Classic American


Our intrepid salvage yard explorer brings you junkyard jewels from across North America.

- Words and photograph­y: Will Shiers

1. This 1947 Buick Super four-door sedan, and the following three cars, are part of a private collection of old vehicles and automobili­a that I discovered in central Texas. There was nobody at home, so the photograph­s were taken from the roadside. I would have loved to have spent an hour or so exploring this place, because as you can see, it was packed full of oddities.

2. Back-seat passengers were very much in the limelight in a Studebaker Starlight coupe, thanks to the unique wraparound three-piece rear window. Another of designer Virgil Exner’s unusual features was a huge boot, which left some pundits questionin­g which way the car was actually driving! But the Big Three weren’t laughing – instead they were busy copying styling elements. This 1952 example had a top speed of 82mph, which is somewhat less than the Mach 4.1 managed by the Patriot missile behind it!

3. Launched in 1949, the Chieftain was Pontiac’s first new postwar design. The first-generation models were in production until 1954, and this four-door sedan appears to hail from 1953. There are some interestin­g vehicles in the background too, including an ex-military GMC CCKW ‘deuce-and-a-half’ and an elderly Case tractor.

4. 4 This Thi reminds id me of f a scene from f th the film Cars, in which agricultur­al tractors were depicted as automotive versions of cows. This herd of old ladies are sharing their field with a 1941 Chevrolet.

5. L&L Classic Auto of Wendell, Idaho, has a selection of 100-year-old car parts on site, including this pile of Ford Model T panels. Although, having clearly been used as target practice, I’m not sure how much use they’ll be to anyone.

6. The high desert town of Marfa, Texas, is famed for its mysterious lights, which are apparently visible on clear nights. Tourists come here from all over the world to check them out, and they even get a mention in the Rolling Stones song No Spare Parts. And on that subject, there’s no spare parts on offer here, as the Marfa resident that owns this 1971 Chevrolet Nova plans to restore it to its former glory.

7. Station wagons were once the car of choice for middle-class families – a rite of passage to middle-aged parenthood. But those days are long gone, and today’s “are we nearly there yet?” road trips are made in either SUVs or crossovers. In fact, with production of the Buick Regal TourX (aka Vauxhall V Insignia) ending, I don’t believe any a of the Big Three even offer a station wagon w these days. But this 1973 Plymouth Suburban, S photograph­ed in Denton, Texas, hails h from an era when station wagons were w very much still in vogue.

8. 8 The tiny West Texas town of Fort Davis is i home to a radio telescope, one of 10 that t make up the Very Long Baseline Array. A This giant antenna is as tall as a 10- 1 storey building, and dominates the skyline. s I’m not entirely sure what it’s looking l for, but I can tell you that back on o Earth I discovered this 1963 Mercury Meteor M Custom.

9. This California­n 1962 Imperial certainly isn’t going to win any beauty contests! Unfortunat­ely, since this photograph was taken, the car has been crushed. Although it seems crazy, I’m reliably informed that none of these hard-to-find parts were removed before it was squashed.

10. This 1940 Plymouth coupe was clearly somebody’s project. Presumably the owner decided they’d bitten off more than they could chew, so sold it on to Oakleaf Cars and Crushing in South Dakota. Despite its name, very few of the classics in this yard do actually get crushed.

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