Purdin’s Auto Parts
Story by Phil Skinner; Photos by Morgan Bryant
Having operated in several facets of the automotive trade, cars are simply in Ray Purdin, Jr.’s blood. He blames his current vocation (one that he has been involved with for nearly 45 years) on the desires of his father, Ray Purdin, Sr. Dad operated a successful used car dealer in the city of Hillsboro, Ohio, after the end of World War II. He also operated a shop that handled the repair and maintenance of cars, trucks and, on occasion, agricultural equipment. In 1948, Ray Sr. was one of hundreds of dealers that applied for a franchise to sell the Tucker Automobile. The venture with Tucker turned out to be very short-lived as no cars were ever delivered to his dealership, and the whole thing didn’t last but a few days.
“I can’t remember if it was seven or ten days, but it wasn’t long,” Purdin, Jr. recalled. After the failed attempt to sell Tucker, the senior Purdin applied for a Hudson franchise, getting it just in time for the release of the famous “step-down” models. It that case, he got a lot of cars and got them sold.
Ray Purdin, Sr. also continued to expand his repair business, doing major overhauls plus body work, which led to doing frame and suspensions. His skills and workmanship were known as being top-rated throughout southwestern Ohio. At the age of 13, Ray, Jr. started to work at his dad’s shop.
“This was in the early 1960s, and we had a number of customers with early-1950s Chevrolets. We were doing complete engine overhauls and my job was to remove and replace the engines. From there, I guess it kind of got into my blood.”
Out of high school, Ray, Jr. found a good job in the maintenance department of a major manufacturing company, but after about five years there, he was itching to get into business on his own. Following his father’s footsteps, he began his own repair facility in the city of Hillsboro, which soon led to him creating a small three-acre parts business. In the mid 1990s, the local sheriff advised him to find a bigger yard for this growing operation. He says in hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened to him. A vacant parcel of land outside of town that had belonged to his parents was perfect. The new plot was 28 acres with a farmed field on one side, forested land on the other two, main highway access on the fourth and most importantly, it allowed him to expand. In 1996, Purdin Auto Parts moved to its current location and is one of the biggest scrap metal operations in the area.
Most of the business comes from people bringing in scrap aluminum,sheet metal, siding and the like. However, on about 20 of the 28 acres are about 1500 resting parts vehicles. Most of these vehicles are younger than 20 years old and are the bread-and-butter of the operation. However, buried amid the weeds on one side of the property are the older cars and trucks. These vehicles the don’t get scrapped and don’t always get parted.
Our visit found some pretty thick weed and brush growth. This is not the type of a yard where one can stroll about in short pants and sandals. Heavy pants are recommended, as well as good shoes or, better yet, thigh-high rubber boots. There had some severe rainstorms in the area a few days before our visit and the ground was a bit swampy, but if you are hunting old cars, what are a few puddles and thorny bushes?
Most of the vintage tin is postwar and we found cars that were in various degrees of being stripped. Now there is a good amount of rust, so be prepared to fight corrosion in getting off nearly any part you want to buy. It might be better to let the skilled workers do their magic. While Ray Purdin, Jr. runs the yard on a day-to-day basis, he has help from several relatives including his son, Jamie, who acted as our tour guide.
Locating a vintage parts yard can sometimes be a chore, but Purdin’s was a snap. Located right on U.S. Highway 50 just a few miles north of Hillsboro, this is a friendly place to do business. There are a few odd little treasures, and this is one place that could yield a lot of rusty gold!
Purdin’s Auto Parts, Inc., is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ray Purdin, Jr. said they do answer email questions and have served customers from around the world.
Purdin’s Auto Parts, Inc.
4501 U.S. 50
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