Corvairs, Kaisers, and Cadillacs: Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard Is a Mile High… and a Mile Wide

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

That AMC Matador Barcelona we saw last week was quite a Junkyard Find, but it represents approximately 0.01% of the staggeringly tempting potential Hell Projects in this particular Colorado yard. Located not far from Pikes Peak (which I couldn’t see because of all the wildfire smoke), this not-open-to-the-public junkyard/open-air automotive museum is owned by a man with an eye for interesting Detroit iron and all the land he needs to store what he finds. After all my years of junkyard crawling, I think this may well be the Greatest Yard of Them All, and that includes the now-defunct Seven Sons yard and this 70-year-old yard north of Denver. Let’s take a little tour, shall we?

I got an invitation to this exclusive venue from a couple of friends who were picking up a pair of scrap-ready VW Rabbits that had been stored there for a decade. In the un-air-conditioned cab of the bad-gas-contaminated big-block ’75 Chevy Scottsdale are me and a pair of LeMons racers who like to build weird projects. That mission was an adventure in itself.

The air was a wildfire-smoky 100 degrees on the Great Plains when we got to our destination, and I couldn’t quite comprehend the size of the place. As far as I could see in all directions were rows of old and interesting vehicles.

The proprietor of this collection has been accumulating vehicles for several decades. There’s a little of everything, but several themes stand out. First, Chevrolet Corvairs and International Harvester Travelalls are everywhere.

I can’t tell you how many Corvairs— cars and vans— I saw as I staggered among the prickly-pears, but the total must be better than 100.

Travelalls, Scouts, and IHC pickups are also present in large quantities.

Once my shock over the Corvairs and IHCs had subsided, I began to notice the clusters of old school buses and vintage step vans. Can anybody put a rough model-year date on this hyper-cool GMC? Plenty more nearby!

Ever seen an Olds Cutlass coupe with diesel engine and factory four-on-the-floor? Yes, GM built at least one.

Speaking of diesels, oil-burning (and gasoline-fueled) Chevettes are also present in large quantities. Here’s a very rare Diesel Chevette Limited Edition.

I was looking for parts for my ’66 Dodge A100, though after picking this junkyard example clean over the winter my shopping list is down to a few rare trim bits.

This toy Trans Am has been baking on an A100 dash for decades. I am going to frame this image and hang it up in my office, for inspiration.

In addition to several A100s, the other members of the 1960s forward-control van clan are well-represented in this yard.

I may have to make another visit just to chronicle the dozens of FC vans to be seen in this magical place.

Another theme of this yard is the GM H Platform; I didn’t see many Vegas, but this must be the heaviest concentration of H-Body Monzas, Starfires, Skyhawks, and Sunbirds in the Western Hemisphere.

AMCs? Of course! In addition to several Marlins and the Matador we saw earlier, Pacers and Gremlins lurk in the tall grass.

I am profoundly tempted to adopt this (proto-AMC) Nash Ambassador as my next project. How hard could it be?

The really old stuff got me the most hypnotized. Much of the 1950s and 1960s Big Three machinery is now being shipped to restorers in Europe, leaving behind a lot of 1940s and off-brand stuff.

DeSotos, Willys, Kaisers, Nashes. Firedomes, Airflytes, Aeros.

Even Crosleys!

A photographer with more skill than I have could probably make a career out of nothing but closeups of patinas in this yard.

Even though Rich of Rocket Surgery Racing has an overwhelming number of projects going on, he took a look at the many Willys Aeros here and decided that he needed to drop one of his small-block Chevy engines in one. Sounds like a fine idea to me!

Finally, the Rabbits were loaded on the flatbed, we were all exhausted, and even the junkyard cat needed a rest. I’ll be focusing on some individual cars and trucks from this expedition in future Junkyard Finds, so you haven’t seen the end of this collection yet. For now, check out the even older stuff at this Colorado yard.

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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  • on Nov 21, 2012

    Whenever I see junkyards of this size I get depressed just thinking about how much order is sitting out there unused and how much damage and pollution has been caused. Still, I'm in the aftermarket industry so I'm as much a part of the problem as anyone.

  • Mr. Edward Mann Mr. Edward Mann on Dec 10, 2012

    Does the Oldsmobile Starfire in pic# 25 have a 231 C.I./3.8 L/3800 V6 and a Borg-Warner/Tremec T-5 in it? If so, is it for sale? I WAANT IT!!!

  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon