VanDerBrink Auctions: The Lambrecht Sale

Dave Kinney
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FEATURE CAR
1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indianapolis 500 Pace Car
SOLD AT
$84,000
SN 1Z87L8S904699. Black and silver with red stripes over silver leather interior. 350-cubic-inch V-8; automatic transmission. 4 miles on the odometer. Mirrored T-tops; power windows and locks; air-conditioning; AM/FM stereo and CB radio with power antenna. Plenty of grunge from top to bottom, but it will most likely clean up. Some of the exterior trim was never placed on the car. Interior has more than a little grunge; however, the seats have plastic covers, and the dash and console will clean up as new.

THE STORY BEHIND THE SALE
The Corvette turned twenty-five in 1978. To commemorate the occasion, a car like this led the Indianapolis 500 that May. The '78 Corvette saw a big redesign with new fastback styling, and 6502 of them were built as pace-car replicas, which have their own serial-number designation (a 9 is the eighth character).

In 1978, there were about 6000 Chevrolet dealers, and the idea was that each dealer would get one Pace Car to sell. Even though Lambrecht Chevrolet was very small, it was entitled to purchase a Pace Car. Many smaller Chevy dealers sold them to their best customers or traded them to larger dealers, but Ray and Mildred Lambrecht briefly displayed theirs in the showroom before squirreling it away with dozens of other never-sold vehicles.

An extraordinary number of these Pace Cars were kept as new cars or were used only sparingly. It's still not unusual to go to a classic-car auction and find an almost-no-miles Pace Car offered for sale. For instance, a 960-mile car was sold by Auctions America in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in April 2013 for $31,350.

There was a premium price to be paid at Lambrecht, and for a few years hence, having a car that came from this sale will be not only a great talking point but will add to the value. That will fade over time, but for now, this buyer paid a premium to own a piece of history.

1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza coupe
SOLD AT
$44,100
SN 30927W264244. Red over red vinyl. 145-cubic-inch turbocharged flat-six; four-speed manual.

17 miles. AM radio. Red paint appears to be quite faded, but resuscitation might be possible. Interior is actually quite nice once you get beyond the dirt. Engine compartment exhibits surface rust.

This Corvair is plenty dirty but still will come back to life. This is the highest auction price to date for a regular production Corvair coupe. It will give the buyer endless bragging rights at the next Corvair meet and should end arguments about what every bit of Corvair minutiae looked like when it was new.

1958 Chevrolet Cameo carrier
SOLD AT
$147,000
SN 3A58K118014. Turquoise and black with black roof over black and silver vinyl. 235-cubic-inch in-line six; three-speed manual. 1 mile. Partially collapsed roof and broken windshield. Paint appears very good under a layer of grime. Stored indoors, with some plastic still on the seats. Original floor mats were long ago rolled up and tucked behind the seat.

This Cameo was thought to be the cream of the Lambrecht crop, and it brought the highest price. The new owner, who has a museum of extremely low-mileage cars in New Hampshire, plans to do no cleanup or restoration on this sought-after model.

1977 Chevrolet Vega wagon
SOLD AT
$4725
SN 1V15B7U138603. Tan over white and tan plaid cloth. 140-cubic-inch four-cylinder; automatic.

1 mile. Some rust, most notably on the front edge of the hood. Surprisingly good brightwork. Good glass. Plastic seat covers have largely disintegrated; there are now some nasty stains but otherwise the seats are in good condition. Complete under the hood, but there's surface rust on the air-cleaner assembly and valve cover.

Here is the answer to the question thousands -- or perhaps dozens -- have been asking: did Chevrolet Vegas start rusting at the factory? This Vega has plenty of surface rust and what appears to be rust-through, even though it never had a chance to see a road, either salted or unsalted. It appears that no actual use was required for a Vega to fulfill its rusty destiny.

1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 stepside pickup
SOLD AT
$84,000
SN 3A58K101618. Light green over black and gray vinyl. 235-cubic-inch in-line six; four-speed manual. 5 miles. Said to have been running within the past year. Some paint loss, especially at the seams, and minor rust is forming. Paint is also dull and dry, although it may have some life left. Floor mats are gone; plenty of dirt and a little bit of surface rust remain. Wood pickup bed has perished; this truck looks to have spent most of its life outdoors.

The good news here is that a reproduction floor mat is available, and as for that bed, well, wood is wood and can be replaced. This truck will live again, but this was a very strong price to pay, even considering the low miles.

1964 Chevrolet Impala coupe
SOLD AT
$78,750
SN 41847S267633. White over red cloth. 327-cubic-inch V-8; three-speed manual. 4 miles. AM radio. White paint is known for hiding lots of sins; add a layer of dust and grime and it is nearly impossible to tell how good or bad it is. Missing a few exterior bits, but the chrome appears well preserved. Possibly the best interior of the Lambrecht bunch, with the seats, carpets, and dash all very good.

With a 327 V-8, a column-shifted three-speed, and a classic shape, this car has attractive basics, although most buyers would prefer either a floor-mounted shifter or an automatic. The original window sticker remains in place, and the car is still on the manufacturer's statement of origin, which means that it has never been sold to a retail buyer. Not running, so it will need at least some minor reconditioning work. One of the better buys at the sale.

1963 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Corvan
SOLD AT
$19,950
SN 3R125S108451. Blue and white over gold and black cloth and vinyl. 145-cubic-inch flat-six; four-speed manual. 46 miles. Plenty of debris inside the enclosed rear floor area. Some rust-through, especially on the roof and at the top of the doors. Chrome is good; it looks like no one stripped anything off of this van.

The driver's side of the bench seat has a massive stain -- perhaps that's where Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon took up housekeeping. Corvair trucks are now considered cool, be they pickups with or without side ramps or vans with or without side windows. This four-on-the-floor panel van with superlow miles might be one of the coolest out there. It was no bargain, though.

BEST BUY
1978 Chevrolet Impala sedan
SOLD AT
$2100
SN 1L69U8S291823. Gold over gold vinyl and cloth. 305-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. 5 miles. A/C. Original paint is pretty well decimated; a brownish mold is growing on all exterior surfaces except for the stainless. Very large dent in the rear of the roof. Sagging headliner; shredded foam about five inches deep fills the rear footwells. Mold and mildew is growing throughout the interior as well.

This one went cheap. Perhaps the biggest value here is the Chevy V-8 engine with just five miles on it. If you are an optimist, you might think the engine has survived despite the neglect that surrounds it. The realist might think that this is one of the more challenging restorations there is. Let's assume this car was bought for its drivetrain. A great buy if that engine, transmission, and rear end turn out to be a pot of honey and not a hornets' nest.

1972 Chevrolet half-ton pickup
SOLD AT
$11,550
SN CCE142F335804. Green and white over white vinyl. 350-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. 3 miles. No radiator. Missing glove box. Outside trim is also missing, although some of it is in the bed along with a dozen or more years of tree debris. Very large dent in the driver's-side bed. Some rust-through. Mosslike growths on the paint as well as the trim and glass. Interior shows damage, including door panels that have been removed. Steering wheel is down to the metal parts only.

Remember this truck the next time you're looking at a car and your friend says, "How bad can it be? It's only got [fill in the blank] miles on it!" All the new owner has to do now is a complete, frame-off restoration.

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