One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure…
We’ve all heard that saying “One Man’s Junk, Is another Man’s treasure.” That saying is never more relevant than in the Collector Car Hobby. There used to be a junk yard in every town, but now with expanding cities and change of attitudes of some of our generations, these old junk yards are more of an eye sore to them than diamonds in the ruff. Recently, there have been some articles as to a couple large yards were crushed out due to , “tired of dealing with the public, health, or loss of interest, and of course threats from the counties to “clean them up, or else. “ This just breaks my heart, as it does other collectors. I’ve been in conversations with people that just don’t understand the collector hobby and salvage business in general. They have talked about that place on the outside of town with all those old cars. They will say things like, “I’d love to build on that side of town, but will a wild raccoon come out of those cars and bite my kids?” “It is such an eyesore. I’m sure it will revalue my property if I build there.” As a broker, yes, there may be some truth about a fancy house near a salvage yard, but for the love of God, a raccoon has more to do than try and bite kids playing. I’ve played and worked with old cars all my live and never had a raccoon try and bite me or attack for that matter. They were just minding their own business..Eating interiors!
What some people don’t realize that this isn’t just old cars, but history that is being crushed. Trust me, there is a point in which cars needs to be recycled, and it’s after their usefulness or effectiveness is gone. It’s a hard truth. But these old yards hold many parts that restorers need to finish that project. Not everything is reproduced and many times the reproduction, just doesn’t fit. It also not cost effective to reproduce parts that only a few in the market are looking for, but at the same time there is not and becoming less of a supply and chance to find an original. I know for a while the only way to get a center console for a speed for a 1965 Chevelle was to find an original, not there is a good reproduction if you choose. Even on our 1941 2dr Ford 2dr Sedan, there were and still are a few pieces that we need and my husband, I feel a genius, made some body panels from an army barrel and we still need to find some others. Think of all those garnishes, cranks, and dash clusters, headlight bezels, radiator shells, butterfly hoods, and miles of trim that is being destroyed and lost. While we are also losing all these parts, the industry is also losing patterns for reproductions, too. Where we and other people going to find them, old are salvage yards and private sales. I think of them like organ donors. They gave up their little automotive lives so that a collector-hobbyist could build and use parts for their resurrected ride.
I had a collector several years ago that was being fined and pressured by Minnehaha County in South Dakota to clean up his old cars. I didn’t see a problem with them hidden off the road, by NO people. But the county wanted it cleaned up and stated rodents and an eye sore for travelers along HWY 42. I called and wrote to the county on behalf of the owner and stated these facts that we need to save these Mopars, fabulous finned cars, and we would sell them and use some proceeds to clean up. We had an auction and had a time limit and then contracted with an excavation company to clean up after the auction. We saved some cars and also got the seller out of the fines, cleaned up the property, and some money in their pocket. I also made a lifelong car friend. He wasn’t the only person that we helped, but several widows. Most of the times, it’s the women that outlive the men. We helped a window in North Dakota last year, with fabulous results. She had a problem with all her husband’s cars, and also needed to free up the buildings to sell them. Auction is a great resolution. I just had a call this morning from Meryl. He was looking to buy out a yard from a lady whose husband was sick. It had several thousand cars with old inventory also. He was asking about the process and theory of selling out old yards. I was explaining what we do and this case for the old cars, and my philosophies on the industry, and in the middle of the conversation, he said, “Are you married? I could sure use a car gal like you.” Well, I explained I had a big Dutchman at home, but thanks for the offer. I’ll do a lot to save those old cars, but marriage I don’t believe is in that equation. When I started in the auction business and still do them, sold a lot of older yards. I worked to save them and not be crushed. I had one of the crushers start to call me the salvage princess, because I was saving so many old cars. So I guess if part of my pledge is to save parts of the old car kingdom, I’ll take that. So remember is you are driving by some of those Diamonds in the rough, they aren’t junkyards but treasures waiting to be found.
If you know of a yard that may be in jeopardy or an older collection that needs to be resurrected, give us a call. We’re here to save history.
Yvette VanDerBrink- The Salvage Princess
VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC
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