A retired Idaho farmer with a penchant for collecting and restoring classic vehicles left a tremendous legacy for his family, but that legacy may live on as a recurring classic car sale at Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho (DAA Idaho).
Vernon Callan “Cal” Phillips, who grew up during the Great Depression and later served in the military and was wounded in the Philippines during World War II, returned to his rural Idaho home and farmed potatoes, sugar beets, and barley. He used tractors, trucks, and cars as equipment to operate his 2,000-acre farm, and along the way fell in love with collecting and restoring vehicles.
His son recalls Mr. Phillips would go into town and return home with a $50 pickup truck, repair and restore it, and put it to work. Upon retirement, he started collecting the cars he loved and restored them. He filled several large outbuildings on the farm with MGs, Plymouths, Detroit muscle cars, old Studebakers, Bentleys, Model T’s, and Rolls Royces.
He died about four years ago, leaving the collection to his wife, Marilyn, who died in January 2017. Upon her passing it was left to his children to decide what to do with the collection that, at times, had grown to more than 80 vehicles.
“His daughter Sherri Anderson, who lives in Atlanta was left in charge of the estate and when it was decided to sell the collection she reached out to us,” said Britney Egbert, Business Development Manager at DAA Idaho.
Not only was the auction held at DAA Idaho, the auction and it’s interesting story were featured on the reality show “Strange Inheritance.” The show aired Feb. 28, and a trailer of the show can be viewed HERE.
Mr. Phillips tended to the vehicles while until his death, making sure to keep the tires filled, batteries charged, and he would drive each one at least once a year — a chore for a collection of about 65 vehicles upon his death. Since he passed, the cars remained idle, and, as time does, took its toll.
This meant that many of the vehicles needed to be reconditioned and detailed. In some cases tires and batteries had to be replaced, and fuel pumps located and installed.
“A local transport company used up to five trucks a day for five days hauling the vehicles vehicle from Paul, Idaho, to us here in Nampa (a three-hour drive),” Egbert said. “We did the mechanical work, charged batteries, and changed fluids. We also detailed the vehicles.”
The auction did its best make every vehicle operable knowing that they would bring higher bids. The auction’s mechanical team did most of the work, though some was outsourced.
“All the vehicles had to go to auction, and the family had an idea of the value based on an insurance appraisal several years ago, so we had a idea of what to expect in terms of value,” Egbert added.
Reserves were only placed on 10 of the vehicles in collection that appealed to a wide audience because of the diversity. Some of the vehicles included five Mustangs, including a 1965 and a 1968, a 1971 Chevelle, a 1966 Chevelle SS, a 1950 Bentley and a 1928 Rolls Royce, as well as a 1950s-era pickup, and several Model T Fords.
The auction was held Aug. 26, 2017, and generated the largest number of in-lane bidders for a public auction at the auction — 301 registrations. An additional 200 buyers attended online using the AWG Simulcast platform.
“Our regular sale usually attracts about 250 people, and we knew it was going to be big when there were lines of people looking at the cars prior to the sale on preview day,” Egbert said. “We couldn’t fit enough people in chairs, and there were people standing along the lanes. There was tremendous excitement.”
Marketing the event took on a life of its own. Sherri Anderson works in real estate in Atlanta, and knows a lot about online marketing and advertising. She also had some media contacts, and reporters from the Idaho Statesman daily newspaper and local television stations did reports on the human-interest story in the weeks leading up to the auction. GasGarageMonkey.com picked up the story, as well as MSNAutos.com
The auction leveraged its Facebook posts and ran ads on the social media network.
“We hit major cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas,” Egbert said. “In the end, we had buyers come from the all over the Northwest, California, Texas, and had one buyer from Milwaukee, which I believe is the farthest.”
The auction was a tremendous success financially for the family and the DAA Idaho had a great day and excellent exposure as a result.
“We had hoped the sale would bring in about $600,000 and we hit $588,000,” Egbert said. “We ran a total of 59 vehicles and only two no-saled.”
Among the home runs for the day included the 1950 Bentley that sold for $46,000. Sherri Anderson purchased that vehicle and will use it for her real estate business. Others hits included: the 1928 Rolls Royce, $57,000; 1950-era pickup, $18,250; 1968 Mustang, $21,000; 1965 Mustang, $12,000; and the 1966 Chevelle SS, $25,500.
“We also ran our regularly public auction that day and we had a total of 112 vehicles with 59 of them from the Phillips farm. We had an overall 82 percent sales rate,” Egbert said. “Dealers ran some cars during the sale because of the high attendance, and said they would run again with us, so the additional exposure was great for us.”
The sale was so good DAA Idaho has set a date, Aug. 25, 2018, to host their second Classic Car Auction.
“We already have some people who have expressed an interest in running their classics here next year, and we’ll begin looking for that inventory early next year,” Egbert said. “It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun, and a very rewarding experience for everyone.”