It's non-numismatic, but collectors of all stripes will appreciate the thrill of an auction of an untouched time capsule of rare collectibles, in this case, vintage cars.
Seventeen years have passed since Ray Lambrecht closed his Chevrolet dealership, a small-town operation in northeast Nebraska with a big and valuable secret.
For decades, the owner of the Lambrecht Chevrolet in Pierce held on to new cars and trucks that didn't sell right away. He stashed them in warehouses, at his farm and in other spots around the town he worked in for 50 years.
Now, his automotive nest egg — about 500 vintage cars and trucks — will go on the auction block. Next month, visitors from at least a dozen countries and throughout the U.S. will converge on the 1,800-resident town, or bid online.
The two-day auction will feature mostly unsold Chevrolets that have sat untouched for decades. They'll go on the block in as-is condition. About 50 have fewer than 20 miles on the odometer, and some are so rare that no one has established a price. The most valuable, including a rare Chevy Cameo pickup, could fetch six-figure bids from collectors who view them as works of art to display or as restoration projects.
"To find this many new, old vehicles is unheard of," said Yvette VanDerBrink, the auctioneer coordinating the event. "It's like a white buffalo."
Preparations for the auction began in June, and VanDerBrink has taken calls from as far as Iceland, Singapore and Brazil. The two least-driven cars, a 1959 Bel Air and a 1960 Corvair Monza, each have one mile on their odometer. The oldest vehicle with fewer than 20 miles dates to 1958; the newest is a 1980 Monza with nine miles.
Ray Lambrecht opened the downtown dealership with his uncle in 1946, on the corner of Main Street and Nebraska Highway 13. Live elephants meandered out front that day, with Chevrolet banners across their backs.
Lambrecht rarely sold cars or pickups that were more than a year old, and he used holdover models as a kind of rainy-day fund. Unlike most dealers who lowered prices to move out-of-date inventory, he assumed the older cars would appreciate over time.
"I believe that Dad's sales approach reflected his personal style," said his daughter, Jeannie Stillwell. "He is a very honest, straightforward man who was focused on giving his customers the best price right from the start. Negotiating over price was a waste of time, and so that element of the sale was eliminated."
The most valuable vehicles were stored for decades at a nearby warehouse, until a heavy snow collapsed the roof. Some were damaged, but many were saved and moved elsewhere. And the models at the dealership are among the best preserved, even as the building gave way to bats and holes in the roof.
To read the complete article, see:
Vintage Chevy auction to deal in low-mileage gems
Wayne Homren, Editor
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