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Classic car museum near Buffalo keeps historic pieces out of the junkyard

WRIGHT COUNTY, Minnesota — Instead of watching old classic cars leave the state, a Wright County museum is trying to preserve them at the Veit Museum near Buffalo.

“My parents were going through the Great Depression, so they saved up. I got through it,” Vaughn Veit said.

From the outside, one of Vaughn's buildings looks like a good-sized dairy barn. But inside, it's a car enthusiast's dream, housing a collection of classics as far as the eye can see.

“Some people are amazed. That's because there are a lot of car museums, but none like this one,” Vaughn said.

He’s the man behind vintage vehicles. He started the Veit Automotive Foundation 25 years ago when he noticed that many longtime car enthusiasts were selling their collections as they got older.

“And I figured I'm not going to continue collecting for 40 or 50 years and it's not going to spread all over the country,” Vaughn said.

So he stores his cars and others on a 500-acre plot of land near Buffalo.

“Everyone is a little different. No two are the same,” Vaughn said.

He still has the first set of wheels he ever owned, sold, bought back and restored. It's his favorite of the hundred or so automobiles on the site.

“The ’33 Fords. I don’t know, they’re just, they’ve only been made for eight months and they’re pretty feminine in their design and I like them,” Vaughn said.

There are also collections of gas pumps, signs, pedal cars and bicycles.

The buildings themselves are unique. The posts came from a Connecticut mill and the floor from a Kentucky tobacco barn. The rafters came from a British Columbia school.

“It’s similar to how Vaughn likes to use recycled materials. And to make it fit the look of the Minnesota center inside and out, I think he did a great job on that,” said Kari Heinzmann, Vaughn’s assistant.

The same can be said of the neighboring round barn, which houses a Woody Wagon with wicker seats and a Ford Sedan similar to Bonnie and Clyde's getaway car. But the main attraction may well be the Dussenbergs.

“It was the most expensive luxury car ever built in the United States,” Vaughn said.

In 1930, a Dussenberg sold for up to $30,000 while the Model A sold for $450.

“They went 112 miles per hour, the Model A went 45. They were fast cars,” Vaughn said.

Only a few hundred of these cars were made. Today, they are valued at around $3 million, according to Vaugn.

The cars are on display because Vaughn's foundation can't stand to see them in a junkyard. Today, it's like a chrome town in the middle of rural Minnesota.

“Pictures don’t do it justice. It’s a feeling you get here. People leave with a big smile on their face,” Heinzmann said.

The Veit Museum is located in a rural part of Wright County and offers private tours. For more information, click here.

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