By on June 25, 2013
Mildred Lambrecht and her son Mark. circa 1953

Mildred Lambrecht and her son Mark. circa 1953

As our esteemed colleague Mr. Baruth pointed out, it’s not every day that you can buy dealer fresh 50 year old Chevys, referring to the upcoming auction of over 500 cars owned by Ray P. Lambrecht, now 95 years old, who with his wife Mildred and a single mechanic ran Lambrecht Chevrolet, a small rural dealership in Pierce, Nebraska from 1946 to 1996. The collection includes a startling number of new old stock cars, time-capsules that were never sold or registered as well as trade ins that Lambrecht and his Mildred decided to keep. Though it’s not on the scale of Barney Pollard’s massive inventory, I suspect that in time, as with former Pollard cars, the provenance of being a “Lambrecht Chevy” will be a factor in those cars’ collector value. A number of comments to Jack’s post wondered what the story was behind the collection. Fortunately, the auction description at VanDerBrink’s Auctions website was written by the Lambrechts’ own daughter, Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell, who gives the human side to the Lambrecht Chevys:

The Man Behind the Legend
The Story of Ray P. Lambrecht and Lambrecht Chevrolet Company
by Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell

Urban legends speak of a former Midwest Chevy dealer with a collection of hundreds of vehicles hidden away in a rural setting. Rumors abound regarding this man and the mystery of that collection. The man behind that legend is my father, Ray P. Lambrecht. Dad owned and operated Lambrecht Chevrolet Company from 1946 until 1996, selling new Chevrolets to multiple generations of families all over the Midwest and beyond. This is his story.

Dad was born in 1918 during the Great Depression in rural Pierce County, Nebraska, a small farming community. He displayed a strong interest in cars and trucks from a very early age. As a boy, he created a lifelike replica of a delivery truck from scraps of wood and metal after spotting one on a street. The reproduction featured intricate detailing down to a hand-carved steering wheel and a complete exhaust system underneath.

Dad first drove a car at the age of 9. He climbed into the family’s 1927 tan Chevrolet two-door coupe and drove his mother 7 miles into the nearest town for groceries. Driver’s licenses costing $1 weren’t required by law until 1941. Dad made the journey driving 20-25 mph over dirt roads, barely tall enough to peek over the steering wheel. The sight was shocking enough to prompt the local banker to rush out of his office in amazement saying, “Look at that little guy driving!!!”

In 1942 during World War II, Dad was drafted into the army and served as a Sergeant for four years in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska where fierce fighting with the Japanese had just occurred. His planned marriage to my Mother had to be put on hold, but she followed him to California to be closer. When Dad was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946, he and Mom returned home to Nebraska and were married.

Dad’s opportunity to begin his career as a Chevrolet Dealer presented itself upon returning home. Prior to the war, General Motors had been distributing franchises throughout small towns in the Midwest, and one of them had been given to Dad’s uncle Ernest. Ernest had been operating out of a small garage, and he needed both Dad’s financing and also his ability to construct a dealership building in order to really start growing the business.

Life was extremely difficult during this period of time, and wartime rationing made it almost impossible to obtain even the most basic building materials. Dad was one of very few individuals allowed to purchase those materials because of his army veteran status. Even with that privilege, supplies were so scarce that Dad was forced to drive hundreds of miles from town to town to obtain needed materials such as cement block and roofing beams. Fortunately, Dad was a gifted carpenter and architect. He obtained the necessary materials, designed the building, and then built the dealership that still stands today.

Dad operated the dealership in partnership with his uncle for only two years. After a serious illness forced Ernest to retire, Dad bought out his share of the business and became the sole owner of the franchise.

Lambrecht Chevrolet Company was owned and operated by my parents, Ray and Mildred Lambrecht with only one employee, a mechanic. They operated the dealership for 50 years until they retired in 1996 at ages 78 and 75. My parents worked six days a week for 50 years, never taking one single day of vacation or one sick day. They worked hard and operated their business with honesty, integrity, and kindness, frequently lending a helping hand to others who were in need.

Dad managed the dealership and handled all sales. Mom was second-in-command, and supported Dad in every aspect of the business. She served as notary public for the dealership, handled all accounting, and made almost daily runs for parts.

That first year, the dealership was allotted 16 cars for the entire year. They were black or gray with cloth interiors and no heat. At that time, cars sold for around $600 to $800. They also received 6 pickups that year. They came with no box. Dad got the local lumber yard to supply wooden boxes for the pickups.

Some of Dad’s first customers were his army buddies who learned that Dad now owned a Chevy dealership. These friends purchased new vehicles, and then returned to their homes scattered all over the country. They were so pleased with the experience of buying cars from Dad, they and their families became life-long repeat customers. They also began spreading the news far and wide about the good deals at Lambrecht Chevrolet Company. Before long, Dad was one of the top sellers in the entire country, receiving many awards for sales from GM.

Dad’s real success stemmed from a basic philosophy very different from most auto dealers. He didn’t deal or negotiate. He gave his best price the first time. When a potential customer arrived, Dad would pick up a pencil, make a few calculations, and then give him a number. That was it. People would argue with him, try to bicker on price, and threaten to walk out. Dad would always say, “If you can find a better price on this vehicle, then you should go get it”. Invariably they would be back. After doing all of the legwork and the homework comparing prices from surrounding dealers, the conclusion was always the same. Dad had given them the best price right from the beginning.

I remember a man ringing our doorbell on a Sunday morning. He was a very nervous fellow standing there with his little notebook full of numbers. He very insistently told my Dad, “I’ll buy that truck, but I won’t pay a penny over this amount”. Dad said “Fine”, knowing that the fellow had gotten himself so confused after making all of the rounds that he was offering more than Dad had priced in the first place. The fellow was happy, Dad sold the truck, and all was well.

Dad sold cars all over the country. He was known far and wide as the Chevy dealer to see for the best price and the most courteous treatment. In 1959, Dad created the motto for his dealership while talking with the District Manager – “It Will Pay to See Ray”. It was the slogan that embodied his entire philosophy, and it stuck.

Dad believed in the Golden Rule, and he treated his customers accordingly. He was especially kind to the children who accompanied their fathers to the dealership to look at cars and trucks. Dad would let the kids sit inside new cars or look under the hoods while he explained how things worked to them. The kids were delighted. In many cases they also became life-long customers when they became adults, remembering the special treatment Dad had given them at an early age.

Dad was so well known that he even sold vehicles to residents of other countries. I remember a man from Switzerland who ordered a new white 1969 Corvette from Dad and then had it shipped overseas. He called before flying out, and asked if Pierce, Nebraska was anywhere near Los Angeles. Dad told him to fly to a place called Omaha, and we picked him up from there. He was delighted with his new Corvette, and more than pleased with the price.

My Dad just loved to sell new cars and trucks, and he sold lots of them. Also, he felt very strongly about the issue of safety for families with young children. He would strive to put those families in new cars that were safe and reliable rather than selling them a used car. That was the genesis of my Dad’s car collection. He sold lots and lots of new cars and lots and lots of pickups. The trade-ins were parked on our farm outside of town. Their numbers gradually grew into a massive collection. New cars that were left unsold were also stored. There is a lot of history in that collection. Dad can look at any of those vehicles today and tell you the story behind it. He remembers each used car and the former owner, like the 1928 Durant owned by Mom’s uncle Louie.

I remember the 1953 white Corvette convertible we had when I was four years old and my little brother, Mark, was two. Mark spent his free time tooling around in a little Corvette replica pedal car that looked like the original. I, however, was more interested in getting inside the real thing. What I remember most is my frustration in not being able to open the doors. The 1953 Corvette had no outside door handle and I was pretty short. I remember jumping up to grab the top of the door and then struggling to reach inside to pull the door handle open. Sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes I didn’t. But it was a real joy sitting inside that beautiful Corvette. My love of new Chevrolets was in my DNA and starting to show. When attending gatherings of friends and family, Dad would often turn to me and loudly ask the question, “What is the finest car made?” I would shout, “Chevrolet!!!!”, and it would bring down the house. I didn’t really know what was so funny, but I was happy to play my part.

When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license, it was a very exciting day. My first car was a 1963 Chevy Corvair. It was black, with a red interior, 4-on-the-floor manual transmission, and an oversized shiny chrome gear-shift knob. It was a used car that someone had modified adding “dumps” to the exhaust system. What a wonderful loud purring sound the engine made as I drove that little car all over town, smiling all the way. The rear engine really helped with traction in the snow. And if I did get stuck, a couple of friends could just pick up the rear end, spin me around, and I would be on my way. I loved that car, and it sits in the dealership to this very day.

Growing up, I loved spending time at the dealership. Dad kept me away from the service area in the back for fear that I would get hurt. But my brother and I had the job of cleaning up the new cars for delivery. In the 60’s, all new Chevrolets would arrive with an opaque white covering of protective wax. It was a real job getting it off and polishing the paint up to a showroom shine. The windows were always the most difficult, and Dad invariably had to step in and finish polishing the windows with his strong arms.

I remember how excited my brother and I would be when the new cars would arrive on transports from Janesville, Wisconsin. Our home was right across the street from the dealership. We would hear the loud clang as the transport driver lowered the heavy metal tracks onto the brick street, and we would run out of the house in anticipation. It was so exciting to see the brand new models of Chevy cars and trucks being unloaded.

Announcement Day at Lambrecht Chevrolet Company was a huge event for the entire town. Unlike today, one special day in September of each year was the first opportunity for anyone to view the new car models for that year. New cars would be delivered in advance and then hidden away so that nobody could see them before Announcement Day. Early that morning, Dad would move one shiny new Chevrolet into the showroom. There would be balloons and banners, coffee and donuts, souvenirs, and lots of built-up excitement. Everyone in town would come to see the new car and truck models.

Lambrecht Chevrolet participated in all of the important local celebrations and events throughout the years. For its grand opening in 1946, there were real live elephants in front of the dealership wearing Chevrolet banners on their backs. During the Nebraska Centennial in 1954, Dad had the honor of driving the Governor of Nebraska in our 1953 Corvette down Main Street in the parade. Pioneer Days in June of 1959 was the 100th anniversary of Pierce County, Nebraska. Dad again drove dignitaries in a new 1959 Chevy in the parade. There were countless other functions and parades.

Throughout the years, Lambrecht Chevrolet Company remained a small business operated by Mom and Dad with one mechanic. Pierce, Nebraska remained a small community of about 1,200 people. In the 80’s, my parents made the transition from typewriter to computer for communications with General Motors. But Mom still used an adding machine for maintaining handwritten financial ledgers and paper files. The original cash register from 1946 still sat on the front counter and was used daily. Original MSO’s and titles were carefully stored. This was a small “mom and pop” operation, and it stayed that way throughout the decades in business.

In 1996 after 50 years as a Chevrolet dealership, Mom and Dad made the difficult decision to give up the franchise and continue limited operations as Lambrecht Auto Company. Now 17 years later, they have agreed to liquidate the dealership’s massive inventory. Dad is now 95 years old, and Mom is 92. Dad is still fiercely loyal to Chevrolet and General Motors. He actively follows trends in automobile design and manufacturing, and loves to see photos of all of the new models.

The decision to auction the inventory of Lambrecht Chevrolet Company was a difficult and painful one. The collection of over 500 true survivor vehicles comprise a lifetime of hard work, tears, and joy for both of my parents. The dealership today is a virtual time capsule that will be opened and all contents will be sold at auction. The inventory of the dealership’s vehicles includes many new cars with original MSO’s as well as hundreds of rare 50’s and 60’s Chevys ideal for restoration projects. Looking back at the history of Lambrecht Chevrolet, my parents have no regrets, and are proud of the thousands of new cars and trucks they sold to many generations of happy customers. They hope that these rare collectible vehicles will now be the source of joy and inspiration for car enthusiasts everywhere.

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59 Comments on “The Story Behind the Lambrecht Chevrolet Collection...”


  • avatar

    Wow. what a fantastic story, thanks for sharing it.

    • 0 avatar
      April

      More an ad/press release.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s what it is, but I like the idea that three decent folks can build a successful business based on the principles of fair play and treating people right. If I had known about them, chances are I’d have traveled there to buy cars myself.

        *Edit* That’s odd, my reply was intended for another, now vanished comment. Carry on.

      • 0 avatar
        American Carfan

        Must be sad to go through life a total downer and cynical troll, April. Yeah, with all the marketing bullshyt and fraud, sometimes you gotta be skeptical an do due diligence but WHY HERE with a simple.moving, first person tale of how America was and should have stayed.

    • 0 avatar
      histarchfever

      My dad has a custom built 1949 Lincoln Continental for sale that we plan to bring there to adverstise it. It has a modified 455 Buick Engine, 400 transmission. Custom made engine parts. Stainless Exhaust Pipes. Z-28 Cameo, Air ride. Power Disk Brakes. Chrome Suspension. Paint is sapphire, violet purple, including other colors. Vehicle is high tech engineered with flame throwers & air brushing. Christian themed. Suicide doors and chop top 6″ If interested please email tornweathered@yahoo.com

    • 0 avatar
      knaufcm

      We attended the preview day and auction in Pierce last weekend. Over the three days we were there, we heard many varying accounts of the personality and business habits of Mr. Lambrecht. I have no idea how many are true, but I do believe the story a local couple told us because they’ve lived two blocks away from the dealership for many years. Apparently, for decades, Mr. Lambrecht kept his growing number of cars in the dealership, the lots next door and across the street. They were infested with mice and rats and the neighbors complained until the town Mayor got involved. It took almost eight years and a court order to get Mr. Lambrecht to move his cars – that’s why they went to the farm. He had them hauled out into the woods and field and let them rot. There were full grown trees growing through many of the cars! Our experience at the auction was sadness, disgust and disbelief. Mr. Lambrecht let these beautiful, saleable new cars rot away by not storing them properly or maintaining them in any way. None of the cars that were up for auction run – the engines have seized. Most of them have been in one spot for so many years that they’re stuck in the ground halfway up the hubcaps. Many windows were broken, letting in moisture, debris and vermin. They were full of empty beer cans and garbage. There were piles of animal feces in the cars. The interiors have shredded or been eaten away. The bodies are rusted and damaged from trees. Floorboards and trunks have rusted through. Quite a few of the cars have had parts stolen off them over the years – many had their radiators cut off at the hoses. If Mr. Lambrecht didn’t want these cars, why didn’t he sell them or donate them to people in need? The recurring comment we heard throughout the weekend was that he is very eccentric and didn’t want anyone else getting “his stuff”. Yes, the cars are survivors, but he wasn’t a “collector”. A collector preserves and displays their collection with pride. He was, quite simply, a hoarder. True car enthusiasts are saddened at this sheer waste of cars that could have been driven, enjoyed, and/or preserved. At long last, they’re going home!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    A wonderful story.
    So impressive that three people were able to run this operation for so many years.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Glorious.

    Sometimes life really was a Rockwell painting.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Summicron – - –

      That is exactly what I thought as I was reading this remarkable tale: a living, verbal Rockwell portrait.
      Yes, there are still decent, honest, generous, hardworking people out there.
      I would be proud to have the Lambrecht family as friends and neighbors.
      TTAC should be commended for running this story, which I hope can be published in a full version by Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell.

      ————

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Absolutely.

        The Lambrecht story is such an iconic and positive example of literal American heartland values that it’s just got to be broadcast as widely as possible.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Great story and this makes more sense then the other article. So, all these cars were just cars that didn’t sell over the years? You’d think with such a large customer base that eventually they’d sell to someone. Well, should make for an interesting auction

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This story will be in my head the next couple of weeks as I drive from Gallup, NM to Nashville, TN to northern Ohio back to Gallup. Will see much of Americana in my travels.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “He didn’t deal or negotiate. He gave his best price the first time.”

    And that the perfect philosophy that sells me a car every time. Which is why 2 weeks ago I skipped over 5 closer dealerships to one 70 miles away – they got it right the first time.

    Not “come in and we’ll work on it”; or “let me go run this by my manager…”….a firm, fair price the first time. And no litany of ‘fees’ tacked on later…

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Amen!

      Nowadays, you probably get some sort of pressure from the OEM to not do this. My “new” Honda dealer seems like this, or at least won’t go in lots of circles between the salesman and GM when negotiating; I’m not certain, as I purchased my car through a broker, who got the car from this dealer on my behalf.

      Shame, though, that the author would not keep her ’64 Corvair and a couple of the others: the ’53 Vette, in particular, along with one or two other “new” ’50s-’60s pieces. (I realize it’s more $$$ now, but IMHO, keep a few of these pieces for future generations of the family to enjoy.)

  • avatar
    mikey

    What a wonderfull story. Thanks so much Ronnie, for digging it up, and sharing it with us.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    They may have the world’s only unmolested 1964 Impala. The 50s Bel Airs, 60 Continental and a few others should sell for quite a bit.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    “Dad was born in 1918 during the Great Depression in rural Pierce County, Nebraska, a small farming community.” The Great Depression was in effect in 1918? I don’t THINK so.

    WWI ended in 1919, followed by the Spanish Flu epidemic, but the Roaring 20s, and the Flapper era occurred after that. The Great Depression dates from 1929. Darned hard to fight a war and have a depression at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      There was a short, VERY sharp and hard depression immediately following WWI. 1919 and 1920, going into 1921 were very hard years. Just take a look at the number of automobile marques that failed at the time. What we know as the Roaring Twenties didn’t really start until about 1925 or so.

      To someone born at that time, that small depression (too severe to call a recession, like we know them today) would qualify as one. However, it was overshadowed by the unpleasantness ten years later.

    • 0 avatar
      Lt.BrunoStachel

      Yeah, great piece of fiction IMO. I had to read this story twice as 1-I’m from Nebraska and 2-I spent 20 years of my early adult life working for a family owned Chevrolet dealer in somewhat small town Nebraska(not a blink and you miss it place like Pierce). Maybe this lady is delusional or has a foggy memory but another fact she got wrong was this statement ” During the Nebraska Centennial in 1954, Dad had the honor of driving the Governor of Nebraska in our 1953 Corvette down Main Street in the parade. ” Hey lady, Nebraskas Centennial was in 1967! When you can’t even get a simple fact like this straight than a person like me will treat it as a work of fiction. But the thing that got me scratching my head were these statements “Dad’s real success stemmed from a basic philosophy very different from most auto dealers. He didn’t deal or negotiate. He gave his best price the first time. When a potential customer arrived, Dad would pick up a pencil, make a few calculations, and then give him a number. That was it. People would argue with him, try to bicker on price, and threaten to walk out. Dad would always say, “If you can find a better price on this vehicle, then you should go get it”. Invariably they would be back. After doing all of the legwork and the homework comparing prices from surrounding dealers, the conclusion was always the same. Dad had given them the best price right from the beginning.” and “New cars that were left unsold were also stored.”
      Now what a minute, let me get this straight. Your dad was a super salesman car dealer but yet he had new unsold models? Damn the poo is getting really deep at this point. Reading between the lines I gathered that Mr.Lambrecht was that fast talking, plaid suit wearing used car salesman that we stereotype as “that guy” we hate to deal with. I mean that guy was raking in the money( not that there’s anything wrong with capitolism)! How much money do you think this guy spent on his collection over the years? Oh well think what you want about the Lambrecht family values. I aint buying it and that’s my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        American Carfan

        OK, so we now have two, sad, angry, unloved, cynical trolls.
        Bruno meet April. April meet Bruno.
        Why don’t you two climb into one of your Hyundais, get a room, and go be miserable together…
        and leave the rest of us to enjoy a possibly imprecise but fundamentally wonderful story?

      • 0 avatar

        There was a centennial celebration of Nebraska becoming a “territory” in 1954 which is different than it becoming a state in 1967. You can see this noted in the archives of then serving governor,

        http://www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/public/state_governors/crosby.pdf

        With that being said, I found this “history” read way too good to be true. If the guy did everything right, why does he have to auction off these “valuable” vehicles and why did he not know about using car covers? It does not make much sense.

      • 0 avatar
        Jhover18

        LT Bruno should know the people & circumstanses befor making judgements.I called on this dealership for ten years and I know Jeannie’s account to be true

      • 0 avatar
        waterguy

        LT Bruno would you please check your Nebraska history before saying the lady doesn’t know what she is talking about even the US post office has a stamp for the 1954 centennial.
        waterguy

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Hostilities ended in Nov. 1918(armistice), although the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending the war, was signed in June 1919.

      The depression of 1920-1921 was very severe, caused by fears of deflation, and the resulting bungled monetary policy.

      American’s experiences during WWI, the depression of 1920, and the long, grinding depression starting in 1929 really soured the public’s taste for entering WWII. Despite all the nonsense you hear today about the “Greatest Generation” most Americans did not want to get involved in another European war. The majority didn’t care about Hitler, and a large minority admired him.

    • 0 avatar
      Airbrakemn

      Great Depression/Great recession? I just talked with Obummer and he said “Who cares, never let a great crisis go to waste!” Ready for the next crisis Obummercare?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    My father was also in the Aleutians during WWII. He was an aircraft mechanic on, I believe, Adak. He also came back to the car business, although through a different route, ending up with a small dual. These men, having faced death for what the War Department termed “the duration of the conflict”, returned to a grateful nation wanting to initiate a rising tide that floated all boats – creating the middle class as we know it. That these small dealerships were targeted for liquidation is an under-reported aspect of the bankruptcy. I’m glad he was able to retire on his own terms and equally happy the story is being told here to an appreciative audience. Please convey my gratitude for being the epitome of the American dream to your father.

  • avatar
    Speedster356

    Great story!

  • avatar
    vaujot

    It’s a good story. The fact that the Lamprecht’s were able to build this collection while selling their cars at very competitive prices confirms my belief that new car dealerships are highly profitable businesses. If my math is right, they kept about ten vehicles per year of operating their GM franchise. I wonder how much profit they gave up doing so?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      The car business was very profitable back then, and the costs of running a dealership were very low by modern standards. My dad got out of the Chevrolet dealership he ran at the end of the ’65 model year, and there were enough changes in the business within the next 4-5 years that he decided he never wanted to go back in.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I’ll echo what everyone else has said….great story! The dealership model certainly has changed though, you’d be hard pressed to find a dealer from any make who operates in an honest, fair manner.

    And the new iron sitting in their garage, although dirty & grimy, looks glorious. Although I’m not sure if the trade ins sitting in the farmer’s field for 40 + years would be in great shape judging from the few auction pix.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Many, many small local dealers back in the day. Too bad life isn’t so simple anymore.

    While some of the story is clearly pure promotion, I do believe in the integrity of the family who ran the business. They can be very proud of themselves for maintaining such a high level of dedication and service.

    Maybe things were “depressed” in Nebraska in 1918. WWl ended November 11, 1918.

    All those old cars? Hmmm… I’m sure they’re all ready to fall apart, but I’m also certain most will be a boon to those willing to restore them – hopefully to stock condition and not clone-SS or some other hot-rodded hogwash.

    • 0 avatar
      Polecat54

      Zackman- Getting past the cynical trolls, I believe that if you only have three people running a dealership for fifty years- You must be doing something right. I personally don’t understand putting brand new vehicles under trees, to rot away.

  • avatar
    wei

    This is beautiful

  • avatar
    Pastor Glenn

    People forget that throughout the history of the world, various nations have had great depressions and severe depressions and just plain depressions with the occasional recession added in.

    Think it through. In communities where farming was probably 95% of all business, and most of the men were away fighting in Europe, it would have proved to have been a pretty “great” (i.e. “large”) depression locally. And surely that was the case, and why the woman (daughter) wrote what she did.

    A great story.

    Incidentally, a dealership local to me sells “one price” (and I think got the idea from the prior Saturn franchise), having several GM, Chrysler and also Hyundai franchises locally. I’ve bought four new cars from them and prefer such pricing treatment myself.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Great human interest story – but the historical facts are a little off. The Great Depression didn’t start until 1929. Also, the material shortage her father faced wasn’t due to rationing (food rationing actually lasted until 1954), it was due to the housing boom after the war. All the GI’s needed homes to start their families and there just wasn’t enough to go around.
    I really wish I could have met Ray…

  • avatar
    Syke

    In fact, the post WWI-short depression (what they called “Panics” in the 1800′s) had a lot to do with why Detroit didn’t bother trying to get new designs out for the 1946 model year (yes, they were designing while turning out all those tanks and planes). In late 1945, nobody was sure things weren’t going to collapse again, just like the last time.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      That, and the economy was slowly unwinding from the wartime footing. Slowly, because doing it quickly was what caused the 1920 recession.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      There were a variety of factors that contributed to the delay in getting new models out the door.

      A concern about a severe economic downturn, similar to the one after World War I, was on everybody’s mind. There were, however, other factors at play.

      The federal government had maintained strict price controls even after the war had ended. Most of the automakers were concerned about being able to get a sufficient price for their new vehicles.

      Some companies faced their own unique problems. The Ford Motor Company was literally in chaos, and the new management team assembled by young Henry Ford II was trying to institute modern accounting, engineering and product development systems while planning for new postwar models. During the process, the new management team decided that the originally planned Ford line-up would not work, so it decided to start from scratch, which meant that first postwar Ford didn’t debut until June 1948.

      Perhaps the biggest factor, however, was that most automakers figured out that, in car-starved America, virtually anything on wheels would sell right after the war. Virtually all of the public hadn’t been able to buy brand-new cars since Pearl Harbor, and replacement parts were scarce during the war, so many people were desperate for a new car.

      What’s the point of spending lots of money to tool up for a brand-new car when buyers are literally waiting to bid on any rehashed prewar model that rolls off the line?

      Makes more sense to milk the old tooling for a few more years while working to get new models out the door – preferably just as the postwar buying frenzy is cooling.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    What an absolutely great story;it brings back fond memories of the small rural automotive dealerships and a way of doing business that has disappeared. Growing up in the ’50′s, I had a lot of relatives in Northwest Missouri, my parents bought several Chevrolets from a dealer in Mound City, Mo. I remember late in 1964 we were visiting some relatives, my dad got on the telephone, called up the owner of the dealership at his home and ordered a 1965 Chevrolet Impala four door sedan. My dad told him what options he wanted(six cylinder, powerglide, am radio) the owner quoted him a price over the phone and my dad agreed.
    I think the entire process took about five minutes(if that). It’s hard to think of purchasing an automobile like that today.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Well, whether or not the story rings true, that fact is that there’s a lot of special iron waiting to be auctioned, and I’m attending it.

    There’s four of us going, and as Winnipeg is only about 9 hours away, we’re going to make a 5 day weekend out of it. I won’t buy anything, but two of my co-travellers are huge 50′s GM pick up fans, so this is just something we feel we don’t want to miss.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      There are pictures of the vehicles on another site. Unfortunately, it does not appear as though he made any real effort to preserve them…it looks as though they were driven into the garage and simply parked. They apparently sat for years without any special care or attention.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    What do you guys think those 64 pickups or the 74 (the “new”) ones are going to go for?

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I guess Mr. Lambrecht and PT Barnum are mutual exclusives and diametrically opposed.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Great story, really warms the heart. I would love to find an dealer like this today. I just bought a new 2013 CRV for my wife a couple of weeks ago and the process was grueling. I would rather go to the dentist and have my teeth pulled than to repeat the process. We felt so used afterwards that we had to take a shower. Big multi-state, multi-corporate franchise. The next time I will buy over the internet.

  • avatar
    boyphenom666

    When you think about all the overhead a car dealer in a big city has, from advertising, to payroll, to making mortgage payments on their brand new buildings, to paying off the note to the former owner, I’m not so sure that the small dealership was such a bad model. A guy operating out of a shack with virtually no overhead could sell a hundred cars a year at pretty low profit and make a good living for himself, not to mention profits from the service dept.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @boyphenom666–True but in a small town where my grandparents lived near at one time it had a Ford, Olds/IH, and Dodge dealerships and all were patronized. The Dodge dealership was the first to leave in 1965 when Chrysler forced them to take a certain amount of cars, especially compact cars which they could not sell enough. The Dodge dealership sold mostly trucks and full size cars and was doing very well, but they could not sell enough compacts to keep their dealership. I would prefer to deal with a family owned dealership. There is one family dealership across the river from me in Lawrenceburg, IN that is a Ford dealership that has been family owned for 60 years. Their service department is outstanding.

  • avatar
    Dudley

    Awesome story. I want to buy a car from them!

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    It’s surprising they got by with only the one mechanic, given the number of Vega’s, Citation’s and other POS cars that Chevy pumped out over the years.

  • avatar
    SuburbanGentleman

    I agree that this is a heartwarming story. It is heartwarming because it oozes the love of a little girl, now mature woman, for her parents, especially her father. The childhood reminiscing also makes for great reading.

    Unfortunately, she never gets to the heart of the question everyone wants to know! WHY? Why would any sane person take brand new vehicles and park them in a field to rot? If he could afford to buy new vehicles and NOT sell them, surely he could have built some type of structure to house them. Pole barns in Nebraska are NOT that expensive! Had he properly stored them, this would be one of the greatest American car collections ever assembled, and worth multiple millions of dollars!

    Could it be that this was some type of ploy to stall or fool floor plan checkers and/or bankers? Was it to fool the IRS, to explain why the dealership wasn’t showing a profit? Or perhaps it was to take huge sums of depreciation on their taxes? Did GM require higher sales quotas than one man could possibly sell by himself?

    In any event, as a life long car lover, I am appalled and saddened to see the page after page of these photographs. These are not cars that were used and enjoyed, then retired to the field to rot. These are NEW or low mileage used cars, that were denied to people who could have enjoyed them, by an obviously stubborn old man. Was he trying
    to fool someone, or was he simply insane?

    • 0 avatar
      Airbrakemn

      No more “insane” than yourself! Stretching the term “Gentle”man there aren’t you????????????????

      • 0 avatar
        SuburbanGentleman

        Airbrakemn, Instead of your childish rants, why not play like a grown up for a minute and tell us why YOU think the old man parked dozens of new cars and trucks in a field to rot for up to 50 years?

        • 0 avatar
          Airbrakemn

          Well Suburban here goes nothing but what I have observed with my own two eyes and ears over my 71 plus years. Literally millions of valuable and salvageable vehicles sit around this country, and many others in which I’ve traveled, in various states of disrepair, many in fact being or having been saved for restoration dreams of current, past and future owners. I vividly remember an old fellow who lived across the street from one of my grandmother’s homes and the small yard around his small home was packed with old early 1900′s Lincoln’s, Cadillac’s, Packard’s, a Rolls Royce limo and some others I don’t remember. Cars if rescued by myself or my father, who taught me to be a dyed-in-the-wool car nut, would have made us both several million over the years. But, alas, stupid us, after asking Mr. Hill if he would sell me one of his Cadillac’s and being offered it at a very ridiculously low price, spent my Grit money on a worn out hopped up old bootlegger 40 Ford business coupe which I never even got fixed up before I totaled it. Wish I could say that was my only car buying and selling mistake but was only the first of many and I’m still making some of them today. In fact, I’ve just bought a 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldomino pick-up which I’m going to pick up tomorrow morning. Trading my 2004 Mercury Marauder with only 38,375 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          Airbrakemn

          Well Suburban here goes nothing but what I have observed with my own two eyes and ears over my 71 plus years. Literally millions of valuable and salvageable vehicles sit around this country, and many others in which I’ve traveled, in various states of disrepair, many in fact being or having been saved for restoration dreams of current, past and future owners. I vividly remember an old fellow who lived across the street from one of my grandmother’s homes and the small yard around his small home was packed with old early 1900′s Lincoln’s, Cadillac’s, Packard’s, a Rolls Royce limo and some others I don’t remember. Cars if rescued by myself or my father, who taught me to be a dyed-in-the-wool car nut, would have made me several million over the years. But, alas, stupid me, after asking Mr. Hill if he would sell me one of his Cadillac’s and being offered it at a very ridiculously low price, spent my Grit money on a worn out hopped up old bootlegger 40 Ford business coupe which I never even got fixed up before I totaled it. Wish I could say that was my only car buying and selling mistake but was only the first of many and I’m still making some of them today. In fact, I’ve just bought a 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldomino pick-up which I’m going to pick up tomorrow morning. Trading my 38,375 miles 2004 Mercury Marauder.

  • avatar
    FitzGroup

    Jeannie, Great story, I can relate; the new model year showing parties with cakes and champagne, washing the cosmoline off the new cars with kerosene, washing the showroom windows – what a great way to grow up in a small town. I remember meeting your Dad when I was a kid, my Dad, like yours was a small town GM dealer in Nebraska. My Dad handled Pontiac, Buick and GMC Trucks. On occasions my Dad would need a Chevy for a customer and they would do what I remember them calling “a dealer trade”. After I was old enough to drive, I would go with Dad to pick up the car and drive it home. GM closed my Dad down in the mid 90′s, just not enough volume they said, Dad then went to work as a salesman for a GM dealer in a neighboring town for another 10 years. (received a plaque from GM for 55 years in the business when he finally retired). Maybe your Dad remembers my Dad, Don Fitzgerald – Fitzgerald’s Mid-City Motors, Fullerton Nebraska. Dad passed away in 2010 – he always loved the car biz. My youngest brother actual stuck one of the chrome decals that Dad put on the back of all the cars he sold – on the foot of the casket. Going on to the next – once more “in the car biz”. Take care and hope the sale goes smoothly.

    Just at note – the Nebraska Centennial was in 1967, I remember driving a new GMC in the parade, as my brothers tossed candy to the crowd.

  • avatar
    GermanPoster

    Just found this in the comment section of the German news website Spiegel-Online:

    http://forum.spiegel.de/f22/spektakulaere-oldtimer-auktion-die-500-schaetzchen-des-herrn-lambrecht-102096-2.html#post13883848

    “I heard more about this car dealership the other day from one of my marketing rep’s. It seems the owner had been a soldier in WWII and saved the life of his sergeant is a huge battle one day. The sergeant told him one day he would pay him back for saving his life. Well, about 10 years after the war ended he did. This sergeant ended up being in charge of military vehicles for the army through GM (General Motors). He arranged for all the vehicle orders for the army to be placed through this dealership as a “Thank You”. The vehicle’s were never actually received and distributed through the dealership, just the “paperwork” was. It seems for years and years this dealership never really had an inventory of new cars to sell, just did repairs. Well, the owner didn’t need to stock a lot of inventory because he had the volume coming through and the $$ coming in via the military. So basically, he just ordered what he wanted to keep personally.”

    Maybe it’s a rumour, maybe it’s the truth. I don’t know. Have to admit though, I kinda like the logic behind this guy’s theory…


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