Bachelor farmer grew more than crops; he grew a car collection

Bachelor farmer grew more than crops; he grew a car collection

Vanderbrink Auctions staging 2-day sale this week in Minnesota

James Graham was a bachelor Minnesota farmer who grew more than corn, wheat and soybeans. 

“James was also growing a bumper crop of GM convertibles, Ford, Mercury and of course Graham trucks after his namesake,” Vanderbrink Auctions reports as it prepares for the August 9-10 sale of the more than 200 collector cars, as well as more than 40 vintage tractors, that Graham collected.

Of the cars going to auction, 45 are convertibles. 

1957 Pontiac Star Chief

Graham, who died at age 88, joined the U.S. Marines in 1952. When he came home, the auction company noted, “There was a share of women, but none of them stole his heart like the hunt for an old car or tractor.”

Graham’s car collection began before he left for military service. His first car was a 1934 Ford coupe. As local television station WDAY reports in its story with video of the collection about the auction, Graham wanted a convertible, so he cut the top off the car. He also removed the windshield, replacing it with a smaller one from a boat. The car carried him and a date to his high school prom.

His first find was a 1934 Ford Coupe that he cut the top off to have a “better time” cruising with friends in the Midwest sun. He loved fishing and well, buying stuff.

At one point, Graham’s collection included around 500 vehicles. As one of his friends told the TV reporter, “There was nobody to shut him down, like a spouse would.”

1957 Ford Skyliner with retractable top

Vanderbrink reports that the vehicles vary in condition from “restored to many, many original, barn fresh cars and trucks.” 

“Farming many acres, the tractors in the collection came naturally. Now when we said that James bought anything, we mean it. The collection also contains a collection of about 1,000 Collector Decorative plates, Jim Beam Decanters, Avon Bottles, Die Cast toys, and more. James couldn’t wait till the UPS guy would show up with more boxes and treasures. 

The auction company notes that, “Being a farmer, he had lots of building to put his collection,” and the cars were kept in various sheds and other buildings on his property. 

1962 Ford Thunderbird


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  • Gene Rabel
    August 9, 2019, 2:16 PM

    Address and town where this auction is being held would be appreciated

    • Ryan Corman@Gene Rabel
      August 10, 2019, 6:55 PM

      Go to the Vanderbrink website. Direct personal experience- I live in Fargo ND, and often attend Vanderbrink auctions, this farmstead is not on your GPS; dude lived in the real sticks. Real sticks. You go, you’ll see things you thought long gone, and you’ll hear and see exactly how a rich white racist became our "president". Be prepared. Generations old family farms are going under.
      Vanderbrink has a very good website. You can online or get directions, and view what’s available. The lady that runs Vanderbrink is a specialist in these "old farmer bought wild" auctions, contact her directly through the site.
      Good luck.

      • Alco Fribas @Ryan Corman
        August 17, 2019, 2:56 PM

        Nice car collection, will you be my friend!!!!

  • Brian Baxter
    August 17, 2019, 3:00 PM

    Was disappointed that this article came to my inbox more then a week after the auction. Had I known about this auction I would have contacted the auctioneer to find out about bidding and shipping to Canada.

  • Rich Sauers
    August 18, 2019, 4:20 AM

    My kind of guy I always had a lot of cars but not that many he had a great life I guess maybe I get something at auction