Sixty years ago, Leroy Schroller would dust the fleet of Packards on display at his father’s dealership. But Schroller, then 15, was not allowed to do anything other than that.
“I could never drive them,” Schroller said. “He didn’t even want me sitting in them.”
So when Schroller heard there would be a Packard auction in Lawrence, he recruited his son, Kevin, as company, sneaked the checkbook from his wife and slipped out the door of his home in Marysville early Saturday morning.
When he arrived at the auction, hosted the estate of Raymond Barland, Schroller inspected the 15 Packard cars clustered in the yard.
The yard, shaded by tall trees, was littered with junk: miscellaneous car parts, lumber, nails, piles of bricks and stacks of Packard bumpers. All of it was being auctioned.
Schroller, who now owns and operates his father’s dealership, Schroller Motor Sales, was there for the Packards only. He and his son eyed the cars, determining which ones, if any, were worth buying. After figuring there were at least two worthy of a bid, they leaned against one of the Packards and listened to the auctioneer rattle off prices.
Most of the Packards were in rough shape: rusted and gutted, with shattered windows and trunks filled with muck. But to have that many Packards in one place was a special thing, Kevin said.
“You’ll never find this many Packards in one place again,” he said.
The Packards attracted nearly 100 bidders, said Mark Elston, auctioneer.
“The salvage guys were here (today),” Elston said.
Melvin Copp, of North Lawrence, was hoping the Packards would fetch $200 or so. That way he could purchase a couple to salvage and still turn a profit. Instead, most of the cars went for about $400.
Not all of the Packards went to scrappers. A couple went to collectors. One of them was a 1957 Packard 400, which went for $1,800, the highest bid of the auction. It was bought by Leroy Schroller.
“It’ll be a pleasure to have it,” he said. “If it works out like I want it and I live long enough, that’s gonna be my car to drive. ... All these years I’ve been dreaming about it, here I’ve got one.”