The Lambrecht Chevrolet auction more than lived up to the hype, with vehicles selling for apparently astronomical prices. Here, a few results and a brief commentary.
A crowd estimated at 10,000 people, including 3,400 registered bidders, helped to shape the spectacle at the Lambrecht Chevrolet auction in Pierce, Nebraska this past weekend. The fevered mood of the mob was established early on when a 1957 Corvette pedal car in dirty but complete condition hammered down for for an astounding $16,000. The money-throwing contest was on.
Corvette pedal car – sold at $16,000
1958 Chevrolet Cameo Pickup, 1.3 miles – sold at $140,000
1963 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe 327 V8 Powerglide, 11 miles – sold at $97,500
1958 Chevrolet Apache Pickup, 5 miles – sold at $80,000
1965 Impala Sport Coupe, 396/325 hp Turbo-Hyrdamatic, 12 miles – sold at $72,500
1963 Corvair Monza Coupe, 6 cyl. 4-speed manual, 17 miles – sold at $40,000
1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car, 4 miles – sold at $80,000
The cars pictured above are among the highest-priced sellers in the auction. You can find a complete list of the sales results here at the online auction page.
As you can see, many of the never-used, never-titled vehicles in the Lambrecht hoard (given their age and condition, it’s misleading to call them new) sold for two, three, even four times as much as a fully-restored car in #1 condition could hope to bring. This despite the fact that generally, the cars are a long way from running or driving condition, and cosmetically they are in tough shape indeed.
There’s already been plenty of commentary, on the web and elsewhere, about the alleged insanity of paying such absurdly high prices for what are essentially junk cars. (Or junk cars that happen to have extremely low odometer readings, more accurately.) MCG is not going to go there. What people wish to pay for old cars is their business. It’s their money and they can spend it as they choose. There are worse things to do with one’s hard-earned cash.
MCG has only one point to make here—and a prediction. In his view, this sale will probably come to represent the absolute top of the so-called barn find or unrestored original category of the collector car market. Such vehicles have been drawing considerable attention in car show circles for a few years now, but prices are not sustainable at these levels. From here, they can only trend down.
In their unrestored, as-found form, cars like these are essentially non-functional. They can’t be driven and it’s impractical to haul them around for display. But when restored and driven, they instantly lose their uniqueness and market value. These barn finds and suchlike are every bit as unusable as the most fabulous Pebble Beach trailer queens, but considerably less attractive.
MCG believes that cars like these will prove to their buyers to be much more desirable to own in theory than in practice. And once the hysteria cools, market prices are going to reflect that owner experience. That said, we’re going to be hearing about the Lambrecht collection for a while to come. Spotted on eBay the day after the sale: an original auction flyer. What a deal. Only 21 bucks.
1964 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe, 4 miles – $75,000