Abandoned Family Car Sells for a Fortune After Years of Neglect
| LAST UPDATE 03/30/2023
Clearing through their garage in the aftermath of their father's death, the Scherer family never could have imagined the incredible outcome that would follow their uncovering of this old, rusty family car...
For as long as the Scherer family could remember, there had been an old car lying unattended in the back of their garage. Covered up in cardboard containers, they had often forgotten what was even under there.
Many years had passed since it fulfilled its duties of transporting people around town, so the car lay there, depressed and neglected. Of course, if the family had known how much their old vehicle was worth, they would have taken better care of it. That realization, however, was far off at this point.
Left to Decay
Over the years it was left abandoned, the automobile became home to all sorts of creatures who set up camp in its nooks and crannies. This, combined with the tons of garbage that had been thrown on it, meant that it smelt pretty bad, and no one was willing to get too close.
In addition to the critters, the car itself had begun to decay, and parts of the vehicle had gone rusty from being stored indoors for so long. Although the Scherers knew they should really just throw it out, no one wanted to be the one to do it. It would stay there for the foreseeable future.
Where It All Began
Going back to the very beginning of this car's journey: things started out a little more positively. Purchased by the father of the house, Darryl, for his wife Vivian, there was much hope for this car and the services it would offer to the Scherer family.
It was love at first sight for Vivian, and she used it to travel all around town. It was her baby, and everyone in the neighborhood who saw the car instantly knew who was behind the wheel. She used it while on the school run and to go to the supermarket - the two were inseparable.
A Charming Cruiser
Looking back, there had been plenty of signs to suggest that the car was more memorable than the others. It had stood out amongst the crowd, and although it was used for the more menial life tasks, it had always given off superior energy to the rest.
Its sleek and sporty design gave it an edge and symbolized it was a unique vehicle in some way. No one could deny that it was simply cooler than the other families' cars in the school parking lot, and the kids recognized that. They all wished to have a turn riding in it.
Losing Its Owner
Tragically, the happy times didn't last as long as they had hoped, and the car was left without its beloved owner after she died in 2006. Unattended and undriven, the vehicle began to weaken and break down, struggling with its unstarted engine. It seemed to have little life left in it.
It continued to sit there for a couple of months until Darryl made the decision to leave town. Moving into his new home, he considered the vehicle's sentimental value and felt it necessary to bring it along. Placing it in his new garage, he soon forgot its existence entirely.
Darryl had not planned to leave the car abandoned in his garage; on the contrary, he had big dreams for it. He wanted to fix it up and bring it back to life so it could channel the energy it had exuded in its heydays. Unfortunately, that never came to be.
Sadly, he passed away in 2021 before he could finally get around to refurbishing the car, and it remained decayed and rotten in the family garage. With his estate and all of his belongings left to his children, this abandoned vehicle was included in the deal. They had yet to figure out what they were going to do with it.
Examining it further, Darryl's children learned more about this vehicle that had been left to them, digging into its history and understanding its design specifications. They were surprised to realize it was an incredibly unique Holden HK Monaro GTS 327 Bathurst from 1968.
Unlike most family cars from the time, it could power up speeds of up to 124mph. Of course, seeing that their mother had merely used it to get around town, this incredible feature had never been utilized. Vivian and her children had been unaware of its speedy capabilities - until now.
Although most muscle cars from the '60's originated in the United States, this HK Monaro had an origin story that was different from the rest. Unlike its competitors, it was created in Australia, where an entirely independent line of muscle cars was manufactured.
As far as the Aussie ranges went, this particular model was considered one of the best. It could not reach the same maximum speeds as the American equivalents, but it held its own unique qualities and was considered a valuable vehicle in its own right.
A Surprising Purchase
Considering its abilities and uniqueness, this HK Monaro seems like an unusually bold choice for a family car intended for school runs at best. Talking to The Guardian in June 2022, Daryll's daughter, Noeleen Schulte, gave insight into her father's thought process.
As she explained, Daryll had wanted only the best for his beloved wife, Vivian, and it was important to him that she drove around in one of the best cars on the market. In addition, this purchase had been a momentous milestone for the Scherer patriarch, and he was looking to go above and beyond.
A Big Deal
Elaborating further, Noeleen detailed precisely why it was such a big deal for her father to purchase a car. "Dad [was] a hard-working cane farmer, born and bred in Bundaberg [a city in Queensland, Australia]... It was the first car he ever bought that wasn't his father's," she said.
"Usually, Pop would buy a new car, then Dad would buy his old car off him," she continued explaining. It was Darryl's big moment of independence, and he wanted to ensure the first car he could buy entirely on his own was one worth talking about.
Wanting to prove to his father that he was successful enough to buy a real car on his own, he settled on this HK Monaro in an effort to impress him. Additionally, everyone in the neighborhood would see the car in the Scherer family garage and know they had made it.
But on top of all of this, there was the fact that he loved his wife dearly, and he believed she only deserved the best. She would be the one driving it around most of the time, and therefore, he wanted to be confident it was a well-designed, safe car that would serve her well for years to come.
Just as her husband had hoped, Vivian was ecstatic over her gift and vowed to take the best care of it. From the second she held the keys in her hands, it was a match made in heaven, and Vivian drove her car everywhere she could. She even assisted with taking the local children on school trips.
Because she loved her vehicle so much, she was pretty possessive and preferred no one else in the family get behind its wheel. Looking back, daughter Noeleen explained, "It was Mum's car. She took it everywhere — she was the main driver of it."
A Momentous Moment
The HK Monaro had made such an impact on the Scherer's lives that the family members each remember the moment it entered their home and the first time they laid eyes on it. Talking to The Guardian, Noeleen Schulte recalled her first interaction with the red automobile.
"I can remember the day he bought it," she reminisced. "We were waiting to be picked up from school, and here's this bright, shiny car that looked really cool, and then we look in, and it was Mum in there!" They could never have imagined then how this car would change their lives.
The Envy of the Playground
It wasn't just the family's matriarch that loved the car; the Scherer children were also big fans of the new addition and proudly showed it off to their friends. As Vivian drove into the playground for each drop-off and pick-up, every kid watched in awe.
"Me and my three sisters were the coolest kids at school, basically, because every kid wanted a ride in the car," Noeleen said with a smile. To the delight of their friends, Vivian was happy to take them for a ride whenever they requested. Best Mom award.
A Community Asset
Just months after it was purchased, the HK Monaro became a beloved member of the Scherer family. Understanding its stature within the neighborhood, they all helped wash it and keep it clean, wanting to ensure it always looked good when driven around the streets.
The car had taken on a new identity as a member of the community, as all the locals began to appreciate its significance. But although the Scherer children knew it meant a lot to their family and friends, they never imagined it would be considered valuable by outsiders.
The Best Intentions
As explained earlier, the family did not think their car would end up in the condition it did. After Vivian passed, Darryl wanted to continue on its legacy by renovating it for future use. He hoped and imagined the car would remain in their family for years to come.
So, when the time came for him to move home, it was a no-brainer that the car would accompany him. He would keep it in his possession until he found the time to give it the attention he deserved. However, as life continued, it slipped further and further into the back of his mind.
In his new home in Bundaberg, Darryl had significantly more land available, and his property included numerous storage sheds. He somewhat naively put his late wife's vehicle in one of the containers and told himself he would get it back to it shortly.
But this is not what happened, and the once beloved car was forgotten. The family moved on with their lives, and the vehicle sat in the garage unvisited. In 2021, Darryl passed away at the age of 82, and his grand plans were sadly never fulfilled.
An Incompatible Environment
While the shed protected the car from the outside world, it didn't offer the best conditions for a vehicle to stay in shape. The longer it spent there, the more it deteriorated and fell into disarray. The family carelessly threw their empty cereal sacks over it, and the animals began to settle in.
Within just a few months, the outside of the car was covered in dust, dirt, and grime. By 2022, the engine had not been fired up for sixteen long years, and the family was sure it was as dead as could be. With Darryl gone, it seemed unnecessary to hold on to it any longer.
It pained them greatly to do so, but Daryll's children knew in their hearts it was time to let go of the family car. It was in unusable condition, and it was taking up unnecessary space in the garage. It had been left in their name after their father's death, so the decision was now up to them.
Although it belonged to them, the Scherer children had no knowledge about the car trading industry. They had little idea as to what it would be worth on the market or how to even put it up for auction. So they turned to a professional auctioneer named Bill Young.
Seeking Bill's help with trading off the vehicle, they invited him to come and see the car for himself. As soon as Young caught a look at the abandoned vehicle, he gasped, realizing he had seriously underestimated the damage. It was in terrible condition.
Talking to The Guardian, he described his first impression of the HK Monaro. "The car was parked in a corner covered in empty corn bags with a pool liner thrown over it," he said. "Rats and vermin had been living in it. There was a shelf built in front of it, so you couldn't even move it."
That being said, Bill had an expert eye and immediately recognized the old vehicle's potential value. Daryll's children had expected the auctioneer would tell them to get it fixed before putting it up for sale, but he surprisingly instructed them to do the exact opposite.
"It hadn't run in 16 years, and we were told to leave it like that for the auction," Daryll's daughter reminisced. "So it was covered in dust and dirt. But it was all intact, and that's what made it special." Although they disagreed with this, they decided to listen to the expert.
Bill was confident that despite its abysmal condition, it could still fetch a small fortune at auction. He understood the car's uniqueness and historical value and kept this in mind when giving his valuation. As far as he was concerned, the vehicle could sell for A$50,000 - A$80,000.
Bearing in mind that the price tag is in Australian dollars, this would be worth $33,00 - $53,000 us dollars at today's exchange rate. This was a decent amount of money that would significantly help the Scherer children pay for their living expenses. Considering they had just had it lying around, it was an exciting prospect.
To everyone's surprise, there appeared to be a staggering, unexpected demand for this old, beaten-up HK Monaro. As soon as Bill listed it for sale, he was inundated with inquiries. Straight away, it was clear that Bill had seriously undervalued its worth.
So, garnering the public's reactions toward the car, he adjusted the expected asking price accordingly. His new sum might have sounded to extortionate some, but he was confident he had reassessed accurately. Putting it for sale at A$120,000, he would soon be proven wrong.
Expecting demand to decrease in response to the new sale price, Bill reckoned he would have narrowed it down to fewer, more serious buyers. But again, the demand was off the charts. Between 300 and 400 people reached out, all desperate to purchase the vehicle.
The potential buyers were not just from the local Australian areas either. They came from as far as China! The Scherer family motor had gone global, and word was spreading fast and wide. The selling price continued to increase, along with the demand, finally selling for a whopping A$200,000.
Understanding the Fanfare
The Scherer children were shocked by this outcome, unable to process exactly what had happened. Yes, they loved the car dearly, and it held a special place in their hearts, but why would someone spend as much as A$200,000 to get their hands on it? Something wasn't adding up...
Digging a little deeper into their car's backstory, it all started to make more sense. The 1968 GTS Monaro had participated in the famous annual Bathurst race, which spans 620 miles in New South Wales. Not only had it been in the running, but it had actually won - the first-ever Monaro to do so!
Away but Not Forgotten
All this time that it had been in their garage, they never imagined it had such a rich history, making it a true collector's item. They knew it was special, mainly because of the good times it provided for their family and the status it offered them within the community. This, however, was beyond their imagination.
Although they had technically neglected it and left it to rot in the garage, they maintained that it was always in their hearts. Noeleen explained, "It's been parked in the garage but not forgotten; we all knew it was there. We were always made aware of what it is and what it meant to him."
A Lost Opportunity
Although Darryl's children were ecstatic over their new influx of cash, they couldn't help but feel a tinge of sadness for their father. They knew it had always been his dream to fix it and bring it back to life, and they wished he had been able to do so before his passing.
"It's just sad that he didn't get to restore it. He was a man with a list, and it was always on his list to do, but he's never got to it," Noeleen explained to The Guardian. They imagined how he would have felt to see all these strangers fighting over his beloved car.
While they wished their father and mother could have seen what became of their family vehicle, they were beyond satisfied with the result. This bashed-up car, which they considered a worthless family heirloom, had unexpectedly proven to be hot property.
"We knew it would be amazing, but we never thought it would go to what it went to. So we were very happy with the outcome," Noeleen revealed. They had now had access to a fortune, and all they had done to earn it was go through the junk in their garage!
"Just a Family Car"
Young, too, could never have predicted this was how it would all turn out, slightly confused by what had caused all this buying frenzy. He was delighted to have brought in such big bucks on one purchase, going down in the record as the highest value sale in his quarter-century stint as an auctioneer.
"It was just a family car; it drove the kids to school," Young said in disbelief. "What was probably worth nothing went for $200,000." This incredible result proves there's no telling how a market will react to a product. When it comes to the auction house, it's anyone's guess what will happen next.
Reflecting on the entire incident, Bill Young is grateful to have had the opportunity to deal with this historical and monumental car. He was extremely shocked by the response, but he was pleased everything had worked the way it did - the car had now found its new home.
"Inquiries started coming in from every capital city, especially Sydney and Melbourne. We even got a call from Bangkok... The inquiries blew me out of the water. My phone never stopped ringing," Young gushed to The Guardian. It was truly a happy ending for all.