Finding old car gold at Golden Sands Salvage

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Future for recently closed yard remains uncertain

Story and Photos by Ron Kowalke

 The Golden Sands Salvage sign attached to the beauty fence fronting Airport Road in Boscobel, Wis.

The Golden Sands Salvage sign attached to the beauty fence fronting Airport Road in Boscobel, Wis.

Golden Sands Salvage, a long-standing and popular vintage vehicle and parts source in Boscobel, Wis., closed on July 27. Keith Swenson, who has operated the southwestern Wisconsin salvage yard for approximately 30 years, is seeking a buyer for the business. What will happen to the yard’s inventory of more than 400 vehicles, most ranging from the 1930s to ’80s, if a buyer isn’t found, has yet to be determined.

The yard hosted a “last chance” sale on Friday and Saturday, July 26-27, during which several vintage cars and trucks were purchased for restoration projects. Buyers also snapped up donor parts and shop tools/supplies from the on-site mechanic’s garage. What remains on the 18-acre property in addition to vehicles are several dilapidated mobile homes and old cargo truck boxes filled with loose items such as drivetrain parts, trim, wheels and interior parts from cars and trucks going back several decades. The yard also contains a large selection of vintage boats and snowmobiles as well as farm implements.

 Raymon Alt of Ironton, Wis., poses with the 1936 Nash 400 Deluxe sedan he purchased on Golden Sands Salvage’s final day of business under current ownership. The car was previously updated with a modern Chevy drivetrain. Alt intends to restore the car to a period hot rod.

Raymon Alt of Ironton, Wis., poses with the 1936 Nash 400 Deluxe sedan he purchased on Golden Sands Salvage’s final day of business under current ownership. The car was previously updated with a modern Chevy drivetrain. Alt intends to restore the car to a period hot rod.

In summer months, the yard gets overwhelmed with brush and trees in full bloom. Many vehicles on the property’s outer edges are either partially or totally obscured by foliage. Interesting vehicles that remain visible in the tangle of growth include a 1962 Pontiac Amblewagon station wagon, a trio of Edsel sedans, “bullet nose” Studebaker, ’58 Chevrolet Apache 38 minibus that served the Boscobel Area Public School system, ’54 Chevy 5700 COE tanker, ’56 Lincoln Capri hardtop and ’77 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon with porthole rear-quarter windows.

With word relayed on social media of the yard’s closing, it brought buyers from near and far for a chance to acquire needed vehicles or parts. Andy and Gail Howard of Fond du Lac, Wis., scored interior parts for their Pontiac Firebird. Raymon Alt of Ironton, Wis., purchased a 1936 Nash 400 Deluxe sedan that long ago had been converted to a hot rod with a modern Chevy drivetrain and aftermarket wheels. Alt said he plans to keep the Nash as a period hot rod, but will definitely change its modified interior. The previous owner installed orange-and-white shag carpet on the floor, inner door panels and headliner. It was an “unusual” choice when installed decades ago, and that’s using a polite “u” word!

 Luke Goedert of Cherry Valley Auto in Millville, Iowa, hooks a chain from his newly purchased 1948 Oldsmobile Dynamic sedan to a front-end loader to pull the car onto his trailer. Goedert plans to build the Olds into a rat rod.

Luke Goedert of Cherry Valley Auto in Millville, Iowa, hooks a chain from his newly purchased 1948 Oldsmobile Dynamic sedan to a front-end loader to pull the car onto his trailer. Goedert plans to build the Olds into a rat rod.

Traveling from out of state were Luke Goedert and his girlfriend Holly Hayes of Cherry Valley Auto in Millville, Iowa. They rescued a 1948 Oldsmobile Dynamic sedan that Hayes said will be used for a rat rod build. It was a struggle to get the Olds on Goedert’s trailer as the car’s transmission brace was rotted away and the low-hanging tranny was catching on the end of the hauler as the car was being pulled aboard via a chain.

Todd Sletten of Ferryville, Wis., said he’s been a longtime customer of Golden Sands Salvage and has frequented the yard to obtain parts to maintain his collection of vintage Fords. He and his brother Loren wrestled a weathered 1928 Ford Model A Tudor from the brush and stated he’ll use most of the car’s bodywork for a hot rod build. He added that the yard’s closing was a sad occasion. “There’s not much else in this area for the old stuff.”

Updates on the status of Golden Sands Salvage inventory can be obtained by calling Keith Swenson at 608-375-0625 (no morning calls), or Al at 608-391-1069.

 Sporting rust-through issues under the headlamps and a busted windshield, this 1955 Mercury Custom two-door sedan is nonetheless complete and restorable.

Sporting rust-through issues under the headlamps and a busted windshield, this 1955 Mercury Custom two-door sedan is nonetheless complete and restorable.

 Although a part of Golden Sands Salvage inventory for a long time, this 1960 Cadillac Sedan deVille four-door hardtop remains elegant looking. It’s complete, but needs cosmetic upgrades.

Although a part of Golden Sands Salvage inventory for a long time, this 1960 Cadillac Sedan deVille four-door hardtop remains elegant looking. It’s complete, but needs cosmetic upgrades.

 This “step-down” design 1948 Hudson Commodore sedan appears even lower as it has settled into the ground. It sports a roof antenna for its $84 optional radio.

This “step-down” design 1948 Hudson Commodore sedan appears even lower as it has settled into the ground. It sports a roof antenna for its $84 optional radio.

 This 1954 Plymouth Plaza Suburban two-door station wagon is missing some minor components and has a few dents, but is otherwise solid.

This 1954 Plymouth Plaza Suburban two-door station wagon is missing some minor components and has a few dents, but is otherwise solid.

 While it’s missing several pieces of brightwork, this 1958 Studebaker Commander sedan is 1 of only 6,771 built in that model’s final year of production.

While it’s missing several pieces of brightwork, this 1958 Studebaker Commander sedan is 1 of only 6,771 built in that model’s final year of production.

 “A most unusual car for people who enjoy the unusual,” was Chevrolet’s slogan for this 1966 Corvair Monza convertible. It’s solid and 1 of 10,345 produced.

“A most unusual car for people who enjoy the unusual,” was Chevrolet’s slogan for this 1966 Corvair Monza convertible. It’s solid and 1 of 10,345 produced.

 From the mid-1920s, the remains of this International truck show a vehicle that saw hard use on a farm or in delivery service.

From the mid-1920s, the remains of this International truck show a vehicle that saw hard use on a farm or in delivery service.

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 Cosmetically rough, this 1953 Mercury Monterey station wagon remains complete down to its unique sliding glass in the rear-most side windows. Only 7,719 of this model were produced.

Cosmetically rough, this 1953 Mercury Monterey station wagon remains complete down to its unique sliding glass in the rear-most side windows. Only 7,719 of this model were produced.

 All the vehicles parked on the outer edges of Golden Sands Salvage are engulfed in trees and deep brush in the summer, as evidenced by this pair of 1938 Chevrolet two-door sedans. There are actually more vehicles behind these Chevys that are invisible on a casual walk-through of the yard.

All the vehicles parked on the outer edges of Golden Sands Salvage are engulfed in trees and deep brush in the summer, as evidenced by this pair of 1938 Chevrolet two-door sedans. There are actually more vehicles behind these Chevys that are invisible on a casual walk-through of the yard.

 Ford’s theme for its 1960 Thunderbird was “The World’s Most Wanted Car,” the final year of the “square bird” design. This hardtop retains much in the way of donor-quality parts.

Ford’s theme for its 1960 Thunderbird was “The World’s Most Wanted Car,” the final year of the “square bird” design. This hardtop retains much in the way of donor-quality parts.

 Throughout Golden Sands Salvage lying randomly or packed into vintage cargo vans or dilapidated mobile homes are interesting parts such as this vintage Magster wheel.

Throughout Golden Sands Salvage lying randomly or packed into vintage cargo vans or dilapidated mobile homes are interesting parts such as this vintage Magster wheel.

 One of several old-timers in Golden Sands Salvage is what remains of this Ford Model T runabout. The T could work well as yard art, but is too far gone for restoration.

One of several old-timers in Golden Sands Salvage is what remains of this Ford Model T runabout. The T could work well as yard art, but is too far gone for restoration.

 The wrap-around rear glass of this 1959 Chevy Impala Sport Sedan four-door hardtop appears like new. The rest of the car, not so much.

The wrap-around rear glass of this 1959 Chevy Impala Sport Sedan four-door hardtop appears like new. The rest of the car, not so much.

 Rod builders and vintage racers are always on the lookout for body shells such as this 1935 Ford Tudor slantback sedan. What’s there is solid.

Rod builders and vintage racers are always on the lookout for body shells such as this 1935 Ford Tudor slantback sedan. What’s there is solid.

 This moss-covered 1956 Chrysler New Yorker front clip remains in donor-quality condition, but lying on the ground isn’t helping its preservation.

This moss-covered 1956 Chrysler New Yorker front clip remains in donor-quality condition, but lying on the ground isn’t helping its preservation.