Old Kids on the Block
A personal collection of antique trucks and memorabilia goes up for auction in New Hampshire
By Chuck Miller
A rare 1947 Mack FW truck, one of only 63 ever manufactured by Mack in that year, sold for $29,000 in an auction that both celebrated one of the largest private collections of trucks and service vehicles and helped raise money for scholarships and trust funds.
On a sunny Saturday in July, bidders and collectors from all over the U.S. gathered in tiny Hillsborough, N.H., to bid on a piece of Kemp’s Truck Museum. Richard Kemp, who spent nearly 50 years amassing the collection of Sterlings, Peterbilts, Macks and International Harvesters, passed away in 2007, leaving his beloved fleet behind. (Road King, “Tears of a Bulldog,” March/April 2009) Rather than have the entire collection sold for scrap, the Town of Hillsborough organized an auction, allowing collectors and truck enthusiasts the opportunity to acquire rare and hard-to-find restoration projects.
“We had over 500 registered bidders, and there were at least 2,000 people at the auction site,” says Shaun Berry of Paul McInnis Auctions. “The local people in Hillsborough turned out all day.”
A second Mack FW went for $20,000 (prices do not include the 15 percent charge for the auction house) and a 1939 FN Mack dump truck sold for $29,000. “Most of the people buying the trucks were collectors,” says Berry. “They wanted to restore them. They were concerned that the scrap dealers would come in, but that wasn’t the case.”
Several bidders came in with the goal of getting one special truck for their collection. “We had several gentlemen who came in looking to acquire a 1930s Linn logging truck. The person who won the bidding (at $22,000) said he was going to go home with it, regardless of how much it cost.”
The land that previously held Kemp’s Truck Museum will now be restored as a park. Two trucks from the collection — a 1936 RD6 Caterpillar snowplow and a 1948 LJX Mack tandem axle truck that was previously nicknamed Black Beauty — were removed from bidding and will stay on site in honor of Kemp.
After decades on the grounds, it took a while to get some of the trucks onto transports to their new homes. “We spent a whole afternoon with a backhoe and chainsaw to clear around one of the big FW Macks,” says Berry. “We couldn’t get to the right door to get its serial number.”