Feb. 23, 2018, update: "Strange Inheritance," a program on the Fox Business Network, filmed the auction below last year. The episode, titled "Bumper Crop," will air Monday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. Mountain (9 p.m. Eastern), a Fox spokeswoman said.
The story below was published Aug. 30, 2017:
An auction of 59 classic cars owned by a late Idaho farmer was “a little melancholy and bittersweet, but exciting,” the farmer’s daughter says.
The auction Saturday in Nampa raised $600,000 to be divided among heirs of Cal Phillips, of Paul. Phillips built his collection over 20 years after retiring from farming. He died in 2013. The cars were featured in a July 11 Statesman story.
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An important piece of the collection, a 1950 Bentley, will stay in the family. It was one of daughter Sherri Anderson’s favorites.
Anderson and her husband, Bill, were determined to get the silver-and-black Bentley. Anderson had to be on stage during the auction and could not bid, so she and Bill worked out a code for when the Bentley came up. If she wanted him to keep bidding, she’d pull on her right ear. If she wanted him to stop bidding, she’d pull both ears. A bidder from Washington state kept pace with the Andersons until the end.
“I nearly tore my right ear out of my head for the Bentley,” Anderson said Wednesday.
The car cost the couple $46,000 — “way over” their budget, but Anderson has no regrets.
“I cried when we got the car,” she said. “I mouthed ‘thank you’ to my husband. He blew me a kiss.”
The auction took place at Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho. It attracted 301 registered bidders, about 100 spectators, and 265 online bidders from 25 states and Canada. One car lover from Utah parked his RV in the auction parking lot and camped for two days.
The Andersons live in Atlanta, Georgia, where they own a real-estate photography and virtual-tour company. They plan to open another business providing retro car wedding transportation in Savannah, a city made famous by the book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Evil.” Anderson said the Bentley — “a dream to drive” — will be the centerpiece of the wedding business, along with a 1951 robin’s-egg-blue Ford sedan that also came from her father’s collection.
A friend in Georgia bid for and got a 1975 silver MG convertible in the auction. “It’s another piece of Idaho coming home with me,” Anderson said.
Phillips had several children and many grandchildren. The family agreed to auction the car collection and share the proceeds rather than divide the collection. Her father, Anderson said, “would have laughed” to see the interest in his collection and the large amount of money it raised for his heirs.
Phillips took up restoration as a hobby and potential money maker. But after he spent time restoring cars, he found it hard to part with them.
All the cars but two sold. A 1949 Willys-Overland Jeepster Roadster and a 1973 Ford Mustang convertible will be posted in an online auction that begins Thursday, Aug. 31, and continues for a week. See more at daaofidaho.com.
The collection may live on in another way. “Strange Inheritance,” a program on the Fox Business Network, filmed the auction. An air date has not been set. Watch for details at foxbusiness.com.