As seen in the Old Cars Weekly April 19, 2018 issue
Collins Auto Salvage of Coffeyville, Oklahoma
Story and photos by Leroy Drittler
Bill Collins established Collins Auto Salvage during 1967 in South Coffeyville, Okla., but his roots in the business go back even farther.
Bill’s grandfather had established his own salvage yard nearby in 1956 and so Bill and his father were raised in the salvage yard business. Bill’s son, Matt, has also been raised in the business, and Bill says he has turned the basic day-to-day operation of the yard over to Matt, although Bill still shows up for work every day.
The yard is located on 25 acres and has approximately 2,000 vehicles in its inventory. There is a little disagreement over how many of the cars in the yard are from the 1970s and earlier, but Matt says he thinks at least 350-400 of them are “oldies.” He started to count them one day from an aerial photo, but got sidetracked and never finished the count. The newest vehicle in the yard is a 2012 model and the oldest is the remains of a couple of 1935 Ford trucks. The yard also hosts the remains of a 1940 Ford passenger car.
Most of the old iron is American-built, but there is a sizeable group of Volkswagen Beetles and also a couple of VW camper vans. Visitors to the yard are welcomed by a large grouping of 40-some Camaros with a few Firebirds mixed among them for good measure. Other oldies grouped together include a half-dozen or so 1949-’51 Mercurys, and eight or more Corvairs including three vans and a four-door hardtop.
All parts are removed by yard personnel of Collins Auto Salvage. Parts can be removed from most of the vehicles and the yard will also sell complete cars. The yard has a shop and its staff will also install their parts on customer vehicles. Collins Auto Salvage will also ship parts across the country.
Bill says that old car parts are still very much in demand, but is surprised that a late-1940s Studebaker Land Cruiser has been there for about three years and not one person has asked about a part from it. There is a crusher permanently located in the yard, but Bill says they seldom crush any of the old iron.
Bill and Matt like to talk about their old inventory, and they also like to talk about stock car racing. Matt drives a stock car that is sponsored by the yard, and you can find them both at the track on weekends during racing season.
The main rule for visitors to the yard is to keep the gate closed because the yard is also home to a horse. The Collinses said that if a visitor wants to ride the horse, “They need to let us know so we can have time to line up and watch. And, if you do leave the gate open and the horse escapes, get ready for a good cussin’.” There are a lot of blackberry briars in the yard, and if you are visiting in the summertime, Bill says you can eat all the berries you want.
The yard is open from 9-5, Monday through Friday. Collins Salvage Yard also maintains a Facebook page.
Collins Auto Salvage
824 Oklahoma St. (physical address)
P.O. Box 38 (mailing address)
South Coffeyville, OK 74072