The difference between a treasure trove and a scrap yard may just be good marketing. How else to explain the interest generated by a Oklahoma man who closed his junkyard over a zoning dispute in 1953 and protected it like the Fort Knox of rust until his death? Later this summer, his cache of some 250 cars from the first half of the 20th century will finally go to auction, and within all that broken-down metal rest a few true rarities.
Handled by Vanderbrink Auctions, the firm that staged last year's madhouse sale of the Lambrecht family in Nebraska, the collection of Oliver Jordon doesn't have anything to compare to a five-mile Chevy kept new since 1966. Jordon bought a scrap yard in Enid, Okla., in 1945, and when the city asked him to alter the property for zoning reasons, Jordon just closed up instead, surrounding the property with barbed wire and attitude.
Jordon kept adding vehicles here and there, but he never sold any. His grandson built a few sheds to protect some of the stash from the weather eating the rest away, and after Jordon died in 2004, his widow tried selling some of them individually. When those deals fell through, the family decided to go to auction.
No cars in the group will draw more attention than a pair of Cords — a 1936 and a supercharged 1937. Fully restored examples of these front-wheel-drive classics can fetch $200,000, but the dire condition makes their values harder to pin down. Other rarities include a 1939 Lincoln seven-passenger sedan — one of the few rust-free cars in the mix thanks to its aluminum body — along with what may be only the fourth known surviving example of a 1924 Rollin Touring sedan, the product of a little-known Ohio automaker.
The rest of Jordon's empire of dirt holds some promise for those hardy hot-rodders who can see past the rust and weeds for just the right spare part or chassis. What's not sold at the June 7 auction in Enid will go the route of many other scrapyards in middle America, recycled back into metal for the rest of the world. You can see the entire list at the Vanderbrink auction site here.