Saturday, September 28, 2013


Welcome to the world's most expensive auto recycling center.
Several of the people interviewed on the History Channel's Wheels of Fortune show described Ray Lambrecht as “eccentric.” Fine. Maybe he was eccentric. Without knowing anything else, I'm inclined to describe him as nothing more than a hoarder who happened to have a lot of space. But regardless of personality traits, I walked away from the Lambrecht auction with one feeling:

What a waste. What an absolute waste.

The Lamrecht auction should have happened at least twenty years ago, if not sooner. Regardless of mileage, none of the cars at the auction were new. The interiors had a million miles, there was more rust than paint on the bodies, and the cars are mechanically worthless—nothing would run or drive without significant work.

But Lambrecht Chevrolet is responsible for preserving these low mileage cars!

Ray Lambrecht didn't preserve anything. If he could afford it—and he obviously could—then it was his prerogative to sell or hold onto whatever cars he wanted. That was his choice. That was his business. But to describe the end result as “preservation” is an insult to the word. The selling prices may appear to indicate otherwise, but the Lambrecht auction was nothing but low mileage junk.

Ray Lambrecht is just as responsible for the condition of the cars as he is for their low mileage. And whether that's a result of eccentricity, arrogance, or a combination of a personality disorder and acreage, the results are the same: again, it was low mileage junk. While some people may look at the cars and see good parts, good stories, or fun memories, how anyone can view the damage done to the cars by sitting in a field for 30+ years as anything other than inexcusable is beyond me.

So what if Ray Lambrecht didn't like selling used cars? Or if he didn't like selling new cars when they weren't the current model year? Lots of people want to buy used cars, or new cars of the previous model year. And lots of people like buying cars that have been sitting for a few years. But sitting for 50 years? Outside? With trees allowed to grow up through the hood, bed, or trunk? At best, that's waste of the highest magnitude. At worst, it's further proof that who you choose to be when you make your living is who you are as a person—and that is a statement which, in this case, brings to mind many other words.

But the most prominent word is a question: why? Why didn't the dealership sell these cars? Why did they have to sit for so long? Why didn't anyone at least keep the trees from growing up through them? Why? I don't know. Many people don't know. Some people—Ray Lambrecht's nephew, for example, who was interviewed by the History Channel—either don't know or are too nice to say. And the rumor mill, while infinite in its scope, is entirely unsatisfying without any confirmations.

[Edit: later in Wheels of Fortune, Ray Lambrecht's daughter, Jeannie Stillwell, has a nice spin on why Ray kept the cars in her interview on the History Channelshe says that her parents kept the cars due to their "Depression era attitude." All well and good, until when she said that "they believed you should never waste anything." If the condition of these cars isn't the definition of waste, I don't know what is. Besides, how the hell does the Depression make you want to keep 500+ cars?]

So I'll go back to my original thought. This auction should have happened at least twenty years ago, if not sooner. When a car is ten years old and has no miles, that's pretty damn rare. Add forty years? Sure, it's more rare, but it's also useless as a car—and that's what these cars are. They are cars. They aren't going to make the world a better place, the grandkids probably won't want anything to do with them, and may God have mercy on the soul of anyone who views one of these cars as their legacy.