CHICAGO — Larry Klairmont, a Word War II veteran and self-made billionaire, set out to share his love of cars and the science, engineering art and artistry behind them before he died last year.

Located at 3117 North Knox Avenue in Chicago, the Klairmont Kollections Automotive Museum has hundreds of cars.

Everything from the Batmobile, President Eisenhower’s car and Michael Jordan’s Bentley to a 2019 Mustang Roush.

“Chicago really doesn’t know about Klairmont, because we were a private collection, but now we’re turning a corner, a post-Covid era and we are showcasing the legacy of Larry Klairmont,” President Robert Olson said.

Klairmont was born in Maywood and was raised by his grandmother during the Great Depression.

His humble life changed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

“I believe he was on the way to Wrigley Field to watch the Bears play and the bombing happened,” Olson said. “It inspired Mr. Klairmont to join the military.”

He was a Marine during World War II and was the recipient of two Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star.

After the war, he became a successful businessman, starting a dry cleaning business that he grew to 150 locations, then Imperial Realty.

Over time, his love of cars became a collection of hundreds. One of a kinds, memorabilia, prototypes and much more. His fiancé, Joyce Oberlander encouraged him to share them. So It is now part of a 2-story museum for all to enjoy.

“What brings us all together is that all these cars represent something to each and every one of us,” Olson said. “I myself was picked from the hospital I was born in, I know my mom and dad have fond memories of that.”

But the museum is more than just entertainment.

“Our expectation of Klairmont Collection is that it is an educational hub,” Olson said. “Science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics – all represented by these fine pieces.”

Klairmont died a year and a half ago at 94. Fortunately, he had the chance to see his dream, his testament to ingenuity, bravery and work ethic come full circle.