Sewer Flats Salvage

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As seen in Old Cars' April 25, 2019 issue

Owner calls Utah yard ‘better than a car show’

Story and photos by Ron Kowalke

 Rust-free coupes are a rare sight in salvage yards, and this 1936 Ford Standard five-window example is a restorer’s dream project. Sewer Flats Salvage has a deep inventory of both cars and parts for popular ’30s Fords.

Rust-free coupes are a rare sight in salvage yards, and this 1936 Ford Standard five-window example is a restorer’s dream project. Sewer Flats Salvage has a deep inventory of both cars and parts for popular ’30s Fords.

Tourists flock to southwest Utah to visit scenic wonders such as both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and the Dixie National Forest. For automotive enthusiasts, one additional must-see attraction in the area is Sewer Flats Salvage, located west of Paragonah. The yard is easily accessed from Interstate 15, the main north-south route in the state.

Owned by Lamont Jonsson for the past dozen years, Sewer Flats Salvage has an inventory of just north of 2,000 vehicles. According to Jonsson, about one-third of the inventory is vintage cars and trucks. That latter number, though, doesn’t do justice to the amount of vintage parts stockpiled in the yard, stored both outside in neat rows and packed away in storage trailers. Jonsson, the third owner of the yard, said he spends considerable time and energy combing the southwestern United States to amass what has to be one of the largest collection of parts — both new-old-stock and used — for Fords of the 1930s and ’40s.

The enticement of the large “Blue Oval” inventory of parts at Sewer Flats Salvage overshadows what’s available in the way of both in-demand cars and trucks which are often rust-free and complete. One of the stand-out features of the yard is the depth of multiples of the same model. Johnson “likes all cars,” but said he favors convertibles and convertible sedans, and both body styles are well represented in the yard. Because much of Jonsson’s inventory is so complete, he said he will only sell whole vehicles. He added that he maintains a generous supply of parts donor vehicles.

Located at the western lip of the Dixie National Forest and with hills and peaks abundant just to the east, Sewer Flats Salvage is comprised of 26 acres of level terrain with wide aisles separating the rows of vehicles. The vintage inventory is mainly grouped together, but randomly assembled by manufacturer. Pickup and panel delivery trucks, the majority of vintage examples comprised of 1955-’80 models, are somewhat lumped together in the center of the yard. Fords and Chevrolets dominate that category.

Dominant years for the vintage cars are 1930s to ’60s, with the most depth coming from Fords of the ’30s and ’40s including popular coupes and two-door sedans. There’s also excellent representation of Tri-Chevys, Mercury Cougars, ’50s Studebakers and ’50s Pontiacs, including an entire row of ’57 Pontiacs of various models and body styles.

Among the hard-to-miss vehicles at Sewer Flats Salvage is a 1951 Kaiser Deluxe sedan that stands out for all the wrong reasons. Certainly having a noteworthy Howard “Dutch” Darrin design helps attract the eye, but this car underwent a near-complete restoration and was then abandoned. Surrounded by cars with bleached or patina’ed finishes, the Kaiser offers gleaming two-tone red-and-white paint, new wide whitewall tires — with original purchase stickers attached — and unattached trim pieces stored in its interior.

Another can’t-miss vehicle is the yard’s elder statesman —a 1929 Chevy International utility truck. It has disc wheels fitted with rotted antique tires, a squared-off cab and bullet-shaped headlamps, but the real take-notice feature of this workhorse flatbed is its “Cast-Iron Wonder” overhead-valve six-cylinder engine, which Chevrolet debuted in ’29.

With all the important vintage inventory of both vehicles and parts, Jonsson said he relies on word of mouth to gain and retain customers. Sewer Flats Salvage has no internet presence, nor any computerized list of available vehicles or parts. Jonsson says he has a good memory for what parts are on hand, and a phone call to him can dial in a customer about what’s for sale. Titles are available for some vehicles, and Jonsson said a bill of sale will be offered for those purchased that don’t have titles. Equipment is on hand to help customers load vehicles on trailers. Toolboxes are allowed in the yard with permission, but customers must ask first before removing items from donor-part vehicles.

Tours of Sewer Flats Salvage can be arranged by appointment. Johnson claims the tours are “better than a car show.” The yard’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (MST), and Saturdays by appointment.

Sewer Flats Salvage
P.O. Box 600245 (mail address)
Paragonah, UT 84760
435-477-0165 (shop)
435-463-1934 (mobile)

 The entrance to Sewer Flats Salvage in Paragonah, Utah, cannot be missed. It is marked by this vintage steel-wheeled tractor.

The entrance to Sewer Flats Salvage in Paragonah, Utah, cannot be missed. It is marked by this vintage steel-wheeled tractor.

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 One of several Tri-Chevys in the yard, this 1955 Bel Air hardtop is a prime candidate for restoration. While it’s missing some minor components such as trim, the body is rust free and the glass is like new.

One of several Tri-Chevys in the yard, this 1955 Bel Air hardtop is a prime candidate for restoration. While it’s missing some minor components such as trim, the body is rust free and the glass is like new.

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 How an underway restoration project ends up in a salvage yard is always a mystery. If only this 1951 Kaiser Deluxesedan could talk! With new paint, new tires — with the manufacturer’s stickers still attached — and much of the missing trim stored in its interior, this car is close to becoming roadworthy again.

How an underway restoration project ends up in a salvage yard is always a mystery. If only this 1951 Kaiser Deluxesedan could talk! With new paint, new tires — with the manufacturer’s stickers still attached — and much of the missing trim stored in its interior, this car is close to becoming roadworthy again.

 While yard owner Lamont Jonsson has select desirable cars he’s keeping for himself to restore, this 1933 Chevrolet five-window coupe chassis and partial body is for sale. It could be the start of a wicked hot rod or drag car project.

While yard owner Lamont Jonsson has select desirable cars he’s keeping for himself to restore, this 1933 Chevrolet five-window coupe chassis and partial body is for sale. It could be the start of a wicked hot rod or drag car project.

 One of many near-complete and solid-bodied cars in the yard is this 1953 Ford Customline Country Sedan station wagon with flathead V-8 power. Lending to its restoration potential is the fact that this family hauler was part of Ford’s 50th anniversary lineup.

One of many near-complete and solid-bodied cars in the yard is this 1953 Ford Customline Country Sedan station wagon with flathead V-8 power. Lending to its restoration potential is the fact that this family hauler was part of Ford’s 50th anniversary lineup.

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 Introductory-year models are popular among car collectors, and this first-generation 1967 Pontiac Firebird hardtop is in demand within that newbie category. Rich in patina, this Firebird is very solid.

Introductory-year models are popular among car collectors, and this first-generation 1967 Pontiac Firebird hardtop is in demand within that newbie category. Rich in patina, this Firebird is very solid.

 A pair of “bullet nose” Studebaker Champion coupes, from (left) 1950 and (right) ’51; each offer a rust-free start to making them roadworthy. Sewer Flats Salvage has a depth of multiples of select models.

A pair of “bullet nose” Studebaker Champion coupes, from (left) 1950 and (right) ’51; each offer a rust-free start to making them roadworthy. Sewer Flats Salvage has a depth of multiples of select models.

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 The oldest vehicle at Sewer Flats Salvage is this historically significant 1929 Chevrolet International utility truck. It features Chevy’s debut of its “Cast-Iron Wonder” overhead-valve six-cylinder engine.

The oldest vehicle at Sewer Flats Salvage is this historically significant 1929 Chevrolet International utility truck. It features Chevy’s debut of its “Cast-Iron Wonder” overhead-valve six-cylinder engine.

 Rust-free and with exceptional brightwork, this 1956 Chrysler Windsor sedan seems to be in relatively good condition. It also showcases Chrysler’s debut year of its across-the-board 12-volt electrical system.

Rust-free and with exceptional brightwork, this 1956 Chrysler Windsor sedan seems to be in relatively good condition. It also showcases Chrysler’s debut year of its across-the-board 12-volt electrical system.

 This 1957 Pontiac Chieftain Catalina hardtop fronts a row of a half-dozen ’57 Pontiacs of varied models and body styles. It’s cosmetically and glass challenged, but offers much as a parts donor.

This 1957 Pontiac Chieftain Catalina hardtop fronts a row of a half-dozen ’57 Pontiacs of varied models and body styles. It’s cosmetically and glass challenged, but offers much as a parts donor.

 Looking every bit the workhorse life it led, this 1950 Willys-Overland Jeep 4x4 pickup is rare as it’s 1 of 22,282 trucks built across the entire lineup that year. It’s complete enough to warrant restoration consideration.

Looking every bit the workhorse life it led, this 1950 Willys-Overland Jeep 4x4 pickup is rare as it’s 1 of 22,282 trucks built across the entire lineup that year. It’s complete enough to warrant restoration consideration.

 Remarkably complete, this 1954 Pontiac Chieftain Custom Catalina hardtop retains its original Indian hood ornament, wears mismatched fender skirts and shows a ton of appeal, indicating it may get back on the road some day.

Remarkably complete, this 1954 Pontiac Chieftain Custom Catalina hardtop retains its original Indian hood ornament, wears mismatched fender skirts and shows a ton of appeal, indicating it may get back on the road some day.

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