This past weekend the Lambrecht Chevrolet auction was held in Pierce Nebraska by VanDerBrink Auctions. If you hadn’t heard about this nearly 500 car auction in advance, you missed out on a surely once in our lifetime event. It seems the mom and pop owners of Lambrecht Chevrolet had a history of keeping both new cars that just didn’t seem to move off their lot; or some cars that they took in as trade ins.
Some of these cars were kept in fields, some were stored in warehouses until literally the roof fell in and some were kept at the Lambrecht dealership showroom. Well the cars weathered and finally the surrounding trees were chopped down and the cars were offered up for sale this past weekend (September 28-29, 2013). Even the History Channel got in the act and offered coverage from the farm fields.
These Lambrecht Chevrolet vehicles were generally what I would call rough, survivor cars. They were stored outside, after all, and exposed to Mother Nature. Even the better vehicles were bound to need some work. You can’t ignore a vehicle for fifty plus years and expect the radiator, belts, brakes and even engine to be road worthy.
VanDerBrink auctions seemed to have a good handle on this auction. Bearing in mind that they are not a usual purveyor of high-end collector cars, they had things well in hand. This wasn’t their first rodeo! Parking was available nearby and while probably high by Pierce, Nebraska local standards, $20 seems a fair deal given the circumstances. Their website stayed up and had generally accurate descriptions and pictures of the cars. They had plans for temporary storage of the cars, since most had no functional tires!
Most of the low mileage “new” cars were offered with Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO), meaning that the cars never were sold and titled in the state. A few cars were noted as being issued a Nebraska title, which I took to mean the MSO wasn’t located. And the balance of the nearly 500 cars were used vehicles, generally with 50,000+ miles on the odometers. It indicates the organizational skills maintained by a small dealership like Lambrecht had, to locate MSO’s from sixty years ago! I know some owners with one classic car that can’t find their titles!
The value in these cars was the low mileage status of them. They are survivors and few and far between. To quote the pundits, “they are only original once.” But many buyers were quoted as indicating they had plans of fixing up the cars and driving them. But once you start putting miles on these cars, their provenance drops.
1978 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe – Anniversary Edition
As an example a 1978 Corvette was sold with only 4 miles on the odometer and sold for $80,000. This was the 25th anniversary model and is a pretty eye-catching model. Being a Corvette, you would expect a few well-heeled buyers and sure enough it was sold for $80,000. VanDerBrink charged a 5% buyers premium on site and a web buyers premium of 8-10%
As a comparison, the Barrett-Jackson auction has sold three low mileage similar Corvettes. In 2011, they sold a 1978 with only 48 miles for $45,100. More recently in January 2013 Barrett-Jackson sold one with 158 miles for $44,000 and in Spring, 2013 at Palm Beach a coupe with 928 miles sold for $33,000. So the Lambrecht version had probably a $40,000 premium for those four miles.
The best news is that nearly 500 cars have found new homes and were saved from the metal shredders. And for that we all should be grateful!