French Lake Auto Parts: ’50s Finds Galore

Last Friday, I went to one of my top five favorite places: French Lake Auto Parts (FLAP) in Annandale, Minn. This 100-acre salvage yard always has a great selection of early iron that ranges in the thousands of cars, and the inventory¬† is continually changing. Owners Floyd and Skip Nolan keep unearthing new stashes of vintage tin, so the rotating inventory requires frequent visits. Throw in the yard’s popularity and it also means that if you find a 1957 Chevy or 1941 Ford in the yard like your vehicle back home, be sure to get all the parts you need while you’re there, because the car may be gone by your next visit.

My visit was extremely successful. I found some parts for my 1981 Impala coupe that I had been searching for over the past several years and some 1962 Cadillac parts. Unfortunately, all of the 1955 Cadillacs I had previously picked parts off of were gone, but Skip assured me there’s a huge cache of mostly complete cars dating from as far back as the 1930s and up to the 1960s on its way to French Lake. I’ve learned my lesson and will be headed back very soon to check out the fresh vintage metal in hopes of finding a “new” ’55 Cadillac.

The photos below show some of the cars present during my visit on May 10, 2013. There are some shots of cars in the main part of the yard that are getting as long in the tooth as a 1950 Buick grille (thankfully), as well as some of the cars (mostly Mopars and postwar Packards) that were part of a recent 250-car acquisition of project vehicles and a few parts vehicles. Read about the acquisition here.

Related Resources:

Read about “Roadside Relics: America’s Abandoned Automobiles” in this book

Go to the French Lake Auto Parts website, or call them at 320-286-2560.

Rock-solid 1958 Edsel Corsair two-door hardtop.

Rock-solid 1958 Edsel Corsair two-door hardtop.

This circa-1932 Willys languishes away from the main cars and certainly has a few parts that make it worth keeping around, if for nothing more than scenery.

This circa-1932 Willys languishes away from the main cars and certainly has a few parts that make it worth keeping around, if for nothing more than scenery.

Ever seen a 1960 Edsel wagon? I know I haven't seen one in the tin. Just 275 were built, and given the rarity of this example and the popularity of wagons, this one deserves to be saved.

Ever seen a 1960 Edsel wagon? I know I haven’t seen one in the tin. Just 275 were built, and given the rarity of this example and the popularity of wagons, this one deserves to be saved.

This one almost came home with me as yard art. It's a 1955 Chrysler C-300, or what's left of one. There's just a body shell, frame and rear axle...and a VIN, denoting it as 300 Number 1875. Resto-mod, anyone?

This one almost came home with me as yard art. It’s a 1955 Chrysler C-300, or what’s left of one. There’s just a body shell, frame and rear axle…and a VIN, denoting it as 300 Number 1875. Resto-mod, anyone?

Three, count 'em, three 1962 Chrysler 300 models. The white car in the foreground is a 1962 300-H letter car, and it's solid.

Three, count ‘em, three 1962 Chrysler 300 models. The white car in the foreground is a 1962 300-H letter car, and it’s solid.

This 1958 De Soto two-door hardtop is from the stash of mostly Mopars recently acquired by French Lake Auto Parts. It looks to be a good builder.

This 1958 De Soto two-door hardtop is from the stash of mostly Mopars recently acquired by French Lake Auto Parts. It looks to be a good builder.

Caged junkyard dog, this beautiful 1946 Lincoln Continental is anything but a creature of the canine variety. It's a definitely buildable Classic.

Caged junkyard dog, this beautiful 1946 Lincoln Continental is anything but a creature of the canine variety. It’s a definitely buildable Classic.

Complete down to the batwing air cleaner for its dual quads, this 1956 De Soto Adventurer is one of 996 built. It eagerly awaits a restorer's touch.

Complete down to the batwing air cleaner for its dual quads, this 1956 De Soto Adventurer is one of 996 built. It eagerly awaits a restorer’s touch.

Another trio of unusual 1950s iron, this time in the form of 1955 Packard Clipper two-door hardtops. This batch is prepped for parts hunters in the main part of FLAP, but there are more solid and complete examples parked with project Packards from the yard's recent acquisition of project cars.

Another trio of unusual 1950s iron, this time in the form of 1955 Packard Clipper two-door hardtops. This batch is prepped for parts hunters in the main part of FLAP, but there are more solid and complete examples parked with project Packards from the yard’s recent acquisition of project cars.

It makes my heart sink a little bit to see a burnt Rocket out to pasture, but this example's parts should keep another 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday coupe or two burning up byways.

It makes my heart sink a little bit to see a burnt Rocket out to pasture, but this example’s parts should keep another 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday coupe or two burning up byways.

You'll probably never see three war-time 1942 De Sotos in one place, unless you go to FLAP. The green 1942 DeSoto business coupe is a black-out model with a painted grille and trim while the 1942 De Soto club coupe is an earlier production model with plated bright work. Both are uber rare, and there's a third 1942 DeSoto sedan nearby that is straighter and more solid, as well as a 1942 Chrysler coupe.

You’ll probably never see three war-time 1942 De Sotos in one place, unless you go to FLAP. The green 1942 DeSoto business coupe is a black-out model with a painted grille and trim while the 1942 De Soto club coupe is an earlier production model with plated bright work. Both are uber rare, and there’s a third 1942 DeSoto sedan nearby that is straighter and more solid, as well as a 1942 Chrysler coupe.

This parade of Packards is comprised of 1950s  examples. All appear to be solid and complete.

This parade of Packards is comprised of 1950s examples. All appear to be solid and complete.

There's definitely more to FLAP than Packards and Mopars. The yard's inventory goes back to the early 1900s, and these prewar flathead Fords are testimony to that. This row offers a 1941 Mercury sedan, 1939 Mercury coupe, 1941 Mercury coupe and 1942 Ford Tudor to parts hunters.

There’s definitely more to FLAP than Packards and Mopars. The yard’s inventory goes back to the early 1900s, and these prewar flathead Fords are testimony to that. This row offers a 1941 Mercury sedan, 1939 Mercury coupe, 1941 Mercury coupe and 1942 Ford Tudor to parts hunters.

 

 

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