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Memories made and memories sold

By DON HOHLER • Jul 31, 2017 at 12:00 PM

What took Ron Hackenberger 40 years to collect, he watched go down the road in two days.

“Well that might not be totally true,” he admitted.

“The new owners are still hauling some of them out of the Wolohan lot. And I have held back 30 that I want to restore and another 50 that are modern cars that would not have sold for the money I wanted to get out of them. There are a number of others that will be scrapped out because they either lacked motors or were too badly rusted.”

“As far as sale price, everything kind of went the way it should of,” the 81-year-old Milan Avenue resident believed.

“Yvette (VanDerBrink) and John (Froelich), the co-managers of the auction, showed their expertise by telling me up front what the hot items would be and what has not been selling that well of late. They even advised me to pull some high dollar cars, a Chrysler and a Cadillac, among others, out of the auction, many of which I purchased at charity auctions. I followed their advice and probably saved a lot of money.”

Although all the numbers are not in, Hackenberger believes the sale, minus expenses, made around $2 million.

Asked if he ever believed his collection would bring that kind of money, Hackenberger was quick to say that he never bought a vehicle with the intention of selling it. That decision was made over the last two years.

The decision to hold the car auction at Summit Raceway Park on Saturday was the right decision according to Hackenberger.

“I found out in a hurry why that place is so successful,” he said.

“Billy Bader and his sister, Bobbi, run a first-class operation. Bobbi really works at it. She is terrific. I can’t compliment those two enough. If a decision was in question, they made the right one because they have been through the process.”

Overall, though Hackenberger saw the high bids offsetting the low ones. Newer model vehicles and tractors went cheap. Mini-cars and as he termed it, “odd-ball” vehicles soared.

“The Summit venue went the best but there were 1,200 bidders out there as compared to around 800 at Wolohan’s,” Hackenberger said.

“That probably made the difference. I had a number of tractors (18) on the block on Sunday and they went quite low but Yvette saw that coming, claiming that market was down the last five years. Of the 21 vehicles that we did not get a bid on, 19 were at Wolohan’s. However, a number of the 19 up there people have already spoken for. I am meeting a fellow (Friday) who will load out four of them.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Hackenberger just stood back on Saturday and grinned as a buyer from Battle Creek, Michigan bought one high-dollar vehicle after another.

“The guy was like a kid in a candy store,” Hackenberger said. “I was told he was a collector and a restorer. He was not going to be out-bid. I would have liked to have had him up at Wolohan’s on Sunday.”

And all of the purchases were not made by live bodies. One-third of them were made by an on-line buyer.

9/12 Porshe

A little 9/12 Porsche Hackenberger purchased for $5,000 sold for $25,000 although the buyer would ask for a discount when he saw that the floor boards were bad. Hackenberger knocked $5,000 off the price.

There was more to that story than the floor board problem, however.

John Froelich was contacted by major league umpire, Tim Timmons, who was working in Detroit that weekend. He wanted to look at the Porsche but due to a night game, he asked if he could view it at 2 a.m. 

Hackenberger obliged and was given a baseball and an umpire’s hat for his troubles.

Apparently, Timmons drove to Norwalk with a body shop owner from Columbus in a new Porsche convertible. The body shop owner saw that the floor boards were weak so Timmons did not bid on it.

Divco Milk Trucks

Hackenberger had 11 of them and he knew they would be hot items if California buyers were bidding as they are being chopped and channeled for drag racing vehicles out on the west coast.

In the end, they went all over the country according to the plates on trailers that hauled them out. The two in the worst shape and would be purchased for parts, still went for $800 and $500. One without a front axle that came out of Ft. Dodge, KS, brought $2,350. The top price for two was $6,500. The others brought between $6,000 and $4,500.

An adventure

A badly-rusted 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk that could be used for parts-only was purchased by a California buyer for $2,100 on Saturday. The catch was a stolen credit card was used so the seller stood the loss.

Of the 700 vehicles in his collection, Hackenberger held back 30 as his private collection and a number of newer model luxury cars (Cadillac’s, Chrysler’s, Jaguar’s) that he bought at Charity Auctions.

“I will work on those at my leisure making sure my kids and grandchildren have at least one apiece,” Hackenberger said. “That 1988 Cadillac Allante and the Chrysler Maserati built in Italy are just two of the 50 Yvette said I should hold onto. Many of them are like brand new.”

Memories sold

The 1961 Plymouth Belvedere he purchased in Spokane, Wash. for $200 and drove home in the dead of winter sold for $3,000.

The 1961 Renault with the “suicide doors” as they open the wrong way with a 4 CV leader motor that he purchased in Medford, OR for $600 and hauled back sold for $2,000.

The 1965 Plymouth Belvedere that his parents, Robert and Dorothy, owned and the car they drove to Alaska and back in 1968 brought $3,200.

The 1958 Issetta, one of a number of mini-cars on the block, drew a lot of interest and was perhaps the leader as far as purchase price compared to selling price. Hackenberger bought it for $900 and sold it for $15,000.

The 1985 Pulse Yamaha two-seater purchased in Camp Hill, PA for $1,200, sold for $13,000.

The 1930 Essex bought in Safford, AZ for $900, sold for $1,400

The fully-restored Studebaker Conestoga Wagon, its likeness used to haul flour between Baltimore and York, PA prior to the turn of the century, sold for $2,500, $1000 less than what Hackenberger had in it.

The package deal of a Studebaker buggy, sleigh, wicker cart and sulky purchased in New Jersey for $5,500, barely broke even, the best money coming from the buggy purchase ($2,200).

Hope they ‘take good care’

To pull an event off that was 18-months in the planning needed a lot of cooperation according to Hackenberger and he thanked many local people for their work. He was deeply indebted to people like the Bader’s, The Huron County Title Bureau (Sharon Long among others) and the Clerk of Courts (Susan Hazel and her staff), the employees of the State BMV who had to personally match every title with vehicle registration number, and especially his wife, Eunice, and daughters who mulled over titles and general paper-work for months.

Any tears shed as he watched his collection head down the road?

“None,” he said.

“Just hope the new owners take as good a care of their purchase as I did. Those vehicles were never out in the weather until I moved them out of storage this spring. Just like when I sold my fleet of trucks and trailers some years back, I view it as a lot of iron heading down the road.”

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