I was at the airport in Redmond, Oregon. For a small airport, the security is tight. We were coming through after a week at Sunriver, near Bend, Oregon. After my carry-on went through, the fellow checking the monitor got nervous. The security agent at the end of the line asked me to take off my shoes. Then they wanted to check my carry-on bag.
Carefully, the agent started going through the bag, piece by piece. Suddenly, he finds a used twin post 1962/1963 Plymouth outside mirror. He is relieved to find it is not a weapon and shows how it looked like one in the x-ray.
The mirror is a genuine 1962/1963 Chrysler piece that I paid $20 for. What a deal!
The central Oregon area is a bonanza for old cars but you have to go looking for them. What else would you do on a vacation?
Here is a little guide for looking.
Stop one: Bend Auto Recyclers Inc. This is the best. Mr. Wayne Simpson is the owner and can be found on Highway 97 about 5 miles out of Bend. Look for his "Accident of the Month" car as you're leaving town for Redmond.
There are two parts to Wayne's yard: an upper complete car yard and a lower pick-a-part style yard. The upper yard has several really interesting cars. My favorite is a 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix with a column 3-speed shifter. There is a hemi-Dodge up there, some '57 Chevy wagons, a Coronet, a Saratoga, a '66 Pontiac Catalina and others just waiting to be restored.
Wayne is an ex-California guy and a very friendly individual. I read him as a guy you can trust. His prices are fair as I see it.
Stop Two. This is a place further north toward Redmond on the west side of the Highway 97. This is a trading post operation. It is easy to see because mounted on the building are front ends from 1957 to 1962 Chevrolets.
There is a gift shop with some cute chick stuff that will keep everyone busy while you look at cars. By the way, Bend Auto Recyclers is not the place to take a girl for a good time unless she likes cars and dirt.
Back to the trading post. The cars are less than spectacular. Most of them are full-size with some convertibles. These are truly project cars and parts cars. Some of the Pontiacs there would make a Pontiac lover throw up. They are in terrible condition. The prices are marked clearly on the windshields and, as might be expected, are high.
It is unclear to this writer about anything else about the place. None of the employees said "hello" or "can I help you?" or "go to hell." Therefore, the one things that was of interest, a 1935 Adlake lantern, was not purchased.
It is still unclear to me who was who at that place. When I got there, there were two guys arguing and when I left, they were still arguing.
Stop Three: Redmond Auto Salvage. It has some interesting newer stuff and a pick-up load of chrome pieces they have salvaged from old cars.
From there, you can go in any direction and spot old cars next to barns. I saw a 1956 Pontiac two-door driving on Route 26. I saw old Fords that are well-rusted, other old cars and tractors. There is a guy in Redmond that has two Model A original pickup trucks for sale.
Bend, like most other cities in the United States, hosts a cruise weekend and, as luck would have it, it was going on when we were there. This cruise was put on by the Central Oregon Chevy Club.
Auto restorers in Oregon can still use the old lacquer paints. The two-stage that is mandated by California law is not a requirement in Oregon. You can really see the depth in the paint with the Oregon lacquer cars. They are simply spectacular.
There are plenty of things to do in central Oregon and it is one of this writer's favorite places to vacation. No matter what you like to do — fishing, golf, hunting, and hunting for old cars — you can do it there.
Now it's time to ponder another restoration in the future, a '62 Pontiac Grand Prix I found in Bend. I can honestly tell my bride-to-be that although my investment in the stock market is worth less and less, the old cars are increasing in value. This strategy was not planned.
Originally published in the August 2002 issue
of Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright August 2002 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.