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NEBRASKA Dealers
Written by Double Dragon
Saturday, 08 December 2012 23:27

NEBRASKA Dealers

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

Sid Dillon Blair (Chevrolet) Blair, NE (877) 358-4945

Sid Dillon Crete (Ford Lincoln Chevrolet Buick Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram) Crete, NE (866) 906-7153

Sid Dillon Fremont (Chevrolet), Fremont, NE (877) 282-6883

Sid Dillon Fremont (Buick GMC Cadillac Mazda) (888) 476-1090

Sid Dillon Lincoln (Buick Nissan Hyundai) (888) 503-3028

Sid Dillon Wahoo (Chevrolet Buick) Wahoo, NE (800) 677-1180

Fitzgerald's Mid-City Motors (Pontiac, Buick and GMC), Fullerton, NE/ Closed

Huber Cadillac in Omaha, NE

Huber Cadillac, Omaha, NE 402-403-4939

Kramer Motors (Pontiac), Scottsbluff, NE (GTO Judge RA IV drag racer Big Iron- Ron Kister)

Lambrecht Chevrolet Co, Pierce, NE (1946-96) (unsold decades old 'new' cars auctioned 2013)

Mowbray Buick Inc, Lincoln, NE 
Nielsen Chevrolet Buick, Columbus, NE

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SID DILLON BLAIR (Chevrolet) Blair, NE (877) 358-4945

Sid Dillon Blair is a Chevrolet dealership located at 2261 S Hwy 30, Blair, Nebraska.

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SID DILLON CRETE (Ford Lincoln Chevrolet Buick Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram) Crete, NE (866) 906-7153

Sid Dillon Crete is a dealership which carries almost every known domestic brand located at 2455 Highway 33, Crete, Nebraska.

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SID DILLON FREMONT (Chevrolet), Fremont, NE (877) 282-6883

Sid Dillon Fremont is a Chevrolet dealer located at 2500 E 23rd St, Fremont, Nebraska.

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SID DILLON FREMONT (Buick GMC Cadillac Mazda) (888) 476-1090

Sid Dillon Fremont is a Buick GMC Cadillac Mazda dealer located at 2420 E 23rd St, Fremont, Nebraska right beside the Sid Dillon Fremont Chevy dealership.

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SID DILLON LINCOLN (Buick Nissan Hyundai) (888) 503-3028

Sid Dillon Lincoln is a Buick Nissan Hyundai dealer located at 2627 Kendra Ln, Lincoln, Nebraska.

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SID DILLON WAHOO (Chevrolet Buick) Wahoo, NE (800) 677-1180

Sid Dillon Wahoo is a Chevrolet Buick dealer located at 257 West A Street, Wahoo, Nebraska.

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FITGERALD'S MID-CITY MOTORS (Pontiac, Buick and GMC), Fullerton, NE/ Closed

Fitzgerald's Mid-City Motors was located in Fullerton, Nebraska. The dealership was established by Don Fitzgerald.

Don's daughter recalls highlights of growing up in the dealership: "The new model year showing parties with cakes and champagne, washing the cosmoline off the new cars with kerosene, washing the showroom windows – what a great way to grow up in a small town."

When Fitgerald required a Chevy for a customer his dealer trades were made with Lambrecht Chevrolet Co. See the story on Lambrecht in this section. GM closed down Fitzgerald in the mid 1990′s due to low volume sales.

Don Fitzgerald became a salesman for a GM dealer in a neighboring town for another 10 years. Upon retirement he received a plaque from GM for 55 years in the business. Don Fitzgerald died in 2010. At his funeral one of the chrome Fitzgerald dealership logos was attached to the foot of the casket.

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HUBER CADILLAC, Omaha, NE 402-403-4939

Huber Cadillac is located at 11102 West Dodge Road, Omaha, Nebraska. The dealer's service department received a good review from the Cadillac Forums.

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KRAMER MOTORS (Pontiac), Scottsbluff, NE (GTO Judge RA IV drag racer Big Iron- Ron Kister)

Kramer Motors was a Pontiac dealership located in Scottsbluff, Nebraksa. The dealership was originally a Studebaker dealer.

The dealership was owned in partnership between Raymond Kramer and his sons Robert and Richard Kramer.

Robert H. Kramer was born May 7, 1927, in Caladonia, Wisconsin to Robert B and Oceana (Piester) Kramer. His family moved to Scottsbluff when Bob was a young child. He served in the US Navy in WWII then married Colleen McNertney and had two daughters: Deborah and Denise. Bob remarried in 1971 to Helen Graham.

Bob was a salesman at the dealership eventually becoming owner. Bob  sold the dealership and moved to Denver, CO. Bob died at age 80, Feb. 20, 2008, at St. Anthony's Hospital in Denver.

The 1960s saw the dealership raise it's profile by sponsoring drag race cars. They made a splash with a 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge RA IV drag racer named Big Iron II. The driver Ron Kister managed to whittle his times back to 12 seconds. The Starlight Black Judge was ordered with manual steering and brakes and became part of the prestigious Zeb Morris collection.

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LAMBRECHT CHEVROLET CO, Pierce, NE (1946-96) (unsold decades old 'new' cars auctioned 2013)

Lambrecht Chevrolet was located on on the corner of Main Street and Nebraska Highway 13, Pierce, Nebraska. Pierce is a small town whose population was about 1,200 when the dealership was established and had swollen slightly to stand at 1,767 in 2013.

The dealership was established by Ernest Lambrecht. His nephew Ray Lambrecht became partners with his uncle in 1946 and quickly expanded the franchise.

Ray P. Lambrecht. was born in 1918 in rural Pierce County, Nebraska. Ray's early interest in cars and trucks motivated his first driving lesson at age 9. Ray served in World War II as a Sergeant for four years in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946, he married Mildred who helped run the dealership upon their return to Nebraska.

Ray's uncle Ernest Lambrecht was operating a Chevrolet franchise out of a small garage. Ray's army veteran status gave him access to rationed materials while his talents in carpentry and architecture made it happen. For Lembrecht's grand opening in the new building in 1946, elephants paraded in front of the dealership with Chevrolet banners on their backs. The first year of business, Lambrecht Chevrolet was allotted 16 cars and 6 pickups for their annual quota.

In 1948 illness forced Ernest to retire and sell his share of the business to Ray.

Ray operated with two distinctively unique (some say eccentric) methods not typically used in a dealership.

First, Ray's signature sales technique was to give his lowest price up front, without negotiation. He encouraged hagglers to try to find a better deal elsewhere and they frequently reappeared at his door after doing their own research.

Second, Ray did not believe in selling used cars. Ray simply stockpiled his trade-ins. This latter habit created a legend as well as some revenue well after the dealership was closed down.

Ray managed the dealership and handled all sales. Mildred served as notary public, accountant, and made all the parts pickups. The third employee was the dealership mechanic.

Ray’s early customers were army buddies who lived all over the country. They provided repeat sales and promoted the dealership into distant areas conventional advertising alone would not have reached.

In 1959, Ray began using his catchphrase: “It Will Pay to See Ray”. The scope of sales was wide. Ray's daughter Jeannie recalls that they sold a white 1969 Corvette to a customer from Switzerland. He flew to Omaha, Nebraska where the Lambrechts picked him up and took him to Pierce. After the transaction was complete the Corvette was shipped out of the country.

Ray paid attention to the kids that came to the dealership with their parents. The kids often became life-long customers when they grew up.

Rays' daughter Jeannie recalls another white Corvette from her past,

"I remember the 1953 white Corvette convertible we had when I was four years old and my little brother, Mark, was two. Mark spent his free time tooling around in a little Corvette replica pedal car that looked like the original."

Jeannie was fortunate to have a dealer father. Ray set her up in her own car at age 16,

"My first car was a 1963 Chevy Corvair. It was black, with a red interior, 4-on-the-floor manual transmission, and an oversize shiny chrome gear-shift knob. It was a used car that someone had modified adding “dumps” to the exhaust system. I loved that car, and it sits in the dealership to this very day."

Jeannie and her younger brother Mark helped out at the dealership,

"My brother and I had the job of cleaning up the new cars for delivery. In the 1960’s, all new Chevrolets would arrive with an opaque white covering of protective wax. It was a real job getting it off and polishing the paint up to a showroom shine. The windows were always the most difficult, and Dad invariably had to step in and finish polishing the windows with his strong arms."

"I remember how excited my brother and I would be when the new cars would arrive on transports from Janesville, Wisconsin. Our home was right across the street from the dealership. We would hear the loud clang as the transport driver lowered the heavy metal tracks onto the brick street, and we would run out of the house in anticipation. It was so exciting to see the brand new models of Chevy cars and trucks being unloaded."

"Announcement Day at Lambrecht Chevrolet Company was a huge event for the entire town. One special day in September of each year new cars would be delivered in advance and then hidden away so that nobody could see them before Announcement Day. Early that morning, Dad would move one shiny new Chevrolet into the showroom. There would be balloons and banners, coffee and donuts, souvenirs, and lots of built-up excitement. Everyone in town would come to see the new car and truck models."

"Lambrecht Chevrolet participated in all of the important local celebrations and events. During the Nebraska Centennial in 1954, Dad had the honor of driving the Governor of Nebraska in our 1953 Corvette down Main Street in the parade. Pioneer Days in June of 1959 was the 100th anniversary of Pierce County, Nebraska. Dad again drove dignitaries in a new 1959 Chevy in the parade."

Lambrecht Chevrolet Company remained a small family outfit with one mechanic. Nothing changed except for a 1980’s switch from typewriter to computer for communications with General Motors. Mildred continued to rely upon an adding machine, handwritten ledgers and the original cash register. Original MSO’s and titles were carefully stored.

In 1996 after 50 years as a Chevrolet dealership, the Lambrechts gave up the franchise and continued limited operations as Lambrecht Auto Company. Daughter Jeannie recollects that her parents worked "six days a week for 50 years, never taking one single day of vacation or one sick day. They worked hard and operated their business with honesty, integrity, and kindness." Jeannie moved to Florida. SHe still has a red 1995 Chevrolet Camaro, the very last car that her father Ray gave her. It has about 40,000 miles on it.

Lambrecht Chevrolet attracted more attention 17 years after closure than it did when it was an operational dealership. Ray's peculiar trade-in strategy created a gigantic back stock of trade ins which covered acres of land. There have been urban legends about dealerships with unsold inventory stashed away and sometimes these stories prove to be true. (See the story of the showroom display Trans Am at Kitterman). Lambrecht exceeded the wildest urban legends no matter how exaggerated. The dealership had accumulated over 500 low mileage or no mileage cars which had been stashed for decades.

Ray's hoarding of cars is the antithesis of the typical car salesman's motto about cars,

"The only good car is one that just went over the curb".

Instead of trying to move out every vehicle from his inventory Ray balked at selling used trade-ins and allowed them to accumulate behind the dealership. Eventually there were too many cars and pressure from townspeople forced removal and storage of the cars in an 80 acre field. Daughter Jeannie explains,

"Dad felt very strongly about the issue of safety for families with young children. He would strive to put those families in new cars that were safe and reliable rather than selling them a used car. The trade-ins were parked on our farm outside of town. Their numbers gradually grew into a massive collection. New cars that were left unsold were also stored. He remembers each used car and the former owner, like the 1928 Durant owned by Mom’s uncle Louie."

Jeannie Lambrecht said that it was always her parents' plans to eventually have an auction. She probably comes closest to Ray's deeper motive when she states,

"It was Depression mentality -- throw nothing away."

The reasoning that Ray presented about families receiving only safe new cars works to a point, but it is clearly a rationalization for hoarding when you consider that Ray also held onto 50 new cars with no mileage on them at the time they were parked. Anyone involved in the car world knows at least one guy just like Ray who honestly can't stop themselves from stockpiling cars. The sheer multitude of cars. They eventually get overwhelmed by the enormous logistical work involved in maintaining them which results in the cars lapsing into decrepitude.

A blogger provides this insight gained via a local couple who lived two blocks away from the dealership for many years:

"For decades, Mr. Lambrecht kept his growing number of cars in the dealership, the lots next door and across the street. They were infested with mice and rats and the neighbors complained until the town Mayor got involved. It took almost eight years and a court order to get Mr. Lambrecht to move his cars – that’s why they went to the farm."

Residents of Pierce believe that these were simply the cars that Lambrecht didn't want to sell or couldn't sell, and there wasn't an intentional plan at work. The presence of Fords and Toyotas mixed into the trade-in cars support this theory.

The Lamrecht collection lived up to the legend in some ways and fell short in other ways. In terms of stupendous size and desirable models with low mileage it exceeded most car fantasies. By 1996, the collection numbered 450 used cars and trucks which had low mileage. There were 50 new models with near zero miles which were old 'new cars'. These 50 cars are the stuff of fantasy. Unsold inventory never titled after decades is a pipe dream of every car nut.

Despite having 500 cars with low miles the collection disappoints because the majority were left outside in the elements for decades. Car collectors were horrified by the deterioration caused by weather, animals, thieves and vandals. The ones left indoors survived better but even these suffered various types of damage.

For years, the dealership mechanic lived on the Lambrecht farm and guarded the cars against thieves and vandals. At this point the enemy was nature: Nebraska winters and animals took their toll. Trees grew through cars literally bending the metal in their way.

After the mechanic's death the problems escalated. Vandals and thieves raided the cars. In 1992 a theft ring was apprehended selling chrome trim. In 2012 someone stole 100 radiators without getting caught. One of the cars was stolen outright.

The Lamrecht couple still lives in Pierce in the house Ray built across the street from the dealership building. Ray was 95 years old and Mildred at 92 in 2013. Damage to cars was accelerating combined with a decline in health. It was time for Ray to finally part with his cars.

Yvette VanDerBrink was hired to auction them off. She spent summer, 2013 at the farm with a construction crew hired to rip out the trees and line up the cars. Most were Chevrolets from the 1950s and 1960s with less representation from the 1970s and 1980s.

In town, Yvette inventoried the parts in the dealership. The most valuable vehicles were stored for decades in the dealership and a nearby warehouse until its roof collapsed under a heavy snowfall. Some were damaged. The cars left in the old dealership building were best preserved. The dealership did have a problem with leaks in the roof and bats but it was mostly shielded from the elements and due to its close proximity to Ray's house it remained safe from thieves and vandals.

Daughter Jeannie returned to Pierce, Nebraska from her home in Florida for the 2013 auction and provided a detailed reminiscence of life in the dealership as a child which is quoted extensively in this article.

Bidding ran from 9:30 a.m. Sept. 28 and Sept. 29, 2013 with a preview the day before. Ray Lambrecht didn't attend the auction but watched it on TV. Top Gear and History Channel shows covered the auction. More than 10,000 bidders registered to bid onsite and online.

An estimated 15,000 people attended the Auction on Sep 28. That is ten times the population of the town of Pierce. The hype surrounding this collection drove prices up. There are blogs from car collectors who made the journey here only to become bitterly disappointed that the majority of the cars were ruined and fetching crazy prices.

Anyone who has found an abandoned car is familiar with the scenario. Over time tires go flat and moisture starts to work on the undercarriage. If cars sit long enough the constant shifting of the earth will cause the car to sink into the ground which puts the floors into continuous contact with bare earth. Floors, trunks and frames will rust right out. If windows are broken by vandals moisture destroys the interior and animals explore and set up camp inside. Animals will try to eat upholstery and will shred it to ribbons. Trees will grow through anything in their path, including the floor or hood of a car. All these things happened to the cars in the farm.

On the flip side of this coin, there is no denying that all of the trade ins were of lower mileage than most cars you would find in similar weathered condition. That means there were many original parts that get lost with higher mileage (water pumps, alternators etc) that could be reconditioned. As previously mentioned parts have been stolen off these cars and its usually the consumables that get taken (carburetors, alternators, radiators) so the low miles status may not count for much in light of thievery that these cars were subjected to.

When considering the indoor cars they, too were not maintained in any way. They could have been in much better shape if some effort had been made to turn the engines over and periodically clean the cars. However dirty they may be these cars came with original MSOs which means these cars are still considered brand new. A brand new car however dirty present a rare historical document worthy of study for car restoration buffs. All the original factory line work is present and has not been altered one iota. The two least-driven cars were a 1959 Bel Air and a 1960 Corvair Monza, each had one mile on their odometers. The oldest vehicle with fewer than 20 miles dates to 1958; the newest is a 1980 Monza with nine miles. There was a 1959 Chevrolet Biscayne with 3 miles on the odometer, a 1961 Apache pickup with 2 miles

It was the indoor stored 'old-new' cars that VanDerBrink sold first. The first 10 cars sold for a total of $676,500. In that mix were a 1963 Impala sold for $97,500, a 1958 Apache for $80,000, a 1964 Impala for $75,000, a 1963 Corvair for $42,000, a 1977 Vega for $10,000. In the end the total in sales tallied up to $2.8 million.

The 1958 Chevrolet Cameo turquoise half-ton pickup sold for $140,000.00. Collector Steve Ames of Ames Performance Engineering, Ames Automotive Enterprises and Ames Performance Classics bought it. Ames is interested in history and collects low miles (below 10,000) original cars. The price paid was the highest of the auction. The Cameo has only 1.3 miles on the odometer. It was kept inside but had a dent in the roof and crack in the windshield when the roof of the storage area collapsed mentioned earlier in the story.

“I put all my eggs in one basket and went after the Cameo. That’s a decision you have to make: Do you want to go after more than one, or do you go after the best? I’m not going to take any dirt off that car. It’s going to be just like it lived its life. All the other cars are gorgeous, but this is going to be the way the nation saw it.”

Steve took his Cameo east, to a freshly built, climate-controlled storage in southern New Hampshire to join 64 other original low-mileage collection. His collection includes 25 limited-production muscle cars, a 1963 Buick with 900 miles, a ’48 Oldsmobile with 700 miles, a 1956 Mercury with 5,000 miles, a ’56 Studebaker with 2,800 miles. Steve how is now 71 years old is working out a self-perpetuating trust with his wife Joan to fund the long-term care of the cars. They plan to offer limited public tours of their collection.

The Artesian Turquoise 1965 Impala two-door hardtop with a 325-hp 396 and automatic transmission retained the window sticker with a mere 12 miles on the odometer. It sold for $72,500.

The 1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 brought $80,000 on the morning of the first day of the sale 1958 Chevrolet Apache 31 Series truck with 5 miles on it with no body damage, aside from floorboards in the bed needing replacement

The 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy Pace Car sold for $80,000 on the morning of the first day to a Nebraska farmer named John Kaldahl from The Nuckolls County. The Indy pace car had 4 miles on the odometer with most of the factory shipping plastic and paper wrapping still on the inside. The interior hadn't weathered as well as you'd expect, despite the fact that it was kept indoors. The crowd applauded when the new owner told the auctioneer it was staying in Nebraska. He immediately washed the car. He didn't buy the Corvette as an investment and isn't a car collector. Kaldahl stated that he always wanted a Corvette.

The 1964 white Chevrolet Impala 327 V8 with a three-speed manual transmission two-door hardtop sold for $75,000 on the first day. This car held up over the years quite well. Showing 4 miles in the odometer, this car sat in the dealership window for many years, prompting many people passing through the town to make offers.

The 1963 red Chevrolet Impala 327 V8 with automatic transmission two-door hardtop sold for $97,500. This Impala showed only 11.4 miles on the odometer. The red cloth/ vinyl interior was musty but still in reasonable condition with the manufacturer's plastic on the seat and a yellow typewritten window sticker displaying its original price: $3,254.70. $94,000.00 is quite a mark-up in price. Maybe Ray Lambrecht wasn't so eccentric after all!

There was a 1963 Chevy Corvair with 17.2 miles (27.7 kilometers) on the odometer.

Ray Cody of Telluride Colorado bought the 1974 Monte Carlo. On a forum he tells readers:

"I hand washed it today and it shines nicely... This car has the entire history of paperwork. Build sheet, invoice (window sticker) original tire warranty and tires. After I drain fluids and replace all hoses belts and filters, my plan for the car is to remove the original tires, put on some used ones, smoke those tires one time, put the originals back on and put the car away."

There was some confusion on the web as to the cause of one missing valve cover. One blogger said there was a note taped to the steering wheel warning not to turn over the engine because of internal damage. The note was not present when Ray examined the car. He asked about the valve cover and discovered this information:

"The mechanic had a son named Wade Waterbury, he is a banker in Wichita. He grew up at the shop and said his dad needed a big block valve cover gasket to finish a job, so he took the one off the Monte."

Gerald Hixson paid $12,000 for a 1957 green Chevy four door which was his old car back in 1959. In 1959 Gerald returned from Guam and paid about $3,000 for a 2-year-old green four-door. He drove it to Oklahoma for his final year in the service in heavy equipment training. When Gerald moved back to Pierce he landed a job with the county.

“It was a very good car. A super car. I can’t remember having any problems with it.”

With an expanding family, the car was traded into Lambrecht in the 1970s on the basis of needing a bigger car. It had no problems. Gerald traded it to Ray Lambrecht for a station wagon. And true to form, Lambrecht parked it.

“I’d asked him to buy it back many times in the last 30 years.”

But Ray refused to sell it. This summer, the 77-year-old Gerald Hixson saw his car on the Internet at the auction. The paint had faded, tires were flat, and the headliner had collapsed but it was still recognizable as his old car and still complete. He gladly paid quadruple what he originally paid.

After the auction hype faded off several of the bidders defaulted on the cars. The bidder from New York who bought 14 cars defaulted on the deal, claiming a truck driver disappeared with his money. Someone else from Nebraska died after getting a winning bid. An Illinois woman with a winning bid vanished. “We got a voice mail all the time. We tried and tried, but no response.”

Auctioneer Yvette VanDerBrink moved the cars from their field to another site in Pierce County and staged a "Second-chance auction". This was an online-only auction that ended at midnight (CDT) Nov. 24, 2013.

The 18 cars that bidders backed out on were offered up once again. The choices covered several decades from a 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster to a 1971 Impala. There was a 1949 Chevy pickup, 1957 Chevy wagon, 7 Impalas (including the 1971) and a 1960 cream-colored Corvair with 1.7 miles. These cars spent the decades out in the farm field and were severely weathered.

Bids started at $350 (this is the "crush bid" which is how much it would sell for scrap)

The original winning prices from the first auction tell the story of condition: the 1973 Malibu sold for $600, the 1947 Chevy Fleetmaster sold for $650, the 1967 Ford Galaxie sold for $1,800 and the 1957 Wagon sold for $7,500.

To see other stories of never sold new 'old' cars at dealerships, read about Kitterman Motor Co Inc. Corydon, INDIANA and Grovert Chevrolet, Newhall, IOWA in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website.

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MOWBRAY BUICK INC, Lincoln, NE- (195*-74)

Mowbray Buick Inc is listed as early as 1957 and appears up until the mid 1970s at 421 North 48th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. The dealer number in 1970 was 13-726. See the story of a 1970 GSX that was displayed new on Mowbray Buick's lot for six months in the ONE OWNER section of this website.

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NIELSEN CHEVROLET BUICK COMPANY, Columbus, NE (196*-81)

Nielsen Chevrolet Buick Company 2304 13th Street, Columbus, Nebraska had dealer number 13-705 during the 1960s through to 1981. See the story of a 1970 GSX bought new from this dealership in the ONE OWNER section of this website.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 June 2016 18:24 )