A classic car auction set for Aug. 26 at Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho will feature 60-plus cars from a personal collection of classics ranging from the years 1919 to 1982.
And the story of the man behind those cars has even more depth.
“The last 20 years he’s been buying beat-up classics and restoring them because he really enjoyed their restoration,” said Britney Egbert, business development manager Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho, during a phone interview with Auto Remarketing.
“He has them from every decade, every make and model. He’s sort of all over the place, which is pretty neat. I think there’s a car for every kind of collector in here,” she said.
The eclectic collection belonged to the late Callan Phillips, an Idaho native, Word War II veteran and farmer who found joy in repairing classic cars of all kind following retirement.
“It just became kind of a passion of his up until his death in 2013,” Phillips’ daughter Sherri Anderson said by phone. “My father was a very successful farmer. In 1994, he started dwindling down and not farming anymore.”
A Black and Grey 1950 Bentley featured in the sale.
Phillips decided he wanted to start buying cars and fixing them up.
“His whole intent was to sell them after he fixed them up. Unfortunately, the very first car that he fixed which was a pickup truck — he fixed it up, sold it and cried,” Anderson said. “After that, he no longer wanted to sell the cars if he could help it. He started buying more and fixing them up.”
As his collection grew, Phillips had to add new buildings to his property just to house his cars.
He built a few out-buildings and had a main shop where he worked on vehicles, according to Anderson.
“Seldom did he ever send them away to have anything done to them; usually anything that was done to them was done on-site at my parents’ property,” she said.
Phillips had a full-time employee for body work who lived on-site in a mobile home, as well as a mechanic who would also come help with projects.
“Dad oversaw everything and would also work on them with them and try to get [cars] back to the original state that they once were when they were brand new, Anderson said. “He was trying his hardest to get the parts to restore these cars; it didn’t always happen and sometimes he’d just have to kind of slide by the seat of his pants to try to do whatever he could to get it as close as he could.”
It wasn’t unusual for some family members and close personal friends of Phillips to drive his cars, according to Anderson.
“One thing that was kind of neat was the grandkids got to drive these, too. Some of the grandkids and great-grandkids learned how to drive in these classic cars. So there wasn’t hardly any family member at one point in time or another who didn’t either ride or drive one of these cars or several of them,” she said.
“We’re all very familiar with them and as much as we hate to sell them, we don’t have the bandwidth to keep 65, 70 cars in out buildings.”
The most expensive car up for sale is a 1928 Rolls-Royce that Anderson said was not in good shape before her father restored it.
“He literally rebuilt it, even down to the upholstery and it’s now a beautiful car,” she added.
Phillips also collected a few old tractors which will be sold at a different auction.
Phillips was shot while serving in World War II and received a Purple Heart medal, Anderson said. He was born and raised on a farm in Idaho and started farming on his own after the war, she said.
“Even at the time that he was at the hospital, I remember visiting and he was still looking for parts for this car that he was working on,” said Anderson. “He was in an acute care center trying to find the parts for this particular car to fit. He wasn’t going to give up.”
At its height, Phillips’ collection reached about 80 cars, according to Anderson.
“His passion was these cars and when he’d get them fixed he’d love to show them off to people,” she added.
“It was his love and just something that he loved to do.”