Clock is ticking to purchase Missouri yard’s project and parts cars
Story and photos BY Leroy Drittler
As you enter the small community of Theodosia, Mo., from the west on State Highway 160, one of the first things you’ll notice is an old Fiat sedan sitting atop a building marking the location of Ray Jackson’s recycling and auto salvage business. The faded orange Fiat is lettered with the name of Jackson’s business, and if you ask him, he’ll reveals that it was hoisted to the top of the building using a front-end loader.
Jackson was born and raised in Texas. In 1965, he opened a used car lot, a recycling and salvage business with a portable crusher and a trucking business. After 16 years, he sold that multi-faceted business and in 1981, he bought some property just outside Theodosia and opened his current recycling and salvage business.
The five acres Jackson purchased contained several buildings including a theater that was being used by an auto repair business that worked on race cars. The 1940s theater still showed movies at the time of Jackson’s purchase, and it also had a stage where it hosted musical shows. Performers who played there before they became famous included The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Porter Wagoner, who was born and raised about an hour away in West Plains, Mo. The concrete block façade of the building itself is an eye-catcher.
Another building had been added to the back of the theatre and was being used as a shop. Jackson has used the theater as an office and for parts storage.
Like most people in the salvage yard business, Jackson has a special car that he hides for himself. He keeps this mildly customized 1951 Chevrolet that he’s owned for 45 years under cover in a garage. The beautiful blue ’51 Chevy is a two-door sedan with a 261-cid truck engine equipped with dual carbs and twin exhausts. The interior of the Chevy has Naugahyde upholstery.
Jackson is now in his eighties and has retired. About six years ago, he shuttered the recycling business and crushed all of the yard’s newer inventory. He also sold his crusher, big loader and trucks. For the past several years, he has taken parts and cars to swap meets, but expects to discontinue those efforts. What remains in the yard is about 250-300 mostly American vehicles from the 1940s to the ’70s. There are a few imports including a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, a couple of VW Beetles, a VW window van and others. He would like to sell all of the vehicles in the yard as soon as possible as complete units only. Many of the remaining vehicles would make good projects while the others are strictly for parts. Jackson says he will not sell parts off of a vehicles unless it is almost completely parted out. And even then, the buyer would need to remove the part himself. Jackson said he does have a few loose Ford Model T parts ready to go.
Jackson will accept customers by appointment only. Un-escorted browsing is not allowed and is further discouraged by Jackson’s security detail of guard dogs.
If you need a parts car, or a new project, the clock is ticking to contact Jackson. He encourages interested people to contact him soon by email, phone or mail.