Archive for Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bidders hit auction for deals

Lawrence Bus Co. sells 50 years’ worth of local transportation history

January 13, 2008


Lawrence Bus Co. auctioning all merchandise

Everything must go: that's the attitude as organizers prepare for a unique auction tomorrow in East Lawrence. Enlarge video

Alex Estrada, left, of Kansas City, Kan., inspects a car Saturday during the Lawrence Bus Co. auction at 837 Pa. The company was liquidating its fleet of vehicles after being forced to close.

Alex Estrada, left, of Kansas City, Kan., inspects a car Saturday during the Lawrence Bus Co. auction at 837 Pa. The company was liquidating its fleet of vehicles after being forced to close.

Lawrence Bus Co. disbanded its fleet of 24 passenger buses and numerous other vehicles Saturday, as they were auctioned to entrepreneurs and "scrappers."

Forced to shut its operations after nearly half a century, owner Chris Ogle had no choice but to liquidate the entire fleet of vehicles and everything else, from nuts and bolts to containers of oil and several Mercedes sedans. The death knell came in June when Kansas University dropped Lawrence Bus Co. as its transportation provider in favor of California-based MV Transportation.

As he watched people bid on buses, including the 1948 Ford Transit bus that his father used to start the company, Ogle had little to say, except that it was heart-wrenching.

The dusty lime-colored bus, labeled "Campus Express," was a rat's nest of memories, with green leather seats stacked upon each other and old route maps and auto parts littering the floor.

But auctioneer Dan Kull said that wouldn't deter potential buyers.

"We have people here to buy a little bit of history," said Kull, owner of Kull Auction and Real Estate Co. in Topeka.

Kull said about 150 people registered to bid on Lawrence Bus Co.'s assets.

"We have other bus companies; if they aren't here, they're also bidding online," he said. "We have people from Oklahoma City; we have an online bidder from Tucson; we have everyday consumers; we have - I call them 'scrappers' - guys that buy salvage."

One bidder - No. 78 - caused some consternation among other bidders, as he gobbled up the majority of the 30-passenger buses.

Mike Wrenn, of Liberty, Mo., said he wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived at the auction site, 837 Pa.

"It's a little bit scary in some ways because I'm not sure what I'm buying," said Wrenn, who was looking to purchase a bus or van to shuttle patrons of his restaurant, near Marceline, Mo., to nearby Lake Nehai.

Wrenn, who had never bid on a bus before, said he was also intrigued by the various advertisements up for bidding, which once hung from the flanks of the buses and provided a glimpse of the city's history.


labmonkey 10 years, 2 months ago

Marion- So you were offered a trade of one bus for another :) The Chrysler Imperial...the only car banned in almost all demo-derbies.

nedcolt 10 years, 2 months ago

Its a surprise he stayed in business as long as he did considering he had to compete with the heavely subsidised city buses/city should have stayed out of bus business and golf business when a private company could do it and make money.

compmd 10 years, 2 months ago

ARGH! I wish I would have known about this before. Anyone know what age and model the Mercedes were?

pity2bu 10 years, 2 months ago

The Lawrence Bus Co did more business in one day than the "T" did in the last several years.....

deadanimals 10 years, 2 months ago

Actually the Mercedes diesels weren't all that bad, but went for way too much to be considered deals. The TDT was on it's second engine and only had 80,000 actual miles. it went for $450 dollars. the 1976 114, (115?) was really heartbreaking, the story on that one was that they could never get it in time after replacing the injector pump. it went for $250. but those may only be stories. the real surprise was the 240d that was a complete basket case for $200! it did have a 4 speed, but still.

toefungus 10 years, 2 months ago

Ok., a little off topic, but what happened to Custom Highline? They just built a new showroom and it appears closed.

compmd 10 years, 2 months ago

I would have bought a TD with a cracked control arm for $450, unless of course the rust was really bad. I have a thing for TDs, I've always wanted one.

That is a heartbreaking story on the 114. Starting fluid is a great way to kill those engines unless you know exactly what you are doing and using diesel engine specific starting fluid.

Good to see another old MB fanatic around here, deadanimals.

Marion, I think the MB classic center will sell you any part you want, for a price. For fun I asked for parts prices for my Euro R107, and I nearly had a heart attack, which is really bad for someone my age. That reminds me, got any 107 body parts? :) For the most part you're right, lots of people think they can fix up the old MBs, and it certainly can be done, but it is far more daunting a task than they might think it is.

toefungus, I don't know what happened, but last week a friend of mine had her car serviced there, so they seem to still be in business.

Kelly Anderson 10 years, 2 months ago

toefungus (Anonymous) says:

Ok., a little off topic, but what happened to Custom Highline? They just built a new showroom and it appears closed.

They were doing some questionable things with the cars on their lot, from what I hear......evidently may have a new investor coming in........

Kelly Anderson 10 years, 2 months ago

by the way, also from what I hear, they do not service their own cars......

KSChick1 10 years, 2 months ago

I didn't hear why, but Custom Highline did already go out of business. I'd rather still have Quick's there, it was the only place I had found in town that had spicy bbq sauce. I wonder if anyone is going to answer the question about what questionable things were going on with their cars??? Just curious!

compmd 10 years, 2 months ago

KSChick1, Custom Highline had been in business for years just down the block where Sign-a-rama now is.

Their walk-in business couldn't have been that great, but they probably stayed afloat with internet sales. They had some really nice cars on the lot, but building that huge facility? I think they forgot that this is Lawrence, Kansas, and there are not going to be many people buying Volvo S60Rs or Mercedes SL500s.

Kelly Anderson 10 years, 2 months ago

I heard they were doubling banking the cars...

Write2Know 10 years, 2 months ago

I really had to wonder how they were going to pay for that nice new building they built.

KSChick1 10 years, 2 months ago

You're supposed to be able to float your business for 2 years before you're actually viable, at least that's what I've heard. I don't own a business so I am Not! an expert but you'd think Custom Highline would have been able to afford to stay in business more than a few months. I guess not though, if there was something shady going on.

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