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WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 29, 2012, 06:59 PM

Estate sale brings in hundreds of buyers to small town Ayr, ND

Ayr, ND (WDAY TV) -- Ayr, North Dakota. Normally, population about 10. Today, it swelled to hundreds, for a one-of-a-kind auction. People, from all over the country, were bidding on the estate of Keith Johnson, a man credited with keeping the small town alive. There were antique cars, trucks, model-T's, old Mobil Oil signs and products. One man's museum.

Ayr, ND (WDAY TV) -- Ayr, North Dakota. Normally, population about 10. Today, it swelled to hundreds, for a one-of-a-kind auction. People, from all over the country, were bidding on the estate of Keith Johnson, a man credited with keeping the small town alive. There were antique cars, trucks, model-T's, old Mobil Oil signs and products. One man's museum.

John Ohnstad can't get enough of his new 1937 Ford two door car, that he paid just over 16 thousand dollars for.

John: "I was in the body business many years ago and I fixed a car just like this one."

This purchase comes with joy and sadness. Keith Johnson was a business partner and good friend of John's. Seeing his best friends stuff sold is bitter sweet.

John: "I helped him buy some of the model T's."

John isn't walking away with just one memory, but two. He also bought his good friends 1915 model T for 75-hundred dollars, that he drove about 25 years ago.

John: "I never though i'd own it."

When it came to bidding on this Model T, John says that the sentimental value that goes along with this car means more than any price tag you could have put on it.

John: "Keith and I went on a tour through a North Dakota park, Medora, and we each had one Model T."

This estate auction is one of the biggest for Steffes Auctioneers. Founder Bob Steffes was also a good friend of Keith's.

Bob: "Because it is so unique, he was one of the few collectors that had Model T's."

Steffes says Johnson's collection is what kept the town on the map, and with the priceless pieces of his own Bonazaville, Ayr North Dakota may become a thing of the past.

Bob: "This is like a funeral of a small town in north Dakota, but it's been going on for 60 years, and what will be left of Ayr when were done is the elevator."

Once all of the classic signs, buildings, and model T's have found new homes. Friends and family will know the treasured pieces and Keith's love for antiques will live on. Danielle Miller WDAY 6 News. >

Steffes says this auction will most likely bring in at least 300 thousand dollars.

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