|Larry P. Vellequette covers Chrysler for Automotive News.|
Many dealers keep private collections of their favorite cars over the years. But the stash of midcentury Chevys squirreled away in a former mom-and-pop dealership in the nation's midsection borders on extreme.
When Ray and Mildred Lambrecht closed their store in tiny Pierce, Neb., in 1996, they sealed within it a massive chunk of automotive history -- nearly 500 new and used cars, some dating to the early 1950s with fewer than 5 miles on them and with their seats still covered in the plastic from the factory.
Now these cars are going to auction in late September, and are likely to draw a throng of collectors to the town of about 1,800.
Lambrecht Chevrolet, a hand-built store about 125 miles northwest of Omaha with a shared wooden counter for parts and sales, operated for 50 years. For most of its years in operation, it had only one other employee, a mechanic. And when the doors closed, they remained so until recently, when auction workers began preparing for the sale.
The auction's inventory list is an eclectic, GM-centric mix of automotive hits and misses, several dozen of which have yet to turn a second digit on their odometers and sat inside, protected from the elements. Others were taken in on trade decades ago and show much more of their age. The vehicles include:
A 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickup and a 1959 Chevy Bel Air sedan, both with a single mile on the odometer.
A 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air station wagon and a 1969 Chevy Cheyenne, both with five miles or fewer.
A 1963 Chevy Impala, with 11 miles on the odometer, a 1964 version with just five miles recorded, and a pair of 1959 Impalas with just two miles on their tickers.
The auction list also includes some not-so-great moments in GM history, including a 1977 Chevy Vega, 1982 copies of the Chevy Cavalier and Citation, and a 1980 Chevy Monza, some still wearing the plastic seat covers and window stickers put on at the factory.
A GM archivist said the automaker no longer has records of the Lambrecht dealership, which the couple's daughter said started with an annual allotment of just 16 vehicles in 1946.
In a written history and photographs included with the auction materials, daughter Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell said her father, now 95, is "still fiercely loyal to Chevrolet and General Motors."
Efforts to reach the Lambrechts were unsuccessful.
Their daughter wrote that her father built the dealership after returning from the service in World War II, and that it remained largely unchanged until it closed.
Photos of the cars to be auctioned, as well as a list of items to be sold, are available at vanderbrinkauctions.com.
For more coverage and a photo gallery by Automotive News affiliate Autoweek, click here.