The Amazing Story of Lambrecht Chevrolet
Posted in the Columbus Forum
#1 Sep 18, 2013
This is an amazing story I ran across last month of a small town Chevy dealer who parked unsold cars on his farm for the last 50 years. There are literally tons of 1960's low-mileage vehicles (like 3 miles) that have been sitting in a field for 50 years that are being auctioned at the end of September.
The Story Behind the Lambrecht Chevrolet Collection
By Ronnie Schreiber on June 25, 2013
As our esteemed colleague Mr. Baruth pointed out, it’s not every day that you can buy dealer fresh 50 year old Chevys, referring to the upcoming auction of over 500 cars owned by Ray P. Lambrecht, now 95 years old, who with his wife Mildred and a single mechanic ran Lambrecht Chevrolet, a small rural dealership in Pierce, Nebraska from 1946 to 1996. The collection includes a startling number of new old stock cars, time-capsules that were never sold or registered as well as trade ins that Lambrecht and his Mildred decided to keep. Though it’s not on the scale of Barney Pollard’s massive inventory, I suspect that in time, as with former Pollard cars, the provenance of being a “Lambrecht Chevy” will be a factor in those cars’ collector value. A number of comments to Jack’s post wondered what the story was behind the collection. Fortunately, the auction description at VanDerBrink’s Auctions website was written by the Lambrechts’ own daughter, Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell, who gives the human side to the Lambrecht Chevys ...
#2 Sep 18, 2013
Day 1 Amazing Survivor Chevrolets & 500 Collector Cars & More! Lambrecht Chevrolet Company Auction
Date: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Time: 9:30 AM
Location: 854 RD Pierce, Nebraska-RIGHT NEXT TO PIERCE COMMUNITY GOLF COURSE.
Quote from Yvette-VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC
“For many years, there has been an Urban Legend of a Nebraska Chevrolet Dealer that hid away
cars. Well, now we know who that man was- Ray Lambrecht and Lambrecht Chevrolet
Company. Now is everyone’s chance to come and bid and buy a piece of Automotive History.
Where else can you go and buy a 1965 Chevrolet Impala new in 2013? It’s amazing. There is
something for everyone at this auction from Newer Carss hidden away to project and parts cars
along with NOS parts, books, and some advertising. WE will find out what they are worth on 9-
28 & 29th, 2013 in Pierce, NE. There just anything to compare it to. It’s pretty wild. I’m honored
to be working with the family and this fabulous collection. See you at the auction!”
#3 Sep 18, 2013
... The saga of the Lambrecht Chevrolet Company auction began over two years ago with a mix of emotion, mystery and wonder at how this little Chevy dealer in a tiny Nebraska town could accumulate such a menagerie of iron. And nobody seemed to know it.
“I’d describe Ray Lambrecht as a Depressionist,” explains Vanderbrink in one of her rare free moments. She looks out over the 30-acre plot of ground carved from a planted cornfield where many of those 500-plus vehicles now rest. She just shakes her head.
“He grew up in a time when wasting anything was simply not an option,” she says.“You have to understand his feeling that to do business meant doing it in the most efficient way possible. And providing his customer with only the very best product.”
Vanderbrink also describes Lambrecht as a true car guy, someone who loved what he was selling and was excited every year when the new model Chevys arrived. He would make certain entire new model introduction was an event and he wanted it to be extra special, much the way many dealers around the country handled new car unveilings.
“He had a passion for what he did and it was reflected in everything he did,” Vanderbrink explained. Ray and his wife Mildred ran the dealership as a team along with a single mechanic. He made careful arrangements to put away vehicles that he took on trade and those that were left over from previous model years. And he kept vehicles he simply liked.
“Ray knew the importance of a rainy day fund,” Vanderbrink said.“He felt many of these vehicles would grow in value and someday someone would want them.”
... It will be an event to behold. While the previous pictures show many vehicles parked outside, some of the cars were stored indoors at the former dealership building and in a couple of nearby warehouses. Unfortunately one of the buildings actually started to fall down (resulting in some damage to the cars). Consequently, some vehicles had to be moved outdoors 15-20 years ago. Many of them were simply parked outside in tree groves where in some cases trees had to be removed in order to get the cars moved.
The auction will be the culmination of 50 years of selling Chevrolets in an unusual way…the lowest price, right up front. Ray Lambrecht rarely advertised, but people knew he would always provide the best price and they bought accordingly. He was so successful that Chevrolet awarded him many honors for his efforts and he landed government contracts based on his willingness to give the best price, right from the start.
Ray Lambrecht wasted little and demanded a lot from himself. He literally worked nearly every day for 50 years, doing what he loved and giving people a product he felt strongly was the best. At 96 he gets to see the final fruits of that labor. And it promises to be quite an event.
Read more: http://www.superchevy.com/hotnews/1308_lambre...
#4 Sep 18, 2013
Collection of a lifetime: Chevy dealer to sell 500 old cars, dozens of them new
SEPTEMBER 01, 2013 4:00 PM • BY PETER SALTER / LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR
PIERCE -- The most valuable farm in Pierce County now has 24-hour security, possibly armed, camping where the soybeans used to be.
And a new cattle gate, installed late last month. And electronic surveillance, its details kept secret.
And a crop that has turned the town of Pierce, population 1,700, into the temporary center of the collector car universe, luring a steady stream of pilgrims up Nebraska 13 and west toward the golf course, each hungry for a sneak peek at the 500 classic cars and trucks that make up the Lambrecht Collection.
These cars were never the best-kept secret in northeast Nebraska, but the auto world knew little about them until they were unveiled this summer and their late September auction announced.
Then it was a revelation, the ultimate hidden treasure, so many endangered species parked in one spot. Hundreds of old cars, many from the tail fin era, most of them running and intact when they were planted here decades ago. More startling were the dozens still considered brand new, even though they have grown so old: Like the 1959 Chevrolet Biscayne with 3 miles on the odometer. The 1961 Apache pickup with 2 miles. The 1978 Corvette with 5 miles.
The curious keep coming, 20 to 25 a day. Some slow, some stop, some just stare at the field from the county road.
But a few can’t resist the pull of all this steel, row after row of mostly American cars, frozen in time. Even when they see the big signs ordering them to stay away.
So Yvette VanDerBrink has to kick them out.
“They just can’t come in, yet.”
Soon, though. At the end of the month, the Minnesota auctioneer will open the gate for a two-day harvest expected to draw thousands of people, and the collection that has remained intact for so long will scatter.
VanDerBrink had heard hints about a collection like this for years. The legend of the small-town Midwest dealer who filled a warehouse with old new cars and a field with trade-ins.
Then she was contacted last year by the small-town dealer's daughter.
Ray Lambrecht was ready to sell.
Lambrecht and his wife, Mildred, ran Lambrecht Chevrolet for 50 years. They still live in Pierce, in the house he built across the street from the dealership he built in 1946.
“Dad first drove a car at the age of 9,” Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell wrote in a short history of her family’s dealership.“He climbed into the family’s 1927 tan Chevrolet two-door coupe and drove his mother 7 miles to the nearest town for groceries.”
He was drafted in 1942 and served the Army in the Aleutian Islands, returning to Pierce County with a sergeant’s rank. He joined his uncle at the dealership, and he and Mildred took over when Ernest Lambrecht got sick.
“They worked six days a week for 50 years, never taking one single day of vacation or one sick day,” their daughter wrote.“They worked hard and operated their business with honesty, integrity and kindness.”
And with their own idea of how to run a dealership.
Ray Lambrecht liked to sell only the newest cars. If he still had new Chevys in stock when he received the next year’s models, he’d park them in his nearby warehouse. If he saw promise in a certain model -- like a Cameo pickup or the ’78 Corvette -- he’d buy those for his collection.
And when customers traded in for new, he’d store most of the used cars on several lots he owned in town and, later, beneath the trees at the edge of his 80 acres outside of Pierce.
He saw the collection's long-term potential, his daughter said. It was their retirement fund.
“Ray was kind of an unusual businessman. He knew someday there was going to be some value there,” VanDerBrink said.“They’d drive them out to the farm and park them. That’s where they sat for years.”
#5 Sep 18, 2013
A half-century ago, Ron Kallander’s search for his first new car took him to see Ray Lambrecht, 140 miles from his home in Burke, S.D.
“We ended up down in Pierce,” said Kallander, now a retired Baptist camp director and nursing home chaplain who lives in California.“It was the strangest thing in the sense that even then, he had any number of brand new old cars.”
He remembers pulling into the small Nebraska town, its buildings full of cars.“And every vacant lot in town was filled with old, old cars. I remember vacant lot after vacant lot. Sort of junkers.”
The college senior stopped paying attention when he met his new Impala Super Sport, with bucket seats and a 327.
“Once I saw that '64 Chevy, that’s where my gaze stopped and hung.”
And he didn’t often think about Pierce, or Lambrecht Chevrolet, for the next five decades until this summer, when he started seeing news stories about the small-town dealer who was selling his time capsule.
By the time Ray and Mildred closed the dealership in 1996, their car collection had grown to 450 used cars and trucks, the trade-ins, and about 50 new models, the inventory that had never been sold, never been titled.
He tried to protect his new cars, his daughter said, parking the best models indoors. When his warehouse roof collapsed, he moved some to the dealership and some to other buildings.
But he had to move many into the trees.
For years, their mechanic lived on the Lambrecht farm and guarded the cars against thieves and vandals, but he was powerless to stop season after season of Nebraska weather.
Paint faded. Steel rusted. Mice moved in.
Even the trees did damage, sprouting and twisting through fenders and bumpers.
“Father Time has been cruel to those cars,” Sheriff Rick Eberhardt said.
The collection became a target after the mechanic died. Trespassers broke windows and stripped parts. About 10 years ago, the sheriff busted a theft ring stealing and selling chrome trim.
Last year, 100 radiators disappeared.
An entire car vanished, a bare spot where it sat.
The damage was unending, their daughter said. So Ray and Mildred Lambrecht decided to sell.
The auctioneer has spent the summer getting the cars ready for the auction Sept. 28-29, with a preview the day before.
At the farm, she hired a construction crew to rip out the trees and line up the cars. Most were American-built in the 1950s and 1960s: Bel Airs and Biscaynes, Corvairs and Caprices, pickup after pickup after pickup. Some came from the ’70s and ’80s: A Monte Carlo. A Pinto. A Chevette. A pair of Vegas.
Not all of the cars in the field are pristine, or even pretty. Some are project cars. Some will become parts cars. Some would make great demolition derby cars, she said.
In town, she opened the dealership, navigated its clutter, piles of hubcaps and tires and wheels and files, and opened car doors that had been closed for decades. These are some of the most valuable pieces in the collection -- the Cameo, with 1 mile, a pair of new Impalas, the Corvette -- and she’ll sell these first.
She’s already registered hundreds of bidders from 50 states. She’s heard from interested buyers all over the world.
She anticipated this kind of reaction.
“The idea of 50 new cars, or a guy who never sold his trade-ins, or a guy who kept his inventory, that’s an unusual business plan people can’t understand.”
She estimates 6,000 to 10,000 people might show up for the preview and auction, more spectators than bidders.
But the man who started it all, Ray Lambrecht,won't be there to see how it ends, his daughter said. The 95-year-old plans to stay home.
#6 Sep 18, 2013
New York Times:
#8 Sep 19, 2013
It is eccentric, but the idea of a 1963 Bel Air with 10 miles on the odometer is too much to resist. Too bad this guy was too cheap to store them properly. A huge metal barn couldn't cost that much in the whole scheme of things ...
#10 Sep 20, 2013
There is a list out there, but he also had stuff like 68 Country Squires, 73 Impalas, Ford Futuras, stuff he took in on trade with 30000 miles. It would have been cool had he garaged them.
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