By Yvette VanDerBrink
It was five years ago that my dad and I went to Nebraska to go over the final touches on the lineup of what would be called, “The 3rd Most Earth-Shattering Auction of all Time,” — The Lambrecht Chevrolet Auction. There was no way I could keep my dad, a Chevrolet man to the core, away from this once-in-a-lifetime sale.
I still remember meeting with the Lambrecht family, the smell inside the dealership and all the junk piled on top of the new cars. I recall walking in the weeds out at the farm and seeing the row of brand-new pickups waiting to get back on the road.
A little-known fact is that over half of the first-day cars were actually in Kansas. We had to truck them back to Nebraska for the sale. They were there for “safe” keeping. In actuality, they were not so safe, and the situation bordered on an automotive heist job. Eventually, all the titles and MSOs were located and the cars came back to Nebraska to join the Lambrecht Chevrolet Auction.
With the help of loaders and roll-offs, my husband, son and his friend started cleaning out the dealership and moving the cars for the first time in decades out of their confines to be photographed. As soon as we pried open the garage door we were greeted by a man who said, “I’ve been waiting for over 40 years to see this day.” Residents had tried for years to buy back their cars, but always got a resounding, “NO.” One by one, stuck wheels loosened, tires aired up or were replaced, and the cars rolled out for their big debut. First was the 1964 Chevrolet Impala, white with 4 miles, then the 1963 Impala followed by the Cameo pickup with just 1 mile on the odometer with floor mats rolled up behind the seat. Pretty soon we amassed quite a crowd of onlookers and Sheriff Rick had to direct traffic. We swept out the dealership, moved three 30-yard roll-offs of debris and barrels of used oil out of the building and put the cars back in their places. I then proceeded to work with Sheriff Rick and the town on traffic control and security. We were exhausted and thrilled at the same time, for this was history in the making. It was exhilarating and I loved it! I had grown up with cars all my life, and now was the time to put my passion and experience to good use.
With my paperwork in hand, I started the debate with the state of Nebraska over the MSOs [Manufacturers Statement of Origin]. Marv Spomer from Minnesota was a great help in these matters. After many meetings, and the threat of going to jail if I didn’t hand over my MSOs, we received an exemption from the state. We titled the cars and I was able to keep my paperwork for the new cars. I guarded that paperwork with my life and fought to keep anything from being destroyed. Nebraska has a policy that a MSO is supposed to be turned in and destroyed once it's converted to a title. I wasn’t going for it. In the end it paid off. I knew the importance of that original documentation and what it meant for the significance it held for these vehicles. If Nebraska had not allowed for the exemptions there was a $5,000.00 per MSO; in total terms, 55 cars x $5,0000 each = $275,000. That’s a HUGE fine!
Exhausted, I returned home and called Ron Kowalke and Angelo Van Bogart of Old Cars Weekly, along with many other media organizations, and sent them press release and a video (Editor's note: Ron Kowalke had helped connect VanDerBrink Auctions with the Lambrecht family). News spread like wild fire and the craziness started. It was amazing, but I still had a lot of work to do. I hired a contractor to take out the trees, level the field, and talked to a lot of farmers to get the land for parking. I also worked with the state patrol, highway patrol, and the county and town on the logistics of the auction. But most of all, I spent countless hours climbing through windows — my special technique for opening doors — and getting VINS to match the titles and MSOs. Yes, there were no files, just rolled up rubber-banded bundles. I spent countless hours in the cars. If buyers look, there are some prayers written on the door panels from me. I was on a mission from God, no kidding.
I quickly realized that there were problems with the truckers from Kansas and the logistics of moving all the cars. I called my dad and he brought down his pay loader, and here is where the déjà vu kicked in. It was five years ago Sept. 20th that I rode in the pay loader buddy seat with Dad as we lined up over 100 of the "Day 1" cars. I would tell him, “Get that 1955 Chevy…now the 1959…” and the two of us lined them up. Just Dad, me and Chevrolets. It will always be a time that I treasure. We were in sync with a shared goal of being as good as we could be and doing the best for the cars and the family by readying 400-plus cars in position in preparation for the droves of collectors coming to bid on them.
The filming started in July long before the film crews came to film on auction week. It was cool, and it was the first time a show was filmed, produced and aired on the same night on the History Channel.
Action day was the first time I realized the magnitude of what we had accomplished and that all my hard work had paid off. After the first sale of hubcaps for $1,200 and $600 for yardsticks, I knew we were going to be OK. The film crew played back their footage of the auction for me, and I cried tears of joy. It was surreal. The highway patrol told me that they figured almost 25,000 people attended the auction that first day. The auction was a resounding success. So many people helped in the process to make it a possibility. Out of it all I still hold the time with my dad, Art Nordstrom, "The Chevy Man," as my most cherished memory of the Lambrecht Auction.
There were many more months of work, and many more stories. In the near future I plan to share more of those stories. On a side note, one of the biggest miracles of this auction that to this day amazes us all is: how did 110 porta-pots service that whole crowd?
If you are looking to have an auction, I would love to work you and your collection. Give me a call- 605-201-7005. www.vanderbrinkauctions.com
Stay tuned for more…
*Editor's note - Here are a few links to click on to access past articles published by OCW on the Lambrecht Chevrolet auction.
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