The other day my wife, the lovely Ste. Sue, and I headed down to Moab, UT to meet with the dude I have worked with for extended periods of time in Spain, Morocco and Mexico from the 1970s through the 1990s – Bob Frerck. He, his wife and kids were taking a three-week tour of National Parks in the southwest. We hooked up in Moab, after a tour of Arches, and then met again the following day in Cortez, Colorado for a tour of the Mesa Verde Anasazi ruins.
While on our way to Cortez, Sue and I saw an almost empty field with some stuff that we both knew would trigger massive salivation amongst the Commentariat- The Field of Dreams! The most compelling car close to the road was a 1959 Square Bird, in turquoise (and a bunch of patina), no less.
After I plugged my eyeballs back into their respective sockets, I began to assess the situation.
This place looked like it may have been a former junkyard. Hard to tell from the road, but after I got back home, the images on Google Maps-Satellite confirmed my suspicion-this was a former junkyard.
The junkyard is located at highway 491 (North Broadway) and County Road N.
What’s left is an eclectic mix of ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s cars. Maybe the owner, or former owner, wasn’t willing to get rid of his faves. More than likely, the former owner died and the stuff has simply sat and began its slow return to Mother Earth.
Cortez is in southwestern Colorado, close to the Four Corners area. It’s high and dry. The rust that you will see in the following images is primarily surface “patina”, but anything resting on the ground may have serious rustification problems. But anything not in contact with the ground is probably worth looking at, especially the stainless steel trim.
What’s left is fun, so let’s take a look.
The ‘53 Buick Roadmaster would have had the first of Buick’s nailhead V8s, and a 12V electrical system. The entry level Specials still had straight eights, but that would end in 1954 when all Buick models had nailheads and 12V systems.
Further on back is a 1955 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman. The Fireflite came with the 200 hp Hemi with a 4 bbl carb. Lesser DeSotos came with Firedome 180 hp 2 bbl hemis. Both measured 291 cubic inches in displacement. Top Fuel and AA dragster builder/drivers, such as Don Garlits had a predilection for DeSoto hemis early on.
I’m pretty sure that the sedan at the rear is a 1941 Pontiac. It could be either the six or the straight eight. Hard to tell from here.
The Hudson in the foreground could be a 1948 through 51 Pacemaker Club Coupe. In 1951 Hudson introduced a 308 cu in six with a two carb option, otherwise known as the Twin H-Power option, that became the NASCAR terror, capable of beating the new Olds and Cadillac V8s. Having Smokey Yunick as the car preparer for Marshall Teague’s dominating Hudsons in Daytona didn’t hurt either. Yunick was particularly proud of the fact that he could cut the Hudson intake and exhaust manifolds apart, hog them out, and reweld them in a way that escaped NASCAR’s inspectors scrutiny.
The rusty hulk on the left is probably a ‘53-54 Chevy 210. Not a particularly interesting car. But the Chevy on the right looks like a 1951 Bel Air, the second year that a Chevy could be had as a two door hardtop.
Chevies with Powerglides were equipped with 235 cu in (3.9 L) engines, while manuals received 216 cu in engines. Neither one set the world on fire. I know-I had a ‘57 six with a Powerglide and I was afraid that no girl would want to date me for that reason. Fortunately I was wrong on that account.
The chrome, or more appropriately, stainless steel trim, would indicate that this Chevy was a ‘58 Biscayne. The paint would appear to be intact, not patina, and in either Sierra Gold or Cay Coral.
To the right of the Biscayne is a ‘66 Cadillac with pretty straight sheet metal.
Although ‘58 and ‘59 Imperials are similar, Chrysler did not introduce the “toilet seat” until ‘59. This car could probably be either a Custom or Le Baron Southampton.
Hard to tell, with missing parts and all, exactly what year Chevy this is. To my eye it could be anything from a ‘49 through a ‘52 Styleline.
Here we have what would appear to be a couple of ‘55s and ‘57s, plus a ‘59 Ford thrown in just for fun. All look pretty much picked over.
‘58 Chevys aren’t particularly rare, or collectible, unless they are Impalas. These ain’t.
‘58 Mercurys aren’t particularly collectible, but they are fairly rare. If you gotta have one, this is the place to go.
In my own eye, this ‘74 Pontiac is one of the more uninteresting objects in this collection, but it’s probably one of the best of the remaining cars as far as condition goes. Don’t know about the late ‘40s DeSoto-Dodge-Plymouth that lost its front fenders, suspension and engine. Sheetmetal still looks good.
A couple of ‘53 Chevys, a ‘47 (?) Plymouth, and a ‘62 Olds hiding out behind.
Probably one of the more complete cars left on the lot was this ‘67 AMC Marlin. Looks straight and fairly rust free. Too bad it’s a ‘67 Marlin.
Just so PN doesn’t feel left out, here’s a black ‘63 Fairlane that looks pretty solid. No hood and who knows what else, but it’s black, and a Fairlane. Probably a six given the lack of 260 or 289 badges on the front fenders.
Some of you may take exception to my identifying this as a ‘58 Chevy Nomad. After all, Nomads are supposed to be 2 dr station wagons, right? That’s true for Tri-Fives, but by 1958 the Nomad designation appears to have been bestowed upon Chevy’s top of the line 9-passenger station wagons. Without being able to see the tailgate with its vertical chrome bars, the paint break on the rear door would indicate that this is a Nomad.
Sources used to identify cars in this article were:
American Cars of the 1940s; Olyslager Auto Library 1972
American Cars of the 1950s; Olyslager Auto Library 1973
American Car Spotter’s Guide 1940-1965; Tad Burness; Classic Motorbooks Intl 1973
Brief Passenger Car Data; Ethyl Gasoline Corporation, Various Years, 1941-1959
New car brochures from respective makes
In case you were wondering, we did spend time in two National Parks. This is an image of Balancing Rock in Arches shot by Sue. Arches is just outside of Moab, Utah. It was 103 degrees F (39.5 C).
This is the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, also shot by Sue. The altitude here is about 7000 ft (2100 m), but the road leading to this site tops out at 8600 ft (2600 m). At a number of points on this road Shiprock, New Mexico can be seen towering above the desert floor some 50 miles (80 km) away. Mesa Verde is about 10 mi (16 km) east of Cortez, Colorado.