Recap: the Lambrecht Chevrolet Auction

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


16 thoughts on “Recap: the Lambrecht Chevrolet Auction

  1. Here here, well said. We have all we need to of the mass of “UNWASHED” among us.
    The dirt did not represent how they left the factory nor did it promote the hobby when displayed to the curious public. Sympathetic restoration makes sense to those preserving authenticity, to the public’s memory, and to the wallet of the owners thereby giving a route forward for continuation of our hobby.

  2. It was a blast being there for the circus! Opening the doors and feeling the rough paint was pretty cool. Sure it was a junk yard, but it was full of car nuts just like me. Anywhere I went there were car guys and we just started talking about it. I met so many people from all over the country and a lot of locals, we all talked about the Auction. That was cool. The economic windfall the community got was huge, props to Family or Auction company for not selling the collection whole.

    Funny when “Car” people don’t get it. Imagine how it looks to “non” “car” people!
    How many cars do we see at BJ auctions and shake our heads at? These were just different pieces of art.

    I hope they do it again next year. Just a regular Antique car auction with a swap meet and car show. Hershey, Carlisle, and Bloomington didn’t start this big, did they?

  3. Peak? Not sure yet.

    Every collector or car geek worth his weight in PB Blaster has the same fantasy… the car in back that never got sold. The hobby is rife with urban legends about the topic, and once in a while (Lambrecht) they come true.

    Essentially, the bidders were living out the mythology of a time-capsule product in it unspoiled, natural state, telling a story versus simply living out remaining years as a Faberge egg in a showcase.

    Likewise, we are all suckers for a good story, which as noted repeatedly in many popular culture cable shows (Pickers, Chasing, etc.) is all the fun. An Impala with a story is great, especially when the odometer is telling it. Is it worth the price?

    Not sure. You can’t pay too much, you can only buy too early.

    • Market top. There will be some demand for cars like these but not 2x to 4x market value for a fully restored example. You can’t drive them or show them. They’re like 1:1 diecast. Garage art. Will get old pretty quick.

  4. Short and sweet. I have been collecting cars all my life for over 60 years. I watched the movie on the net showing them being pulled out of the dealership. Save 1 or 2 cars, I didn’t see anything worth even paying attention to regardless of mileage or dirt. I wasn’t motivated to even watch the TV coverage of the event. I hope this experience doesn’t turn off too many participants of this event to the hobby. P.T. Barnum was right!!

  5. I could only last through about an hour of the auction’s three hours on History Channel. This thing was so poorly produced, it was as if a bunch of guys were joy riding around Nebraska in a History Channel van and decided to stop and do a show. There didn’t appear to be a direct feed to the auctioneer’s mic and the on air host, Brian Unger, a complete idiot about cars, proved this assignment to be way above his pay grade. Race car driver, Tanner Foust, was in the field, so to speak, and failed miserably in his attempts to be funny while interviewing bid winners and losers. It seems the only real winner here is Mr. Lambrecht.

  6. I wonder what would have happened if he had only saved the six cars above instead of dozens. Let’s say it would have allowed him to keep the cars inside all of the time, where they would have remained clean, dry and all in one piece. Could he still have gotten the prices quoted above? Probably not, because the story wouldn’t have been as sensational.

    $600 for a Lambrecht Chevrolet yardstick?

  7. Going beyond this event, it’s sad that the next generations do not have the interest in classic cars. The value of most of the collectibles certainly will decline as fewer and fewer people will be interested in owning them.

  8. Actually these cars can be made to run. It would not be all that expensive either if you are careful. It is a lot easier and cheaper than trying to repair a flood car. (Agnes 1972)
    Get them to run, clean them real good, spray clear coat on them to preserve the ‘patina’, and relive your youth.
    Beside, how many people do you know that have a ‘brand new’ 65 Chevy 396?

  9. I looked at the list of what was sold, a few headline cars, as well as some memorabilia made silly money. But the rest really were not dear. Though none were cheap either. It appears quite a few items did not make a bid. My understanding is this was a no reserve auction.

  10. I think you hit it right on the head. Will the market peak with these cars, I’ve been saying that for 40 years so most likely not. But, when the owners get these cars home from Nebraska, wash them and try to get them running they will just be low mile cars and most likely drop in value like a rock. No different than the fools who paid millions of dollars for hiped muscle cars at Barrett-Jackson back when that was the hottest show on TV, OR, the folks who bought a Ferrari in 1989.

  11. This is a really neat story, and I agree that original 50 year old cars just aren’t out there anymore, but these prices are absolutely crazy.
    I bet the people who spent the big money on them aren’t even going to get them running again, many will not even clean them.
    if you get them running, and put any miles on them, they will actually go down in value, although being a Lambrecht car will likely add to the prominence
    I love old cars, but they are cars, they are meant to be driven, if they aren’t driven, they are nothing but an expensive paperweight

  12. Time will tell how the new owners fared. At least one guy has his prize car up and running (1963 Corvair) and it seems the Corvair collector hobby is pretty excited about it.

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