A classic American car is a rare and beautiful sight, even when in less than pristine condition.
And a battered shell can represent much more than simply a heap of scrap metal to anyone who’s ever turned a wrench. It represents an opportunity to revive a piece of American history to its former glory, even if that fantasy lasts little more than a fleeting moment.
But, for residents of the Mesa Cortina homeowners association, the sight of an abandoned 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air near the intersection of Lakeview and Buffalo Mountain drives about a half a mile above the town of Silverthorne didn’t serve as a constant reminder of American automotive ingenuity, but as a daily eyesore.
Last week Stan Wagon, a part-time resident of the Mesa Cortina neighborhood since 1992, decided to spearhead an effort to have the Bel Air removed and properly disposed of.
Wagon, who refers to himself simply as a “citizen who hates to see trash in our forests,” had been trying for years to have the Bel Air removed from its resting place on Summit County land.
“There’s a lot of trash in Summit County and this isn’t the only abandoned vehicle,” Wagon said. “There are other vehicles around the county. They’re not hard to find and they need to be removed.”
The Bel Air was abandoned sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Wagon estimates. It was ditched in a gully about 100 feet from the roadway. The engine was missing and there was evidence it was removed from the shell a long time ago — maybe when it was abandoned — which leads Wagon to believe it was left behind intentionally.
Although located on county property, the Mesa Cortina homeowners association funded the Bel Air’s removal. They contracted Ryan’s Recovery in Breckenridge to perform what became a two-hour process, requiring two men, two trucks and two sets of chains to winch the ’57 through the forest.
“I think it is important to note that they didn’t damage a single tree in the process,” Wagon said. “I thought we’d probably damage two trees, but they (Ryan’s Recovery) took their time. They winched it left, winched it right and got it out of there.”
Wagon declined to reveal how much the extraction process cost the Mesa Cortina homeowners association, but said the price was reasonable.
The Bel Air will be sold by Ryan’s Recovery for scrap metal, Wagon said.
“There’s a lot of trash in Summit County and this isn’t the only abandoned vehicle. There are other vehicles around the county. They’re not hard to find and they need to be removed.”
— Stan Wagon, a resident of the Mesa Cortina neighborhood above Silverthorne, about the removal of an abandoned 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air from Summit County property.