As I hit the edge of Lakeview, OR on the way to Tonopah, NV, the start of our overlanding trip, my eyes popped open at this sight: a superbly curated collection of Curbside Classics. I made a somewhat rude U-turn and pulled into Auto Haven. The garage side door was open and four people were sitting in a circle doing what folks used to do all the time on a hot afternoon, and still do in places like Lakeview: shooting the breeze.
I introduced myself to Jeff, the proprietor, who told me to help myself to all the free pictures I want, as long as I give him a little plug. Sounds like a deal.
Here’s the sign and the phone number. No, there’s no web site or any social media; strictly old school. Jeff told me that many of the cars were pulled out of a field out back and then cleaned up some. As you’ll see, there’s essentially no rust, thanks to the dry high desert climate, but plenty of sun-burn patina. And that sun hasn’t exactly been kind to many of the interiors, so that’s something to consider before you call up Jeff and make an offer.
But don’t let that get in the way of fulfilling your long held wish for a 1952 Ford Courier sedan delivery or such. Here’s a tour, starting with the front line.
First up is a splendid 1970 Mercury Marquis coupe. It’s a bit like a mule: a cross between an LTD and a Lincoln. And that’s not derogatory, as I hold mules in high regard—perhaps more so than Mercurys of this vintage. But don’t let that stop you.
I’m actually rather smitten by this one. Look at those big slab sides that manage to be so curvaceous too. It rather favors the Lincoln side of its parentage.
This one has a pretty solid interior. Is it the famous “panty cloth”?
Next up is perhaps the star attraction: a ’52 Ford Courier sedan delivery. With a surfboard on top, to add a bit of marketing pizazz. Here’s the chance to relive your youth, chasing the perfect wave without a care in the world.
Last new plate was back in 1956.
The seat’s not quite original, but at least there is one. The back is perfect for an old mattress. You’ll keep it warm, as this is a serious chick magnet.
Or is this the star attraction? A 1960 Lark VIII four door wagon, the first year for that body style. Not quite a chick magnet, but then that was rarely Studebaker’s claim to fame.
This one has a pretty solid interior too. An automatic backs the 259 V8.
The familiar and distinctive Studebaker back seat, which looks a bit more commodious than it is, due to the high floor that limits leg room some, due to riding on an old-school ladder frame. But there’s only a very small tunnel, as a partial compensation.
A pretty solid looking wagon.
Or is this 1981 Imperial the true star attraction? That rear license plate recess sure is horrendous. Criminal, actually. They should have dropped it down to the bumper, even if it did spoil that continuous light band. Looks like a baboon’s butt.
Oh, but such a lovely front end to make up for that rear end. Can we add a bit more overhang, please?
If you take a minute to read the ad on the dash you’ll get a sense of the place.
I need to stop, but it looks like someone took a Sawzall to that trunk lid. At least it takes the eyes away from the bustle back line on the side.
Oddly, it’s the passenger seat that’s shot. Maybe the seat cushions were swapped?
This is more like it. A 1962 Chrysler two-door hardtop wearing ’62 Galaxie wheel covers. Period-correct.
A plucked rooster if there ever was one.
That dash pad might be a wee bit hard to replace. Handy vanity mirror on the dash to check your lipstick or the state of your five o’clock shadow.
This ’65 Chevy has a fairly solid body, but it’s going to need a wee bit of TLC. At least the hole for the floor shifter is already there.
A 1947 Cadillac, and obviously a base Series 61 coupe. Is it missing its rear fender trim, or was there a “stripper” version without it? It’s riding a bit high in the front; has the massive flathead V8 been replaced by something lighter?
Those fans on the floor under the front seats caught my eye. That’s the heaters, the original bun warmers.
A Studebaker Champ sparkling in its metal flake paint job. Irresistible.
Quite the shifter knob. Not the original steering wheel.
It looks ready to haul.
This ’67 Chevy Impala wagon sports a 327 as well as the ubiquitous Rally wheels.
I’m running out of time tonight for pithy commentary on each car, so you’ll have to supply it from here on out, with some exceptions. You know what they are…
No less than two 1953 Ford hardtop coupes. Last year for the flathead V8.
A matching set of ’57 Cadillacs; a coupe and a limo no less.
The Mercury version of the hardtop coupe.
OMG, how did this little furrin’ car sneak in here?
1955 Clipper (by Packard), missing those wonderful tail lights.
A 1965 Grand Prix.
A Dodge “van” that’s been lifted a wee bit.
This ’64 Olds Starfire caught my attention. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one.
1938 Zephyr. or is it a 1939?
The Chevy logo and nickle-plated radiator shell have held up better than the rest of the car.
The V8 showdown: Ford flathead and Chevy small block.
This fine Mark III is the end of the row. And the end of the tour. Give Jeff a call, and tell him that weird tall guy wearing above the knee pink flamingo shorts and driving that even weirder little box of a car sent you. He’ll remember me; they’re probably still talking about me in the garage.