Down On The Junkyard: Time Stops At Ancient Colorado Yard

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Most of my junkyard-prowling experience has taken place at the modern-day self-service yards, where the inventory turns over fast, prices are standardized, and 90% of the cars on the yard tend to be 15 to 20 years old. Now that I’m in a constant search for parts for a 45-year-old Dodge van, I’ve been venturing out to the more traditional wrecking yards, where you haggle for every part and the inventory sits for decades while each and every salable part gets picked. A couple weeks back, I went on a quest for A100 parts at a breathtakingly vintage junkyard located about halfway between Denver and Cheyenne.

This is the first REO I’ve ever seen in a junkyard. Sadly, it’s not an REO Speed Wagon; I believe this is an late-30s REO 19AS.

You know the inventory has been sitting for a while when the junked work trucks have four- and five-digit phone numbers painted on the doors.

The searing high-altitude sun in Colorado has a way of stripping paint down to bare metal over the decades. In the case of this truck, the sun has exposed layers of old business names.

This much-bleached “Goddess of the Rockies” emblem is painted on the door of a 1940s dairy truck.

I was tempted to buy the Goddess of the Rockies truck door, to hang on my garage wall… but then I saw this. Flames, a Viking ship, and a berserker. I may have to steal this design for my van’s paint job.

There’s something sad about an abandoned flathead V8 sitting in the dirt for 50 years.

Looking for parts for your 1955 Nash Statesman project? This one seems just about totally complete.

Just like the MGB-GT and Ferrari 308, the Statesman featured Pininfarina design.

And a “Double Strength” unit body.

Not to mention Weather Eye climate control.

Let’s jump forward a decade to a later AMC product.

Shift Command!

IHC Scouts galore here, including this one that was victimized by a shotgun.

I’ve always loved the old Plymouth sailing-ship hood ornaments, ever since I fell in love with this semi-rat-rodded ’47.

No A100s here, but I know where to go if I ever get a Corvair Greenbrier.

I could spend all day just photographing patina-with-emblem-ghosts.

In fact, I believe I’ll return and do just that. These shots are just scratching the surface.

Even though I left empty-handed (other than these photographs), my friends scored some parts for their 40s Ford pickup projects, off a ’43 military Ford truck with all sorts of cool war-wagon-only goodies, inlcuding a super-rare flip-up windshield.

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.

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  • Bryce Bryce on Jun 13, 2011

    Love old yards like these Theres a wrecking yard locally that has a 38 Chevvy just inside the fence a good place to find old car parts They actually have a Hillman pile I got a good brake mastercyl for my project cheap THere was a 46 Chevvy on the hoist getting an exhaust I was told it had been there 20 years but was going back on the road it looked very tidy from what I could see.

  • CougarXR7 CougarXR7 on Jun 13, 2011

    Despite the missing bits that Javelin looks salvageable. If I had the room and the $$$ I'd purchase all three of them and piece together one good car. What that blue and white car next to the Nash? Is that an Ambassador?

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.