Elana Scherr Staff Editor
April 26, 2016
Photos By: Wes Allison

A bright orange Ford pickup sits wrapped around a tree. The truck dips in the center from the force of impact, its headlights shoved around either side of its arboreus lover. Surprise though! The tree embraced by 1978 chrome isn’t the one that did the damage. Automotive artists Gary and Alice Corns sat the crumpled Ford against the tree in their wrecking yard as a visual joke, and visitors to Colorado Auto and Parts enjoyed it so much that it’s become a permanent installation. “We moved it once and people asked us where it was, so we had to put it back,” said company president Alice Corns. It’s just one of the quirky presentations you’ll find in in the parts yard’s 38-acre recycling facility.

Alice Corns’ parents started the auto recycling business in 1959. Now she runs it with her husband and sons, Eric and Adam. “Back then it was called a wrecking yard or junkyard,” she told us, “but now I get mad at my kids for calling it a junkyard. They still do though.” With that in mind, we’ll go with wrecking yard for the rest of this post, but bear in mind that the Corns’ business involves much more than simply crushing metal. The majority of the land is a self-service parts yard, like it was when Alice’s dad ran the business, but there’s a section to the side that will blow your mind. See, Alice’s pop was a car collector, and when an interesting classic or muscle car came in during the 40 or so years that he ran the place, he’d stick it off to the side. He restored some, but most just sat there. “I don’t really know why he kept them,” said Alice. “Maybe just to say he had them?”

About a decade ago Alice and Gary moved all the classics out of the self-service yard. “People will destroy a perfect door to get a door handle,” she said. “We didn’t know what we were going to do with the cars, but we knew we didn’t want them crushed.”

Walking through the rusting rows for a car person is like visiting your local animal shelter. “Take us home,” begs a row of crumpled Cougars. A DeSoto grins hopefully at you through a row of broken chrome teeth. A cute, blue Corvair still looks perky, even with a wrinkled hood and shattered windshield. A sleepy-eyed Packard gazes up with double headlights and perfect dagmars. There are some rare machines tucked behind the Mustang-lined fence. Bullet-grilled Cadillacs and Mach1 Mustangs are interspersed with Rolls Royces, Mercedes, and Buick Rivieras. You want classic trucks? Metro vans? A Studebaker? Here, here, and here. How we left without a full load on a flat bed is a triumph of willpower. Oh, speaking of which, here is a Triumph.

So can you buy these cars? The Corns have been selling some of the nicer, titled cars on eBay while deciding what to do with the rest, but now they’re ready to find new homes for the Mustangs, Chryslers, Buicks, Lincolns, and Caddys you’ll see in these photos. “There’s no reason for these cars to sit,” said Alice. “If someone buys them or the parts, they can get a brand-new life. I’m pretty big on recycle, renew, and reuse, and making old cars into hot rods and customs, that is recycling.”

Contact Colorado Auto and Parts on Facebook or at www.coloradoautoandparts.com to see if the yard has what you need, and if you just feel like window-shopping, scroll on through the gallery below.

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