Lambrecht Chevrolet of Pierce, Neb., was like many Midwestern, small-town dealers — owned and operated by a family, with minimal overhead and little need for advertising since most customers were neighbors. Ray and Mildred Lambrecht ran the dealership with just one employee for 50 years before closing up, and later this year the Lambrechts will sell off a trove of 500-odd vehicles they've held onto over the decades — including roughly 50 with less than 10 miles on their odometers. It's less a car sale than a time capsule auction.
While many of the cars in the Lambrecht collection were customer trade-ins that were left outside to rot, the Lambrechts would occasionally take something they couldn't sell and just put it in storage. City folk might find it unthinkable to leave so many vehicles lying around for so many years, but there's always more space in rural Nebraska, and the annual costs fall to zero quickly. I wouldn't call it hoarding, but I know many people who gather old metal like this do form an attachment to their kingdom of rust; every ride has a story, even when there's weeds growing around it. Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell, the Lambrecht's daughter, says the decision to sell wasn't an easy one for her parents, and that the cars "comprise a lifetime of hard work, tears, and joy."
Fortunately for collectors, the Lambrechts preservation-through-neglect has created the type of barn finds that many search years to discover. Among the dozen low-miles pickups sits a 1956 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with an odometer reading of just over one mile, and a 1964 Chevy Impala with six miles that still has its original window sticker and the plastic sheeting that covered its red leather seats. Although even ardent Corvette fans look askance at the late '70s models, the '78 version here with five miles has an appeal that's grown over time.
The rest of the 500-car list reads like an inventory of popular models from the '50s and '60s — Bel Airs, Corvairs and even a couple of Vegas — which the VanDerBrink Auction company is still documenting ahead of the sale in Pierce on Sept. 28-29, along with dozens of pieces of memorabilia, hubcaps and even a Corvette pedal car. You can see the auctioneer take a walk though the Lambrechts' garage below: