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Idaho farmer leaves behind strange bumper crop

Published February 22, 2018Strange InheritanceFOXBusiness

Strange Inheritance: Bumper crop

An Idaho farmer meticulously restores scores of classic cars in his barn, and leaves them to his children.

For half a century Cal Phillips farmed thousands of acres of potatoes, sugar beets and beer barley. But he raised his real bumper crop after he retired.

That’s when he tried something new: fixing up cars. By the time he died in 2013 at age 88, his Idaho barn was filled with more than 50 restored classics -- gems harvested from junk.

“He had cars dating from 1919 up to 1982,” says Phillips’ daughter Sherri Anderson. They ranged from a Ford Model T Coupe, to a Bentley and a Rolls Royce, to muscle cars from the sixties and seventies.

Phillips’ collection is featured on the latest episode of the FOX Business Network series “Strange Inheritance” with Jamie Colby. It airs Monday, Feb. 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Phillips’ decision to restore classic autos in his retirement surprised his long-time friend Manerd Wall.

“I didn’t really think Cal was the kind of guy to get into cars,” Wall tells Colby in the program. “He needed something to do. He wanted to collect farm machinery, but I think he found that cars were easier.”

Phillips initially intended to sell the vehicles he restored. That plan went by the wayside with his first project -- an old pick-up that he stripped down to bare metal, patched with body filler and given a new coat of paint.

“He sold it right away and then he cried,” recalls Anderson. “After that, he couldn’t part with them.”

So his barn filled up with the cars he restored. A ’49 Willys Jeepster here, a ‘68 Mustang there, a ’75 MG Roadster in the corner.

His children, however, felt they had no choice but to sell their strange inheritance. Britney Egbert of Dealers Auctions of Idaho steered the process for them.

“My jaw hit the ground. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” Egbert says of the first time she entered Phillips’ horsepower-packed barn. “He had them sandwiched in there so close you could barely walk.”

The auction took place last August, and reaped nearly $600,000. That included $9,000 for a 1957 Hudson Metropolitan, $16,500 for that 1919 Model T, $25,000 for a 1966 Chevelle Super Sport and $57,000 for Phillips’ 1928 Rolls Royce.

“It is a very bittersweet moment,” Anderson says. “These were Dad’s cars. Some of them were just pieces of metal that he took in and made something so beautiful.”

Classic Cars from Idaho Up for Auction



Sherri Anderson puts her shoulder to the aluminum door of a barn sitting atop a scenic hill near Paul, Idaho. The door gives a few inches with a squawk, but she gives it another shove and with a squeaky groan, the shadows give way to daylight shining on a half-dozen dusty cars carefully stored inside.

“This is where the magic happened,” she said with equal amounts of pride and good-natured resignation. This is the paint and mechanic shop — and the magic that happened was when her father, Callan Phillips, would take sometimes as little as a chassis and an engine and go to work.

However, these are not ordinary cars meticulously parked inside this barn and two others. Rather, these are just a drop in the oil bucket of her father’s astounding collection of 59 classic cars.

In three barns, there are carefully stored 1919 and 1920 Model Ts and the family favorite, a 1950 Bentley. There are Mustangs and vintage pickups and muscle cars, three Mercedes, a 1976 Porsche, a 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Super Sport and a 1965 Malibu SS. There’s a cute little 1957 Hudson Metropolitan and a Model A and the rarest of the cars, a 1928 Rolls Royce.

“His passion was this. This is what he loved to do,” says Anderson. She laughs. “It was almost an obsession.”

Her father is a Purple Heart-decorated World War II veteran and lifelong farmer. When he retired in 1994, he wanted something to do. So in the next 20 years, working on sometimes two or three cars at a time, what Phillips did was end up with a collection of 70 vehicles — cars, trucks, convertibles and sedans, all restored as carefully and as close to the original as he could.

“Dad’s quote was he didn’t find the cars; they found him,” says Anderson. “And they did. … He’d get so excited about fixing them up.”

As the story goes, when Phillips sold the first truck he restored, he sat in the cab and cried. “After that, it was downhill,” says Anderson. “He wasn’t going to part with them after that.”

Phillips died in 2013. When Anderson’s mother passed away in January 2017, it was time to sell the collection.

“He passed a lot of things to us, and much as we’d like to keep all these, it’s not possible,” says Anderson, one of Phillips’ five remaining children. Last week, she and a crew of family, friends and drivers worked hard in the heat to load the cars on transport trucks to bring them to Nampa — where they’ll be spiffed and polished, get their oil changed and fluids flushed, and tinkered with to see if they’ll start. On Aug. 26 at Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho in Nampa, they will be auctioned.

“You’re going to find there are a few rarities in some of these,” says Anderson. “Some gems, so to speak.”

Britney Egbert, business development manager with Dealers Auto Auction, recalls driving out to the farm to see the cars. She remembers thinking as she drove up, “Please don’t let them be sitting on the other side of the hill in the grass.” But all of the cars have been stored in barns on the property.

“This family cares about cars, you can tell that. We were flabbergasted,” says Egbert. “I got chills when I saw some of them.”

Egbert is marketing the sale nationally and Anderson is predicting her father’s collection will bring close to $1 million.

“What this auction will do is it’s going to allow people to purchase a car from just about every decade,” says Anderson. “From 1919 up to 1981. And in between — everything.”

Some of the vehicles are hard to come by, like the early Model Ts from 1919 and the 1920s. The biggest attraction, of course, is the Rolls Royce, which is expected to sell for $80,000. But Anderson has been impressed with interest from a variety of collectors.

“There’s something for everybody, really. That’s what kind of neat about this collection,” says Anderson. “He didn’t just collect one particular type of car. His love of cars was vast.”

While well-cared-for classic cars are not unusual, what is rare is to find such an eclectic collection.

“It will be very sad in some ways, but the one thing Dad wanted,” says Anderson, “(is) he wanted someone to enjoy these cars, too. So somebody who is going to to buy these cars is going to enjoy them, like he did. And that’s a kind of great thing to pass on.”

Katherine Jones: 208-377-6414

The 1950 Bentley is Staying in the Family


The 1950 Bentley is Staying in the Family

An auction of 59 classic cars owned by a late Idaho farmer was “a little melancholy and bittersweet, but exciting,” the farmer’s daughter says.

The auction Saturday in Nampa raised $622,000 to be divided among heirs of Cal Phillips, of Paul. Phillips built his collection over 20 years after retiring from farming. He died in 2013. The cars were featured in a July 11 Statesman story.

An important piece of the collection, a 1950 Bentley, will stay in the family. It was one of daughter Sherri Anderson’s favorites.

Anderson and her husband, Bill, were determined to get the silver-and-black Bentley. Anderson had to be on stage during the auction and could not bid, so she and Bill worked out a code for when the Bentley came up. If she wanted him to keep bidding, she’d pull on her right ear. If she wanted him to stop bidding, she’d pull both ears. A bidder from Washington state kept pace with the Andersons until the end.

“I nearly tore my right ear out of my head for the Bentley,” Anderson said Wednesday.

The car cost the couple a sizable amount of money — “way over” their budget, but Anderson has no regrets.

“I cried when we got the car,” she said. “I mouthed ‘thank you’ to my husband. He blew me a kiss.”

The auction took place at Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho. It attracted 301 registered bidders, about 100 spectators, and 265 online bidders from 25 states and Canada. One car lover from Utah parked his RV in the auction parking lot and camped for two days.

0710 classic cars 01.jpg

The Andersons live in Georgia, where they own a real-estate photography and virtual-tour company. They plan to open another business providing vintage car wedding transportation in Savannah, a city made famous by the book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Evil.” Anderson said the Bentley — “a dream to drive” — will be the centerpiece of the wedding business, along with a 1951 robin’s-egg-blue Ford sedan and a 1973 Mustang convertible that also came from her father’s collection.

A client of the Anderson's business in Georgia bid for and got a 1975 silver MG convertible in the auction. “It’s another piece of Idaho coming home with me,” Anderson said.

Phillips had several children and many grandchildren. The family agreed to auction the car collection and share the proceeds rather than divide the collection. Her father, Anderson said, “would have been thrilled” to see the interest in his collection and the large amount of money it raised for his heirs.

Phillips took up restoration as a hobby and potential money maker. But after he spent time restoring cars, he found it hard to part with them.

The collection may live on in another way. “Strange Inheritance,” a program on the Fox Business Network, filmed the auction and in Savannah.  An air date has not been set. Watch for details at

Reality show 'Strange Inheritance' to feature Nampa car auction on Monday episode


Strange Inheritance" host Jamie Colby and heir Sherri Anderson sit in a classic car featured in an upcoming episode airing Feb. 26. 

Courtesy of FOX Business Network

Erin Bamer is the city of Nampa reporter. Contact her at 208-465-8193, or Follow on Twitter @ErinBamer.

NAMPA — Reality show “Strange Inheritance” on the FOX Business Network will feature a classic Nampa car auction, Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho, in an upcoming episode airing at 7 p.m. Feb. 26, according to a press release.

The show, hosted by Jamie Colby, tracks unique inheritances from across the country, and on Monday’s episode, it will feature an Idaho farmer, Cal Phillips, who restored old, classic cars. Some of the cars were auctioned off at the Dealers Auto Auction last August.

“He had cars dating from 1919 up to 1982,” said Phillips’ daughter, Sherri Anderson, in a FOX Business Network report.

At the auction, a 1957 Hudson Metropolitan sold for $9,000, a 1919 Model T sold for $16,500, a 1966 Chevelle Super Sport sold for $25,000, and a 1928 Rolls Royce sold for $57,000, according to the report.

“It is a very bittersweet moment,” Anderson said in the report. “These were dad’s cars. Some of them were just pieces of metal that he took in and made something so beautiful.”

“Strange Inheritance” has filmed more than 100 episodes and is in its fourth season, having launched in 2015.

Erin Bamer is the city of Nampa reporter. Contact her at 208-465-8193, or Follow on Twitter @ErinBamer.


After falling in love with the charm and natural beauty of Savannah as a teenager, Kate dreamt of getting married there one day. After convincing her now husband Dustin that a destination wedding was a good idea, they envisioned a classic, chic, and timeless celebration, and as you can see in these images by THE HAPPY BLOOM that's exactly what they achieved. Inspired by their favorite vacation spots of Maine and Big Sur, they incorporated ethereal shades of blue throughout their wedding details and the reception included simple greenery and an abundance of candles giving a cozy, intimate vibe.

Kate tells us, "Most of our family and friends hadn't been to Savannah before and we were excited to host a fun wedding weekend and introduce them to a city we love so much. We hosted a ghost walk and cocktail reception the night before the wedding and included a post wedding trolley tour as a way to introduce everyone to Savannah and really show them all of it's charm and beauty. We chose Chatham Square because we thought it had the best trees and SOHO SOUTH CAFE because we were lucky enough for them to step in and offer their services after the Olde Pink House (our original venue) had a fire eight weeks before our wedding! SOHO SOUTH turned out beautifully and we couldn't imagine having our reception anywhere else now. I wanted to incorporate Scottish thistle into the flowers to honor my Scottish heritage and add pops of blue to the mostly white floral arrangements. I wanted just simple greenery and tons of candles at the reception to give an intimate and elegant vibe.

Justin & Amanda from THE HAPPY BLOOM had this to say, "Kate and Dustin's wedding day was a true embodiment of the couple themselves - classic, easy going and family oriented. The couple opted for a more intimate wedding of less than 100 guests. The couple also opted for no traditional wedding party to ensure that their day had an easy flow with low stress, a more manageable timeline and so much more time TOGETHER. With this extra time on our side, we were able to provide the couple with a private escape over to historic Wormsloe and it's avenue of oaks for their first look, portraits and simply - some time to relax and recharge before the ceremony."

HOW DID YOU MEET? We briefly met in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007 and the extent of that relationship was Facebook friends. After college, Dustin stayed in Wisconsin and I moved back to Chicago. Fast forward to 2015, Dustin moved to Chicago for work and reached out to me on a whim and asked me out and the rest is history.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL: We both love traveling and while he likes exploring new places, I love revisiting the same destinations. In February 2018, I dragged him to Savannah for his second and my sixth time thinking/assuming/hoping he would propose but I had low expectations since I destroyed the house looking for a ring and found nothing. His plan was to get me to Forsyth Park but his nerves only got him to Johnson Square and he proposed a few hours after we got into town. We don't remember what either of us said but there was some crying, a little swearing (Kate) and lots of laughing.

TELL US ABOUT FINDING YOUR WEDDING DRESS: I went into dress shopping with only a few ideas in mind. I love the effortless sophistication of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Jean Shrimpton, Catherine Deneuve, Lee Radziwill, and Gloria Guinness so I knew I wanted something more fashion forward than traditional. I also wanted solid silk or crepe and no lace.The dress I ended up with was the first dress I tried on at Alice In Ivory, which was the second store I visited. I didn’t put it on and say “this is the one!”. Instead, I just kept going back to it after trying on several others until finally I realized that I couldn’t live without that dress.

DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING FLOWERS: I chose peonies, Juliet roses, blue thistle, anemones, ranunculus. I really loved the simplicity and elegance of whites and greenery but it was also important to me to get the thistle in there as a nod to my Scottish heritage and for that extra pop of blue.

FAVORITE DETAIL OF THE DAY: The custom vintage ad style poster from an artist in Chicago which we used as our welcome sign.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OUT TO A COUPLE PLANNING THEIR WEDDING? Hire a planner or at least a week of coordinator. They are absolutely worth the money. Also, learn to compromise. Listen to your fiance’s ideas and don’t veto them just because you instantly dislike it. And finally, trust your vendors! You might feel overwhelmed but they are there to help you and they know exactly what they’re doing.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT? The simple answer is EVERYTHING but our time together for our first look and taking pictures really stands out. When you're at WORMSLOE, you feel like you're in a dream and to be there together, calming our nerves before the wedding and soaking in the moment was precious to us. Runner up moment though is the end of the night, dancing to our favorite song (When You Were Young- The Killers) surrounded by our families and friends and just feeling so happy and loved.

ANY OTHER DETAILS THAT HELP TELL THE STORY OF YOUR DAY? Our initial reception location burned down! Not completely but the ballroom of the Olde Pink House... the exact room our reception was to be held in, caught on fire and was completely damaged eight weeks before our wedding. We lucked out in securing our replacement reception venue and we couldn’t have been happier. Soho South Cafe is stunning and the staff was so amazing to work with. We actually can’t even imagine what our wedding would have been like if the fire hadn’t happened and we consider ourselves lucky that everything worked out the way it did.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR HONEYMOON: We’re doing a two week trip to Italy and Croatia. We’re visiting Rome, Naples, Positano, Split, and Dubrovnik

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE OR DO DIFFERENTLY? I would have stressed less and enjoyed it more. I kept thinking how relieved I would be when I finally didn’t have planning on my mind every day but now I miss it!