Revisiting The Epic Lambrecht Chevrolet Auction

The amazing story of Pierce, Nebraska’s auction of leftover inventory from the Lambrecht Chevrolet dealership amazed automobile enthusiasts around the world in 2013. Barn Finds reader Rob suggested we revisit the topic of the many low-mileage 1960s Chevy pickups that Vanderbrink Auctions processed during the two-day event.

This youtube.com video documents some of the fleet trucks and notes that many are 1966 models. Apparently after Chevrolet redesigned their pickup trucks for 1967, the dealership had no place for the “old” 1966 models, and parked them outside where they sat for over 40 years. Sadly over time the trucks could not fend off Mother Nature and the elements damaged these never-titled vehicles in ways that tarnished any hopes of a fairy tale ending. Pictures courtesy of Vanderbrink Auctions.com.

The same assortment of features and colors that would have greeted Nebraska buyers shopping for new trucks in the ’60s sat outdoors until the 2013 auction. The page “Emptying the Field of Dreams” describes the story of at least two of these trucks. Sadly, after surviving decades of Nebraska winters, one suffered indignity at the hands of a meat-headed fork truck driver.

The demise of small-town car dealers may yield other amazing barn/storage finds, but it’s hard to imagine another cache like this one. Be sure to check out The story behind the Lambrecht Chevrolet Collection for more information on this incredible legacy. What’s hiding out behind the doors and fences of shuttered car dealers in your area?

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Comments

  1. C.Jay

    Who bought a car at the auction?
    Could you post a picture of it then and now.
    If you flipped it what was the purchase and the selling price.
    These were not road ready cars.
    Time and money was involved to get these bought, shipped road worthy and sold.
    I understand some might be “It’s none of your business!”
    I’m just curious was your effort worth the work.

  2. Rube Goldberg Member

    This will go down as the craziest auction, aside from the one in France. The bidding frenzy was off the scale. I knew people that attended, but left when the prices reached the stratosphere. No question, an amazing collection, the likes we never saw before, but very poorly stored. I wonder how many marriages failed after that show.

  3. Vegas Vic

    yes, weren’t the cars/trucks stored outdoors, all year in Nebraska? as I recall, not too many, “hot” cars, for lack of better description, were there… Corvettes, Camaros, and such…. yes, I would be curious to learn what happened to all the purchases? fixed up, still stored elsewhere?

  4. Nrg8

    So many speedo cables hanging in those pre auction pics. No doubt there were some gems. But untitled car driven carefully with the speedo disconnected, no real way of being sure

  5. motoring mo

    It was bonkers. I bought 5 ’66 pickups and have sold 3. Have turned a substantial profit on each one. Helps that I keep most of the work in house. Still working on the last 2, they’ll be on BAT soon.

    • OIL SLICK

      More details please….

    • Chip

      How much are you asking for the last ones you have? Long or short beds?

  6. Chebby Member

    Clearly it’s a true story, but it makes no sense at all to park dozens of brand-new trucks because they are “last year’s style”. Selling a vehicle at any price is better than eating the entire cost of it, and there are always people who will buy last year’s model at a significant discount. Especially thrifty farmers or those who just need a workhorse. GM surely didn’t eat the cost of unsold inventory, so how did a little two-person dealership justify the expense of mothballing so many vehicles? Maybe they simply loved the cars, but that reasoning doesn’t satisfy either, considering they left them all to go to waste in a field.

    • Tim S. Member

      I agree. Incredible waste of money and automobiles. The only difference between Lambrecht and hoarders is that Lambrecht happened to have a few desirable items people could make a buck on. It’s the equivalent of an entire town of people who are “gonna do something with that car someday.” He might have run a good new-car business, but that’s about it.

    • geomechs Member

      I can’t figure that one out either. I’m from a small farming community and there was seldom a time when a dealer was left with anything on the lot at year’s end. But a bunch of us talked about Lambrecht and operators like him, and some theorized that it was a way to avoid the tax man. While I can think of better ways than that, I guess it worked for Lambrecht.

  7. Mike R

    Wow..TWO or THREE miles on them? What a shame.

    Sorry I missed this auction.

  8. Vegas Vic

    Very good point!
    It’s not a collection if they sit in Fields for decades
    Maybe Lambrecht a rare case of
    Chevy hoarding….😜

  9. Z1rider

    I know the Chevy dealer in Nebraska City and back at the time of the auction, he helped flesh out the rest of the story on this unusual dealership.

    According to him, Lambrecht, though a small town dealer in Nebraska, had an army buddy friend who was the fleet purchasing manager for a very large corporation based in California. All of that company’s vehicles, literally thousands over the years, were purchased through Lambrecht, and drop shipped to a few dealers around California. That’s where he made his money. Because of this, Chevrolet had a tendency to stuff him with inventory of vehicles which were not meeting their sales targets in exchange for allocation of vehicles his fleet manager friend needed. Note, Pierce Nebraska is like most small towns in Nebraska, and he likely sold only a hundred or so locally each model year.

    As the story was told to me, when the Mustang came out and hurt the sales of Corvairs, Chevy leaned on Lambrecht pretty hard to take some. No surprise, they didn’t sell too well to the farmers around Pierce. So like others, those Corvairs sat unsold. One very well equipped Monza managed to stay inside, safe from the elements. Decades later, when GM was putting their own collection together, they got wind of that Corvair and approached Lambrecht with a generous offer to buy it for their museum. Lambrecht still resented GM for their strong arm tactics and refused to sell the car to them. Revenge? You be the judge.

  10. VwbussEd

    I would love to see some “after” stories on some of these vehicles.

    • Olaf E

      Todd, thanks for this article and the links. One of them gave a link to another interesting story about the Barney Pollard collection. Great story!

    • Michael Phillips

      Got a few of the auction post bills if anyone’s interested.pens,etc.

  11. Roger Gorski

    This story is missing many details. Auto dealers don’t buy vehicles, they floorplan them ie pay the manufacturer interest on the wholesale value of the car till sold. They continue to pay interest till that car’s sold. In the event of a bankrupt dealership, the manufacturer would ship the unsold cars to other dealers at interest rates on an even lower wholesale value, not put them out in a field like this story describes.Those cars were owned by someone but I seriously doubt that this dealer ever bought that many vehicles because it makes no business sense.It is not a business model used by auto dealers anywhere.

    • Miguel

      Not all of them do. I know a dealer in Pasadena California that owns all of his cars. He doesn’t want anybody telling him what to do with his cars.

      Also this was back in 1966. When did GMAC flooring come into existence?

    • cyclemikey

      That’s not necessarily true, Roger. The Ford dealer right here in my little town on the Oregon coast (they’ve been in business continuously since 1914) owns every car and truck on the lot and always have. They don’t pay floor fees for anything, and they have a rather substantial number of new vehicles on the lot. It seems to work for them.

      I bought my current DD Ford Super Duty diesel from them and they gave me a deal as good or better than I could have got in Portland.

    • C.Jay

      GM tried to strong arm parts on the Buick dealer I worked for in rural central PA. The dealer owned every car on the lot. So GM wanted access to funds in a bank account. GM would then send the dealer the parts they thought the dealer would need. The dealer said “NO!” he needed parts for Century’s and LeSabre’s not Rivieras and Park Avenues.

  12. charlie

    And one of the biggest dealers in the Boston area, Ernie Bock advertised “c’mon down, we have no mortgages”, pronounced without the “r” in true Boston fashion. maw ga geges. No floor plan for him, and several other dealers I have run into over the years.

    • Miguel

      It is a pain in the butt when the flooring plan employee comes to the lot to physically look at each and every car that is supposed to be there. if you can’t find the car, you have to pay it off.

      It is a huge bother.

  13. Tyler

    Our local Buick & GMC dealer does not floor plan, which gives him a lot of leeway of what he can sell. In business since the late 40’s or early 50’s, at one time, they also sold Pontiac, Opel & Jeep, but now down to just the 2 brands. So they keep an extensive pre-owned inventory, at times more used cars than new. And since they own every car & aren’t paying floor plan fees, the deals are always better.

  14. Bob

    There were a few cars that were kept indoors. Steve Ames, of Marlboro, NH, collects cars with either very low miles or very low production numbers.

    He bought a 58 Cameo pickup that had been stored indoors.

    Unfortunately, one of the buildings it was stored in, collapsed and crushed the roof. Nevertheless, it only had 1.3 miles on it or something and he paid big bucks for it.

    The rubber floor mat was shipped rolled up in a box, and it’s still in that box behind the seat.

    Attached is a photo of his Cameo pickup.

    1
    • Car nut from Wpg

      I remember talking to him for a few minutes that Saturday as everyone followed the auction platform from car to car.

  15. BadnikL

    Here are three Very low mileage corvairs. The doors closed perfectly and effortlessly-Like brand new. There was a Corvair also that his Daughter drove
    as her car , I remember.

  16. BadnikL

    Another

  17. BadnikL

    I really liked the Belair Wagon in Meadow green. Sticker price was $3,300 in 1964. I think it sold for around $18,000. It had 2 speed wipers, deluxe wheel covers and Seat Belt Delete.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Seat belt delete? That’s a new one. I thought they were beginning to promote seat belts in ’64. I can just hear some old codger, “you aren’t gonna make me wear those things”. Sadly, that mindset still occurs today, and people get thrown out of vehicles, the #1 cause of fatalities.
      The thing that blew me away, is people had pockets full of money to buy these things? I mean, $10, $18, $155 THOUSAND dollars for this stuff? People can’t afford their health insurance, and some people spending this kind of money on this? It’s a crazy world, I tell ya’.

      • Bob

        <Seat belt delete? That’s a new one. I thought they were beginning to promote seat belts in ’64. I can just hear some old codger, “you aren’t gonna make me wear those things”. Sadly, that mindset still occurs today, and people get thrown out of vehicles, the #1 cause of fatalities.

        WE had factory seatbelts on our 57 Ford wagon and maybe on our Turnpike Cruiser.

        I had a 61 Pontiac Ventura and I installed seatbelts on it.

        My grandfather liked the idea, and I installed them on his 58 Fleetwood.

      • PRA4SNW Member

        New Hampshire, the only state without mandatory seatbelt laws for adults.
        “Live Free Or Die”
        No helmet laws here either.

  18. BadnikL

    Wagon interior

    • BadnikL

      The last line is $11 Credit for the Seat Belt Delete. Weird.

  19. BadnikL

    This is the Cameo (ABOVE)
    We sat in this one too. I think it went for $155,000 ?

  20. BadnikL

    Actually the Wagon sold for $30,000.
    1964 Chevrolet Bel Air 4d Sta Wag, 283-cid, AT, 6 passenger, 326 miles, MSO $30,000 4
    THE CAMEO SOLD FOR $147,000 out the door

  21. Gray Wolf

    Had a guy in our Vintage Chevy Club who used to live in Nebraska. There was a Chevy dealer in town who used to roll the vehicles out back if they didn’t sell. They would not sell them if they were last years models. Their parts department was almost as bad, having black and yellow NOS parts stacked to the ceiling. If they had a hint that you were buying to resell, they didn’t want to talk to you! That pretty much says if you didn’t live there, forget it. He was able to buy a 4-door ’59 Chevy with 23 miles on it as long as he bought the van in front of it, only because they knew his family. Could be the same dealership??

  22. Z1rider

    As has been stated, most but not ALL dealers finance (floor) their inventory. A few are self financed. The Ford dealer in Shawnee Oklahoma refused to sell any vehicle, new or used at a loss. They had a 1980 Pinto on the lot for several years. Someone from New York State, who loved Pintos (?) heard about it and bought it in 1988. It had 4 flat tires and required a new fuel tank to get it to run.

    That dealer was also a collector. He had a 1958 Chevy Bel Air with less than 200 miles. That one was stored inside off site. I sat in that car in the early 90’s and it still had new car smell.

  23. AUTOVISA

    I’ve found this:

    “We attended the preview day and auction in Pierce last weekend. Over the three days we were there, we heard many varying accounts of the personality and business habits of Mr. Lambrecht. I have no idea how many are true, but I do believe the story a local couple told us because they’ve lived two blocks away from the dealership for many years. Apparently, for decades, Mr. Lambrecht kept his growing number of cars in the dealership, the lots next door and across the street. They were infested with mice and rats and the neighbors complained until the town Mayor got involved. It took almost eight years and a court order to get Mr. Lambrecht to move his cars – that’s why they went to the farm. He had them hauled out into the woods and field and let them rot. There were full grown trees growing through many of the cars! Our experience at the auction was sadness, disgust and disbelief. Mr. Lambrecht let these beautiful, saleable new cars rot away by not storing them properly or maintaining them in any way. None of the cars that were up for auction run – the engines have seized. Most of them have been in one spot for so many years that they’re stuck in the ground halfway up the hubcaps. Many windows were broken, letting in moisture, debris and vermin. They were full of empty beer cans and garbage. There were piles of animal feces in the cars. The interiors have shredded or been eaten away. The bodies are rusted and damaged from trees. Floorboards and trunks have rusted through. Quite a few of the cars have had parts stolen off them over the years – many had their radiators cut off at the hoses. If Mr. Lambrecht didn’t want these cars, why didn’t he sell them or donate them to people in need? The recurring comment we heard throughout the weekend was that he is very eccentric and didn’t want anyone else getting “his stuff”. Yes, the cars are survivors, but he wasn’t a “collector”. A collector preserves and displays their collection with pride. He was, quite simply, a hoarder. True car enthusiasts are saddened at this sheer waste of cars that could have been driven, enjoyed, and/or preserved. At long last, they’re going home!”

  24. chad

    only “released” because he died?
    What changed?
    Was each 1 a tax write off due to non-sale?
    Still don’t get it BUT –
    “if it don’t make sense 2U it makes emotional sense to the chooser”

  25. Bob

    <New Hampshire, the only state without mandatory seatbelt laws for adults.
    “Live Free Or Die”
    No helmet laws here either.

    I just learned today you don't even have to have insurance in NH!

    And I've got to drive over there tomorrow!

  26. charlie

    Ah, but if you have been involved in an accident with damages of over some small amount, like $12,000, you do have to have it. But in any event, that is why you probably have uninsured motorist coverage.

    • PRA4SNW Member

      My wife and I got T-Boned by an uninsured motorist, totaling our car. Our insurance covered everything, and then some. We were driving a car that was 2 years into a lease, and I ended up with money in my pocket.
      My agent said that they would go after the teenage driver and attach her paycheck for a very long time.

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