Bob’s Auto Parts

1960 Edsel Ranger Sedan photo source: www.oldcarsweekly.com

1960 Edsel Ranger Sedan
photo source: www.oldcarsweekly.com

It was a humble name in a humble part of the country, Fostoria, Michigan. But for 70 years, it operated as the place to go for classic cars built from 1930’s-1970’s.

Bob and Chris Zimmerman took over ownership of the junkyard in 1957.  The previous owner had operated it since 1938.

Just like Old Car City USA, it was located in rural America. Also like Dean Lewis, the couple ran a thoughtful business, fully invested in providing good usable auto parts to classic car enthusiasts.

While Bob wasn’t into offbeat art the way Lewis was, he and his wife loved classic cars. And if you know anything about the plastic cars of today, you know that classic cars were an art.

When Bob died in 2008, the classic car world mourned. He had over 1,800 vehicles and his quality was well known.

But what really got folks was that the auction company commanded a $400 minimum bid on any car, regardless of its condition. The auction itself was so large that there was a remote parking lot with shuttle service.

About Bob

1950's Linoln photo source: www.oldcarsweekly.com

1950’s Linoln photo source: www.oldcarsweekly.com

Bob was highly organized. Everything was grouped in sections, based on the make of the vehicle. For cars that were the more common makes, he had sub-groupings by year and/or model.

If you were looking for a 1958 Chevy, he had a whole row of them. Same for Buicks, Corsairs, Edsels, Cadillacs, and Lincolns. And they were all sorted by decade!

If a car didn’t fit into a category, Bob had one section of the yard that was dedicated to “orphans.” Packards, which also included a 1947 hearse, some British sports cars and even a Renault Dauphine, were included in his orphan section.

Bob didn’t buy old cars and then treat them like junk. For those that had more value, like the Lincoln above, he covered the interior with a camper top to protect it.

Bob and Chris also had an excellent selection of trucks, too. From the 1940’s through the ’60’s, you could find Dodge pickups, including many medium duty commercial trucks like the ’60’s Ford COE.

In an eery replay of the past, many of these old trucks still proudly wore the name of the business on their doors, although faded. Bob even had a few fire engines scattered around.

The haunting beauty of these discarded classic cars can’t be over emphasized. Whenever I see these vehicles, I can’t help but wonder about the life they had, the people that drove them, and how they ended up in a wrecking yard.

Just by sitting on a junk pile, these old cars shout their stories with unabashed pride. They tell us  of a history and a time many of us covet.

Sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to find classic wrecking yards like Bob’s. The bones of these metal pioneers are often crushed into oblivion.

That was certainly true in 2008 when many of Bob’s 1800 classic cars were destroyed.

One of Bob’s customer was so impressed with Bob’s work that he honored the business with the video below. I think you’ll find it worth the 5 minute watch.

 

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