KEARNEY — The investor who purchased Kearney’s Classic Car Collection in 2021 is preparing to sell many of the collection's vehicles. However, local volunteers are optimistic the sell-off will open opportunities to stabilize the future of the local attraction.
Labeled as one of the United States’ top destinations for automobile enthusiasts, the 140 Classic Car Collection vehicles destined for sale will go to the highest bidders via an online auction that opens at 8 a.m. June 13 and closes at 10 a.m. June 20.
“It will bring lots of attention to Kearney, Nebraska. We hope a local buyer will buy it and keep it there,” said Classic Car Collection owner Alan Gentz of Sterling, Colorado.
Gentz has contracted with the Steffes Group of Fargo, North Dakota, to conduct the online auction. A YouTube video that Steffes produced features some of the Collection’s rarest autos and at least one with great sentimental value to Kearney enthusiasts, Pete’s Patriot.
A group of Kearney youths were the pit crew for Pete’s Patriot, a 1969 AMX SS. The red, white and blue drag racer was the first AMC car to win an NHRA points meet and set a national record.
The Steffes Group’s website lists dozens of other classic, rare Collection vehicles that will be sold to the highest bidders during the June 13-20 online auction.
Among those vehicles are:
* 1930 Lincoln Model L, one of only 119 manufactured.
* 1914 Locomobile two-door roadster.
* 1917 Locomobile seven-passenger touring sedan.
* 1922 Pierce Arrow seven-passenger limousine.
* 1937 Packard two-door convertible.
Steffes Group describes the variety of cars offered in the auction as “diverse; ranging from the brass era to the classic era and everything in between. … The classic car auction gives buyers the opportunity to own a piece of history that may not exist anywhere else.”
Potential buyers will have the opportunity to personally view the vehicles for sale, according to the Steffes website. “The Classic Car Collection museum is open Wednesday through Sunday noon-5 p.m.”
The Classic Car Collection opened in 2012 on the east end of the Cabelas-Bass Pro building at 3600 East U.S. 30 in east Kearney. The core of the exhibit was the 130 vehicles that comprised the collection of Bernie and Janice Talborg. The Elkhorn couple signed over their collection of 130 cars to a nonprofit controlled by the Kearney Visitors Bureau in 2011, so the cars could be displayed in Kearney.
As additional vehicles were donated or loaned, the Classic Car Collection grew to more than 200 vehicles.
Although the auction could result in more than half of the Classic Car Collection’s vehicles being sold, a volunteer leader of the attraction, Brad Kernick of Kearney, said he and CCC’s board intend to press on and keep the attraction open. Ultimately, Kernick said he's optimistic because the attraction can be locally owned.
“We currently have over 80 vehicles that will be displayed, including many guest favorites, and are working with several individuals to add additional vehicles to the Classic Car Collection. We are looking at making modifications and improvements to our existing facility and are excited about the future of the collection,” Kernick said in a prepared statement.
He said a local group secured all the signage and memorabilia currently displayed at CCC and plans to keep the collection open.
“We have a strong and committed group of volunteers who are also excited about the next phase of the collection," Kernick said. "We have a top-notch board of directors who look forward to guiding us through these changes.”
Raising money to pay the lease to Cabelas-Bass Pros is among immediate challenges, Kernick said.
Kernick, who chairs the CCC Board, listed other members as Jeff Knapp, Marv Dawes, Jackie Purdy, Gene Beerbohm, Al Young, Tom Henning and John Sahling. Alan Gentz and his daughter, Mariah Gentz, also are board members, Kernick said.
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