Under The Hood

French Lake Auto Parts visit cures cabin fever

Winter weather doesn’t mean salvage yarding should come to an end for the season. Many salvage yards keep the gates open through the snowy season, and one of the best yards in the upper Midwest –if not anywhere – is French Lake Auto Parts (FLAP). The Annandale, Minnesota, salvage yard is heaven on earth for car lovers, and it welcomes parts pullers year-round.

This 1958 Citation two-door hardtop is like gold in Edsel circles, and this one even retains its unique rear fender trim. The trim on the driver's side, however, is dented.

This 1958 Citation two-door hardtop is like gold in Edsel circles, and this one even retains its unique rear fender trim. The trim on the driver’s side, however, is dented.

Floyd and Skip Nolan of FLAP love old metal, and they know where to dig it up — especially the rare goods. In the 30 years I’ve been going to FLAP, they’ve had some incredible cars come through the yard. A mid-‘30s Pontiac carved-side hearse, 1958 Impala hardtop, a complete 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, 1957-’60 Lincoln convertibles, a ca.-1936 Pierce-Arrow sedan and early Chrysler 300s are just a few of the treats I’ve found at FLAP. Although these rarities were gone by my recent visit, there was still plenty to scout.

A January thaw was just one of the triggers that put us behind the wheel with the hood ornament pointed to Annandale on Jan. 24. It’s been almost two years since our last visit and FLAP has since organized its inventory of cars and trucks into rows not only sorted by make, but often by year — a huge undertaking for a yard of any size, let alone one that occupies more than 100 acres as FLAP does. This recent reorganization of the yard made it incredibly easy to find specific vehicles in the yard.

Cars and parts filling buildings date back to the early 1900s, but the under-the-sun inventory in the yard during our recent visit is mostly 1940s and newer with a heavy dose of 1950s and ‘60s iron. Here are some scenes from our most recent visit. As you’ll see, FLAP‘s tradition of rare and desirable iron continues.

French Lake Auto Parts

3531 County Road 3 NW

Annandale, MN 55302

320-286-2560

http://www.frenchlakeautoparts.com/

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French Lake Auto Parts gallery

A new arrival - and relatively solid by Minnesota standards - is this 1963-1/2 Ford Galaxie fastback.

A new arrival – and relatively solid by Minnesota standards – is this 1963-1/2 Ford Galaxie fastback.

It's not a mirage, it's truly a 1969 Camaro in a salvage yard....in 2015. The interior is pretty bare and the drivetrain has been plucked, but there remains trim and other parts for the 1969 Camaro owner in search of hard-to-find bits.

It’s not a mirage, it’s truly a 1969 Camaro in a salvage yard….in 2015. The interior is pretty bare and the drivetrain has been plucked, but there remains trim and other parts for the 1969 Camaro owner in search of hard-to-find bits.

Another unusual salvage yard Chevy find, this 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Sport Coupe is pretty rusty and picked over, but there are several hardtop-only parts left on the former six-cylinder car.

Another unusual salvage yard Chevy find, this 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Sport Coupe is pretty rusty and picked over, but there are several hardtop-only parts left on the former six-cylinder car.

In fact, there are a lot of Tri-Five Chevrolet cars at French Lake Auto Parts, most of which are '57 wagons and sedans. The '56 One-Fifty sedan at far left is one of few '56s at FLAP, and this one packed a V-8, an unusual find in a base four-door sedan.

In fact, there are a lot of Tri-Five Chevrolet cars at French Lake Auto Parts, most of which are ’57 wagons and sedans. The ’56 One-Fifty sedan at far left is one of few ’56s at FLAP, and this one packed a V-8, an unusual find in a base four-door sedan.

The Cadillac row at FLAP goes back to late prewar Sixty Special sedans through the 1940s and really picks up in the early 1960s.

The Cadillac row at FLAP goes back to late prewar Sixty Special sedans through the 1940s and really picks up in the early 1960s.

Relatively intact, this black-and-white 1955 Ford Victoria reminds us of the matching-colored 1955 Crown Victoria we once spotted at FLAP about 25 years ago. That Crown is gone, but this Vicky is ready to donate in its stead.

Relatively intact, this black-and-white 1955 Ford Victoria reminds us of the matching-colored 1955 Crown Victoria we once spotted at FLAP about 25 years ago. That Crown is gone, but this Vicky is ready to donate in its stead.

There are rows of 1950s Packard and Clipper models, and they're all pretty complete and represent two- and four-door models. A lone '57 even sports one of its taillights.

There are rows of 1950s Packard and Clipper models, and they’re all pretty complete and represent two- and four-door models. A lone ’57 even sports one of its taillights.

1950s Oldsmobiles are well-represented, even as Holiday two-door hardtops. Not visible from this view is a rare 1956 Ninety-Eight Holiday to complement the '54 Ninety-Eight, '54 88 and '55 88 Holiday coupes visible here.

1950s Oldsmobiles are well-represented, even as Holiday two-door hardtops. Not visible from this view is a rare 1956 Ninety-Eight Holiday to complement the ’54 Ninety-Eight, ’54 88 and ’55 88 Holiday coupes visible here.

Just 3,450 Imperial Newport two-door hardtops were built in 1951 and '52, and this example is rock solid. It or even the eight-passenger/limousine models next to it deserve salvation.

Just 3,450 Imperial Newport two-door hardtops were built in 1951 and ’52, and this example is rock solid. It or even the eight-passenger/limousine models next to it deserve salvation.

If it weren't for the black example at the right, one might think '50s Kaisers only came in green. These are ready for the parts pickers. There are also many early Kaisers at FLAP.

If it weren’t for the black example at the right, one might think ’50s Kaisers only came in green. These are ready for the parts pickers. There are also many early Kaisers at FLAP.

Since we're talking rare Edsels, how about this relatively complete 1960 Edsel Villager station wagon? It's probably too far gone to restore, but it has many trim parts that should find a home before the hulk finds itself in the crusher's jaws.

Since we’re talking rare Edsels, how about this relatively complete 1960 Edsel Villager station wagon? It’s probably too far gone to restore, but it has many trim parts that should find a home before the hulk finds itself in the crusher’s jaws.

Although most of the Hurst/Olds-specific trim is gone, many hard-to-find 1974 Cutlass parts remain on this Kentucky-sourced H/O. The passenger side retains Olds rally wheels.

Although most of the Hurst/Olds-specific trim is gone, many hard-to-find 1974 Cutlass parts remain on this Kentucky-sourced H/O. The passenger side retains Olds rally wheels.

There's still a lot of hard-to-find parts on this 1955 Nash hardtop.

There’s still a lot of hard-to-find parts on this 1955 Nash hardtop.

FLAP has had a recent influx of uncommonly seen 1960 Ford products. In addition to a Fairlane two-door sedan and Country Sedan station wagon, we spotted this rusty Sunliner convertible.

FLAP has had a recent influx of uncommonly seen 1960 Ford products. In addition to a Fairlane two-door sedan and Country Sedan station wagon, we spotted this rusty Sunliner convertible.

FLAP has corralled a number of early Mustangs, including this picked-over 1969 SportsRoof 'Stang.

FLAP has corralled a number of early Mustangs, including this picked-over 1969 SportsRoof ‘Stang.

Another rare MoPar, this 1968 Imperial convertible has been nosed, but has many of the rare two-door Imperial parts that are otherwise unobtanium.

Another rare MoPar, this 1968 Imperial convertible has been nosed, but has many of the rare two-door Imperial parts that are otherwise unobtanium.

There are many '50s Buicks at FLAP, including a number of two-door hardtop Riviera models, while all the '58s are "small" four-door models. Apparently front fender trim is in demand from this model year.

There are many ’50s Buicks at FLAP, including a number of two-door hardtop Riviera models, while all the ’58s are “small” four-door models. Apparently front fender trim is in demand from this model year.

We'll end our visit this time with this 1951 Kaiser Vegabond, a sedan whose rear end opened like a station wagon. They were rare when new and are even rarer today. Let's home an owner rescues some spares before this loner goes to the crusher.

We’ll end our visit this time with this 1951 Kaiser Vegabond, a sedan whose rear end opened like a station wagon. They were rare when new and are even rarer today. Let’s home an owner rescues some spares before this loner goes to the crusher.

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