By Tom Cox
The Ron Hackenberger collection auction took place July 14-16 in Norwalk, Ohio.
Its not uncommon for Yvette VanDerBrink to conduct some unusually large auctions brimming with everything from show to parts cars, but the recent sale of the Ron Hackenberger collection in Norwalk, Ohio was one for the books, especially for fans of Studebaker and other less ubiquitous makes. Hackenberger was bitten by the collecting bug at 15 when he bought a 1948 Studebaker began building his collection in earnest in 1962. He had a real fondness for cars and trucks from independent manufacturers or those that were uncommon at best. By the time a decision was made to send them to auction they numbered approximately 700 vehicles including a number of tractors, Studebaker buggies and wagons, scooters, and motorcycles. Most vehicles were non running and in #5 condition, although some would rate #3 had they been operational. Hundreds of bidders showed up on Auction day at the Summit Motorsports Park for day one, while day two was held at an old lumberyard in Norwalk. Heavy on Studebakers, Hackenbergers collection was an automotive menagerie. There was something for everyone.
Day one kicked off at the 16th Annual Blue Suede Cruise which attracts modified iron and drag race fans, adding to the normal bidder mix. No doubt some of them were lured to the sale by the selection of Henry J’s , popular with drag racers, as unusual cars including a 1949 Tatra T600 4dr sedan in rough #5 condition which found a new home for $22,000 plus 10% buyers premium. Powell Crosley would have been proud as 12 Crosleys in all body styles were offered along with a rare Crosley Tractor and a Crosley forklift. A 1952 Crosley Farm O Road clinched the high Crosley bid at a strong $7,250 while the tractor and forklift sold for $2,500 and $1,000 respectively. Two sought after Studebaker Express, a 37 and a 38, sold for $30,000 and $15,000. Both were relatively solid examples, and the coveted 37 would attract a lot of attention with its seductive patina. While trucks and commercial vehicles dominated the second day there were some standouts such as a rare 1956 Powell Pickup sold for $2,000 and a 1938 Studebaker road tractor which took the highest truck bid for the day at $14,000. A rare 1985 Pulse Autocycle fetched a high bid of $15,000. A pair of odd looking Leata’s came up late in the day. Looking like cartoon versions of the Pontiac Grand Prix a 77 truck and sedan went for $2,000 and $1,400. It was an eclectic mix which will not be duplicated any time soon.
Day two kicked off with Studebaker buggies, wagons, and a varied assortment of two dozen vintage tractors, but trucks ruled the sale. It was a milkmans dream come true with nearly a dozen Divco milk trucks dating from the 40s to the 60s hammered sold for $600 to $6,500. Studebaker fans weren’t disappointed as over 60 South Bend built trucks and buses were sold including a 62 Transtar glass truck sporting an older restoration and a rare 1938 Studebaker bus sold for $5,500 and $3,500. There were also three Nash trucks sold including two wreckers complete with original Ashton wrecker beds. Both trucks were complete but both had been sandblasted and left unprotected. The 48 brought the high sale of the day in at $19,000 while the 47 closed at $15,000. It was a strong day indeed for the seldom seen Nash wreckers which were originally sold to dealers. A line up of three Forward Control Willys trucks went for $900 to $3,750 while a rough 1946 Hudson truck fitted with a 1920s era tow hook brought $3,000. Nearly 70 Studebakers trucks were offered and found new homes on day 2.
All in all it was an event not to be missed. The Hackenberger auction offered everything from Gogomobiles to Mack road tractors and everything between. Online bidding was strong which was evident by the high hammer price of several lots which may disappoint the new owners. However, prices seemed fair for the condition and there really was something for every budget, especially if you were looking for project cars, most of which Ron Hackenberger brought in from the west coast. The high bid for any lot over both days was $30,000 which went to the 37 Studebaker Express truck, and a 68 Jaguar XKE roadster. There were any number of vehicles to pull on your heart strings like puppies at the pound. This bidder went home with a nice original non-running 77 AMC Matador wagon for a closing bid of $5,000. If you had a bidders card, it was hard to sit on the sidelines. Just like many of VanDerBrinks sales, this one was memorable and fun.