coronet two-door hardtop painted as a tribute to the 1956 World Series-winning New York Yankees, and specifically, to Yankees pitcher Don Larsen and catcher Yogi Berra. Both baseball legends signed the hood of the car. Langlitz had an affinity for the Yankees and Larsen, who pitched a perfect game during the series. Langlitz had the ability to have something like this created. So, he did it.
The Auction Will Honor A legacy Of Big-Block Enthusiasm
The September auction consists of two days. Saturday, September 16th will be both online and on-site, working through 125 vehicles. Descriptions of all the vehicles, which will include parts cars and fully restored cars, along with a listing of selected parts, signage, and memorabilia, can be viewed at the auction website, www.vanderbrinkauctions.com.
The second day, September 17th, will be on-site only and will sell all the parts Langlitz has collected over the years. The vast majority of those parts are factory-original pieces that Langlitz spent time documenting and assessing for use in factory-correct restorations of the cars he loved. There are thousands of parts, all organized and ready to be prepped and installed.
The Friday before the auction (September 15th) will provide a preview for anyone wanting to see the collection before the live auction gets underway. It will also be a day to celebrate the collection and the Langlitz legacy, with musical entertainment and food. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and will be reminiscent of car shows where enthusiasts could gather as a community. We are sure Roy Langlitz would enjoy having a part in the festivities.
Yvette Vanderbrink has been involved in many large collection auctions where families have struggled to make decisions about how best to handle a loved one’s passion. The Langlitz children are no different. “These are tough things to navigate,” she notes, “but this family knew how much their dad loved working on these cars and preserving them for the future.”
“We feel it is so important to not keep these cars and components hidden away forever.” Michelle expressed the family’s wishes in these words. We want to see all these things get into the hands of people who will enjoy them like our father did. I’m certain there is someone looking for a certain engine block or a specific set of cylinder heads. Maybe they just want to get going on that project they’ve dreamed about for years,” she explains. “I hope I get the opportunity to see one of these unfinished cars completed and driving around the streets. What a great tribute to our dad.”