Last summer I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum during our road trip “up north”. The founder, Marl Brown, collected many of the interesting items and vehicles before founding the museum. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2021 and so I was surprised to come across an estate auction selling off several of the vehicles from his collection, many of which were in the museum. Given it is a twenty hour drive each way for me to get there I am unlikely to be buyer but I thought I would share a few of the more interesting auctions.
One of the highlights is this 1951 Ford Prefect which I remarked in my museum write up that it was in very nice condition but not really in keeping with the theme of the museum. Perhaps this why it is up for auction? Unfortunately, the photos are not fantastic but it does look like a solid car. I would be interested in bidding if this was located a little closer.
The interior appears to be in excellent shape. These banjo style steering wheels are among my favourite. This generation of Prefects were powered by a small flat head four cylinder and this would be great family tourer on slower back roads.
One of the other good condition cars on offer is this 1954 Packard sedan. I find these big luxury sedans go for surprising low money compared to more modest Chevrolets and Fords models of the same era. These days they seem to appeal to an older demographic, some of which are exiting the hobby.
The interior is possibly a little tatty under that blanket given the look of the door cards. The dashboard is still beautiful however.
This Canadian market Mercury truck was labelled as a 1947 when I went through the museum but now identified as 1946 model here. I do like the orange color.
The interior looks very usable but I suspect that diamond pattern fabric is not original.
This Morris Minor is older than I initially thought at first glance as it is a 1950 model making it an early MM model. Being an export car it does not have the headlights inset into the grill but does have the flat head, side valve four cylinder engine from the old Morris Eight which is harder to source parts for and very slow. The 0-60 time was an amazing 52.5 seconds when new. It does appear to be in decent condition.
The interior is definitely more vintage than the later Minors.
I have always wanted a Model T and I bet this would be an affordable way to get into one. That said being a museum vehicle I suspect it would need some TLC to get back on the road but Model Ts seem to be able to revived after long periods of sitting due to their very mechanical nature. The auction does not really give any indication of running condition unfortunately.
The auction identifies this as a 1923. Those rear fenders appear to be made from wood.
A little more modern is the 1930 Ford AA truck. I would be really tempted to bid on this one except I would need a very long trailer to haul it home. The fuel cost alone would massive.
On the other end of scale is this tiny 1952 Thames E83W pickup truck in NWHS (Northwest Highway System) attire. It looked to be in decent but dusty shape. I bet parts are a challenge to obtain however. I recall this one being hard to photograph in the museum and the photos presented here are rather lousy as well so it might go cheap. Certainly easier to haul home.
The interior looks reasonable except for the seat which appears to be something stolen from someone’s kitchen. It is still better then passenger accommodation!
I suspect quite a few vehicles will go well below market value due to the remote location (to large population centers) as well as the hassle of transporting the big and heavy ones like this Chevrolet bus.
A lot of the vehicles are definitely projects. This 1940 Dodge Cab Over Engine truck is amazing but, again, transport home would be an expensive and challenging undertaking. It would be amazing either restored or resto-modded.
A Canadian market 1956 Monarch in an attractive two tone appears to be a solid restoration candidate with all the unique trim seemly present.
Another Canadian market offering is this 1954 Fargo “Pilot House” truck.
There is an interesting service body on the back, possibly road construction related given the Alaska Highway theme of the museum.
Here is a very ambitious project car but a rare one in a DWK Junior. The all important front windshield appears to be crack free.
The rear side looks to be in a little better shape. The tail lights are even intact. The lack of interior shots is probably a bad sign. This is not for me. As I am trying to buy better quality projects but if this was local I would have a hard time not throwing in a low ball bid.
There are a pair of Hillman Minx cars with this 1949 being the better of the two.
The interior appears to be in quite usable, original shape. A banjo wheel, column shift and lots of Bakelite. Fantastic. I suspect this is a better car than the photos indicate and might be a steal of a deal if one just wanted a slightly shabby but solid old car.
The other one is a later car in need of more love. Again, an intact windshield means it is probably a decent project but sadly there is not much financial upside when restoring one of these.
These Internationals have such a great look to them. This one is a 1937.
These early Willys are rather appealing to me but the transportation costs mean a closer location example could likely sourced cheaper in the end. Plus, I just said I am trying to buy better quality projects going forward.
Speaking of Willys here is a 1920 vintage car which looks decent from the poor quality photos.
This 1960 Mercury M100 is a rare sight these days. This one is described as having a seized six cylinder engine. The lack of a windshield means the interior is likely open to the elements.
A large 1946 International truck.
Hopefully the scrap metal folks do not snag up all the big and rough stuff like this Chevrolet Viking school bus.
There are plenty of parts to be had as well.
I hope by writing about this auction I can resist bidding on any of these items. To be clear I have no association with auction, estate or museum but quite a lot of these vehicles fit into my sweet spot of unique, rough, and (potentially) cheap. Feel free to check out the auction yourself here – https://rhythmauctions.hibid.com/catalog/405238/online-auction-for-the-estate-of-marlin-brown/?. And please feel free to outbid me as really do not need another project car. If you do my wife thanks you in advance.
Wouldn’t that be fun to see the auction and maybe drag something home? The Fargo truck kind of calls to me, although I’d have to do something about the side-of-beef pink paint. At least it would be nice to hang a Ford flat head on the garage well.
It’s even farther for me, about 4500km so looks like it’s all safe from my clutches.
Do you have a link to the auction?
In the last paragraph.
It is https://rhythmauctions.hibid.com/catalog/405238/online-auction-for-the-estate-of-marlin-brown
It’s a potentially exciting haul but only if you could get a large truck up there cheaply. I’m surprised how many small English cars made it to the Canadian back country in the 50s during the “export or die” era.
The body on the Fargo truck may be a fire fighting unit if the object in the back is a PTO driven pump, it could also be a generator.
The body on the back of the Fargo indicates it’s a Bell System lineman’s repair truck. The side door with the angled door edge was used on the shorter Dodge truck chassis, so I suspect it’s original to the truck. [The Ford & Chevy versions had a square side door.] As the US versions don’t have a platform at the top, it is probably a Canadian addition, added sometime in it’s life.
I’m familiar with the Dodge/Bell lineman’s truck as I used to own a 1955 version in the original olive green color, with the Chesapeake Telephone Company logo on the doors, featuring the famous “Bell” in the center.
I’m going to speculate that because the Bell System owned the trucks and the specialized bodies, and as this is a Fargo and not a Dodge truck, perhaps there is a connection between the Canadian telephone system and the US-based Bell System?
On conducting further research on the website Telecommunications.ca, it seems that there was indeed a Bell System in Canada, and Alexander Graham Bell had emigrated to Canada before arriving in Boston. The website indicates Bell actually designed the first model of the telephone and briefly tested it in Brantford, ON, before finishing the working model in Boston, MA.
Here’s a photo of the basic lineman’s truck body on a Ford chassis.
Thank you for the id on the body. That is very interesting. Telephone companies were fragmented a bit by province but Bell is one of the big ones out east today.
When Bell Canada spun off its hardware division, which was similar to the US Western Electric that eventually became Lucent, it evolved into Nortel which was one of the largest telco companies in the world. 100K employees, hundreds of billions in market cap. Then it all imploded in the dot-com bust of 2000. So in a way, Fargo and Bell Canada were like Plymouth and Western Electric. They’re all gone now. And like the PSA -Chrysler hookup, Lucent was acquired by a French company, Alcatel. Which is now owned by Nokia. Which made Nokian tires until that group was spun off in the ‘80’s. And which earlier had acquired Saab’s IT hardware business. OK, enough Computing Classics.
Brantford ON calls itself “The Telephone City” on the water tower.
The Thames E83W was a typical commercial vehicle here in Uruguay, and it was used way over its capabilities. Here it was branded as “Fordson”, in classic Ford type within the blue oval. My wife’s uncle, who was 60 40 years ago, still used his 48 green painted, woody wagon to carry his dry cleaning store’s deliveries. It was beautifully preserved, but it would take forever to go from anywhere to anywhere else. At the time, it was impossible to keep up with traffic.
I believe they were badged as both Fordson and Thames here in Canada possibly depending if you bought at a Ford or Mercury dealership. The E83W is tempting if it went cheap enough although it might be too slow to be really usable. I’ve heard 40mph is the absolute max they go due to the low gearing.
The Packard dashboard is surprisingly dull. I like the exterior styling of these but the interior doesn’t scream luxury. I assume this is an Ultramatic. Be curious how many manual ones there are out there. One with overdrive would be interesting.
The 1954 Packard is a base model Clipper sedan, comparable to a Olds 88 or Buick Special.
By 1954 most cars in the Packard line-up were automatics, but there were still plenty of the lower-priced Clippers that were equipped with stickshift, most of them had the optional overdrive.
One of the big criticisms of the 1951-1954 Packards is that there wasn’t much differentiation between the lower-priced models 200/250 (Clipper) and the “senior” 300 and 400 (Cavalier/Patrician), which is most prominent in the dashboard, which is basically painted metal with a small bezel for a limited set of instruments, shared across all the models. They kinda all have a “high-end taxicab” vibe to them. George Christopher was still in charge when those models were designed, and he thought Packard was, at best, in competition with Buick. James Nance tried to inject some flair after he was hired, but there was only so much he could do until the 1955’s came out.
Great collection, and photos. It’s amazing how such a variety of cars, domestic and foreign, ended up in a small town so far north. I can’t believe they’re all native to that location – maybe some of them just died on the highway nearby. 🙂
Canadian trivia – I hadn’t seen a BA gasoline sign in years. It looks like it’s in blue-and-orange as opposed to the original red-and-green. Which means it’s from a brief transition period in the late 1960’s, after British-American was bought by Gulf but before the stations were changed over to Gulf signage.
Wow ~ a left hand drive Ford Prefect .
Looks decent, I’d be wanting to look hard underneath any of these vehicles .
The Prefect floors are plywood, Minors rust out underneath but the old sidevalve Morris engines were far better than the early Austin OHV they used later, Sidevalve Hillmans go ok and drive OK they are far more of an advanced car than the Ford Ive owned both those models but badged Humber ten, while a mate of mine had a good Prefect that model when he had his Prefect flatout maximum velocity I could pull out and overtake, ride is better in the Rootes cars handling is good in the Minors, Those Fordsons were an evil device, offset Prefect drive train but geared right down 45 mph is maximum speed dont go outside the city limits. Actually ifyou really want some old British cars the Biggest collection on this planet is being sold off on trade me piecemeal, Roger Carr took you guys on a tour years ago, well the owner passed and the 500 cars he had are up for grabs, postage could be expensive.
I had no idea the Prefect floors were plywood. Makes some sense I guess with material shortages and cheaper construction. That generation of Prefect was definitely an old car even when new. I had an Envoy Epic (Vauxhall Viva) with a cardboard fiber like material for a firewall. My father had a Prefect (or maybe the Anglia) like that as a much younger man. He used to tell stories about the vacuum powered wipers. He apparently abandoned it on the streets of Edinburgh sometime in the 70s.
The Hillmans were definitely more advanced but not flashy looking. I feel it somehow makes them overlooked as classic cars these days.
I’m definitely a cheap classic car person so my whole purchase price is generally less than the postage of those. 🙂 There is another stash of British cars being sold closer to home. Lots of early Minors, a few British Fords but they are all really tough. Saved by a scrapyard operator back in the day by the looks of them.