Studebaker Champion or Peugeot 404? Vast Colorado Junkyard's Inventory Auctioned Off

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 26 comments
  • Ian Jennings Ian Jennings on Dec 14, 2010 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?

  • Nick Nick on Dec 14, 2010

    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 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.

  • 28-Cars-Later Seville - LS400Bhp 295 250Ft-tq 280 260Reliable No Yes
  • 28-Cars-Later No, and none of you should be either.
  • Arthur Dailey No.
  • Arthur Dailey My father had multiple Northstar equipped vehicles. He got one of the first Northstar equipped STS's in Canada and continually drove STS's on one year leases for nearly a decade. One of them did 'crap out' on him. It went into 'limp' mode and he drove it to the nearest GM dealer. The vehicle was about half way through its lease, and he was in cottage country (Muskoka). GM arranged to have it flatbedded back to Toronto. He rented a vehicle, drove it home and then took delivery of a new STS within about 4 days. There were no negotiations regarding repairs, etc. The vehicle was simply replaced. Overall he was pleased with the performance of these vehicles and their engines. We also found them a pleasant environment to be in, with more than enough power.
  • Bd2 If they let me and the boyz roll around naked in their dealership I'll buy a Chinese car.