By on September 16, 2010

In my Caprice Classic Capsule Review I mentioned the fact that I sold my “bubble” to a fellow who was collecting them slowly for some unspecified future use. Today, while rolling down Dublin Road south of Fisher in the industrial section of Columbus, Ohio, I saw, in the corner of my vision… bubbles.

With my crummy Droid camera and the rather impressive array of fencing and wild vegetation separating me from the actual lot in which the cars were stored, I had trouble getting good photos… but I estimate there are at least forty of these iconic wagons stored at the facility. The majority seem to be Roadmasters, but there are a few Caprices and even a couple of the “Oldsmobubble” Custom Cruisers which are my personal stylistic favorites.

Perhaps I’ll be able to track down the owner and see if I can’t get the TTAC readers a more comprehensive look at the inventory. Most of them look undriven; they are sinking into mudholes and there is grass around the tires. And yes, I do believe that I saw my purple-ish woody Caprice Classic wagon in the back corner of the lot..

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43 Comments on “Today I Found… Eclectic Bubbleland...”


  • avatar
    86er

    Welcome, to Jurassic Park!

    (better me saying it than someone who actually despises these cars)

    • 0 avatar
      amca

      I love these cars!  And so do the Japanese.  At least at some point maybe back when they were being built, they had a cult following in Japan.  Guys would shave all the trim and lower them and do whatever they do with that sort of thing in Japan.  They looked extremely sharp. And it was the wagons the Japanese liked, not the sedans.

      So maybe this guy is storing them up to sell parts to the Japanese at ridiculous prices.  After all, in Japan you’re not going to have lots of dead cabs and cop cars to strip parts from . . . .

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Funny you mention that.  I had an amusing conversation with a Japanese guy at a car show yesterday as we both admired a 73 Marquis Brougham, albeit perhaps for different reasons.

      I think other cultures can recognize and appreciate what is truly a part of Americana.  Will the Japanese think the same of our warmed-over imitations of their cars?  Doubtful.

      I’ve heard the Japanese have a similar affinity for the box Astro/Safari vans.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Sweet! That’s probably more of those cars in one place than I’ve seen on the road in the past 10 years.
     
    Also, is your headline an intentional reference to Butthole Surfers? Because if so, kudos :D

  • avatar
    catbert430

    OMG!  It’s Car Porn for the Hassidic community!

    • 0 avatar

      Someone I know was speaking at the bar mitzvah of his son and bemoaning how things like fashion can even intrude on a religious community. Orthodox (not just Chassidic) men often wear black suits and black fedoras. European brands of hats have become de rigueur with Borsalino being the favored brand. The father was saying how one of his son’s friends asked him if he had a “Borse”. He didn’t know what the kid meant and thought he meant Porsche, so he replied, “no I have a normal Orthodox station wagon”.
      But that was many years ago.
      You still see the occasional Roadmaster, Vista Cruiser or Caprice wagon in orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, but most Orthodox families switched to minivans and big SUVs like Suburbans years ago. A few drive full size passenger versions of Ford Econoline vans. My cousin, who only had 5 kids but had to drive car pool, had a 12 passenger Ford van. Later as it became more tattered, he used as a utility vehicle for his plumbing business. We once used it to drive our sons and a bunch of other high school boys down to their yeshiva in South Bend.
       

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    Let’s hope this fellow isn’t working on Transformers 8.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Next time I’m in Pulaski, VA, I should take a pic of the Vanagon Retirement Home. Easily a hundred, maybe more.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Here folks, is a Cheers and Gears/GMI’ers wetdream come true.

    All that’s missing are a few Pontiacs.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Oh….Just because its almost FRIDAY and the beers are going down good, I’ll tell give you some GM fanboy info. Try IndianaPontiacs.com  Someday {not today} I will figure out linking.

  • avatar

    Well, OK, Baruth, you get some sort of a prize for this. I don’t know why I like these things so much, but I do.
    I’m now going to feel obliged to find the fields of Peugeots which, I’m told, exists somewhere in northern New England.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    Pity.  I think if these were in more operable/mechanically sound condition they might actually find buyers…

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    There’s a guy up the road from me in Delaware with like 15 Porsches in his ‘compound’..  I always wanted to stop by but I figured they’d shoot first :p

  • avatar
    friedclams

    There used to be a Pinto graveyard in Encino, NM. Someone was collecting dead Pintos. Now that’s really baffling.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Can you send me a better location on this. I would like to go see it.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo want a Custom Cruizer, the rarest of the bubble wagons.  I’d do an LS-X transplant in a heartbeat.  Wonder how much cutting I’d have to do to get a 6-speed manual in there too?
     
    http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/1979_Cadillac_Custom_Station_Wagon_For_Sale_Front_1.jpg
     
    I once saw an auction for a “bubble” Cadillac wagon the owner had created out of a Roadmaster and a D-body Fleetwood, but sadly this was the closest thing I could find… sigh

    • 0 avatar
      relton

      GM used to sell a kit to put the 6 speed manual in the B-body, as well as a big block 502. It was available through performance parts.

      There is so much available for these cars to make them anything you want. No excuse for sitting there dreaming, just get to it!

      I still remember the first time I saw the clay model of the wagon. I thought it loked like a fat man taking a crap.

      I still do. Much as I like B-bodies, count me out as a fanboy of the wagons.

      Bob

  • avatar
    obbop

    North of Modesto, California next to Hwy 99 on the east side of the highway there used to be (still there?) an Edsel Heaven (Haven?) that I never learned as to the whys of its existence.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    As one who still has a ’96 Roadmaster wagon (tan/wood), the first sound out of my mouth upon seeing the lead photograph was “guuuhhh…” The final, incomparable evolution of the BOF station wagon still has a very strong following among its fan base, and I believe that’s also the swan song for the dual position tailgate mechanism, which was an American exclusive ever since its introduction. Please give those examples some exercise!

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      “The final, incomparable evolution of the BOF station wagon…”

      The concept lives on in the Toyota Sequoia.   Big, comfy, big, quiet, big, fast, big, rock solid reliable…  It is the spiritual successor of the BRM.  GM may have dropped the baton, but TM picked it and still going.

      The BOF station wagon.  They had to change the terminology to SUV for marketing purposes. Doesn’t change the fact that its a station wagon.

      Someday there will be Sequoia graveyards alongside the highways and byways.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Maybe the plan is to fix them up as new and sell them.  I think this is being done with Wagoneers with some success.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Jack,
    You really need to interview this guy.  I would love to know what is driving this obsession, what plans he has for the bubbles, etc. 

    Is he trying to corner the market?  Does he thinks these are the GTO’s of the 90′s? 

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I met him when he bought my Caprice Classic… at the time I didn’t realize he was local. He and his brother collect the bubbles. At the time (2006) he told me he had over eighty of them.

  • avatar

    Wonder how much cutting I’d have to do to get a 6-speed manual in there too?
     
    It’s been done. I know someone who had a 6 speed put in his Impala SS. It was a very professional installation but I believe changing the pedal assembly and fitting the clutch pedal was more work than putting in the transmission. It was his backup driver to a Aston Martin DB7. I saw his married daughter driving it recently and she told me it was for sale. If you’re interested I can contact him.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Reminds me of a fenced in, overgrown lot I found in Commerce City (an industrial area next to Denver) that was full of Citroen DSs.  None of the looked like runners like these Caprices, though.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    there are three 92 Olds wagons for sale currently on E-bay, one has a buy it now price of $1,500.  Just sayin.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    I love those! I strangely wish the same thing as educator dan…SS bubble!

  • avatar
    oldyak

    driving out Powell rd. in the  late 60′s there was a yard full of Lasalles and old packards.
    I will never forget what a flathead V- 12 looked like thanks to it.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    There was a guy living off Highway 60, outside of Marion, KY on the way to Paducah who had a collection of Fieros in various condition. He must have had about 15 of the little Pee Oh Essess. He was a bit odd, but a great source of information whenever the Fiero I owned threw a temper tantrum. Until it threw too many and got itself traded for a T-Bird anyway.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    When the Bubble died (esp. the wagon), it truly was the end of the traditional, fullsize, RWD, big cubic inch, pushrod V8 post-WW2 era that ruled American roads for decades. It’s a shame how minivans and SUVs conspired to kill it off.

    The guy wiho owns Bubbleland should contact the MOMA in NYC about an exhibit similiar to the one where they used old Yugos for sculpture.

    Of course, Bubble-based art sculptures would take up a whole lot more space.

  • avatar

    There is a place similar to this in West Bend, WI called “Midwest Roadmasters”.  If you Google Maps has a street level view of their parking lot.  I’ve never actually stopped on the lot – only driven past – but it seems all they do is restore/collect Roadmaster Estate wagons.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This guy is probably a hoarder. It happens a lot with cars. He’ll keep them sitting in the mud until they’re rusty and vandals have broken the windows. Enthusiasts will talk to him about buying cars and parts, and he’ll string them along. When it comes time to deal, he’ll quote prices that are ridiculously high. When that doesn’t work, he’ll determine that whichever particular cars were being discussed aren’t for sale after all. When he doesn’t have anyone on the hook, he’ll tell interested groups that he is ready to liquidate his ‘collection,’ but one again he’ll just waste everyone’s time and keep his junk until he dies. I see it all the time on car collecting blogs.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Well stated analysis of the behavioral patterns.
      The inverse situation is when friends or happenstance acquaintances make frequent suggestions they would eagerly buy your collectible car should you ever decide to let it go. Yet the minute you announce it is for sale, those eager onlookers seem surprised, mumble some excuse and quickly slink away.

  • avatar
    DucRam

    Just outside of Huntsville, AL is a Pontiac Fiero graveyard.  The sign outside says The Fiero Factory.

  • avatar

    maybe the Roadmasters gravitate there like elephants when it’s time to die.


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