A car auction unlike any other is going on this weekend in Pierce, Neb., where hundreds of cars that were stockpiled by a Chevrolet dealer are finally being sold — many for the first time. The Lambrecht Chevrolet collection stretches back to the 1950s and has drawn bids and interest from around the world.
"Thousands of people — ranging from serious bidders to barbecue eaters — are pouring into this rural county seat town of nearly 1,800 people" to bid on cars, or just to see what the fuss is about, reports The Omaha World Herald.
The vehicles include trucks, sedans, and sports cars — some of them with only a couple of miles on their odometer. They're a mix of models that never sold and trade-ins that the dealership's owner, Ray Lambrecht, decided not to sell. About 25 were stored indoors; others were left to face the elements in a field near the Lambrecht family's home.
More than ten thousand people have descended on Pierce (pop. 1,700) this weekend, poking around in that field to check out "survivor" cars that are being called a time capsule of U.S. automotive history.
"Finding cars in this condition is unheard of. It's the holy grail for collectors," Ryan Robertson reported for NPR earlier this month. "Some cars still have the plastic on the seats and the price sticker on the window. The old Impala would have sold for about $3,000 in 1964. It could now be worth 40 times that."
The auction has been tracked by television's Top Gear show and the History Channel. It's also online. Here are the four vehicles that fetched the highest prices Saturday:
- 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickup truck with 1.3 miles: $140,000
- 1963 Chevrolet Impala with 11 miles: $97,500
- 1978 Corvette Indy pace car with 4 miles: $80,000
- 1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 Series Pickup (5 miles): $80,000
Almost all of those vehicles come with their original paperwork and a new Nebraska title and bill of sale. The Cameo pickup's transmission is a "three on the tree," with its shifter located on the steering column.
For long-time Pierce residents like Lyle Venteicher, the auction brought back memories of the thrill of seeing new models of cars hit the showroom.
"Several of us guys would walk the four or five blocks from the high school to the dealership during our lunch hour to check out the new Chevys," he tells The Omaha World Herald. "My grandpa had a light blue '64 Impala. I thought it was the prettiest car ever built."