Larry Menard grew up on the family farm by Eau Clair, Wisc. and learned to work from an early age. He enjoyed cars, speed, and their styling. He was just 12 years old when he sold his 4-H calf with the full intent to buy a car, with the help from his uncle Ed. Larry had learned that a neighbor had a 1935 Ford for sale. Larry got up early and rode his bike to the neighbor's house and bought that 1935 Ford Slant Back sedan. Larry threw his bike in the trunk of the car and proudly drove his purchase home. The car was smoking and burning oil, but Larry had made his first deal. When he pulled in the farm yard, his dad, looked at him and said, “Did you get the title?” Larry was so excited about the car, that he forgot to get the title. Larry knew from that moment that he was a deal maker and that sales was his thing from that point forward. He also got hooked with the collecting bug and started his lifetime love for old cars.
Menards has become a household name for building supplies and more in the Midwest, but this staple of the Midwest started with humble beginnings. When John and Larry Menard graduated from high school, their dad didn’t want them to farm. John Menard started the business with building pre-fab buildings and Larry stepped in to help his brother. Their dad gave them the first building and they would sell lumber out of a boxcar. That simple beginning selling lumber and pre-fab buildings quickly grew into what we know today as that fabulous building center for all your needs from bird seed to lumber, Menards. Everything under one roof for all your building and home needs. Larry put his salesman skills to work as operations manager and helped set up new stores while providing training for employees. Larry always wanted to make sure that Menards had the “small town attitude” and didn’t forget their humble beginnings which included appreciation for their customers. So many people knew Larry from the sales seminars that he did for employees and checking on Menards store locations. A quick encounter in the Eau Claire, Wisc. Menards store with Dawn’s daughter, would lead to Dawn and Larry Menards next adventure, on the road of life.
Larry and Dawn connected immediately, after being re-introduced by Dawn’s daughter. The connection was strong even though it had been many years and relationships. That’s when they learned that their lives have crossed paths more than once. Dawn’s brother had a friend Larry, that was always over at the house hanging out. Little did she know back then that this friend, would later be her soulmate. Larry was still that same kid that came over to hang out with her brother in high school driving a 1964 Ford Galaxie.
Larry’s love for cars never ended. Larry and Dawn started building their collection of cars and memorabilia. Dawn and Larry loved to go to cruises with car buddies. They never missed Back to the 50’s, and of course, Good Guys Car shows. Larry and Dawn had a list of cars that they looked for and sought out. One in particular, a 1935 Ford, since that was his first car. The collection is filled with fabulous American Classics: an assortment of gas pumps, porcelain signs, and many pieces of memorabilia. Larry and Dawn loved the “hunt” for pieces to add to their collection. Larry would refer to Dawn as his “Lil’ Car Show Buddy.”
Throughout the years, the collection grew leading them to setup a museum at their home. The collection's crowing jewel is a rare 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe with fuel injection and radio delete that came from the east coast and was built for speed. Larry got word from a friend that West Coast Choppers, owned by the infamous Jesse James, had a rare 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible loaded up with the fuel injection option, AC, and more. Jesse couldn’t bring himself to customize this rare car so Larry and Dawn brought the beauty to their collection. There was also a lot of fun to be had with a 1959 Series 62 Cadillac convertible and 1950 Ford woodie wagon complete with a surfboard that was purchased from California. The collection also has a complete series of, 1955-1957, Tri-Five, Nomad wagons and convertibles. 1958 and 1959 Chevrolet Impala convertibles finish off the 1950’s collection.
The Larry and Dawn Menard collection has something for everyone from: antique tractors, classic pickups, and even Cushman scooters. The collection wouldn’t be complete without a host of 1935 Fords including: a beautiful 1935 Ford pickup, 1935 Ford Slant-back sedan like his first car. The collection has desirable 3 and 5 window 1935 Ford coupes. The Menard collection has a fabulous 1940 Buick Eight convertible and 1935 Ford Cabriolet customs that will take you anywhere you want to go with engine and suspension upgrades.
The Menard business also sponsored racing, and Paul Menard raced NASCAR and his 2007 Rolling race car is part of the collection with all the rub marks. Menards also sponsored an Indy Car raced by Tony Stewart. There is an assortment of beautiful pickups from a 1935 Ford Pickup to a 1957 Chevrolet Cameo pickup.
Their adventure continued for many years along the road of life through all the twists and turns they encountered. When Larry passed away it was a hard decision, but Dawn decided to sell the collection that they spent so many years putting together. VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC was contacted in December of 2019 and the auction planning started. COVID threw a wrench into the plans for the auction and meant several date changes and even a venue change.
The collection will be sold to the highest bidder on October 2nd, 2021 at 9:00 AM at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls, Wisc. The Larry and Dawn Menard auction will be live onsite- with online bidding. Dawn hopes that all the cars and memorabilia go to good homes and enjoyed by their new owners as much as they enjoyed collecting and driving them. This is a fabulous collection has wonderful examples of American Classics and hosts over 300 pieces of memorabilia including signs, gas pumps, gas and oil, and more. There will be a preview for bidders on Friday October 1st from 10 to 6pm and the auction starts at 9Am on October 2nd, 2021 with gates opening at 7am. We hope that everyone can come and bid on a chance to own one of these fabulous cars and more. But if you can’t, you can bid online. Plan to attend this auction and start your own adventure on the road of life with one of the cars from the Larry and Dawn Menard collection. For more info, catalog, video, and pictures visit www.vanderbrinkauctions.com
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