As seen in Old Cars' April 25, 2019 issue
Owner calls Utah yard ‘better than a car show’
Story and photos by Ron Kowalke
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