It's been nine years since I moved to central Wisconsin to work for Old Cars Weekly, and I'm still surprised what treasures lurk around the the area. Last weekend, I found a new 'field of dreams,' and it was right under my nose.
Since winter is coming early to central Wisconsin this year, I took advantage of the reprieve from the rain and the slightly warmer temperatures last weekend to scout out a salvage yard I had never been to.
I learned about the yard at the 2009 Iola Old Car Show. A vendor there had several fenders in his booth, plus photos of cars in what appeared to be a salvage yard. I always stop to check out these photos in hopes I’ll spot a car like one of my own, and sure enough, there was a mid-1950s Cadillac coupe in the photos. Then I noticed the yard was within a half hour of my home! I inquired and grabbed a business card with the plan to stop at the salvage yard this summer. Well, I missed summer, so I wasn’t going to let the fall pass without a visit.
It turns out, I had actually driven past the yard this summer without my internal salvage yard diving rod going off. Thanks to the thickly wooded landscape, the yard wasn’t obvious until you drive well behind the owner’s home. My visit last weekend showed the fun begins about 100 yards beyond the house and past the tree line in an obscured but open field.
There aren’t a lot of prewar cars at Tom's Classic Cars & Parts, but there are plenty of mid-1950s to early-1980s cars. And while the yard isn’t huge, it’s certainly worth a visit since the cars are desirable and many are complete. A more in-depth story will appear in Old Cars Weekly, but in the meantime, enjoy these pix from Tom’s Classic Cars & Parts, located at 10281 Buelow Road, Amherst, WI 54406 (715-258-0362).
A cute little 1941 Buick fastback that could be resurrected.
A thought occurred to me upon seeing this 1946 to early-1949 Plymouth two-door sedan: Why do you never see these cars street rodded? If it weren't for the dented roof, this one would definitely be worth saving. Perhaps a fan with good skills will still drag it home and restore it.
Given its rusty front fenders and sedan status, this '49 Buick Roadmaster will probably remain a parts car. Perhaps if Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise had driven a '49 Buick sedan instead of a convertible, it would be a different story. As it is, this Buick's story won't have the happiest of endings.
Here's why I came to Tom's Classic Cars & Parts: a trio of mid-1950s Cadillacs. The siren that called to me from a photograph isn't pictured, but I was told there were three to four 1954-1956 Cadillacs. I spotted three, including the pictured 1956 Coupe deVille and 1954 Series 62 coupe. The '56 had some engine parts yet, including the desirable air cleaner with an asking price of $150, exactly what they sell for in online auctions.
A trio of new arrivals: A 1966 Chevrolet four-door sedan, 1946 Nash coupe and a 1957 Cadillac Series 75 limousine. Iola Old Car Show attendees who have been behind the downtown district may recognize the limo -- it has been rotting behind a local business for many years, and now it's found safe haven at Tom's no-crush yard.
Yup, a '57 Chevy two-door sedan, and it has relatives at Tom's Classic Cars & Parts, including an equally stripped hardtop, plus more complete sedans and station wagons.
Tom's Classic Cars & Parts is surrounded by a county-imposed metal fence, but you get a taste for the treasures inside by the early1960s Comet coupe and 1960 Chevrolet sedan outside.
You don't see too many 1960 Ford Starliners in salvage yards. This one is getting stripped and its getting rusty, but I'm sure there's a rare part waiting to be found on the car yet.
Like bubble tops? There are at least four of them in this yard, two Buicks and two Chevrolets. I regret I didn't determine whether this 1961 Buick was an Invicta or LeSabre.
One of the two 1961 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtops at Tom's Classic Cars & Parts (the hood and rearview-mirror for the second is visible in the foreground of this image). At least one more resides in Tom's personal collection. Watch for pix of this car's twin in OCW.
If you like mid-1960s Chevelles, pay Tom's a visit. This is one of at least two 1967 Chevelle two-door hardtops; the second is even more complete. Watch for pix of this car's twin in OCW.
My great grandma drove a 1967 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan, so I have a long-standing affinity for '67 Chevys. This rust-colored Impala sport coupe tripped my trigger.
The owner of Tom's Classic Cars & Parts is a true enthusiast out to save cars. While many would have crushed this 1969 Buick GS 400, Tom saved it. Even though the engine, bumper and front clip are gone, he notes there are many rare options remaining inside the car, not to mention all of the GS emblems.
The hobby puts 1969 Chevelle SS convertibles on a pedestal,
and at Tom's Classic Cars & Parts, that's literally the case.
It's rare but it's too far gone to even consider for restoration.
Now, this 1969 Chevelle SS convert is simply salvage yard art,
a position it accomplishes beautifully. During my visit to Tom's,
a previous owner of this car was looking for partd for another car
and hinted at some of the wild adventures he had with the Chevelle.