By on August 6, 2014

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Just a little ways ahead is your favorite spot on the whole trip. It’s a place you always look for as you drive by, craning your neck and slowing down to take in the view. You’ve never stopped there, though. Whether it’s a spouse, the kids, or just a nagging commitment, something always gets in the way. Or maybe it’s your guilty conscience holding you back. This time, though, you’ve made up your mind. You’re going to stop and have a real look-see around the place. Your pulse quickens as you get closer.

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                Don’t worry; you’re hardly alone. Every car nut falls prey to the temptation at one point or another. Everyone has their own particular affinities, but broadly speaking, the car hoard is a universal attraction. There’s always one in particular that bedevils you, gets inside your head, and demands to be investigated more fully. Whether it’s a scruffy towing and repair place, an old house by the highway, or just an open field, it’s out there somewhere.

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                For me, it was this roadside stash of VWs in northeast Alabama. After several passes by, I gave into temptation. There was no fence, no signs, and no junkyard dog guarding the gravel lot, so I was able to mill about at leisure. My non-enthusiast traveling companion was suitably supportive, even if he didn’t quite understand my excitement.

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                What made this particular collection interesting to me was that it wasn’t strictly segregated by propulsive power. VW enthusiasts tend to be divided into air-cooled and water-cooled camps, with a big generational gap between the two. In this case, several Westmoreland-produced water-cooled VWs were jumbled in with a bunch of Beetles and two Karmann Ghias. That included two Rabbit GTIs, which weren’t rusty but which were disappearing into the underbrush.

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                It also included this rare Rabbit-based Pickup, also known as the Caddy. Unfortunately, it had a much more pervasive case of car cancer. By the looks of the tires, it hadn’t gone anywhere for a very long time and wouldn’t be moving soon.

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                There were the carcasses of several Beetles strewn around the place, including the shell of this rare Sun Bug. Most of them appeared to be beyond saving, but perhaps not for a dedicated VW freak. Doors, fenders, and other parts were there, arranged in stacks and piles. There was a bright yellow Beetle that looked freshly restored in the back of the lot. Maybe this is the parts cache for an enthusiast keeping other VWs on the road.

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                Unfortunately, there was no one around to ask. And there were no signs indicating whether or not this was a commercial enterprise, a private collection, or both. It was a Sunday, and the service station next door was closed. The two places sort of spilled into one another, as is often the case with these kinds of hoards. I’d like to know if anything is potentially for sale. The metal building behind them all was also quite intriguing- what other treasures might it hold inside? Reluctantly, I moved on. I haven’t given up hope, though; this might not be the last word on this collection. Check the thumbnails below for more images.

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23 Comments on “Roadside Temptation...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    A junkyard by any other name…

    I see these types of places quite often, and I think the same of them as I do of the other extreme – nice-looking older cars at some body shop either for sale for ridiculous amounts of money or owned by those who run the place: HO HUM. Keep moving, nothing to see here.

    In the above case, sad carcasses, indeed.

    It appears the only in-between is the old, privately-owned, preserved/mildly-restored car you see on the street as a daily driver or weekend pride and joy.

    THOSE are what floats my boat.

  • avatar
    Lythandra

    Sorry but those are just junk. No roadside temptation there.

  • avatar
    mikey

    With enough money, time and talent, a guy could restore some pretty cool old VW’s. Maybe a great father, son, or daughter, project. I personally , don’t see a pile of junk there.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Junk ? Yes .

    Also a serious parts bonanza for those who love the Air Cooled VW’s .

    Nothing really old or ‘ rare ‘ there though .

    One early door , that’s all I see .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    threeer

    Hmmm…wonder how close that place is to the one just outside of Huntsville that has numerous Fiero’s wasting away? Always meant to stop by, if nothing else than out of morbid curiosity.

    • 0 avatar
      jeepjeep

      This place is engrained in my memory – its on the highway between Gadsden and Piedmont!
      My family had to ban this beetle graveyard from the punch buggy game!

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I always wonder if the people who are attracted to this sort of situation have ever done a restoration before. It’s been my observation that of all the guys (and it always is a man) that start such a project, very, very few ever get close to having a completed car. There aren’t that many guys who have the time, tools, shop space, and money to restore a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “It’s been my observation that of all the guys (and it always is a man) that start such a project, very, very few ever get close to having a completed car.”

      Guilty as charged.

      Most have no idea what they’re getting into. Especially when you’re young; you have the time and energy, but also have a serious lack of resources and ability.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        .
        _THIS_ ~ I have bought more failed restoration projects ‘ On The Cheap ‘ than you can imagine .

        In the 1970’s I was busy saving and restoring early VW’s , back to the 1940’s when I could find them .

        Hulks like these were invaluable for the small parts, hard ware , window lifts , door latches , pedal quadrants , on and on….

        Back then Super Beetles were still in production so a yard like this would have been full Oval Window Beetles , Busses and maybe a Barn Door or three .

        Now I’m old & crippled so no more restoration works for me .

        I had one very nice 50 – something year old Lady who came to a VVWCA Meet , she still had her Gray Market 1957 ‘Ghia , restored it and drove it to many meets over the years ~ sweet lady , I miss her .
        Remember : ” Restoration : means : AS-NEW and _nothing_ else ! if you stuff a Twin Port 1600 in it or lower it , it is NOT RESTORED .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          If it looks nice and drives well, and it once did not, IMHO it is restored.

          My Spitfire is most certainly restored – but it is no Spitfire that EVER came out of the factory. And it is about 100% better for it. 95% of it is still Triumph, they just never made this particular combination.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        I was lucky to grow up next to a guy who restored old cars for a hobby. Even with plenty of money and expertise, it would take him many years to restore an old wreck. Every time I think about taking on such a project, I ask if I’m really that committed. So far I’ve been smart enough to say no.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          It has to be a labor of love, because it is SOOOO much cheaper and easier 99% of the time to buy a good one than to make a wreck good. But if you have more time and energy than money, miracles are possible. But as you said, it takes YEARS.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I see many different old VWs here in west GA. In my many years living in Atlanta, I didn’t see this many. Maybe there is something about rural GA and AL that attracts the vintage VW crowd. There is at least one specialty shop out here. One guy at work has a beautifully restored Beetle with Alabama tags.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I ignore how far away from your home this place is. But if it were me, I would drive on a weekday just to ask around a question: who, why, what and where?:
    Who owns it?
    Why does this place exist?
    What are (were) you planning to do with these relics?
    Where did these cars came from?

    I’m sure that you will get a pretty interesting story, and you may be able to write another post from it.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    LeMans Steve. You know that in Huntsville, AL NASA has this large rocket engine testing and development facility.
    The lore says that when Wehrner von Braun was scouting the US for a suitable location, he decided upon Huntsville because it reminded him of Germany. Some there may be something in that area that appeals to German-loving sensibilities.

  • avatar
    skor

    You have to be VERY careful when you approach a scene like this. It’s been my experience that if you do find the owner, they will be ah…um, eccentric. A few years ago a friend was hiking in rural Pennsylvania when he came upon a field of rotting first gen Mustangs. He was looking at the cars and thinking about finding the owner when he heard, “YO!” My friend turned around to find a large, bearded gentleman holding a shotgun. My friend asked, “Are you the owner of these cars?” The nice man replied, “GTF off my property. NOW!”

    ETA: The law is pretty clear about photographing stuff in public. If you can see it with the naked eye from a public space, you are free to photograph it. If you’re taking pictures on private property, without obtaining permission first, you are asking for trouble.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I stopped to look at a Jetta for my sister once and found a man’s slowly rotting car collection stretching off into the woods, featuring THREE IH Scouts in various states of disrepair and a 1960 full size Buick station wagon before you even went into the wooded part. Fortunately the guy didn’t wield a shotgun and even showed me the nice ’47 and ’50 Chevies he had in his barn.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Seems easy enough to call the Cooper Tire Center and inquire as to the lot next door. In a small town sort of situation like that, I bet everyone working at that center knows the entire story.

  • avatar

    Driving home from Bar harbor, Maine, probably in ’06, we took an inland route starting, I’m guessing, at Belfast. At some point between there and perhaps Thomaston, perhaps along rt 131, there was a yard full of ’40s and ’50s era Studebakers. About 10-12 of them. I spent about 15 minutes looking and photographing, much to my then girlfriend’s amusement.

    Somewhere in New Hampshire or VErmont, I’ve heard there are fields full of Peugeots. If anyone knows where this is, let me know. Or maybe don’t. Lead us not into temptation.

    And of course there’s Johnnie’s Sales and Service, which, last time I looked, had four Edsels, a second gen Corvair, and a variety of other interesting stuff.
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/holzmans-treasures-the-barn-find/

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If you really want a shock, on a random back road near Sabattus Maine there is a guy who has a hundred or so Army trucks. Duece and a half type. A HUGE field full of them, every variety you can imagine. Quite a few in nice condition, but a lot of wrecks too. I have heard a rumor he rents them out for movies and such. There is a huge barn on the property where I assume he works on them, but there is no business sign or anything. It is literally on a windy little back road in the middle of nowhere.

  • avatar

    I’ve always wanted to build a Karmann Ghia or some other air-cooled VW. So yeah, I’d have been tempted as well.

  • avatar
    April

    Reminds me of the former VW repair shop I took my Mexican Volkswagen to. Right now they have about a dozen quirky cars and trucks rusting away in a side lot. A Studebaker Lark, a few Beetle carcases. A 1950’s-era Opel (I think) and a tow truck converted from a WWII Dodge command car.

    I should go by and see if they will let me take some pics. :)

  • avatar
    05lgt

    One strange day last month I saw two (2) Caddy’s driving on the same day on different highways. My friend and I wouldn’t shut up about the odds, and our wives were not interested at all.

  • avatar
    j.grif

    One time I landed in this guys back yard in Gaines Mi(he had a grass runway)and it was like I was in the twilight zone, this guy must have had between 30 and 40 Sierra’s and xr4ti’s in his back yard along with a bunch of Cadillac Cattera’s and some panther based sedans, he also had a very nice Mercedes Sl convertible that he had shown me, he was proud of these twenty dollar plastic wheel covers that he had just put on this vintage car, eccentric indeed!

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