Harvey Bish Collection auction – Oct. 17 in Aurora, Neb.

Farm Forum

They say you don’t know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. Well, with a man like Harv Bish, you’re going to have a hard time keeping up. Harv has had an adventurous life as a successful farmer, inventor, poet, and car collector. At nearing 86 years old, his car collection has grown to well over 100 cars, and he has decided it is time to sell the collection. While many of the cars are truly “treasures”, it has been the people he has met and the adventures he has had in collecting them that he treasures most.

Harv was born in 1929 and raised on a farm near Giltner, Neb., and knew what hard work was from an early age. As the oldest of 6 children, his contributions were needed with the milk cows, the hogs, and the field chores. Initially getting to school meant walking a mile and a quarter both ways. To speed up the process, he started riding his pony, named Dan, and later increased the horsepower to a 1931 Ford Model A 4 door Sedan. As is often the case, he cherished memories of that first car.

As an adult he started custom corn shelling and combining in 1947, a business he continued for 30 years. In 1951 he became engaged to Virginia Hunnicutt and joined the Marines 10 days later. While in training he boxed against a Golden Glove champion and beat the champ by submission in the 2nd round. He arrived in Korea on his 22nd birthday and was soon put to work as a mechanic and a Duck driver. He returned home the next year, married Virginia, began farming, and started their family of 4 children-Gina, Brad, Brian, and Roxie.

On the farm Harv often used his welding skills to invent something to use on the farm. One of the biggest thrills of Harv’s life was in 1954 at the Grand Island husking contest when he exhibited his 2 row Case Snapper head on a 1951 John Deere #55 combine. His new invention was featured against an 8N Ford tractor, pulling a single row Wood’s picker, pulling a Fleisher Schmidt sheller, pulling a wagon. Harv’s unit could go about 1 ½ times faster, and the crowds loved it. Over the years his inventions continued, and he became well-known across the nation for his adapters and for modifying corn and bean heads. The adapters revolutionized the usefulness of farm equipment by allowing farmers to interchange multiple models of heads on various brands of combines. He established Harv’s Farm Supply in 1976 and made and distributed “Bish Head Changers” and “Bish Bin Extensions” across the nation. It would be rare to find an older farmer that has not heard of Harv or Harv’s Farm Supply. Most likely those that have met him could recall a special memory.

Harv’s son, Brian, had been doing the farming since the business was established, and after selling the business to his son, Brad, in 1988, Harv had more time to devote to his hobbies. He had written several poems about meaningful life events like farming, the war, community, friendship and family. While he had dabbled in car collecting over the years, he now had the time and resources to indulge in growing his collection. When he and Virginia annually drove to and from their winter home in Arizona, Harv spotted numerous old cars stashed away on farmsteads and couldn’t resist acquiring these old relics. He frequented the Barrett Jackson Auction in Arizona and liked to buy cars in Arizona because they were never rusty. An extra bonus for Harv to buying cars in Arizona was the excuse to recruit someone to go back with him and retrieve his purchases, virtually guaranteeing the possibility of yet another memorable adventure.

It was at the Arizona Barrett Jackson Auction that he bought one of his favorite cars-a 1966 Ford Concept Retractable Hardtop Mustang. He purchased the car from Ben Smith Jr., the son of the original designer of the prototype developed in 1966. The body panels had been extended 2.5 inches on the same chassis. The oversized deck lid was a unique feature. The car also has noted on the door top-Vin Plate-“Not for Title or Registration” noting that it is a prototype car. The car had the 289 V8 and runs and drives wonderfully. The car was featured in the October 2005 issue of Hemmings Motor News for this concept. Harv is proud to be the owner of one of these Ben Smith prototypes. The kits were manufactured under Retractable Unlimited in those years, and Harv also has a 1967 Ford Mustang with one of those kits. But it is always the red 1966 Ben Smith prototype Mustang that has his heart and steals the show.

Harv’s wife passed away in 2008, and Harv spent more time with his cars in the years that followed. In 2011 he married Jo Kliewer, and they share a love for the cars. In addition to the many car shows and parades they go to, they founded the newly formed car club in Aurora, Cruisin in America. Harv and Jo have worked diligently to preserve the history of the cars, and the car club members have always helped with Harv’s annual September Bar-B-Q car show. Now it will take all hands on deck to prepare for this large auction.

The auction will be held on Oct. 17 at 9:30 a.m. on Highway 14 in Aurora, Nebraska. VanDerBrink Auctions will conduct the auction at no reserve. “I want people to enjoy them as much as I have,” he chuckles. “Bring your checkbooks.” There will be a celebration on Friday with a preview of the cars. In addition to the many Mustangs and Muscle Cars, Harv has Tri-Five Chevrolets and Model As like he had as a kid. There are plenty of fixer upper project cars, tires, hub caps, wagons, engines, and even a Fire Engine. Yvette VanDerBrink says, “ I love selling these unique cars. It will be fun to sell the Mustangs, but there really is something for everyone here from the 57 Chevy to the Roadrunner. You will want to mark this one on the calendar and be on time.” The auction will be live onsite in Aurora as well as on-line bidding through proxibid.com.

Harv’s auction will definitely have variety. After all it was the adventure of acquiring the cars that was priceless to him. If you are up for a little adventure in your life, come spend the day with Harv.

For more info, pics, and more on this auction visit www.vanderbrinkauctions.com or call Yvette at VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC 605-201-7005.