The Koepke Collection

Koepke Collection

I’ve often wondered at what point car collecting turns into hoarding and what exactly causes this impulsive need to amass cars, parts, or any other random junk. I’m sure there are lots of potential reasons, but after hearing about the story of Bob Koepke and his massive collection of cars I can’t help but wonder if some of the impulse stems from a need to hold onto the past. Bob amassed an incredible collection of cars, parts, and all things hot rod. Sadly, he passed away suddenly and left his collection to his son, who turned to VanderBrink Auctions to handle the estate. The auction isn’t set to happen until April 10th, but since it’s in Titusville, Florida and many of the parts are being offered onsite only, I thought some of you would want to know early so you could mark your calendars and make reservations!

Koepke - Tinkering on a Hot Rod

According to the story shared by his son, Bob loved hot rods. While he worked as an accountant at Boeing-NASA, he was really a mechanic at heart. Growing up on a farm in Indiana meant he spent a lot of time tinkering with cars, trucks, and machinery. As a teenager, he built his first hot rod, which stayed with him throughout his life. Bob’s own father wanted him to go to college, so he became an accountant instead of a farmer or a mechanic. Life led him to a job at NASA, which was the perfect location to be a car nut in the ’60s and ’70s. When he got home from his job each day, he hung up his suit and put on his shop clothes and spent the rest of his day working on cars. Once Dave, his son, was old enough to turn a wrench he was out with his dad working on the various cars in the collection. By the time he was a teenager, they were traveling all over buying cars and parts together. As things go, Dave eventually grew up and had to set out on his own, leaving his father to work in the garage all alone.

Koepke - Nomads

It sounds to me that being pushed into a college degree, a desk job, and loneliness after Dave moved away, left Bob with a constant need to buy more cars to fill the void. While Bob managed to collect a number of cars and parts while Dave was young, it wasn’t until he was gone that the issue got out of hand. He stopped allowing anyone onto his property, even Dave, and he started storing parts in the house (even the kitchen and bathroom were turned into storage). When Dave went to see the property after his father’s passing, he was shocked at the state of things. There were 7 rusty Nomads parked in the drive, mountains of parts in front of the garage, and junk piled up so high inside that could hardly get in.

1958 Porsche 356 Coupe

Now you might say this is the story of a man that just stopped caring, but before turning to hoarding he must have been fairly organized. He was skilled enough to build a number of hot rods, although there are quite a few that he never finished putting together. Perhaps I’m wrong and he was a hoarder from day one and it wasn’t until retiring that he had the means to amass so much stuff, but I have a feeling there was a lot more to his story than an unexplained impulse to buy. One thing is for sure, he had a variety of interests and appreciated any car that went fast. While the collection is primarily composed of Chevrolets and Fords, he also had a Porsche 356 Coupe, a DeTomaso Pantera, and a Ferrari 308 (which still runs and drives).

Smoky Yunick Intake

I can only imagine how exciting this find will be for hot rod fanatics! Bob loved his hot rods and it appears he has just about every year and model of Chevy and Ford that has ever been popular with the rodding crowd. Since his love for these cars stemmed for his love of speed and making things go faster, he managed to amass all kinds of speed parts. He even became friends with Smokey Yunick and collected several intakes from the famous mechanic. These intakes are going to be offered with all the other speed parts.

Koepke - Hot Rods

We may never know why people amass collections like this, but I’m glad that they do. It’s hard to say what might have happened to some of these rare parts if he hadn’t hoarded them away in this shop. Sadly, the same can’t be said for many of the cars he collected. Florida is a tough environment to keep a car from rusting in the best of circumstances, but many of Bob’s cars were left outdoors and are now rusted. I see a few that look solid enough to restore and I’m sure many of these cars will end up being modified anyways.

Koepke - Ferrari and Pantera

This will certainly be an auction worth attending, especially for those looking for speed parts. I’m sure it will be a hard day for Dave and the Koepke family, but I’m sure they are happy that Bob’s story will be remembered and that at least some of his stuff will be going to good homes. If you haven’t read the full story, be sure to check it out. It gives us a bit of a glimpse into hoarding and what can trigger it. I’m sure there will be more updates to this story as we approach the event, so be sure to stay tuned for more coverage! For the time being, enjoy all the photos and let us know what parts or cars you’d like to drag home and add to your own collection.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Woodie Man

    People are strange. And theres something about Florida.

  2. Roland Libby

    Gary Payne of Dorchester Cape, NB, Canada was a Studebaker guy. Unfortuneatly his, and my collection has gone thru the shredder. The parts amassed have found new homes
    and since we are both either 70 or approaching it’s for the best. Some good ones did hit the crusher..so sad..!

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    I would hope that the ones that are complete go to someone who will restore them to original. The ones that are down to bodies and frames are the ones you modify. Aside from that, it’s quite a collection. I’d love to have a lot (and sheds) full of car projects. I shouldn’t complain; I’ve got enough to keep me busy. Wish I could attend the sale just the same.

  4. jim s

    i wonder why there is no internet bidding? some of the bodies/frames could be used to build oldtime dirt track race cars. someting for everyone. great find

  5. RockabillyJay

    I’ve been watching his son unearth this stuff on Instagram (he goes by Mad Torquer) and these pics hardly show a quarter of whats there…check out his Instagram.

  6. MikeH

    As for the difference between a collector and a hoarder–the collector buys cars and maintains or restores them. He cares for them and uses them. A hoarder buys cars and never does anything with them. At some point, he has more cars than he can ever finish in his life—but he still buys more.

  7. Bernie H

    Yup, we can beat the” Hoarder” thing to death, but the real outcome is a hoarder is human and eventually passes on, so his ‘saved’ parts have avoided the crusher and become available. The only downside to this is waiting for the hoarder to “check-out” which may take years. There’s a car I want locally, and I’m patiently waiting for the owner to either sell or leave this earth, but they’d better hurry as I’m in my early 70’s. I may be at this auction, my son lives 30 minutes away.

  8. MikeH

    Or, as I’ve seen happen more than once, the hoarder passes on and the executor of the estate looks at the rusty bodies and says “Sent them to the crusher”. It’s quick, easy and he figures they’re worthless anyway. Keep a close eye on the car you want. I had a friend who lusted after a ’56 Packard Caribbean sitting in a field–the owner wouldn’t sell. My friend went by every month or so waiting for the guy to check out. One month he went by and all the cars, including his Packard, had been hauled to the crusher and a for sale sign was in front of the property.

  9. David Kolodgie

    I have known Bob for nearly 40 years, There was no better horder.
    David and Ruth K

  10. Dan

    As the successful bidder of the 73 pantera I can say it was a great experience

    • Jesse Staff

      Nice catch Dan! Keep us updated.

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