By on November 13, 2010

Even in Eugene, where Curbside Classics miraculously soldier along on the streets for decades beyond their normal life expectancy, the forces of entropy cannot be forestalled forever. If it’s still running enough to get there, you could donate it to the official CC Sales Lot, and pass that slipping and leaking transmission on to the next sucker loving owner. But when the tow truck has to be called, Judgment Day has arrived. Will you pony up and put yourself that much deeper under water? Or will it end up at the Pick and Pull, donating its vital organs to keep its kin on the road a bit longer? But for the chosen few, there’s one other alternative: the Curbside Classic Graveyard, where it may rust (superficially) in peace until the second coming of Henry Ford (or his only begotten Son Edsel).

Where exactly is this automotive Elysian Field? 29329 Airport Road, and this screen shot from Google Street View will help you find it if you decide to come to Eugene. It’s a stone’s throw from the Eugene Airport, and 95% percent of all traffic to and from there pass it, as I did for years until I caught a glimpse of something, and decided to stop and take a look. One thing is clear; this is not a working junkyard. The doors and gates have been locked for ages, and the cars have obviously not been cannibalized.It’s a good thing I’m tall, as all my shots were taken over the top of the six foot fence.

I’ll post my shots according to the random sequence of how I shot them. The first thing that caught my eye were these two Fiat 850 Spiders, one trying to protect its open cockpit from the elements. Ooo! What’s that lurking in the background?

A Hillman Imp, no less. It’s been way to long since I’ve seen one of them. This was probably Eugene’s only Imp, which means it certainly rated an invitation to the CC Graveyard. If I can’t find it on the streets, I can hope to find it here. Lots of vintage bikes back there too. And I can’t even make out all of what’s behind them.  I’m going to have to come back and hop that fence.

Panning to the left we see a rather eclectic assortment of vintage iron: a couple of old Chevy trucks, and…I’ll stop and leave some for you guys to identify.

Moving a bit further left, one of those ultra-boxy Rambler Americans, next to its predecessor. I’m seeing an obvious pattern here: this graveyard is organized like human graveyards: by families.

I’m repeating the top picture here just for continuity. A couple of ’58 Edsels, one a Citation, the other a Corsair. Or is one a Pacer? Some definite repeated patterns emerge behind them in those windshields: old Fords, to keep it in the family, of course.

In the front row of the Ford family plot sit the proud Thunderbirds. How appropriate.

Along the west side, the Ford trucks are lined up, in what appears to be chronological order.

There’s some decided inter-familial co-mingling going on in the front row though.

But it soon turns into a nice big Corvair plot, well represented with coupes, sedans, and a fairly uncommon second generation sedan too.

That white four door by the shed could by my first car. Man, those coupes had an overly-long rear deck. No wonder the Mustang was so popular.

Lets swing back to the right, to the head of the Corvairs, where the big Chevies await their Resurrection. Or maybe in the case of cars, it’s their reincarnation.

Did I mention Mustangs? Of course they’re represented here too, as well as some interesting big iron from the fifties behind them.

Here’s the Mustang tails, including a charming customized one with triple lights on each side. Damn; haven’t seen that since I left Iowa in the mid seventies. Charming. Maybe it helped get it in the door here.

Let’s grab another parting shot of that crowded center section before I get too choked up and can’t operate my camera anymore. What a lot of deserving souls resting here.

It’s quite obvious that these cars were all well-used and even battered before they earned admission. This is no fancy-pants collection; my guess is that it started as a wrecking yard, but someone’s emotions got the better of them; like a farmer who couldn’t bear to send his pigs and chickens to market. Given how long the office has been closed, it will probably be his heirs that get/have to deal with them. Wouldn’t surprise me if that happens sooner than later; it’s hard to forestall the Grim Reaper forever.

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42 Comments on “The Curbside Classics Graveyard: May They Rust In Peace...”


  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Oh, that is a goldmine (or a massacre) waiting to happen. I keep forgettign how plentiful many of those cars were in the US, now that those that are left in a presentable state are cherished as collectors items. Even if most of them were scrapped for a reason, there must be an insane number of good spare parts there.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Our local Craigslist periodically has ads for nearly all of the many shown above – usually in worse shape than most of the above with the word “Project” in its description or title.

  • avatar

    Here in the Northeast, we’d call that a field full of potential…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I wouldn’t mind an Edsel grille and bumper hanging on the wall as a conversation piece but I’m afraid the shape is just a bit too suggestive.  Edsel is proof that sex doesn’t always sell.  ;)
     
    BTW Paul, those are the rustiest cars I’ve seen in your shots of Eugene.  If that’s how long it takes, will today’s cars ever disappear?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    This is very emotional for me.

    I used to walk through junk yards with my dad as we were always very poor and he would get all his parts from the cars long dead.
    To me, the junk yard is the history lesson that everyone should experience.
    It’s like the never ending sobering story of mankind and the feeble attempt to deny the truth.
    But in the end, it’s all here.
    Broken.
    Dead.
    These cars might just as well be people.
    It’s what really happens to the beautiful.
    The great fight is valiantly fought and yet easily lost.

    This feature makes me feel irrelevant.
    Rats, the day was looking good!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Yes, it is like what Elspeth Honey said, in No Highway in the Sky, about being “troubled by the impermance of things”…

      or Anne Morrow Lindbergh:  “… We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity… Security…lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.”

      To get around this, I think that the trick is to realize if non-changing permanance ruled, not one of these cars would have ever existed, nor you, nor I, becauce for them to come into being demanded not only simple impermanance, but a permanent impermanance…

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Robert!

      Thanks for trying…
      But explaining to me the reason for my  birth then death is so others can be born to then die is worse than being told Santa didn’t exist!

      Thanks anyway…but ‘m just not that big on my pissy role in the universe. Never was much of a soldier for  mankind.   That is why in the earlier discussions I am not a fan of self taxation or self sacrifice for the benefit of the whole. I don’t care about the whole. It’s made up of nasty self survivalist individuals.

      At least I am not on a dinner table or my skin is a boot or belt.

      See…this is why I drink.

    • 0 avatar

      TrailerTrash, you have written a poem here! It’s marvellous.
      Two centuries ago writers such as Byron or Volney would visit the ruins of ancient Roman or Greek cities and wax poetic about the fall of great civilizations and the evanescance of human designs.  Today it is the car graveyard that seems to evoke these sorts of reflections.
      I have on my shelves a book called Roadside Relics: America’s Abandoned Automobiles with hundreds of pages of such photos, except the author/photographer Will Shiers got inside the fences for a closer shot. One yard in Jasper, just down the road, furnished a number of fine specimens

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Wow, that lot is quite a find.  That turquoise car on the right side of the front row looks like an AMC Marlin!  It’s been a long, long time since I have seen one of those.

  • avatar

    I’ve been prowling the few junkyards here in central Oregon over the past two weeks seeking a complete ding-free spare set of rims for both the family daily drivers, to have studded tires on call for icy days here at 4000′ above sea level. The cool, dry high desert climate is even more preserving that the mossy wet side of Oregon. Paul, your next RV trip should be east!
    You also should invest in a telephoto lens, so as to prevent criminal trespassing charges, or perhaps an encounter with a wrecking yard canine.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Chuck, Welcome to state income taxes! I got your e-mail about your move. We usually do a fall trip out east, but for several reasons, it didn’t happen this year. I’ll look you up when we do. Happy skiing.

    • 0 avatar

      Grrr, don’t remind me about the taxes! In WA we did so much better because Sue & I are not really “buyers”, so avoided the sales tax issue. Here there is no such dodge. =
      I still have the same cell phone number, so call me when you head east! There is always room at Chez Goolsbee. In the spring I’ll be rebuilding the “home refinery” so I might need some of your building skills! We can take the 65E or R107 for a spin.
       

  • avatar
    geozinger

    If the owner of the property had a entreprenurial (sp?) brain, he’d charge $5 per person to walk through the grounds. Hell I already pay $2 just to get into to the local pick-a-part, I’d happily pay $5 just to SEE this place. Wow!

  • avatar
    Monty

    It’s an episode of A&E’s Hoarders!

    +1 Geozinger – I would also happily pay money to walk around the grounds.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I see Datsuns, VW Beetle, MG – Did you see any Alfas in there?

    It appears to have some “modern” cars such as the S-10 and Ford Ranger and a working forklift. What is this place, an industrial building storage yard or farm? There sure are a lot of valuable parts.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Some of the cars are valuable just as VIN holders.  A classic Mustang is immortal (unless it’s crushed into a cube), it can be rebuilt from the ground up, no matter what shape it’s in.

  • avatar
    gurry

    Where are all the Chrysler products? Maybe behind those AMC’s.

  • avatar

    wow. Even to me, who never saw many of these cars. Some, like those Mustangs and
    T-Birds would be valuable down here.

    My heart go9es to those wonderful Fiats. Abandoned and unloved. The orange one specially looks in good shape.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    In pic N°5 I saw
    Falcon, seems to be hot rodded.
    Corolla AE102, crashed. The last one I liked
    Datsun 240 or 280Z I don’t know
    Ford Cab-Over Heavy truck
    T-Bird or Fairlane coupe (in front of the blue Chevy truck)
    RWD Celica
    80′s Chrysler minivan
    VW Beetle
    And what I think it’s a Fiat/OM forklift. I guess it’s about 4-6 ton capacity. It may also be Hyster.
     

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Paul…
    I really do want to thank you for this particular feature.
    Can’t describe how it made me feel looking at all those historic cars.

    As MONTY said above, I would pay to walk through this museum.
    It’s that special.

    I sent Sajeev a picture to pass on to you of my Fiat 850. Hope you get it.

    As a last note, I wish TTAC would publish or have a link with all of your TTAC email addresses so the contributors could send cool pics and such.

    Again, thanks.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Oh yeah… I would pay to walk that yard. I spent a good part of my youth walking, and picking through junk yards. I have never seen a junk yard quite like that. I am totally blown way! I’ve been staring at those photos. Three thousand miles away and I think I can almost smell the place.

    Thank you so much…. Paul

    PS I took my licence on a pea soup, green 64 Bellair. If I didn’t know better that would be it, in the row of big Chevies

    • 0 avatar
      caljn

      Our neighbor had a ’63 BelAir with three on the tree.
      I can see her now in my minds eye with the cigarette in the left hand clutching the steering wheel while shifting with the right, replete with high hair and the white rimmed sunglasses.

      The stories immediately conjured up in one’s mind simply by viewing photo’s of a few old cars!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My father’s second car was a 1962 Bel Air sedan, tan-ish beige color, vinyl interior, 283 n a powerglide.  He got his drivers license in 1970 so it was 8yrs old when he got it.  He used add-a-leaves to jack up the rear, bought some mags and slicks to put under it, kept the stock hubcaps and whitewalls upfront, and added duel exhaust with cherry bomb mufflers to it.  My mother was a little younger than him (although they were in the same class in school) and he picked her up for school on her 16th birthday in that car.  Unfortunately her birthday was in February and the day dawned slick and snow covered (but not canceling classes.)  Too poor for snow tires, my father piloted that car down the 8 miles of state highway that separated them and with my Grandmother (his future mother in law) watching at the window he carried too much speed, overshot the driveway, missed the mailbox, and slid down through the shallow ditch near the road, crossed the yard, and pulled up in front of the garage perfectly.
       
      When this story is brought up my mother says; “I have no idea why my mom let me get in the car with him after that.  But she did and we went to school.”  Thirty-five years later those two are still together and every time my dad climbs behind the wheel of the 1967 Mustang convertible (289/Cruise-o-matic) he bought from said mother in law after she became a widow, that reckless kid with the Bel Air returns.
       
      God I love old cars.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Yes!

      It’s funny how songs send the mind back in time.
      Looking at these cars, I think they do the very same thing!

      I bet for most of us, seeing certain cars zap us right back to the time when they were part of the stage.

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    How apt the “graveyard” reference is. The first photo (and some of the others) remind me of the new AMC series, “The Walking Dead.” Zombie autos, anyone?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    In the Mustang tails photo, is that a Farilane with Cragar SS rims?  kewl!

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Dan:
    That’s a classic story. Made my whole day.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    I hope whoever inherits/buys that property realizes what they have. Heck ship half of it to the Northeast and you will be filthy rich.

  • avatar
    obbop

    An ad in Hemmings could be quite lucrative. Some critters, such as Mustangs and Camaros have a large variety of aftermarket parts, even trim pieces, available.
    Other models have much skimpier availabilities. It can be excruciatingly tough to find a chrome trim piece that runs across the front edge of the hood, for example, for MANY models.
    Assisted a specialized wrecking yard owner with a newly-purchased yard with an inventory of all older vehicles, mainly from the late 40s to early 60s but its location, Richmond,CA, was simply too dangerous to work in due to the extremely high crime rate and too ample random senseless violence.
    Well, those reasons and the new owners inability to implement any “intelligent” general operating procedures or other methods that would assist in the creation of an efficient possibly profitable operation.
    The days of the “Well…… y’all just mosey over yonder and poke around that 3rd pile on the left and yah’ might find that part, I reckon” are outmoded and will definitely not function with a customer base located across the country and rely upon phone/mail/internet accessibility to grab that lusted-for part.
     
    Such is life.
    Liver quivering in unadulterated anticipation of perusing additional pics.
    Perhaps wearing a DEA labeled windbreaker will assist in allowing wandering and additional pic taking. DEA= dead extra-neato autos.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    At first I thought there was no rhyme or reason to that collection, but the more I look at the pictures, the more I realize that the vast majority of what shows up there are really, really interesting vehicles. I could totally be into driving any of them if they were restored to decent condition. Other than the Edsels, there isn’t an ugly vehicle in the bunch.
     

    • 0 avatar

      I totally agree John. There must be some method behind this madness. I mean, even the Edsels, exactly for their ugliness are scarce and thus worth money. There seems to be an awful number of cars that had some value. I suggest some investigation to see what’s up.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Pictures of old, automotive graveyards always remind me of one of the more enduring scenes from the classic American Graffiti when the drag racer played by Paul LeMat is walking thru a junkyard with Mackenzie Philips in the early hours of the morning, telling her the stories behind the wrecks as they pass by.

  • avatar
    M 1

    I could make a thousand bucks a day off that yard without even trying hard.
    My sawzall trembles in antici…pation.

  • avatar
    phantomwolf

    Even here in the rust belt Northeast, I know the pick and pulls well.  I live about two miles away from one of the biggest this side of the country.  I suspect, though, that this could be used simply now as a very private junk yard of sorts.  They do exist, I see some here and there, especially out by the middle of nowhere.  People horde old or rare vehicles and piecemeal out the parts online or something.  A low volume gig, but high profit.  Think of what, lets say, original mustang bits must go for.  A few parts sold every week = more than enough to live by with minimum effort.  I had a customer once who had a vast collection of old pre 60s trucks  up by the north country who lived solely off maybe ten or twelve parts sold online every week.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    Here’s a graveyard for classic Exner fins in northern Alberta Canada.
    http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/3-the-stars/fallen-stars/834-august-2010-fallen-stars-a-slute-to-the-legendary-virgil-exner.html

  • avatar
    Nick

    I have a collection of pics of huge yard from around these parts.  It took all day to walk around, let alone stopping to take pictures.  The vintage varied from the 20s to the early 70s.  The owner was nice enough, but unreasonable.  I wanted the last (totally shot) remnant of the left rear quarter from a red 69 Charger RT, just for a decoration, and he wanted as much I’d pay for a good panel for a restoration project.  I tried to get some other things on other occasions, and always the prices were absurd.  Then one day one of those mobile crushers moved in and squashed every last one of them.  The cars were generally more stripped than these…but still, it was a shame.

  • avatar
    Darnells Auto Wrecking

    That was Scott & Sons Auto Wrecking, which ceased operations circa 2005. Many of those cars were in the old lot on 6th and Fillmore or the former J&W Towing lot near 2nd and Chambers. I’m hoping to be able to buy the Hillman Imp and a 1978 Dodge Magnum that was in the J&W inventory, started and ran nicely for me when I looked at it initially in 2004 and shouldn’t be too hard to put back on the road. All of the cars are for sale and many are advertised on the Eugene Craigslist in the spring & summer.
    Hey, Paul… if I stay in Eugene much longer, those might be your first Magnum and Imp in the CCs.

  • avatar
    big al

    Aforementioned Chevie truck,couple of gallons of gas and a battery ,I bet it’d drive out.(scredriver down carb throat to keep choke open. Load up box with assorted bikes(the best of the yard) and I’d be happy.


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