After the auction: Nebraska pickup to be preserved, dirt and all

2013-10-02T05:55:00Z 2015-07-15T15:42:36Z After the auction: Nebraska pickup to be preserved, dirt and allBy PETER SALTER / Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska’s most famous pickup -- the rare 1958 Chevrolet Cameo that sold for six figures Saturday -- is headed east, to a freshly built, climate-controlled time capsule in southern New Hampshire.

The poster child of last weekend’s $3 million Lambrecht Chevrolet auction will join 64 other original and mostly American autos, all of them low-mileage tributes to automotive history.

And it will take its decades of Pierce County grime with it.

“I’m not going to take any dirt off that car. It’s going to be just like it lived its life,” said Steve Ames, who paid $140,000 for the turquoise half-ton. “All the other cars are gorgeous, but this is going to be the way the nation saw it.”

Ames, who made his money selling parts for Pontiac muscle cars, has been gathering his collection since 1990. His fleet includes a 1963 Buick with 900 miles, a ’48 Oldsmobile with 700, a ’56 Mercury with 5,000, a “gorgeous” ’56 Studebaker with 2,800 and a pair of Lamborghinis.

They span seven decades and boast multiple manufacturers, but all are original and untouched, he said. And all have fewer than 10,000 miles.

The 55-year-old Cameo, with just 1.3 miles on its odometer, will have the fewest.

It was one of the 500 cars and pickups collected by Ray Lambrecht, who ran Lambrecht Chevrolet on Pierce’s West Main Street from 1946 to 1996.

Although most Lambrecht cars were used -- trade-ins he parked at his farm -- the Cameo was among the 50 new models the Chevy dealer set aside. And one of the few lucky ones that spent all of its life indoors, protected from decades of Nebraska weather, vandals and thieves.

Ames -- and an estimated 15,000 other people -- found his way to Lambrecht’s farm Saturday for the first two days of bidding.

The 71-year-old had a short list of candidates. The Cameo. A 1963 Impala. A '65 Chevy, mostly because of the 396 under its hood.

“I put all my eggs in one basket and went after the Cameo,” he said. “That’s a decision you have to make: Do you want to go after more than one, or do you go after the best?”

With the History Channel filming, bidding on the pickup started at $50,000 and almost immediately hit $100,000. The crowd applauded when Ames secured it for $140,000.

His was the highest bid of the weekend, although the '63 Impala he’d looked at reached nearly $100,000. Altogether, the auction generated an estimated $3 million, based on sales figures in its online catalog. The auctioneer does not release total sales figures.

The Cameo will spend the rest of the week in northeast Nebraska before a transport crew hauls it to Ames' gleaming new, 22,000-square-foot building, where he also stores his collection of 25 limited-production muscle cars.

He and his wife, Joan, intend to form a self-perpetuating trust to fund the long-term care of the cars. And they plan to offer limited public tours of their collection -- to show the future what automakers of the past could do.

“It’s going to be a history lesson in how our forefathers were able to build these cars,” he said. “And produce some darn good stuff.”

Reach Peter Salter at 402-473-7254 or

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