Contributed by Russ Muller Photography
Our next stop on the tour was the Great Gatsby room, which features some of the beautiful cars of the art deco age. According to Mr. Dezer, the maroon V12 Cadillac was owned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Towards the back of the room was an area filled with tables and chairs. Cory informed us that the space, and others throughout the museum, can be rented for parties, events, etc. In my humble opinion, this would be the room to rent, as the cars in this space are truly exquisite. The next room on our tour was the Chrysler lounge, which had a nice collection of early ‘60’s Imperials as well as a few 300 letter-series cars and a beautiful Chrysler Airflow. Next stop, the Bat Cave.
When I think of Batman, I think of Adam West and the Batmobile that was created by George Barris. The 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car did not start out as a platform (Batform?) for the Batmobile. It was a car that George Barris had in his private collection for several years. ABC called Barris with a request to create a Batmobile for theirnew TV show, which was going to start filming in a few weeks.
Without time to plan a car from scratch, Barris decided the Futura was the car to build. Barris retained ownership of the original Batmobile until 2013, when it sold at auction for $4.6 million. The one you see here is a replica that was built by the Barris Custom group and is believed to have been built for the
40th anniversary of the Barris Customs Garage. It was signed by George Barris, as was the Bat boat in the collection. The first Batmobile from the two Joel Schumacher Batman movies is here, as are Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton era Batmobiles. The last two original bat cycles, which were not used on screen but were used for promotional purposes, are housed here. There is a really cool Messerschmitt that has been built as a Batman themed tribute. And there is also a replica Batmobile made by Fiberglass Freaks, who hold the license to make reproduction Batmobiles. The company owner is retiring, and they are only making five more, so if you want one you better act fast (list price: $299,999!).
The next stop was the Cuba Libre area, also called Main Street USA, featuring cars mostly from the ‘40’s that were representative of the cars to be found in pre-Castro Cuba. There is a reproduction of a Cuban-built truck that was used to “drive” from Cuba to the US, and a DeSoto Custom woody station wagon. Moving on, our next stop was the military area. European military vehicles from Germany, Italy, England and France line one side of the room, American vehicles on the other. Jeeps, Hummers, mutts, ducks and a few motorcycles round out the military collection.
At this point we had worn out our host Cory, and he began to transition us over to Robert for our last few stops. They both introduced us to the next stop, the General Store, which houses a collection of vintage TVs, radios, antique phones and typewriters from all over the world. Many of these items came with the Artegon Marketplace when Mr. Dezer purchased it. This room had been the location of a merchant in the mall who left and did not take their stuff with them. It’s not cars or movie themed, but the space does fit with the overall theme of Dezerland. Bravo for keeping it and incorporating it into the collection.
After a quick trip through the ‘50’s, a room filled with Elvis memorabilia, a few Edsels, mid-century Plymouths, Dodges and a cool Packard Caribbean, it was off to our next stop: the motorcycle collection. Vintage Harleys and Indians fill the room, including one Sportster trimmed with 24 carat gold. Exiting the motorcycle room, we headed to our next destination: England. Vintage MGs, Bentleys (including a
stunning Azure), and both new and classic Rolls Royces fill the space along with posters of Beatle-esque images. The 1947 Silver Wraith is a beauty. Just outside of England sits two Ladas, the Russian car that didn’t change much for decades. A reliable driver that has something of a cult following, the cars are a go anywhere, do anything type much like the old Volkswagen Beetle was.
Next up was quite possibly the largest collection of miniature cars in the world. Several Messerchmitts share a room (and shelves) with three-
wheeled and four-wheeled tiny cars. Tara was enamored with a white three-wheeler Mini L City, an electric car sitting on a shelf. But the coolest car in the room for me was Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s old Honda 600. The car says “Knott’s Berry Farm Art Department” on it by his signature, so this little Honda may have more of a story than we were told…The next room was a small one, dedicated to Mr. Dezer’s homeland of Israel. It features a few Israeli Sabra sports cars and a nice Henry J.
Nearing the end of the tour, we had one more giant room to explore, the Vespa collection which contains 110 of them. Mr. Dezer managed to find a huge stash of brand new 1950’s Vespas that had never been ridden or sold. They had been kept in dry storage and still have their original tires. Perhaps he found a defunct dealership somewhere. Impressive collection, for sure. Our last stop was the Duesenberg room, which features two modern Duesenberg II’s (fiberglass body, modern drivetrain and interior) which are considered to be some of the finest replicas in the world, as well as an original Duesenberg.
Thoroughly worn out, Tara and I finished our tour of the amazing Dezerland collection. Over 900 cars, including countless movie and tv cars, over 100 Vespas, and all sorts of Americana and memorabilia from model airplanes and boats to jukeboxes and pinball machines, await you if you choose to visit. Plan on being overwhelmed, but talk with the guides to learn as you go. Between Cory and Robert, Tara and I both walked away with a ton of new information about everything from Bond movie vehicles to Russian cars. It’s awesome, check it out!