12 hidden gems unearthed amid car hordes in Colorado and South Dakota

VanDerBrink Auctions

If first impressions mean everything, and second and third impressions accurately confirm as much, then by now you know VanDerBrink Auctions’ place in the automotive community. No trailer queens here, just dozens upon dozens of vehicles, mostly project cars or parts cars that have been left to the mercy of the elements. And the Minnesota-based auction company is at it again—times two.

VanDerBrink will auction more than 250 cars and trucks on Saturday, October 15 when it disperses the Randy Milan Collection in Fort Collins, Colorado. Less than one week later, VanDerBrink will conclude an online-only auction of 80 cars from the Gary Kuchar “Car Crazy” Collection in Custer, South Dakota. Bidding ends on October 21.

Both collections have similar roots: Their owners once had big dreams, but they no longer have the time to make their treasures roadworthy, so they’re selling them to other mechanically inclined hopefuls.

Randy Milan Chevrolets field
VanDerBrink Auctions

Colorado’s Milan, like his father before him, has collected vehicles for more than five decades, never letting go of anything. Until now. Milan, who owned a towing company, has a special fondness for iconic Chevrolets, especially 1959 and ’60 Impalas, and there are nearly 100 ’59 and ’60 Chevrolets of all models. His collection also includes vehicles from Cadillac, Ford, Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick, as well as a vintage midget sprint car and a 1955 Chevrolet stock car.

Similarly, but on a smaller scale, South Dakota’s Kuchar tells Fox News that he’s been collecting and working on cars for most of his 84 years. A native of Nebraska, Kuchar headed to California after graduating high school and became a body man building custom cars. He continued looking for cars after he returned to Nebraska to take over the family farm when his father retired. “I especially like orphan cars from out-of-business companies,” he says. “Studebaker, Kaiser, things that are different.”

Kuchar moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1992 and brought along some of his cars, parking them in a nearby gorge. (That’s gorge, not garage, although Kuchar protected his more valuable automobiles in carports). He also continued to buy more and more cars. “Quite a few of them have been fixed,” Kuchar says, “but I’ve fallen behind on the others.” So it’s time to sell some.

With the help of Hagerty Senior Auction Editor Andrew Newton, we’ve selected a dozen interesting prospects that Newton says are “interesting and solid enough to restore—and you can’t say that about everything (in VanDerBrink’s lineup).”

The Milan Collection

1963 Studebaker GT Hawk

Hagerty #3 (Good) condition value: $10,800

This red Studebaker GT Hawk not only runs and drives, it’s arguably the best-looking car in the Fort Collins group. Powered by a 289-cubic-inch V-8 with automatic transmission, it has power steering and brakes. The interior features white bucket seats with red carpet, AM radio, clock, and dealer-added A/C, and the odometer reads 79,366 miles.

1958 Chevrolet (Bel Air) Impala Sport Coupe

1958 Chevrolet Impala 2dr HT front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty #4 (Fair) value: $28,300

With visible rust, particularly in the rear, and missing most of its exterior chrome and back seat, this 1958 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe might not get a second look from the uninitiated. Those in the know, however, will consider it viable since 1958 was the first year of the Impala, which was longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors. With its bold styling, including quad headlights and iconic rear end, the one-year-only 1958 body style paid GM dividends for years.

1958 Chevrolet (Bel Air) Impala Convertible

Hagerty #4 value: $56,300

In worst shape than the Impala above, this 1958 Impala convertible is worth a roll of the dice for the same reasons previously mentioned—and then some. The Impala convertible was the most expensive car in the ’58 Chevrolet model line and is highly sought after today. Bringing this one back will take a lot of time, effort, and money, but the satisfaction of saving it would be priceless.

Dodge Power Wagon 300 Tow Truck

Hagerty value: N/A

VanDerBrink doesn’t tell us the model year of this Dodge Power Wagon 300, and we can’t figure it out from the VIN because we can’t make out all the numbers and letters, but hey, doesn’t that just add to the fun? By comparing photos of this one to other Dodge trucks, we’re going to say it’s likely a 1971 model powered by a 318-cu-in V-8. And check out that heavy duty bumper up front. If you’re looking for a tow truck, this may be the answer, but you’ll have to do a bit of maintenance work inside and out to get it in working order. Nobody wants to call a tow truck to tow their tow truck.

1955 Chevrolet Vintage Race Car

1955 Chevrolet Vintage Stock Car Project front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty value: N/A

First, the bad news: this ’55 Chevy race car doesn’t run, and even if it did it doesn’t have a steering wheel. The good news is, it looks very solid (right down to the roll bars), so if you can get the 383 Stroker V-8 purring (and score a suitable steering wheel), it sure would be blast to return it to the track.

The Kuchar Collection

1934 DeSoto Air Flow 4-door Sedan

Hagerty value: N/A

Although the bare-bones auction description refers to this car as a “DeSoto Air Flow,” it’s actually a Chrysler Airflow, and it was a game changer. Ahead of its time in both engineering and design, it was also a sales flop, despite accolades from the media and Walter P. Chrysler himself, who said, “We had the horse and buggy. We had the automobile. Now we have the first real motor car in history.” This first-year 1934 model, an older restoration that is powered by a six-cylinder flathead engine, ran when it was parked five years ago. The odometer shows 29,525 miles, but VanDerBrink suggests the real number may be 129,525. Regardless, it’s an iconic automobile that should garner interest.

1971 AMC Javelin AMX

1971 AMC Javelin AMX front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty #3 value: $24,200

Another older restoration that resided under a carport, this metallic green two-door fastback is the rarest of ’71 Javelins—an AMX with a 330-horsepower, 401-cu-in engine (with Edelbrock four-barrel carb), of which only 745 were made. It features a fiberglass hood, disc brakes, locker rear end, bucket seats, tachometer, clock, AM radio, and manual windows and locks. The muscle car also wears racing slicks in the rear, since it was used as a drag car in Salt Lake City before it was purchased and restored in South Dakota. The odometer shows 15,716 miles. We’re guessing at least two bidders will battle for this one.

Crazy 1930s Ford Rat Rod Truck

30s Ford Rat Rod Truck
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty value: N/A

Here’s something you don’t see every day. In fact, you’ve likely never seen one—Gary Kuchar designed and built it himself. Constructed mostly of Ford components, the rat rod truck has an elongated frame with three 225-cu-in six-cylinder engines and automatic transmission. The Frankenstein truck has the cab of a 1925 Ford pickup, the front end of a Dodge D-50 truck, a 9-inch Ford rear end, a gas tank from a tractor, and Ford spoked rims that were welded together to create 17-inch rims.

Here’s the thing, though: Kuchar never ran it or took it on the road, so who knows what you might be getting yourself into. One thing is for sure, if you’re the highest bidder and you succeed in getting it running, be prepared to answer a lot of questions at your next cars and coffee get-together.

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 Coupe

1981 DeLorean Coupe front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty #3 value: $46,600

You’ll also get plenty of attention in this car, not because no one has ever seen one before but because most people have (thanks, Back to the Future). The iconic stainless-steel creation of John Z. DeLorean, the DMC-12 has gullwing doors, turbine rims, and black/gray leather bucket seats, it is powered by a fuel-injected 161-cu-in V-6, and it shows only 21,564 miles. The car doesn’t run, but it did when it was parked—plus it has been sheltered. It might be worth taking a flyer on, even if it doesn’t fly like Doc Brown’s DeLorean did.

1961 Plymouth Fury Convertible

1961 Plymouth fury convertible front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty #3 value: $31,100

The Fury’s design was radically overhauled for 1961, with all vertical styling cues dropped in favor of a flat look, with revised headlight eyebrows. This yellow convertible (with white top) is powered by a 318-cu-in V-8 that generated 230 hp when new and is mated to a push-button transmission. Among the car’s features are black carpet with a white vinyl split bench seat, power steering and brakes, and dual mirrors. The Fury, which was purchased in California and driven to South Dakota, ran when parked. VanDerBrink warns that it was overheating when Kuchar stopped driving it, so it may need a head or an overhaul, but once the Fury is up and running again, the new owner likely won’t miss an opportunity to add to its 45,345 miles.

1968 Jaguar XKE 2+2

1968 Jaguar XKE 2+2 front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty #4 value: $32,100 (minus 10 percent for automatic transmission)

Restoring this ’68 Jaguar Series 1.5 E-Type 2+2 is such a tall order that VanDerBrink suggests that it could also be deemed a parts car. Showing 92,801 miles, its 4.2-liter OHC six-cylinder engine (with dual Zenith carbs) no longer runs, and there’s plenty of additional work to do, both mechanical and cosmetic. Is it worth the challenge? Consider that Jaguar built approximately 5621 Series 1.5 E-Types from August 1967–July 1968, and only 1577 of them were 2+2 coupes. A fraction of those were built with a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic transmission, like this one. So that makes it rare … but does it make it desirable? That’s for you to decide, but Jag owners generally want to row the gears.

1957 Chrysler New Yorker

1957 Chrysler New Yorker front
VanDerBrink Auctions

Hagerty #4 value: $19,700

This New Yorker is something of a train wreck, but there’s one good reason to consider buying it: The 392-cu-in HEMI V-8 under the hood. Not surprisingly, considering all the pine needles in the engine compartment, it doesn’t run. It also has some rust on the bottom, and the windshield is broken out. Get ready to roll up your sleeves, and just keep imagining what it might look like someday.

Read next Up next: 5 stick-shift classics for sub-$25K fun


    CONDITION, CONDITION CONDITION! If it is complete with a reasonable body, it’s worth restoring or doing a minimal job to put back on the road (it’s original only once so don’t over do it). If it’s missing a lot or really poor condition, it’s parts UNLESS the car is really rare, but then you have to factor in the cost of the work that you can’t do yourself and finding/fabricating missing stuff. It all comes down to: if you love it, do it. Four door, wagon, import econobox, 70’s malaise, who cares? Save it from the crusher and enjoy the experience. Don’t worry about resale. That is NOT why we love cars. The speculators ruin the hobby and make cars too expensive for the rest of us to buy.

    You said it. Real car people love cars for what they are, not what they may be worth financially. I’ve had a few cars resurrected and some guys asked why . Simply I replied ,” because I like it.” I once read an article that said buy what you like and you will never be disappointed. If you want to make money then invest elsewhere . For me thank goodness many of my cars have appreciated In financial value. But more rewarding is the time effort and driving experience of these vehicles. And that is not something you can put a dollar value on.

    It is sad seeing these neglected autos. You can keep your car that has been sitting in a filed for 20 years, that is a recipe for disaster.

    The ’63 Studebaker GT Hawk is the creampuff of this lot IMHO. I once had a ’62 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately the rust gremlins got into it bad and I let it go while it was still intact.

    Wow! If I had the time and the space I would be all over this. Looking at the Impalas, it ocurred to me that there is no V letter surrounding the insignia on the front hood which denotes a V-8 engine. Are they all 6 cylinder cars?

    I was looking at those Impalas and trying not to cry about their condition. The first vehicle I was ever involved in restoring (back in middle school) was a 67 Impala Convertible, and that model year is dear to my heart from it. They may have a lot of 67s, but all seem far too gone for my amateur hands to bring back from the dead.

    This one is a 6-cylinder and that would be enough to keep me from wanting it. A ’58 Impala with a 6-cylinder is like a stud who has been castrated.

    This one is a 6-cylinder and that would be enough to keep me from wanting it. A ’58 Impala with a 6-cylinder is like a stud who has been castrated.

    I would give the Javelin or the Air Flow a go! Other than those and the Studebaker, the rest are too far gone to my eyes. The Jag is actually among the least valuable of all E’s as a 2+2 auto with a late 2 carb 6 cylinder. Ticks all the boxes in a bad way, so I would question its value even as a parts car.

    Those Nova’s and what looks like it might be a Riviera in the first photo look like they might be fun projects. I always wanted to take a car that had a lousy looking but solid body and restore the drive line and suspension to be daily driver maybe weekend road trip worthy.

    The Studebaker Hawk, of course, ‘Might be nice with an LS7, perhaps a Nova front clip for the front suspension, and a 6 speed. I have a soft spot for Studebakers, especially hot rod ‘Bakers.

    The Airflow, of course. Stock, perfectly restored. Very special.

    I have a soft spot for the AMC Javelin AMX. Very cool. That one is pretty rare. It is even the right color.

    And, of course, the big Chrysler with the 392 Hemi. The best big American car of its time.

    The Jaguar is a nice parts car for another Jaguar project.

    The rest… Well, I would not melt them all down, as they have fans of their own to enjoy their restoration.

    SJ Morgan and David Kim
    The Hawk, Javelin, Air Flow and Jag were what caught me eye too.
    And I totally agree with buying and making a project of what calls to you, rather than look at every endeavor as an accountant would.
    Any trucks in these collections?

    Studebaker is an interesting car. I see lots of neglected problem children waiting to unload someones bank account.

    Prices listed are inflated and unreasonable.

    A car left outside with the windows down or no windshield is never higher than a 4. $28k is ridiculous.

    These aren’t ultra-rare optioned muscle cars, rare combo tri-five, or 348 4 speed Impala.

    58 Impala sport coupe, try to dig up a 409X2X4, Repo 425 cam headers and 4spd. Paint it black and red w/ cragar mags and cruise!

    The 69 Riviera looks like it had better days.. These cars are a bit more rusty than I would personally take on. Someone will love them again.

    In today’s world of $20,000+ paint jobs, body work, and chrome plating , the only excuse for undertaking a project like most of these neglected cars would have to be purely emotional, because you’ll lose your shirt in the long run. Barrett-Jackson thrives on selling cars that cost a quarter million dollars to restore…..for a fraction of that cost. Be smart and wait for the auction.

    They’re all fixable but parked on dirt for how many years? The real issue doesn’t show in these photos: disastrous undercarriage rot.

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