Disused dealership a trove of 'barn finds'

August 16, 2013 

It's the stuff most car folks just dream about — the barn find of all barn finds.

For the uninitiated, a barn find is a phenomenon in which a long-neglected car or truck is discovered in — guess what — a barn, or some other old storage area. The vehicle may be intact or in pieces but it's safe to say it hasn't been touched in 30 or more years, maybe even longer than a half-century.

It's probably covered in tarps, cardboard cartons or car parts, but there's a prize at the bottom of the pile. You'd think some of these finds would go cheaply, but that's not always the case.

Instead of counting sheep, some car buffs dream about barn finds, with Impalas bounding over the clouds.

Thanks to the Internet, I discovered the contents of a long-closed Chevrolet dealership in Pierce, Neb., will be auctioned off at the end of September. This includes about 50 Chevies from the 1950s and 1960s that are still brand-new, with 10 or fewer miles on their odometers. How often does that happen? Not very often, I'd surmise.

Pictures of these cars, which have been squirrelled away inside the Lambrecht Chevrolet warehouse for years, show they are covered with dust and dirt. But they still have the yellowed manufacturer's price stickers on the rear windows and plastic sheeting over the seats. A few tires are flat but we can overlook that.

There's a red 1963 Corvair two-door hardtop, 1962 and 1963 Chevrolet two-door hardtops, a 1958 Chevy Cameo pickup, a number of 1957 and 1959 four-door sedans, a 1978 Corvette 25th anniversary coupe, a 1964 Chevy Impala and so much more.

The dealership's parts department, with lots of vintage goodies, is part of the auction, too. That includes a Corvette pedal car, some vintage posters, hubcaps and bunches of trim pieces.

Apparently when customers traded in a car for a new Chevy, the used car ended up out at the Lambrecht farm. About 500 used vehicles, some only what are called parts cars, are part of the sale but many of these salvage cases looked restorable.

The dealership opened in 1946 and closed 17 years ago. The elderly couple who ran the dealership finally decided it was time for the accumulated inventory to go, and VanDerBrink Auctions of Hardwick, Minn., was brought in to handle the sale.

This Nebraska event won't have the sophistication of the recently televised Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Reno, but I'm confident it will have plenty of drama and lots of greenbacks flying out of wallets. I'd guess there will be thousands of collectors there and countless others participating remotely through online sources.

Many of the closing prices at Barrett-Jackson this year were soft, but this is likely to be a different matter. I don't think most of the brand-new Lambrecht cars will go begging. There might be a few bargains with the used cars but even that isn't a sure thing.

I wish Nebraska weren't so far away. Meanwhile, I'll count Impalas bounding over the clouds with my head on the pillow.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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