Field of Dreams: Too late to rescue

raustin |

An Old Cars Weekly reader shared a tragic tale with us about a field of old cars heading to the crusher. The really sad part is that by the time you are done reading this, they already will have met their demise.

 

Story and photos by Gary Buehler

My good friend and neighbor Chip Stevens has teased me for years with stories of a horde of old cars in the woods. Chip is a well-known artist and knows that I like old cars and have owned several hot rods over the years, so he suggested that we look at the horde someday. No one was allowed on the property where the old cars were parked, but since Chip knew the owner, we would be given exclusive access.

Well, almost every time I saw Chip around our small hamlet of Pultneyville, N.Y., he’d say, “We have to get together to go to that junk yard to see those cars. Call me and we’ll set something up.” I’d always say, “Sounds good. I can go and look at cars and you can do a painting while we are there.” However, as the months flew by, we never seemed to get together to make the trip happen.

Recently, I saw Chip in the post office and once again he suggested that we look at the old cars. The day after our meeting, I called him and we settled on the following Monday to drive to the secret location.

Chip had a bit of a time remembering just where the cars were located, but a few twists and turns on back country roads just 20 miles from our homes took us to the wooded area where the cars were parked. It was early spring and all the weeds, vines and tree leaves were gone to reveal car upon car parked exactly where they had been placed 50 years ago.

Turning onto the side road to gain access to the woods, we noticed acres of cleared ground. We quickly realized this area had just been cleared of cars. Sitting in the middle of this open area was a bulldozer, front-end loader with chains and a huge crusher. It was obvious hundreds of cars had already been crushed, loaded and hauled away, leaving only a mountain of tires, broken glass and miscellaneous car parts in its wake.

Clearly, the only cars left for us to discover were those in the wettest part of the wooded area. The dozer and front-end loader had obviously tried to get to those cars, but had become bogged down in the clay-and-mud earth. The crushing operation would have to wait until the ground dried and the loader could carry the remaining cars and trucks to higher ground to feed the hulks into the crusher.

The accompanying photos show the few remaining cars left in this area. No doubt, the remains of all the other vehicles are on their way to China to be recycled into new cars or steel, only to be shipped back to North America as new bridge beams. By the time you read this, the woods will probably be totally cleared and not a trace of these grand old cars will be left.

After we finished looking around and Chip had completed his sketches for a painting, we drove another 20 miles to chat with the man who owned the cars and land. His father had stacked the cars in this area one cold winter during the 1950s, when there was a year of little snow and the ground was frozen hard. His father had died and the cars had sat there untouched since. He had his business up for sale and was selling as much iron and steel as possible, because, in his words, “the price was up, $200 a ton. I have to reduce inventory so someone can afford to buy this place.”

Can you imagine if these cars had been “discovered” and rescued years ago?

Got Old Cars?

If you don’t subscribe to Old Cars Weekly magazine, you’re missing out on the only weekly magazine in the car hobby. And we’ll deliver 54 issues a year right to your mailbox every week for less than the price of a oil change! Click here to see what you’re missing with Old Cars Weekly!

More Resources for Car Collectors:

 

7 Responses to Field of Dreams: Too late to rescue

  1. Terry says:

    This story makes me mad and sad, what a waste of awesomeness and history.

    • glorydays says:

      I knew a guy in South Salem New York years ago and he bought beautiful old cars, lincoln Zephers, Model Ts, packards ,Caddys, Buicks, he cut them up in his yard for junk, many in pristine condition. It makes me sick to think about it. In Stephentown N.Y.on Rt. 43 a mountain of old chevey pick ups from the early 50s. Most priced so high no one buys them, I have a 42 chevy (yes a 42) that was supposed to be an ambulance in WW 2, but never made it, its repowered with a v8 and I drive just about every day

  2. michael jacques says:

    There’s a lot of old-timers, out there, that have collected junk cars for years and when someone inquired about purchaseing something, they wouldn’t sell even a single hubcap. They’d rather turn down offer after offer and let those (possibly) restrorable cars rust into oblivion. I’ve seen acticles about a field-of-dreams that has nothing but old 60′s and 70′s Mach 1′s, Boss 302′s, Shelbys and other rare Mustangs and the owner won’t sell anything,either. This is what happens when OCD car hoarding and car-nuts collide. There was a old guy here in Maine that had hundreds of cars (muscle/pony/50′s classics/antiques and rare panel wagons), as well as hundreds of old antique motorcycles and service trucks. He had acres of buildings and barns all over the property. My buddy (who lived next door) and I, snuck in the main barn one day, when we were kids. What we saw was absolutely amazing. He also collected,toys,gadgets,all kinds of signage and service station memorabilia. (Those guys on that tv pickers show would’ve creamed themselves). And he wouldn’t part with anything, either. They finally discovered just how many vehicles this guy had in barns and in the fields when he finally died. The total came to around 5400+ cars/trucks and 399 motorcycles (all pre-1965). Whatever happened to all that is still a mystery.

  3. Alex says:

    All people do today is care about what the next thing is, this is a great example. Its a not a historic building getting knocked down, but its just as important. From what I’m seeing most of these cars could have been used for parts and/or restored or made into hot/rat rods

  4. Donna Roskidany says:

    What a waste! Makes me even sadder to think my friend’s 1942 Mercury coupe, The Burgundy Bomber, might be sitting in a field or barn in Northern Vermont awaiting the same fate. He sold it in 1974 to a young man in Danville when he moved to PA – I’ve been trying to track it down since we’ve reconnected last year but to no avail. Lesson: Don’t let these old beauties get away from you. If you see one and can rescue it – DO IT! And if you see the old Bomber in VT – find me!

  5. JOn Edwards says:

    I have rescued and restored a Desoto and a Packard over the past two years but feel overwhelmed at the amount of cars we are losing to rust and crushers. This is indeed an unfortunate story that may prompt some enthusiasts to save a few more.

  6. Chris Zabala says:

    As i sit here and read this article i am truly saddened, as a matter of fact i have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I cannot believe that someone would just crush all those beautiful cars, i dont care what other people say, progress is not every thing and rust is not cancer for cars, cancer can not be cured, rust can be fixed very easily. And as far as parts well just ask around parts can be found anywhere, and if you cant find them, make them. But what i read and what i saw was an absolute disgrace, and it is an insult to anyone who has ever re-built or who ever wanted to re-build a grand ole classic like those. I close with this lets stop giving in to the scrap mongers and lets start restoring more classics like those and show people how cars are really suppose to be made.

Leave a Reply