The Bouncy House Inventor Was an American Car Nut and His Immense Collection Is Now for Sale
September 15, 2020
We’ve all heard of that book The Millionaire Next Door–the idea being that even your neighbor down the street could have a pile of wealth that you’d never know about. But what if I told you that the same concept existed, but with cars? A perfect example is the late Bob Regehr, the man who invented the moon-walk bounce house and used his wealth to build a prolific car collection that he kept hidden for nearly three decades.
Since Bob’s passing last September, his massive car collection has finally come to light after spending almost 30 years tucked away within the walls of a storage facility in Kansas. More than 130 classic cars are slated to cross the auction block next month, a number which represents a fraction of what the collection once was.
As it turns out, Regehr was always a secret auto enthusiast and had been collecting various cars since he was just 14 years old, beginning with a 1940 Mercury. To tie his hobby into his work, Regehr even tried making it as a car salesman, though he quickly found that he much rather preferred admiring the cars than selling them. So he opened up a full-service Texaco gas station in the ’60s where he began admiring the vehicles through a sort of drive-through car show. Regehr began making good money through the gas station and started offering to buy the cars he liked which came through to fill-up.
Bob and his wife, Judy, found financial success in the 1970s after debuting the moon-walk bounce house (you know, the ones from children’s birthday parties) at the Chicago World Fair. And just like with his Texaco store, he used his wealth to grow his car collection–but this time, it grew enormously. At one point, Regehr supposedly had a sea of 226 classic cars at his disposal.
If there’s an iconic classic car you can think of, chances are, Bob has owned one. His current collection, nearly halved from its peak, still has a plethora of desirable domestic automobiles. At one point it was so overwhelming that he sought out assistance to get his stable in order.
Fortunately, the folks over at Hot Rod Magazine heard about Regehr’s collection and offered to lend a hand in organizing the fleet. What they found was a box full of unmarked keys, no documentation for the vehicles, and what is described as a “wealth” of new old stock parts for many collectible vehicles built from 1930 to 1960. Over the course of several months, Bob worked closely to provide detailed accounts of each and every vehicle to create documentation on the cars, which included the perceived value, rarity and condition.
Bob’s vices were his Fords, and by an overwhelming about. In total, he had more than 60 vehicles by the automaker, including early Tudor sedans, Thunderbirds, Falcons, Mustangs, Model As and even a firetruck. But the staples of his collection were his 1932 Fords, more specifically. In fact, there were approximately 20 in the entire collection at one point, ranging from roadsters to phaetons, and even several B400s which are said to have originally been cars for a U.S. Embassy in Europe.
Of course, there were other notable vehicles. C1 Corvettes, Camaros, El Caminos, Pontiac GTOs, Buick Rivieras, early Cadillac Coupe DeVilles and plenty more. The complete list can be found VanDerBrink’s auction site ahead of the Oct. 24 hammer date.
And like Regehr told his daughter: “If you want one you can bid on it at the auction too. That way you know you really want it.”