The day dawned bright and early, and not to break our routine, we had another McBreakfast and continued to our auction. There was noticeably less traffic, but still a large amount of people. We were lucky that day, because we found parking that was a about a 1/4 of a mile closer and was only $10 The auction was about 3/4 of a mile away from where we parked the day before, so it was a welcomed surprise. We packed our lunch and walked to the auction. Noticeably, there were some empty spaces missing the cars that had been sleeping there for many years. I hoped that they had gone to new homes to be cared for and appreciated.
We started out by going to the two 46 Chevy Trucks that I was interested in. One of them had a better body, but no tires, no bed, and no engine. The other 46 had a dented roof, and no hood, but everything else was there. We watched the auction for a little, taking notice of how much cars were going for. There was a line of about 15 “new” Chevrolet Trucks from 1960-1968. Depending on the condition of the truck, they went anywhere from $20,000-$40,000. There were a few cars we were interested in, merely for the fun of it. One was a 1950 Studebaker Starlight Coupe. It had great visibility with a huge wraparound rear window.
Other vehicles that peaked my interest were a 1952 International pickup, a 47 Dodge pickup, and a 1947 Ford pickup. I thought that maybe, they might have been within my budget. There were at least two dozen round nose Chevrolet pickups, but I knew that those would go for boocoo bucks. We had lunch at the golf course again, this time though a Cub Scout or Weebelo came over and persuaded me to buy a tin of popcorn. Being an Eagle Scout I am always up for supporting the local troop. Besides, who doesn’t love popcorn?
After all of that we camped out across from the truck I really wanted, and we waited. Slowly but surely the auction train was making its way over to us. Before they arrived, my little entourage and I were approached by two interesting people. The first one was a woman named Dawn Bybee from Florida who was also here to see the auction for the thrill of it. She owns a 1950 Chevrolet 3 Window Pickup that is very stock and driven very regularly. She told us a story of how she drove it once to pick up a bunch of bricks and an older gentleman told her, “You know that a car that old shouldn’t be driven like that!” she replied , “ You and I both know what they were originally intended to do”. She talked with us for a while and asked if we were interested in any cars, of course me saying the Chevy pickup. She was really fascinated that a bunch of guys from a college drove up for the weekend, to look at a bunch of old cars, stating that we were the youngest people she had there. She was right too. Besides a few kids with their parents, we were on the younger end of the age scale. To me, that just means I was surrounded by a whole lot of people with a lifetime of interesting stories and experience to learn from. After our talk with Mrs. Bybee another person came and talked with us, which was not his intention at first. He came over to Tanner to ask him something about his digital camera. After Tanner assisted him and he found out that we were from McPherson he also told us that he was the “Roller Hoop Guy”. No, he doesn’t twirl hula hoops or roll down grassy hills, a Roller Hoop is a pretty neat rotisserie for car bodies,( i’ll explain more later). The “Roller Hoop Guy” ,Doug Kielian, was familiar with the college, and a few of our professors, and invited us to his shop once we decided to leave. At that moment, the Auction Float had arrived. I was ready to bid on the truck. I was prepared to go to $1400. The announcement was made and the starting bid was about to be announced, and I readied my hand to raise in the air and… “Starting bid on the lot 301L $1700”. I then jammed my hand very quickly into my pocket so as not to be confused with someone who would actually bid so much for the truck. Ironically the truck was sold to a person in California, for $3000. That was crazy money and is way over top dollar, but if it is worth that to someone who is going to care for it, then so be it.
As we watched the trucks go one by one, we decided it was time to head out. Besides, we were all gung-ho to go check out Doug, The Roller Hoop guy’s, shop. His shop was Auto Kraft in Lincoln Nebraska, which was slightly out of our way, but we didn’t care. When we arrived at his shop, we met a bunch of Swedish guys who had gone on a junkyard tour that Doug put on. After taking these Swedish guys around the country looking at junkyards and picking up cars, they would bring back their treasures, disassemble them, and ship them back to Sweden.
Mrs. Kielian gave us a tour around the shop, showing the projects that they had as well as the roller hoop. Interestingly enough Doug does restoration, hotrods, and regular collision repair. My favorite was a 1961 Comet that was being repaired for a woman who has owned this car since 1963, and it was her daily driver. He was working also working on a 1953 Lincoln, which he bought for $350, and a few other older trucks. In terms of hot-rodding, he had a methodology. He keeps the vehicles looking pretty stock. For instance he had a 90’s Lincoln that was totaled. His plan was to take that and drop it the whole drive train into the Lincoln. Essentially it is a resto-mod, however instead of making it a very fast hotrod he just wants to make it a daily driver. He was doing the same thing with trucks as well.
He had some 60’s Fords and was explaining to me that these trucks came with a long bed (8ft) or a short bed (6ft). He wondered why there wasn’t a medium option, so they trimmed an 8ft bed to a 7ft, and it looked pretty well done and actually looked like a stock option. The truck also had unit body construction and was lowered. He said that most people just lower cars without doing anything to the rest of the body, making it look somewhat off. In this case they had smoothed out the fender wells so they were not so flared out. Another funny thing is that he intended to drop in a modern drive train into it as well from a different totaled car. This particular truck does not have a title, so he will take the title from the totaled car. Apparently Nebraska Law says that a car can be titled based on the amount of the car is in a vehicle. The body on the truck would pretty much be the only 60’s ford part there. Doug joked that he will probably be speeding down the road in that truck one day and be pulled over when the police scan the plates and see that it is a 97 Lincoln Town car, which it obviously is not. He figures he will get thrown into jail for a day or two until they figure it all out.
Doug’s shop also had a lot of front clips and rear sections of vehicles. He would go to local auctions and buy the cars that would not sell, picking them up cheap so they would not get scrapped. These cars would usually have something really disastrous wrong with them such as a collision. He would buy the car for a few hundred bucks strip it for the parts, then cut out the good sections and sell those. I had visions of Cadillac Couches and tables made from front ends. Eventually we had to head home because it was getting dark, and we all had classes early the next day. After stopping by a Wendy’s for dinner, we made the long ride home, arriving back in McPherson around 11:30 p.m. with the fuel gauge on empty. We had put almost 700 miles on the truck for the weekend.
It was quite an experience; we all had a blast, and came home with some neat stories. We were able to go to what was probably the auction of the decade for classic car geeks like us. As far as we know, we were the only McPherson students up there. I felt honored to be a part of history, if only a poor observer.