A couple of weeks ago, we asked people for their reactions to the much-publicized Lambrecht vehicle auction in Pierce, Neb., where approximately 500 cars and trucks were sold, including several with almost zero miles on their odometers.
They were carryover vehicles that were never sold or titled, although most were trade-ins that had been stored, mostly outside in the elements.
An estimated 15,000 people showed up for the actual sale and some of the vehicles brought a lot of money. Here’s the feedback we received, both from those on the scene and those who watched the History Channel broadcast of the auction.
Thanks for your input.
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My father, Terry, and I planned this trip for two months because there are some things in life you just need to see first-hand. We had enough cash in our pockets to get us in trouble with our wives, but not enough to get us divorced. It was hard to look at some of the more collectable cars and not feel bad for their condition, but after a while I found myself wondering about the possibilities.
It was quite obvious that the money my dad and I brought with us was not going to buy anything in this soybean field, so we backed out of the crowd and enjoyed watching people and looking at the cars one last time.
I would put the people in four groups. The junk collectors who wore flannel jackets and overalls, who looked like they had slept in their car for the last 30 days; the average guys like my dad and I , not over- or under-dressed for the activities at hand; the “wealthy and wanted you to know about it” people in pressed slacks and soon-to-be not shiny shoes; and the last group of people, the serious car collectors with money to burn. They wore boots and overalls with the Carhartt jacket, but the neatly groomed hair and fancy glasses were the only signs that their overall pockets were a lot deeper than anybody else standing at this sale. From what I could see, most of the high-dollar cars were bought by the last group.
I don’t believe the prices that any of these cars sold for will increase the price of any other ’50 Chevy sitting in the pasture, or at least I hope not. All said, this was a great father-son trip.
Although I missed the actual auction, I did watch some coverage on another channel.
What’s surprising most of all to me was the prices these rusted beauties brought. I can’t imagine how much money these car buffs will end up putting in their cars and then, what kind of price will be added on what they paid? Good luck.
I watched the auction on the History Channel and was rather disappointed. I felt the television commentary by Rutledge (Wood) was reasonably decent, but felt that his partner “in the trunk” (Brian Unger) and Tanner Faust, in the field, were both a little condescending, I know it was not supposed to be Barrett-Jackson, nor Mecum, as the auction itself was there to sell cars at no reserve and be done with it.
The coverage of the auction itself left a little bit to be desired. The prices were about what I expected as I figured with that many people you might have a buying frenzy with the low mileage “new” cars which carried over to the non-low mileage used cars.
Two of us from Wichita drove to Pierce to check out the Lambrecht auction.
My first and lasting reaction when looking at the cars was “Why?” Car after car including 11 ’63, ’64, ’65, and ’66 Chevy pickups, eight Corvairs and five ’59 Impalas and Bel Airs, all vehicles with less than 20 miles on the odometer, with the original MSO, and never titled or sold, were placed on Lambrecht’s farm and sat there, outside in the elements, since the day Lambrecht acquired them.
My conclusion was that the selling prices were mostly inflated by the one-time happening of all these vintage Chevys coming to market at once, many had never been titled and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that many of the buyers couldn’t let pass them by. If many of the buyers were to attempt to resell, they will be hard-pressed to get their money out of their purchase.
A friend and I drove up on Thursday to attend the pre-auction viewing on Friday. My first impression was why are these hulks being auctioned? No glass, interiors gone, floors rusted out…on and on. Almost all of the vehicles stored in the field were missing their radiators (Look out scrap yard…Here comes the copper.)
Being naïve, I was hoping to buy a ’63-’64 Corvair Monza. My max was under $10,000. The ’64 untitled Corvair went for $42,000. As the crowd grew, you could feel the electricity. Emotions were running high. I guess the auction results verified that.
Overall, it was fun. More spending money? I’d go again.
The most noticeable item of the Lambrecht auto auction was the media hype called advertising. This kind of hype has a dramatic effect on prospective car buyers for two major reasons: the allure of low mileage/original cars, and the challenge of auction bidding. Close inspection of the vehicles, as far as possible on TV, and reports of high prices paid, shows how effective the sellers’ plan was.
Even if the miles were correct, the cars appeared to need various degrees of restoration, thereby destroying their originality and value as such. Nice restored cars could be bought for what some of the starter cars sold for, maybe even less. $140,000 for a damaged ’58 Cameo? Ten restored ones could have been bought for that amount. Who would want one of the ugly four-eyed things anyway?
Probably the happiest participants were the gawkers who attended and experienced all the fun, without the next day buyer’s remorse! I’ve been both.
Floyd H. Beck
I was there. Obviously, a lot of people got caught up in the hype. Two hundred and fifty dollars for the first yardstick is a great example. However, $80,000 for a ’78 Pace Car is another. Yes, it was an MSO car, 4 miles on the clock, etc. At the same time, you could have bought one on Ebay with 828 original miles, and in running condition, for $39,000.
Will this affect collector car prices? In my honest opinion, I don’t think it will have any effect. I used to do some equipment appraisals, and of course, you always look at comparables. There are none for these vehicles. There are no other MSO 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickups out there — these were a one-time deal.
I felt the TV coverage was mediocre to poor — they worked up the hype, but the History Channel guys (except for maybe Rutledge) really had no idea on what they were talking about. Also, having seen both the cars in person and on TV, the camera made sure to avoid showing any of the bad spots.
I think the high-dollar vehicles will be left original, never driven, rolled onto and off of trailers at the high end shows — after a while, they’ll cross the block at Barrett-Jackson. The rest of the MSO cars and pickups will probably be fixed up, cost way too much money to do so, but will always be a “Lambrecht.”
It was definitely an experience that will always be remembered, and I had a great time, but it really was a “Circus on the Prairie.”
I think it blew a lot of people away on the prices that most of the vehicles sold for, plus all the small items. Also I believe the auction house did a fabulous job advertising, plus the story, history of the family and the dealership and all about how his way of doing business, and he did not change the way he did business all those years.
You just weren’t buying a vehicle with 4-5 miles (or whatever) you were buying the total package. You could actually own a piece of history out of the American Midwest. Like wow, is this for real or just a story?
It was almost beyond belief the prices these sold for. The amount of the people in attendance told me, of course a lot of tire kickers and looky-loos to a lot of serious buyers that were not leaving unless they bought something, that came from Lambrecht’s auction.
I thought the best deal was the ’57 Corvette pedal car. I actually thought that was a bargain, I was surprised it didn’t sell for a lot more.