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Rare cars at the Quam Car Collection Auction

VanDerBrink to auction unique collection Sept. 26, 2015, in Boone, Iowa

Vanderbrink Blog

Grant Quam used to say, “You finally reach a point in life, when you can afford to buy the things that only the young can enjoy.” There’s a lot of wisdom in those words.

He seemed to have sayings like this, for almost every occasion. Some of his other sayings that his children remember, are ones like, “It’s time for the 3 G’s”: Get up, Get out and Get going, “Want what you have and you will Never want”, “Live Within Your Means” and “Take time to smell the roses along the way, in life”. He was a very generous man in life and helped many people throughout the years, who needed financial help.

Grant was born on Feb. 7, 1916, and grew up on a farm in Roland, Iowa. He was the youngest of nine children. His father was a skilled Horseman, who also farmed with horses. Keeping the farm going was very hard work, especially in those days and required the entire family to help, to make a living. Unfortunately, his father lost their farm during the Depression, in the early 1930s. When Grant left home, he could put all of his possessions in a shoebox. From a young age, he knew what hard work was and he kept that work ethic with him, his entire life. That, along with his natural abilities and good business sense made him a self-made and successful business man in his later years.

The Model T Ford changed the world and it changed Grant’s life, as well. He was fascinated with this, “New Horsepower”, as a boy. The fact that you could drive 15-20 miles on a small amount of gas was simply amazing to him. “Why would anyone want to mess with horses, after owning something so wonderful?” he would ask. It was at this moment, when he fell in love with the motorcar and anything with wheels.

He was driving the family’s Model T Ford, at age 10 and had a natural mechanical ability. At a young age, he was fixing the area residents’ cars in their corn crib on the farm. This started his love affair with the automobile. He bought his first car in 1931, while he was in high school. It was a Model-T Ford that he paid $12.50 for, by saving up his lunch money, that his sister would give him.

Grant married Betty Waugh in 1941 and shortly there after, they moved to California, where he serviced engines on planes for the Air Force. It was there, that a propeller accident caused him to lose the sight in his left eye. They then moved to Highland Park, Calif., where he opened up his first garage. They returned to Iowa in 1944, in a 1937 Oldsmobile Coupe, to help care for his dying father. There will be a 1937 Oldsmobile Coupe sold in the auction, that was purchased by Grant to remind him of that car. It was one of his favorite cars.

Grant and Betty decided not to return to California after his father died. He bought a little garage in Ames, Iowa, and started Quam Motor Company in 1945. For him, fixing cars was natural and something that he loved to do. Being in the garage business, allowed him access to many old cars.

One of the first cars that he bought, to start his collection, was a 1912 Ford Model T, that brought back memories of his childhood and his parents' car. More cars followed, with a 1929 Austin Bantam and 1903 Holsman. His family grew and so did the car collection. He now had four children: John, Marilyn, Jim and Jerry.

Grant had a change of careers in 1965, due to health problems and all the years of working on cold hard cement floors. Fortunately, while in the garage business, he had the foresight to buy up land, as he was able to, over the years. That allowed him to start moving old houses, remodeling apartments and other real estate endeavors. Due to his abilities to repair and build almost anything, he was able to do most of the work himself, along with the help of his wife, Betty and their children.

This new profession eventually provided the family a better living. Grant was now able to buy more rare, unusual cars and in the end, he had acquired over 70 vehicles in his collection. He bought orphan or unusual cars and used to say, “I like to buy unusual cars, so I don’t meet myself on the road.” His collection includes car manufacturers that no longer exist, such as Kissel, Pierce Arrow, Peerless, Graham, Detroit Electric, Overland, Studebaker, LaSalle, Kaiser, Desoto and Hudson, to name a few. He had a story for each of his cars and talked about a few of them on a program that was aired by Iowa Public Television, in 1999. Excerpts from that program can be viewed on the VanDerBrink website, for this auction.


Grant and Betty went on many car tours over the years, trying to drive a different car each time. The 1936 Pierce Arrow roadster, that will be part of the auction, was bought from an area farmer who had painted the car in the Butternut Coffee can’s colors of the time. This rare car, that is 1 of only 3 known to exist, was frequently taken on Iowa tours.

They went on a cross-country tour with this car in the 1980s. Since the tour was in the summertime, Betty said that she wasn’t going to go, unless it had some “creature comforts”. So, the boys and Grant installed AC along with a radio and CB for her. They were careful in doing this, so that everything could be easily removed and put back to original.


The collection has many rare and beautiful cars, including a rare 1925 KIssel Gold Bug Speedster that has been beautifully restored. Grant purchased this car in 1999, at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was the last car he added to his collection.

Another acquisition that he was proud of, was a 1920 Peerless. This car was from the Harrah Collection. Mr. Harrah was noted as saying, this was the best preserved original car that he had ever seen and owned. The car was rarely seen after Grant purchased it and now is an opportunity for another collector to treasure this rare and unique car.


The collection also has three 1934 fully restored phaetons. A 1934 Plymouth phaeton, Holden bodied car, that has been authenticated by the Plymouth Club and believed to be the only one in existence. A 1934 Chevrolet Master phaeton, also with a Holden body and believed to be one of the four that were built during the 1933/4 World’s Fair, in Chicago. Also, a 1934 Ford phaeton that completed his 1934 Phaeton collection.

His Collection has cars ranges from a 1911 Overland, into the 1970s, with his main focus on cars from the teens, ’20s and ’30s. Grant used to say, “ I never bought a car that I didn’t like, but the problems is, I like most cars.”

The collection hosts a variety of rare, American Classics, including a 1957 Studebaker Supercharged Golden Hawk, with a rare continental kit option. An amazing survivor, 1951 Chevrolet 2dr torpedo back sedan, with just over 26,000 original miles.

The collection not only has beautifully restored and rare cars, but there are many Project Cars, as well, that are waiting to be resurrected. These project cars include an assortment of Buicks, Chevrolets, Fords, Mercurys, Oldsmobile’, Chryslers and more, for restoration, rod or parts.

Grant used to say, every car has a personality and in the hands right hands, they slowly come back to life and their original glory. It was this joy, that Grant received from collecting cars. The thrill of the hunt for that next treasure, bringing it back to life and making new memories.

Grant passed away, in 2007 and his family has decided to sell his collection of cars, parts and memorabilia. The auction will be held on Sept. 26, 2015, starting at 10 am, at the Central Iowa Expo Center, in Boone, IA. This location is just a few miles from where Grant started his love affair with cars and bought his first Model T Ford.

VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC will offer the collection at Auction, at NO Reserve, with the exception of four lots that will be sold subject to confirmation of family. Please reference the catalog, for these cars. For the collector of rare and unique vehicles, you won’t want to miss this auction. Be on time, selling the best cars first. The Collection will be sold LIVE in Boone and also, we are providing online bidding. There will be NO BUYERS PREMIUM for bidders onsite at the auction.

Yvette VanDerBrink, owner of VanDerBrink Auctions, stated, “This is one of the most unique collections of RARE and UNIQUE cars that I have seen. If each car could talk, I wonder what their story would be? This is an example of rare and wonderful automotive history that you won’t want to miss.”


Plan now to attend the Grant J. Quam Car Collection Auction on Sept. 26. The collection can be previewed on Friday, Sept. 25, starting at 9 a.m. The location is 1827 217th St., Boone, IA.

For more information on this and other auctions please view or VanDerBrink Auctions at LLC 605-201-7005.

1939 Mercury Sedan-Coupe.

1939 Mercury Sedan-Coupe.

Quam 1940 Merc
Quam 1941 Ford
Quam 1955 Cadillac
Quam 1959 Chrysler 300
Quam Pierce-Arrow
Quam Plymouth coupe

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