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Brand new ’58 Chev ute sells for $US140,000

Treasure trove of low-mile classics with a twist go under the hammer in the US

General News logo4 Oct 2013

A 55-year-old Chevrolet Cameo pick-up with just 1 mile on the odometer has topped an unusual dealer stock liquidation sale in the American mid-west.

Last weekend Ray Lambrecht, a retired Chevrolet dealer in Pierce, Nebraska raised around $US3 million ($A3.21 million) by selling more than 500 vehicles he had accumulated over decades in the business.

The 1958 Cameo, a little tatty on the outside despite being under cover all of its life, still had the plastic delivery covers on its seats.

The Cameo was the top-of-the-range pick-up introduced in 1955. The 1958 model was the last and only of 1405 units that were built.

The pick-up came to be stored away for so long because Mr Lambrecht had some unusual practices as a new-car dealer.

For one thing, he didn’t care much for dealing in used vehicles, so he used to just park them on his farm or in a warehouse.

Even more unusually, he didn’t like to sell a new car when a newer model was available. He would encourage buyers to purchase the latest model.

All of which meant that, apart from trade-ins, he also put into storage 50 new, but superseded, cars.

So when he decided to sell the lot, the auctioneers found a treasure trove of brand new vehicles with little or no mileage on the clock.

Apart from the ’58 Cameo pick-up, there was a ’58 Apache 31 pick-up with just five miles under its wheels, a 1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car replica that has been driven for just four miles and a pair of ’64 Chevrolet Impala 327 hardtops, one with a three-speed manual and the other an auto. Both 327s had done less than 12 miles.

The $140,000 paid for the Cameo is the equivalent of $17,300 in 1958 money, more than seven times the ex-factory price of $US2,273 in the day.

Both the ’58 Apache pick-up and the ’78 Corvette brought $80,000 while the buyers clearly preferred the red auto Impala. That was knocked down for $US97,500 while the white three speed 327 went for $US75,000.

Mr Lambrecht, now 96, was a car dealer for 50 years before retiring, along with his partner and wife Mildred, in 1996.

He has refused invitations to be interviewed about the cars and his decision now to sell them all.

“He loved to sell new cars,” auctioneer Yvette VanDerBrink told Inernational Business Times.

“He didn’t sell his trade-ins – he wouldn’t let you buy them. You had to buy the latest and greatest Chevrolet.”

One factor behind the decision to sell is that the collection, at least that part of it stored out in the open, was attracting a growing stream of parts hunters and thieves.

The Lambrechts’ daughter Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell said that her parents’ hoarding was a result of “Depression mentality – throw nothing away”.

She said they worked six days a week for 50 years, living across the road from the dealership.

Ray handled sales and Mildred did the books and the daily run to pick up parts.

One of Lambrecht’s long-term customers was Lyle Venteicher. He went to the dealership looking for a Chevrolet Suburban.

“Ray told us what he told everyone: You go out and get the best price at anyplace, bring it back to me and I'll beat it,'' Venteicher said.

“That's what we did. We brought him the best price we could get somewhere else, and he cut it. So we ordered the new car from him. He made a lot of money.''

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