Think about your ideal car collection—how many vehicles could you reasonably live with? It’s probably fewer than this automotive armada of some 200 collector cars in rural Minnesota. Blessed with plentiful acreage and productive crops, a farmer by the name of James Graham amassed a huge number of cars and trucks over his lifetime. Graham has passed on to the great highway in the sky, and now VanDerBrink Auctions is taking on the task of liquidating his estate. Could your dream car be one of the classics in this epic barn find?
The Graham collection is comprised primarily of American makes, ranging in vintage from the 1920s to mid-1970s. The bulk seems to be from the middle period, with numerous examples by defunct brands. While many sat outside to endure rotations of Minnesota’s seasons, others are in various states of preservation or restoration, with fabulous specimens of the best of bygone eras.
Graham cut the roof off his first car, a 1934 Ford Coupe, to have a “better time” in warmer months. He became infatuated by drop-tops, and procured convertibles including Ford’s 1957 retractable hardtop Skyliner, 1965 Mustang, and 1962 Thunderbird. His Chevrolet Impalas range from 1959 to 1967 model years, and include a few SS models. There’s also a 1964 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight that could make a great project. Most Cadillacs on the farm seem to fall between model years 1959 and 1962, but there’s also a 1976 Eldorado that’s among the most modern in the collection which appears to be in a fabulous state of originality: The odometer shows under 23,000 miles.
The auction features wonderfully quirky and obscure sedans. These include a pink-on-pink Rambler, 1957 DeSoto Fire Dome, 1957 Starchief and 1958 Chieftan from Pontiac, a legendarily grotesque 1958 Ford Edsel Pacer, and seven-headlamp 1958 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. Despite heavy patination, Graham’s Studebaker and 1949 Nash look to have straight bodies and can be appreciated for their streamlined designs if nothing else.
This being a farm, trucks were important to Graham’s work, so he bought pickups to help around his fields. The fleet includes Ford Model As and Ts from the 1920s and a heavy-duty 1941 GMC flatbed. Several Chevrolets including a soap green 1959 El Camino and brilliantly restored 1957 Cameo are available. Graham took a liking to Graham Brothers vehicles, and there are at least three ’20s-era trucks which share his namesake. These really illustrate just how far the trucks of today have come.
Dozens of antique agricultural tractors are also available. Clearly, Graham was an obsessive collector, and there are thousands of items beyond wheeled machinery, including souvenir plates, whiskey decanters, and die-cast toys. Regardless, the incredible array of automobiles is the main draw, and it’s worth looking at the auction page to see what piques your interest from this massive barn find. If you’re in Minnesota on August 10, check out the event—it’s about 12 miles west of Wheaton on Highway 27.