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Another yard falls victim to rural migration

Salvage Yard Ron inside Baughman's Auto Salvage, Dover, Pa. 

While in Pennsylvania for the Hershey swap meet, Vem (left) and Zes who are both Cadillac enthusiasts from Belgium spent a rainy day gathering parts at Baughman's Auto Salvage. While touring the yard, Old Cars Weekly also met a Norwegian father and son who are both Chevy fans. Asked how they all heard about the yard, in each case it was word-of-mouth from friends.

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By Ron Kowalke

While touring the front of Baughman’s Auto Salvage outside of Dover, Pa., late in the afternoon, I heard engines revving from the road that fronts the yard. I looked through the chain-link “beauty fence” to see two school buses roll to a stop. The hinged doors of each bus popped open and several youngsters dashed out in several directions to finish their journey home.

At that point, not yet having talked to John Baughman, the owner of the yard, I knew the rumors about this yard being forced to close were probably true.

When this salvage yard began 45 years ago, the surrounding land was devoid of anything other than crops and farm pastures. Today, as you drive on the roads leading to the yard, new homes dot the countryside. Rarely (if ever) is such an influx of new residents and a neighboring salvage yard a compatible mix.

In addition to this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe, there are several dozen
other tri-Chevy models in the yard. Examples include every body style produced
in '55 through '57 with the exception of convertibles and Nomads.

When Baughman purchased the yard that was formerly known as C&B Salvage seven years ago, he told Old Cars Weekly he was aware that local officials were already “negative” concerning the business. Baughman made the effort to clean up the yard’s front section — highly visible through the chain-link fence — to appease both neighbors and the local board, but to no avail. So, select a cliche here: ‘Too little, too late;’ ‘You can’t fight city hall;’ or, ‘It’s OK as long as it’s not in my back yard.’ Any and all apply in this case. And yet again, here’s another select group of individuals who built homes near an almost half-century-old salvage yard (you can also include race tracks and landfills in this scenario), then act put out about what goes on at the facility after the fact. That’s just being numb from the neck up.

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Baughman told Old Cars Weekly that local officials have given him until Dec. 31 of this year to clear out all of the vehicles from the property. “They’re trying to yuppify the whole town,” Baughman explained.

There are several interesting foreign sports cars in the yard, including this
late-1950s MGA roadster that retains its original knock-off wire wheels.

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The majority of the yard’s inventory that doesn’t get sold before then will get fed to the crusher. The one positive aspect of this situation is that Baughman operates another salvage yard in York, Pa., located about 10 miles from his Dover property. He told Old Cars Weekly that anything rare or desirable that doesn’t get sold in the next few weeks will most likely get moved to his York yard. It currently caters mainly to vehicles 1965 and newer. And, as I discovered during Old Cars Weekly’s visit to the Dover yard, there are rare and desirable vehicles there. Many of them, in fact.

No brotherly love

“I didn’t put a car in there,” Baughman told Old Cars Weekly concerning the approximately 1,000 vehicles that he said currently populate the yard. All the vehicles that comprise the inventory were moved in decades ago when brothers Carl and Bob (hence, the previous C&B Salvage moniker) operated the business. But how much actual business occurred under their partnership is a matter of debate.

“Carl was the rightful owner,” Baughman explained, adding that Bill was brought on board to help run the yard, because Carl held another job that prevented him from devoting full attention to his salvage operation.

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This pair of Studebakers are potential restoration candidates. (Top) A 1952
Commander State Starliner hardtop is 1 of 14,548 produced and is complete.
(Above) This early-'60s Hawk has been stripped of minor trim parts and its
hood hinges are bent, but it's otherwise solid. Only 7,279 were built in
1960 and '61.

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According to Baughman, the brothers did not agree on how to run the business. Cars and trucks would be added to inventory, but not much was sold over the years. Since Baughman took over the operation, he said he’s crushed the majority of the modern iron that was staged near the yard’s entrance. He said what remains is approximately 900 domestic cars and trucks ranging from the mid 1930s to mid ’70s and around 100 foreign cars and buses, mainly from the 1950s and ’60s. The yard’s bus fleet is a group of former city units that Baughman said he recalls seeing in his youth.

Hey, isn’t that a....

Among the more rare vehicles noted during Old Cars Weekly’s tour of the yard are a 1955 Hudson Hornet Hollywood hardtop (with a rusted continental kit), ’55 Cadillac 62 convertible (extremely rusty, but only 8,150 produced), ’56 Hudson Hornet Custom sedan (missing its continental kit, but only 3,022 built), ’56 Chevy Bel Air sedan with factory air conditioning, ’57 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner hardtop (too damaged in a crash to restore, but many of the retractable top components are still present), ’58 Edsel Roundup two-door station wagon (rusty, but only 924 produced), ’58 Ford Courier sedan delivery (3,352 built) and Chevy sedan delivery models from both 1954 and ’59. Also unique are a late-1950s MGA roadster (with knock-off wire wheels), several late-1950s/early-’60s Imperials (all four-door hardtops), a Divco dairy delivery truck, ’58 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop (rusty and white, so definitely not “Christine”), a right-hand-drive late-’50s Jaguar 3.4 sedan (leather interior), several ’61 Chevy and Pontiac “bubbletop” hardtop models (with rear glass intact) and an early-’50s Chrysler hardtop that was customized with grille and overall trim parts from both Cadillac and Pontiac from what the Old Cars Weekly staff could determine. While this custom Chrysler at some point donated its drivetrain, the workmanship evident on what remains of the car was so well done that it may have spent time on a professional show circuit before being abandoned in the yard.

In addition to rare vehicles, Baughman's Auto Salvage also has a few "goodies"
stashed around the property. This pair of Chevy 348-cid V-8s are for sale, and
the one at right includes an original tri-power setup that's kept locked up to
prevent its smudging by "sticky fingers." There also remains one vintage 354-cid
Hemi V-8 in the yard. All other early Hemis once in the yard have been sold.

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Lifelong car enthusiast

Baughman is no stranger to rare cars. “I used to visit my cousin when I was 12 years old,” he recalled. “His neighbor had a 1963 Plymouth with the Wedge engine, and I got a ride in it. I’ve been a Chrysler guy ever since.”

He said his personal collection of cars revolves around Chrysler Corp. high-performance models, but admitted his favorite mode of transport is not a street car at all, but rather his Super Stock Hemi Dodge Dart drag car. “It has 985 horsepower,” Baughman stressed with pride.

As for having to shut down the Dover yard by the end of the year, Baughman takes a matter-of-fact approach. “I’d rather see [these] parts on other peoples’ cars than [have them] go to the crusher.”

Among the fleet of buses that are part of the inventory of Baughman's Auto
Salvage is this brightly painted unit that formerly transported members of
Junior Achievement. It appears to have suffered collision damage, and its
wheels have been removed. Due to its weight, it will most likely get crushed.

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One of the cars Baughman might be grateful to see gone from the yard is a 1957 Chevy that he knows up-close and personal. He recalled, “In 2008, I was walking through the yard and caught my foot on a vine. I went face first into the bumper of a Bel Air and broke several teeth and my shoulder.”

Because time is running short before the deadline to have the property cleared of vehicles, Baughman told Old Cars Weekly that he’s relaxed his rules a bit concerning customers in the yard. “I’ll allow customers to bring in [their] toolboxes and remove parts. I didn’t do that before.” Baughman emphasized though, that he still will not allow customers to raise or crawl under any vehicle to retrieve parts.

He also said it’s important that people wanting to visit the yard must call ahead of time to ensure someone will be at the property to let them in. He added that if proper financial arrangements can be made, he’s also willing to store vehicles currently in the Dover yard at his York location, if customers cannot arrange transport prior to Dec. 31.

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Discovered among the almost 1,000 vehicles that comprise the inventory of
Baughman's Auto Salvage in Dover, Pa., were this (top) 1958 Edsel Roundup
six-passenger station wagon, 1 of only 924 produced, and (above) the body
shell, engine and chassis of a late-'30s LaSalle convertible coupe.

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The other potential obstacle to vehicle and parts retrieval between now and the end of the year is the weather. Baughman said the winter of 2009-’10 had two storms within the span of one week that buried the yard in two feet of snow.

Baughman said that while he does not have a computerized list of inventory in the yard, he can recall what cars and trucks exist. He also admitted there are many parts in the yard and stored in outbuildings on the property for which he remains clueless. “I have lots of 1940s parts, and I have no idea what they are.” He also told Old Cars Weekly that he has a building full of vintage transmissions and would appreciate it if someone could identify them.

The yard is located on Copenhaffer Road several miles southeast of downtown Dover. It’s best to get directions directly from Baughman when calling to make an appointment to visit the yard.

To contact the yard, call 717-846-3944 (or, the York yard at 877-200-4056). Hours of operation for the Dover yard are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are no Saturday hours.

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