Monday, November 5, 2012

Don Dougan estate auction marks the end of an era

Don Dougan was livin’ every car guy’s dream. Just one look around the large, fenced-in yard of the World War II veteran’s estate, and you can see that he was completely submerged in the things he loved.

The large, grungy, three-bay shop was stocked with every tool, engine hoist, and welding rig anyone could ever need. The land around the shop was crammed full of old cars and parts. And whether they were waiting for the day they would find their way into the garage, or halfway through the process, every car and truck had a story to tell.

My dad and I went to Stilwell over the weekend to check out Don’s estate auction. And in a way, the whole affair was sad. We were seeing a lifetime of passion being pieced-out and sold off in the course of one afternoon. Another bit of history gone. Another era comes to an end.

None of the cars that were there were show pieces by any means, but they were still fun to look at. I think this ’51 Chevy two-door sedan had the most potential, at least as far as I’m concerned. It seemed to be all there, and it is a desirable body style. It appears to have a lot of old, shrunken-out bodywork, but it would be a great canvas for a little hot rod. Lower it, get rid of some emblems, a split manifold and two carburetors, and maybe a different color, and you could have something pretty cool there.

Here’s about a ’46 Chevy stake bed farm truck. These were nicknamed “Wurlitzers” because the large, Art Deco grille reminded people of the popular juke boxes. My dad taught me how to drive in an early-series ’47 Chevy half-ton pickup like this. It was fun to have around, although the worn-out six-volt system required a lot of battery charging and push starts. Ours was good for about 50-mph max on the highway. If this beast was running, I’ll bet it would be geared to run even slower. Lots of torque there, though.

The garage was as interesting as the cars. The auction handbill stated that Don used to work on cars for his family and friends in there. It had a grubby, comfortable, lived-in feel. Bright metal shavings still sat around the drill press from Don’s last project. But the best part was how it reminded my dad of the shop that was behind my granddad’s old used car lot. He had a lot of stories to tell. That place is long gone, but it sure would be neat to go through it now.

We didn’t buy anything at this crowded little auction, but it was definitely fun to look around. Moving forward, this place will never be the same. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it the way Don Dougan intended—stocked to the rafters with the things he loved.

Of course, I took a few pictures for you, which are in the slideshow below. Or click on this link to see a better version of the slideshow.


  1. Sad indeed. All the cool old dudes that actually KNOW how to do stuff and enjoy it are passing away, and their collections are being parted out. Enjoy old guys and their piles of stuff while you can!