By on December 11, 2010


When I heard from a certain Renault 4CV racer that the inventory of the ancient Seven Sons Auto Salvage wrecking yard in Brighton, Colorado, would be up for auction today, I headed up there in full bat-outta-hell mode. I don’t really need another Hell Project to piss off the neighbors, but what harm could there be in looking?

You can tell from the sign that Seven Sons (located about 30 miles northeast of Denver) was a serious old-school yard; the operation got closed down by an eminent-domain ruling and most of the inventory— I heard the total was 10,000 vehicles— got crushed. A few hundred of the more collectible vehicles were spared for the auctioneer’s gavel.

You have to be a seriously hardbitten old car fanatic to be willing to spend all day freezing in a harsh 34-degree wind in order to get a shot at buying a basket-case ’64 Pontiac Executive wagon for $400, and that’s exactly the kind of guy that showed up to this auction.

We also had a few 24 Hours of LeMons veterans, always on the lookout for new projects and/or race cars. Rich, on the right, picked up a fairly solid ’47 Ford pickup for a good price.

This truck will provide much-needed material for a rat-roddish truck project now underway.

I was quite tempted by a bunch of mid-to-late-1960s full-size Ford fastbacks. Unfortunately, all the nicer ones were small-block cars, plus the value of scrap steel these days means that big Detroit hulks are worth at least $400 at The Crusher. If I’m going to outbid The Crusher, I want a 390 or 428!

Then there was this Peugeot 404, which ended up selling for 300 bucks. If only the windows hadn’t been open for 25 years of Colorado weather, the interior might have been in nice enough shape for me to consider bidding. Finding every single interior component for a 50-year-old French car? Non!

You like old Detroit trucks? Quite the selection to be had at this auction!

One of my favorite trucks was this ex-Air Force 1952 IHC Travelall. I didn’t stick around to see what it sold for, but I noticed quite a few guys hovering around it before the bidding started.

This not-too-terrible 390/automatic ’67 Mustang got a lot of attention as well.

A lot of cool old machines that were too rough to be worth restoring ended up selling at what amounted to scrap prices. I hope they spend some time in other yards before they get eaten, so that some of their parts might live on.

In addition to all the vehicles, many tools and weird non-car-related stuff was for sale. Looking for a player piano? A baby coffin? Outdoor-stored LPs?

How about this for a LeMons car? Unfortunately, the bidding reached $550 on the Champion.

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26 Comments on “Studebaker Champion or Peugeot 404? Vast Colorado Junkyard’s Inventory Auctioned Off...”


  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    Great boneyard-it’s great to see a yard that isn’t locked into a particular theme. I can understand why that IHC had so many guys looking at it-hopefully it isn’t turned into some kind of rat-rod abomination because those are far too rare for a silly, trendy cheap-ass exploitation.

  • avatar

    Did I ever mention I’m from Pittsburgh?

    Western boneyards are an Northeastern car nut’s fantasy. That ’68 Impala wagon would make a great ride…but I’d probably take the ’55 first.

  • avatar
    obbop

    When the salvage yard in California closed I was saddened to see a few in-stock, saved, waiting-for-a-buyer parts get tossed into the truck headed for the Oakland metal crusher/condenser that prepared the goods for shipment to various oriental locales.
    The 1968 and 1969 Chevelle taillight assemblies looking akin to new and various sundry components.
    What saddened me most was saying adios to the 1973 Road Runner hood in perfect condition.
    Not as rare as earlier RR items but surely some day, some body, some where will want/need one.
    No place to keep any of the stuff since I was living in my pick-up at the time and didn’t know anybody with a place I could stash the stuff.
    Sniff and a gentle sigh.
    The Depression of the 1930s devastated our clan. Every single farm/homestead lost. Golly shucks, if one or more of the kinfolk coulda’ hung on perhaps us younguns’ in future generations coulda’ grown that hemp-stuff and amassed our fortunes.
    Might have to use some form of eminent domain to secure squatter’s rights to my pre-selected dumpsters for retirement living.

  • avatar

    Ok, don’t groan too much.  If I recall, the Travelall went for 700ish, and most of that row of F100s went for 5-600.  Prices were all over the place.  Crush value sets a baseline and if there were enthusiasts then prices went up from there.  The Brat (a Brat?) went for 800ish.  I think the mustang was well north of 4500 (flaked out, stopped paying attention).

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I sure hope someone snagged that early Wagoneer with the “Rhino” grille. It looks pretty solid overall and would probably make a nice basis for a restoration. If nothing else, the grille and “pie plates” alone are worth several hundred dollars to the right buyer. 

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I’m surprised how many still had their license plates; that’s an entire area of specialty by itself. Now if only I could remember half the Colorado county codes on those plates. The Mustang is from Weld county, probably Greeley as there wasn’t anything else up there.

  • avatar

    Love thr Inter I had a 110 flat bed that model tough as. It could pull a house down.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Seeing a junkyard like that seems incredible, as abandoned cars collapse into rotten piles of rust in a decade or two here. It’s too bad many of those old cars are going to be crushed.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Having grown up in eastern WA, another place where cars (the metal parts, anyways) last a long time, I have witnessed the closure of many similar places and you can almost write the same story for every one – elderly owner(s), encroaching development, stricter (enforcement of) environmental laws, can’t make decent cash flow with their inventory, and so on.

    I hate to see them go, but then again, think about how many 1900-1930s vehicles that we lost forever due to the scrap metal campaigns during WWII.  Somehow, some of them survived.

    The sad thing is that we are crushing these old junkers and shipping them to CHINA.  That frosts me.  Why can’t we melt down our own metal anymore?  How much CO2 goes into the atmosphere from needlessly shipping thousands of tons of scrap half way around the world and then back again?

    I’ve been a big car buff for a long time and got my first car, a 1941 Chevy Special Deluxe, while in 7th grade (basket case, $250, started restoration during high school and then went to college and never touched it again).  Then I had a couple of 1969 Cadillac ambulances which were a lot of fun (college car, and one was potential restoration parts car).  Sold those too.  Life gets in the way; job, wife, house, and kids, and as much as I’d love to save one of those rigs from the crusher, I juat don’t have the time to do so.  My kids are so much more important.  Maybe when they get older, we can get a project car and work on it together (cross fingers)!

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Murilee, thanks for braving the air conditioned Colorado air to provide the numerous Sunday morning photos.  Dry air is a good thing, when dealing with potential projects.
     
    Most of the old-school bone yards in the Sun Belt are doomed, if they are anywhere near a growing metropolitan area.   At some point the land is worth way more than the salvage business residing on it.
     
    One yard that I frequent locally is now surrounded on three sides by pseudo, two story, mini mansions with a great view of a salvage yard. The valley with a meandering creek makes for nice winding drive on a Sunday.  Further from home, as of this weekend, an old-old VW bone yard in the county adjacent to Houston is gone. Closer to home, my local VW yard may be for now safe, because it is under the flight path of a busy airport just as the jets touch down.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      From the window of the garage of the house I rent you can see the back property belonging to the body shop nearby.  I don’t mind and don’t consider it an eyesore, but I am sure I’m in the minority.  Car nut that I am. While maintaining my own vehicles and waiting for oil to finish draining or for a coat of wax to dry so I can buff it, I like to stare into the boneyard and think of those vehicles less fortunate.

  • avatar

    Worthless – From the kids’ movie The Brave Little Toaster

  • avatar
    Jasper911

    Nice stuff. Makes me itch more to get out of my 1990s daily driver! Kentucky environment not as kind to dormants! Wouldn’t be able to pick one. Like the Internationals and the wagons but my worse judgement would have me hauling the Fiat 850 home.
    This really overshadows the 65 Starfire Convertible I saw at the junkyard yesterday. I tried for about a half hour to snag the quarter panel exhaust ports and tips but I had my sh*tty tools and they did a sh*tty job of stacking. Made easy pickings for the next guy with the right tools.

  • avatar
    Bergwerk

    It is hard for me to believe that there were any Jeeps and Scouts there in the first place.  Around here, if it can be made to run, it will at least be in someone’s hunt camp.  And if it can be made to run well, it is on the road.
    Beyond that, I hope the the crusher bound corpses are at least stripped of there badges and finery, so part of them can live on.  I would love to have the old Plymouth hood ornament or the Falcon emblem, or the “camper special” badge or Firedome, or…

  • avatar
    AlienProbe

    Awh! That little yellow Fiat is soooo cute! <3 <3 <3
    That Little early 90′s Dodge pickup looks pretty solid from a mile away.  I am drawn to that for some reason.  So, many appealing projects!

  • avatar
    Nick

    Please tell me someone save that Hemi shortblock, as well as the Hemis in that DeSoto and Imperial.  Those things are as rare as hens teeth now.

    My personal hopes are also that the Gold Duster, what appears to be a 70 Roadrunner, and the two Opel GTs were saved.

  • avatar
    Nick

    That 66 Coronet is remarkably solid and complete.

    I hope, at a minimum, some of the cars were rescued for the engines alone.  Buick 455s from that are not too easy to find anymore, and an Olds 394 would be a find.

  • avatar
    Russcar

    I lived in Colorado as a kid in the 1950′s and my Dad would take me to junkyards on the weekends for fun. The best one I remember was outside of Florence, Colorado.

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    I am envious….  What did the 1924 Buick go for?

  • avatar

    Wow, nothing like it here in the northeast! Have you noticed for how much the ’65 Skylark Gran Sport was sold?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    The pix of what appears to be a seafoam green Studebaker Lark reminds me of my Great-Uncle Joe’s Lark VIII. My brother inherited it after my GU’s death, but he was afraid of an “orphan” car and sold it immediately.
     
    So much neat old metal there, so hard for me to choose a favorite.

  • avatar
    Kelster

    I think I know one of those crates intimately.. The ’59 f-100 in pic 36. If it’s got a surplus ammo box bolted in the passenger side step-up well and a rear bumper with the ends cut off, I spent 7 years of my youth in the late 70′s-early 80′s being ferried around southern Larimer county in that thing. We called it Rescue ’59 because of the spotlight. It was a good, tough little truck and served my family well.

  • avatar

    What a fantastic selection – I do like that yellow Fiat but looks perhaps a little too far gone.

  • avatar
    postjosh

    was #36 the long lost pickup truck cousin to murilee’s groovy forward control van?
    p.s. save the step!

  • avatar

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacecowboyian/sets/72157625452355929/
    My pics from the day. Sadly I didn’t stick around for the Toyota Crown and left empty handed. Wish I would have grabbed that 404 though. Anyone there know how much the 60 Rambler American 2 door went for?

  • avatar
    Nick

    As these places dry up, car pickers will have to rely more and more on small ‘unofficial’ collections and serendipity to find interesting cars to restore or for parts.  I know of a few small collections.  Even those are in peril now though…often these properties change hands and the new owners see the new cars as nothing but eyesores.
    There was a property I used to go skiiing and target shooting on back in my mid teens in Manitoba.  It was in a very rural area presumably without an official wrecking yard so for several generations the extended family had simply driven or dragged their old cars into a field and left them there.  I was fascinated.
    I pestered my mom for years to get in touch with the lady that had inherited the property and to inquire about the cars.  Of course, I got the answer I wasn’t looking for…property sold…cars gone.  There cars mostly died of mechanical failure.  With that thick steel, the bodies of these cars held up remarkably well in the dry Manitoba air.


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