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Classic Car Collecting Keeps Chugging Along During Covid-19 Pandemic

by Richard Willard, Vintage Motorcars, LLC

Westbrook, CT – Once a car buff – always a car buff.  Richard Willard of Vintage Motorcars in Westbrook, CT has been restoring antique cars with his father Sam since 1985.  This past year has been one to remember in more ways than anyone can count.  For the Willards it’s been business as usual.  Car collectors all over the country have been enjoying their favorite pastime more than ever.

As other businesses and activities have restrictions, going for a “Sunday Drive” in a coveted antique vehicle has more appeal than ever.  Maybe collectors have more time to enjoy their collection or it’s just that they can easily [socially] distance and get out of the house at the same time.  The collector car market has held steady and the interest and investment aspects of the hobby are going strong.

“When the country first shut down in the Spring of 2020, there was nothing going on with collectors and their cars.  Usually this is a very busy time for us.  Owners usually are preparing for the summer season and for a few months it seemed as if time stood still,” Richard Willard said.  “As time went on things started to rebound, and cars started to emerge from garages everywhere.”

Some car shows have gone virtual.  The social aspect of showing off prized vehicles with others online has opened a market that it hasn’t traditionally been able to reach.  With prizes and spectators voting for winners in many categories, some virtual shows may continue into the future along with the in-person shows.

One car in particular that has been shown this past year is a very rare 1907 Cadillac Model M and it has a special meaning to Vintage Motorcars. This car belonged to Sam Willard who just turned 88 and he acquired the car in 1966.


“My father had this car kicking around as far back as I can remember,” said Richard, Sam’s son and the owner of Vintage Motorcars.  “The car needed restoring and my dad did some [woodwork] but then it fell to the wayside.  He was a great starter of projects but not so good at completing them.  One day in 2010, I decided to finish the car for him at the shop.  It was a 2-year project.  He then took it to one show and realized that trailering this gem was not easy at his age.  We then showed off the car in our showroom.”

Along came Bill Lillie, a prominent collector and family friend.  He saw the car and fell in love with it.  The timing was perfect.  Sam could no longer drive the car and because of the emotional attachment, he was not looking to sell it and lose contact with it.

“So, the perfect marriage was made.  Bill was close by and would take my dad with him to some of the shows.  He brought the car to shows all over the country winning many shows and sharing each and every moment with Sam.  I know that they both are enjoying the new adventures of this 1907 Cadillac,” says Richard.

In fact, the attention attracted the national magazine “Hemmings Classic Car” to feature it in March 2021.  The article is titled “This rare 1907 Model M Straight Line Touring recalls Cadillac’s early foray into the luxury car market” and Matt Litwin describes the history and restoration of this unique vehicle.


At Vintage Motorcars, the Willards continue to help collectors enjoy their cars and keep them chugging along.

Photograph by Stephanie Gaston.


Sharon Challenger
Sharon Challenger
I am a professional Scenic Artist and have also worked as a Systems Analyst and Senior Programmer Analyst for the Travelers and Yale University. Education: Post University, Wesleyan University and Yale University School of Drama.

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