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Koepke collection a barn-fresh hot rod haven


I wonder what Henry Ford would say today if he saw what has happened since his Model T Ford. This icon of automotive history not only changed the world, but started the revolution to go faster – the art, the scene of hot rodding.

Bob Koepke hailed from Gary, Ind., growing up on the family farm. The wheels were always turning in his mind and he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the wheel. Bob’s first car was a Model A Ford he bought from his brother for $25. Bob was always inventing ways to go faster and he turned that Model A into his first hot rod, tearing up the streets of Gary.

Bob’s grandfather said, “His boys weren’t going to farm, but go to college.” That Model A Ford took him all through high school and into college at Indiana University, where he graduated with a degree in accounting. Bob and his new bride headed off to Titusville, Fla., leaving Indiana behind to start a new life as an accountant at Boeing-NASA. They arrived in Florida in the 1960’s, right in the middle of the space race and the bigger motor era of NASCAR. What an exciting place to be for a hot rodder... Daytona Beach, Kennedy Space Stations, and surrounded by Corvettes, and the booming hot rod scene.

Their family grew. Dave Koepke, Bob’s only child, was born. To Dave, his dad was a “Superman” in the hot rodding world. Just like Clark Kent, he would wear a suit to work and come home and transform into a hot rodder. Jeans, slick back the hair, throw on the shades, and hop into the Model A – or now a 1935 Ford roadster – and cruise the beaches, swap meets and garages. Adventures of the hot rodding kind.

Bob took Dave everywhere teaching him the art. They were always going on adventures looking for parts to make their cars go faster. Bob was friends with Smokey Yunick and other kings of speed. In Bob’s collection are pieces from Smokey’s garage with a signed aluminum intake – a treasured part of Bob’s collection. Bob retired early from NASA, which meant more time with his son and traveling the southeast United States to find more parts and cars.

His collection will be sold by VanDerBrink Auctions on April 11.

Bob loved the early Fords and Tri-Five cars. One of his next purchases was a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad wagon. Bob bought a lot of parts and cars from Classic Chevrolet, Ecklers, and private parties. There are seven 1955-'57 Nomads in his collection along with four 1957 Chevrolet convertibles, and other Tri-Fives. Many times Bob and Dave would go on trip in the 1957 and would come back with a '57 or other car in tow.

Everybody liked Bob. He was a familiar face at area swap meets and hot rod shows. He was always tuning a motor or inventing ways to go fast. Bob and Dave brought home loads of early Ford and Tri-Five parts and packed them away in the house, barn and garage. Bob would always tell Dave, “The good stuff is outside. You’ll find it someday.” Bob not only loved the classic 1932 Ford coupes, but the 1934 and 1935 Ford cars. In the collection there are several 1932-'34 three-window coupes along with 1932 roadsters, 1934-'36 cabriolet roadsters, and many, many parts.

Bob diversified his tastes while working at NASA. There were always a sea of Corvettes with the execs and astronauts, so he wanted something different. Bob bought a 1973 Ford Pantera which still only has 3,800 miles. The car is British Racing Green and has the original Arriva Goodyear tires with stickers on the car. But just one unusual car wasn’t enough. Bob bought a rare 1958 Porsche 356 Coupe and a 1978 Ferrari 308 that he drove on his “suit” days. Bob also liked the '50s Corvettes and there still is a 1958 FI Corvette roadster in pieces as unfinished projects. There are many project cars and started projects that will be sold along with many Corvette parts including LS and LT1 parts.

Bob and Dave’s tag team parts days ended when Dave headed back to Indiana in 1990 as a machinist, starting his own life. Bob would always lure Dave back down with a new treasure. Dave was married now with kids and doing his own hot rod thing in Indiana.

For the last 10 years no one, not even Dave, was allowed on the home place. They would meet for dinner or at the hotels and reminisce, then they would go their separate ways again. But then in November 2014 Dave couldn’t get ahold of his dad. Then he got that call – Bob had passed away. Dave then got on the first plane and headed to Florida to make the arrangements and head to his dad’s place.

Dave started up the driveway and could only get part way. The property was covered with tarps, hot rod parts, early Ford, Tri-Five, Corvette, and horse power parts everywhere. The bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, everywhere. With the help of shifts of car guys from Indiana and Florida, they started the task of going through his dad’s collection. Dave found in the back of the garage, apart, but was his dad’s Model A hot rod and 1935 Ford roadster from his younger days. He’s taking them back to Indiana to put together and tell his girls about their Grandpa.

Bob always said, "The good stuff is outside.” Sure enough, under the sea of tarps were 1932-'34 three-window coupes, 1932 roadsters, Nomad wagons, 57 convertibles and more. It was amazing. Being a hot rodder himself, Dave knew this was just too much and called VanDerBrink Auctions about an auction. Yvette came down and together they started putting the auction together tagging, lotting, and photographing the collection.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the collection...


The auction will be April 11 at 9 a.m. in Titusville, Fla., at a warehouse near the hospital. Watch the website, Facebook and advertising for the exact location, pictures, video and more details.

The entire collection will be offered at NO RESERVE with the vehicles and other parts lots offered on site and online, but a vast number of parts will be only for bidders ONSITE. Be on time – the vehicles are first!

This is a wonderful collection of big block Chevrolet, early Ford, Tri-Five cars and parts for project, rod, and parts. If building a car, swapper, or collector, plan now to get in your truck, get a trailer, and head to Florida for the Bob Koepke collection auction.

For more information: VanDerBrink Auctions, 605-201-7005 or Online bidding available through the website or You can follow Dave Koepke, the guys and VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC on Instagram and FaceBook for updates, pictures and video, along with other great auctions details.

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