Lambrecht Auction – Day 1 Big Sales

Lambrecht’s Chevy Auction ready to start in Nebraska


Story and photos by Jim Volgarino

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The locals in Pierce, NE are simply amazed. For years the land just outside town near the golf course had held a collection of junk, hidden in the trees and underbrush until one day some heavy equipment arrived to begin clearing the area and carefully lifting rusted relics of vehicles from the grip of the undergrowth.


But today the tiny town of 1700 was swarmed by the masses of car enthusiasts, some estimating the crowds at easily 20,000, with traffic backed up for miles and news media recording the entire scene. It was indeed a Woodstock of sorts, but for car people, and the town folk embraced it. Let’s call it, “Carstock”.


“I’ve lived here all my life,” said a Pierce father who was corralling two young sons who kept saying, “Dad, why are all these people here?” “I’ve never, ever seen anything like this.”


Looking out over the crowd this first day of the much anticipated auction, you can just barely make out the shapes of the 500+ vehicles that are being touched for the first time in decades by people who genuinely want to know what treasure they continue to hold for the car collecting community.


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But Day 1 was here and the collection of vehicles, parts and accessories from the former Lambrecht Chevrolet dealership didn’t disappoint. Right from the first call for bids, the crowd, which seemed to swell throughout the day, was ready to begin the process of getting this mass of automotive history re-distributed and sold.


The bidding credentials tent has been busy from the very first minute it opened on preview days, with lines constantly backed up while potential buyers waited to get their opportunity to buy a piece of history. Or, as some admitted, they just wanted to have that bid ticket in their hands so they could say to friends, neighbors and family, “Hey, I was there.”


Though bidding numbers aren’t official, the onsite count was nearing 3000 by the start of bids Saturday morning with Proxibid reporting another 4000 online, all of them ready to scoop up Ray Lambrecht’s stash which he salted away in various buildings and on land surrounding the northern Nebraska town where he grew up and did business for over 50 years.


The initial group of items included NOS parts and accessories which brought strong prices, but the crowd knew something was going to happen that would be historic when the “Lambrecht Chevrolet” yard sticks, used by dealers to promote their name to potential buyers, landed on the auction stage. The first one sold for an astounding $225 and auctioneer Yvette VanDerBrink asked the buyer, “How many do you want?” The buyer held onto the lone first stick of wood and VanDerBrink proceeded to sell off the remaining yard sticks, some in bundles of 10-20 and others in boxes. Those prices ranged from $600-$1000. And one enterprising buyer then set about offering part of his purchase at $50 per piece, which quite a number of people snatched up. $50 for a legit piece of Lambrecht auction history? You bet!


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Following the parts and accessories, Yvette VanDerBrink officially brought out the 1956 Kiddie Corvette which had been the center of quite a bit of attention and the subject of much discussion about its origins and rarity. The story was Ray Lambrecht had been given the 1/3 scale replica as part of a sales award in 1956. Lambrecht was known as a sales leader in the state of Nebraska, despite the fact he was operating with only himself, his wife and a lone mechanic. The Kiddie Corvette just added to the legend. Lots more details about the Kiddie Corvette here.


It went on the block starting at $7000 from an online Proxibid buyer and rapidly shot up to $16,000. An online buyer from New York got it so it’s headed to the east.


Finally it was time for the big guns and the auction trailer headed to the row of MSO vehicles everyone was talking about and everyone wanted to see. The line up had seen a crush of people who, in many cases, simply wanted to see and touch these super rare, untitled and undriven vehicles, many of which had not seen daylight since they rolled off the transporter truck in the late 1950s. VanDerBrink had wisely left the cars just as she found them, carefully moving them out to the 80-acre auction site using huge forklift equipment so they could be lifted ever so gently onto transports and then placed in a perfect row for viewing and, oh yes, for touching.


Though signage warned about not opening hoods or doors,t he crowd could not be contained and people not only took the opportunity to sit inside these treasures, but were crawling under them in and into engine bays to see for themselves these hallowed pieces of history.


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A heavy hitter in the restoration business got the ball rolling when the much anticipated 1958 Cameo pickup became the very first vehicle to reach the auction staging. With only 1.3 miles showing on its odometer the blue Fleetside had been mobbed from the very first minute when the preview gates were opened and constantly had a pack of lookers right up until the action began.


1958 Chevy Apache, chevy trucks


It was no different when it was called up for sale and anyone wanting to actually see it was in for a rude awakening as it was literally buried in the throng and it’s a wonder the auction barkers could even see those wanting to bid on it. Within less than 90 seconds, however, the truck rocketed to $140,000 and Steve Ames, owner of Ames Performance in New Hampshire, was the new owner of this “new” truck.


Ames is one of the pioneers of today’s reproduction parts boom who continues to keep Pontiacs on the road and, through his collection, shares his passion for low-mileage original and rare cars. Ames founded the Pontiac specialty firm Ames Performance Engineering and its sibling companies, Ames Automotive Enterprises and Ames Performance Classics in 1976. He got into the restoration parts market on the ground floor, and although he no longer owns the retail side of the company, he continues to develop new products and sells parts wholesale. Ames has a story of his own as an ultimate car guy who began working at a local garage, on nights and weekends in the summer, at age 13, and went on to study mechanical engineering at Columbia University. Like many car people he spent time racing and just generally being involved in the car culture. “I went to an automotive flea market in the spring of 1976, and guys were selling stuff that I was throwing away,” Ames has been quoted saying. “That started the whole thing for me.”


So the Cameo, which he has no intention of restoring or even touching, will join his collection of rare finds. It’s said his quest for this vehicle has lasted nine years. Looks like it’s finally ended successfully.


But there was lots more to come and the crowd, though wowed by the Cameo, were treated to even more surprises:


The 1958 Apache pickup, a “plain-janer” ¾ ton with 5 miles showing went for $80,000. it is headed to Washington state.


The 1978 Corvette Pace Car got an astounding $80,000 winning bid and will be staying in Nebraska according to the buyer.


A 1964 Impala with 4 miles on the odometer, 327 V-8 and column shifted 3-speed trans brought $75,000. It will be going to California. Auctioneer Yvette VanDerBrink just had to take that moment to ask the winning buyer if it was going to get the “lowrider” treatment out there, but no one could hear his response over the laughter of the crowd.


Other notables were a 1963 Impala, red and white 2-door hardtop which got a winning bid of $97,500 and a 1963 Corvair with 17 miles on the odo fetching $42,000. The buyer said it is headed for a collection based in Oregon and he had traveled all the way from there just to purchase that car.


All in all it was an exciting day for car people. Some showed disappointment that many of these relics are just that…relics. But the comment was made that normal attrition for old cars is something like 90% which means only about 10% actually have survived to today. Lambrecht’s collection, though rough in some spots, will undoubtedly see many of these vehicles actually back on the road in some fashion, whether they will be used as major donors for ongoing projects or be updated with contemporary drivetrains.


But there’s more to come with another full day of auction action. How much more can this crowd of car jockeys endure? Stay tuned!


Check out the Lambrecht Auction Page to see every story.