69 Vintage Vehicles Left Behind By Plumber Head to Auction - NBC Southern California

Nearly 70 vehicles, some from the 1920s, owned by a plumber who died last summer without an original will are up for auction by the Orange County Public Administrator.

The 76-year-old man's estate included 69 cars discovered in the front, side and back yards of his half-acre property in Buena Park. The Public Administrator's office petitioned the court to sell the assets of the owner, who did not have a legal executor for the estate or any legally recognized next of kin when he died in August 2014.

The office is charged with taking care of assets in such situations. The vehicles were transported to the Public Administrator's lot in Santa Ana, where they were parked during the legal process that led to this week's auction.

"This is a unique situation for us," Elizabeth Henderson, chief deputy public administrator for Orange County, told The Orange County Register. "We get cars all the time, but we mostly deal with individual cars people would generally have in their driveways, somebody's Honda Accord that has to be auctioned.

"This stuff is kind of amazing."

The collection includes 1930s Ford Model A Roadsters, several VW Beetles, Mercedes-Benz models, a 1965 Volkswagen van and an experimental aircraft. Fans of vintage British roadsters will note Lots 90 and 24 -- a 1959 Austin Healey 3000 and 1953 MG TD.

The vehicles were stored outdoors for decades and all require some work. Other are probably just scrap.

Many of the vehicles are in what vintage automotive enthusiasts refer to as "barn find" condition -- something that can probably be restored, but isn't immediately fit for the street.

( Mon Aug 31 12:05:18 PDT 2015 Aug. )

The automotive stockpile includes 1930s Ford Model A Roadsters, several VW Beetles, Mercedes-Benz models, a 1965 Volkswagen van and an experimental aircraft. Raw video broadcast Monday Aug. 31, 2015 on NBC4. (Published Monday, Aug. 31, 2015)

"They're full of straw and leaves and newspapers," said Henderson.

The items also include an assortment of vehicle parts, tires and engines.

The man behind the automotive stockpile is somewhat of a mystery. Gerald Willits died at 76 and apparently worked in the plumbing business, the Register reported, citing signage on some of the vehicles.

A neighbor told the Register Willits only drove his Saturn and appeared to live a humble lifestyle.

But the automobiles were just part of what appears to be a considerable estate. He also owned at least four homes in Orange County, three of which also will be auctioned, the Register reported.

Ken Porter Auctions of Carson will conduct the auction Tuesday, beginning at 8 a.m. The vehicles are available Monday for viewing at 1300 South Grand Ave. in Santa Ana.

A judge will determine how the proceeds from the auction will be distributed.

Click here to view items up for auction.

Published at 10:49 AM PDT on Aug 31, 2015


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