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A Deal is a Deal…

Yvette VanDerBrink


When I have some down time, and I am not fishing, I enjoy watching TV and movies. It seems that there has been an explosion of programs on TV that feature restoring cars, collecting cars, and picking. They‘re great at getting people interested in collecting and retaining our automotive history. I enjoy most of the shows, but often times I find myself yelling at the TV. My husband looks over and notices that I’m gritting my teeth and gasping at what’s going on and he says, “Pook, you’re yelling at the TV again!” Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Now a deal is a deal! Just like at the auction, when we say SOLD, the ownership changes hands and that was the price that day or that deal. But really, I just hate when I know that it’s worth more.

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There is a show on the History Channel, where the guys drive around in their van and buy things from people's collections around the country. Now, I know these two and they are good guys. I met Mike and Frank when they bought a 1936 Auburn from some friends of mine- The Aicheles. I had sold 14 other vehicles privately for the family through the years including a 1935 Auburn and a '51 Merc' Convertible. They were buying the 1936 from them, and Sandra and Jan had my Dad helping with his pay loader when I came over to look over the deal. They were very happy, and a deal is a deal and that’s what matters. I visited with the guys and watched them film their show.

But last night, I was watching another episode and the guys were buying signs from an older gentleman, who also had old cars. I couldn’t help myself, the auctioneer in me, came out. I wanted to scream,“NO!!!”

Now again, a deal is a deal, but there was so much money left on the table. I wanted to crawl through the TV and stop them. I was watching them buy Signs for WAY less than what we had sold them consistently for at auction. It just drove me crazy.

On another episode they were looking at buying project cars from another man. I literally found myself taking notes to see where the seller was so I could help him out. Again, a deal is a deal. As an auctioneer, and just being myself, I feel that with an auction, competitive bidding, and proper advertising you’ll get what the market is that day. These are just 2 guys, and there’s way more people doing the same and probably making more money to boot. That’s why the auction is often the best method for marketing rare, unusual, and large quantities of items, or a collection. I went to get a pop out of the fridge when they paid $150 for a sign that was identical to a sign I had sold at an auction for $1500. There was a car they bought for $1500 that in the past we had sold for 10 times that amount.

There has been several times, that we’ve sold a man’s collection and after the auction, the widow could hardly believe what her husband’s collection brought. I remember a widow named Clara saying, “ I didn’t know what he was doing in that shed all the time. I thought it was just a bunch of junk cars and parts. I guess he was right about his collecting-it wasn’t just a bunch of cars and trucks. I thought nobody would want them.” It brings me joy to hear this. I can remember the Lambrecht Auction, Ray and his wife got all dressed up in their church clothes to thank me for helping their family. It was very rewarding.

Auctioneers are problem solvers. When I watch those shows, I just think- CALL ME! I can help you get more money for your items. Not just get the family more money, but help tell that story. Create a legacy for the collection. I know my Dad always said, “I’ll be dead when my cars are sold.” Well, he changed his mind in 2003 and we sold his collection. We had a big ol’ Birthday party for him - 60 1957 Chevrolets on his 60th Birthday. Cake and all! He was glad that he sold them before he died. He talked with every buyer of every car, and told the stories of where they came from and found out where they were all going. I always explain to my sellers or families, “they are all like their children.” But there comes a day when they have to go to a new home to be enjoyed. Why not meet the new owners and share the stories and your joy. Let’s have an auction to celebrate your collection.

I have seen many times a widow that just sold the cars to the first guy that showed interest and gave them away. I can remember one such instance in particular; her husband had 1932 Fords that were privately sold for her by a friend. That is, all but one. We sold some spare parts and that last ‘32 Ford. It was original, needed work, and was a 2dr sedan. We sold it for over $42,000. I later learned that that was 2-3 times higher than each of the other vehicles sold for by her friend. In my opinion she had been taken advantage of. Someone capitalized on her vulnerability. That’s sad!

There was another lady in North Dakota that came home from the funeral only to find guys waiting for her in the yard and going through the sheds. They called me. We chained them shut and set the auction date. All the vehicles brought 3-4 times what she had thought they were worth and most of those guys waiting in the farm yard and going through the sheds got NOTHING!

So like I said, a deal is a deal on a hand shake, and if you’re happy that’s great. But look at all options, and I still feel that the auction is the best method to find true market value. And hey, an auction is the only time that you can get more than you expected. See you at the auction, and give me a call - I’m here to help.


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