Well-known Frankston car dealer Gary Lechte has an undoubted zest for life, evidenced by his lifelong passion for classic American cars, racehorses and significant sporting memorabilia. The thoroughbred stud Delamere at 20-40 Old Moorooduc Road, Dromana he has owned for the past 20 years has enabled him to indulge all three pursuits – the 110-square mansion-like homestead on 100 hectares providing more than sufficient space to run horses and house the considerable collection of “big Yank tanks” he so clearly adores.
Delamere itself is famous for some of the champion racehorses that have stood there at stud. Horses like 1986 Melbourne Cup winner At Talaq (owned by racing giant Dubai’s Sheik Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum) that died of a heart attack and is buried on the property and 1993 Caulfield Cup winner Fraar, which Gary purchased with the late Colin Hayes and is still standing “light” stud duties at Lindsay Park in South Australia. With children grown, Gary has now sold the property and moved to a smaller home on the Mornington Peninsula. As a result, he has asked auctioneer Phil Caldwell to sell much of his car collection, furniture and sporting memorabilia on site from 11am Sunday August 8.
Undoubtedly, the cars on offer will raise the heartbeat of even the most placid classic car enthusiast. Typical of the vehicles is the 1959 Chevrolet four-door hardtop with 35,000 miles, original interior, registration and contract of sale papers – along with two 1959 left-hand drive Buicks. “The Chevrolet cost $US2190 when brand new,” Gary said. “One of the Buicks (an ex funeral car) is a black Electra 225, named after the length of the vehicle.” The other is a red La Sabre Coupe with a white roof in showroom condition that he bought in Seattle and drove down the United States west coast to Los Angeles. “The Swedish owner was horrified at what I was about to do, muttering about the untold damage stone chips would do to his lovely vehicle.”
The sporting memorabilia, some of it from the old Victorian Club in Queen Street, should attract plenty of attention. Included is the club’s original grand piano, an early photo of billiard great Walter Lindrum and several early horse racing prints. Other sporting items include a board devoted to Phar Lap’s 1930 racing victories and a tote board from the same era signed by J. Baker, the first jockey to ride the legendary Red Terror to victory. Also on offer are the original silks from Rising Fast’s 1954 Melbourne Cup win along with those worn by Jim Cassidy the day he rode Might and Power to victory in the 1997 version of the race.
Extra memorabilia includes a signed framed Bill Clinton portrait and baseball bat that Gary obtained during a 2002 Australian dinner the president attended, and photographs and signatures of nine presidents from John F. Kennedy to George Bush senior. A mahogany banquet dining setting with 12 chairs is featured amongst the furniture along with a 22-carat gold gilded French display cabinet, heavy oak sideboard and French bergere armchairs. Another major attraction is the Keogh and Bourne 40-year collection of Royal Worcester including pieces by George Owen and Charles Baldwyn. Viewing 10am-6pm Friday and Saturday August 6-7. Contact 0411 529 414.