Newport auto auction draws vintage car fansHundreds of customers came to Bill's Auto Parts to look over more than 450 vintage cars, parts and other items that were up for auction through Monday.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Dick Graves Jr. could be found late last week checking casting numbers on old car engines.
“I've spent my life going through junkyards,” Graves said while perusing the lot at Bill's Auto Parts in Newport.
Any of the engines can be put in a car, he said, but if you want a restoration to be authentic, you have to have the engine built for that specific car. Engine numbers were not listed online so he had to see them in person.
Graves was among hundreds of customers who came to Bill's Auto Parts late last week to look over more than 450 vintage cars, parts and other items that were up for auction. After 50 years in business on about six acres on Seventh Avenue in Newport, the five children of Bill Knauff, who died two years ago from a brain tumor, planned to sell his entire inventory through an online auction. The shop was open Thursday and Friday; bidding ends Monday.
Graves met Bill Knauff, and his wife, Barb, who died in 2002 from Alzheimer's disease, on the local race car circuit. Some junk yards only specialize in one brand of car like Chevys or Fords. “Mr. Knack had a little bit of everything,” he said of Knauff.
Mike Manthe came to the sale because Bill's Auto Parts because it's unique. Most yards crush cars older than 1980 and sell them for scrap.
Most men, and a few women, came to the auction looking for parts but were aware of the car auction rule that buyers had to bid on the whole car even if they were searching for just one or two parts.
But as long as they were there, most of them said they looked over the other cars, too, just in case they found a bargain or a model of their favorite car.
Their favorite cars are usually ones they drove as teenagers.
Stan Waidelich bought car parts from Kauff years ago when he lived in Newport. He lives in Cottage Grove but spends winters in Arizona where the 1956 Buick he bought is being restored.
“It was the first new car I had,” he said, “but I need a windshield. I'll see how high the bids go.”
Joe Zamora was hunting for a 1964 Chevy Belair or and 1950 Belair Skyline Delux mostly for the parts.
Myron Carpenter and Larry Sherbrooke, who said they are grandfathers-in-law, often travel to specialty junkyards and auctions in surrounding states.
Carpenter is restoring a 1952 Ford Crestline Victoria and was looking for a Ford flathead V-8 engine.
The Crestline, which had a three-piece back window, was only manufactured during the last half of 1952, Carpenter said, adding that he and Sherbrooke were sure they could sell the chrome and trim alone for $1,500.
Other items, such as more than 50 vintage snowmobiles also attracted potential bidder interest.
Though most of them looked at the crane, which is operated by two workers, most thought an inch of rust was a drawback.
A three-wheel car, actually a converted motorcycle made in Germany in 1988 also attracted a lot of attention. Apparently, pizza drivers buy them to weave in and out of traffic.