The Lambrechts were back in the car selling business this past weekend, and with a pasture as a showroom, they made the final sale count.
The long-anticipated auction of 500 old “new” cars took place Saturday and Sunday at the farm of Ray and Mildred Lambrecht near Pierce, a town of 1,700 in northeast Nebraska.
Most were Chevrolets leftover from when Ray Lambrecht closed shopped on his dealership in 1996. Most were parked “as is” in a field on the Lambrecht farm. Most had very few miles on them.
The vehicle that brought the most, though, was a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with 1.3 miles on the odometer. It sold for $140,000. Bids on the first 10 vehicles sold on Saturday tallied more than $675,000. At the end of the auction bidders had spent slightly more than $1.8 million on cars, toys and souvenirs.
A promotional pedal car, made in the likeness of a 1957 Corvette, brought $16,000.
Among the old “new” cars, a 1963 Impala sold for $97,500; a 1958 Apache sold for $80,000; a 1964 Impala for $75,000; and 1963 Corvair for $42,000.
Even a 1977 Vega, not exactly considered a classic, fetched $10,000.
The auction attracted bidders from every state and at least seven foreign countries.
Some came just to view the cars and reminiscent about days gone by.
Not everyone was taken with these historic models.
Brenda and Ryan Kunnert drove from West Bend, Wisconsin, about 30 miles north of Milwaukee, so Ryan could look for a truck.
“He’s kind of looking at the 50’s trucks and I’m looking at the 50’s trucks and saying, ‘That’s not coming home with us,’” Brenda Kunnert tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WJAG. “And, so I said you know you’re best bet probably would be those 64’s and luckily for me that is out of our price range. So, I might be going with that rubber ball on the trailer all the way home.”
Though 500 cars were put up for sale, only about 50 were actually considered new. Lambrecht would refuse to sell Chevrolet models leftover from the previous year if the new model had come out. He would park them, with whatever few miles had been put on them from the factory to his dealership, plus a few test drives. None were cleaned up for the auction.
Not all were Chevys. Tim Dempsey drove from Massachusetts to bid on a 1949 Ford pickup, which he said seemed to have been a plumber’s truck at one time.
“It’s a solid truck. I’ll hot wash it and then I’ll throw a couple of coats of urethane on it and this thing will be just the way I want it,” Dempsey said.
Rumors flew throughout the auction that a few celebrities mingled in the crowd. A person associated with the auction confirmed that some well-known names had proxy bidders in the crowd. Bids could be made via the Internet.
When all of the buyers have hauled away their prizes and taken what they want from vehicles they purchased only for parts, what remains will be crushed for scrap.
Susan Risinger, WJAG, contributed to this story.