Inside the Treasure State Junkyard Trove Known as Rustless in Montana
A photographic trip to an old-pickup paradise.
Contrary to popular belief, classic trucks rust away in California, too. For yours truly, as a career body man in California, patchin' up pickups was all in a day's work for years. Still, all the while, I knew that others in other states were battling harder in the war on rust—in Montana, for example. But since packing up the shop and moving to that state, I'm surprised to find that hulks in the woods here aren't really all that rusty. As it's been explained to me, if they've been off the road, they've been kept clear of salt—or, worse yet, today's magnesium chloride—and they do survive pretty well under snow. To illustrate the point, let's take a photographic trip to a paradise for vintage pickup trucks, the Treasure State trove known as Rustless in Montana.
In Montana's Glacier County, the quaint little town of Cut Bank has been home to an inaccessible and constantly growing collection of old cars and trucks for years. But you know how these stories go: The part you need is in there, but sorry, stranger, it just ain't for sale. The passing of time can change things, and health hiccups can change things in a hurry. Usually, when the collector's kids become stuck with the mess, these types of things tend to end about the same, with everything sold by the pound and hauled off to the scrap heap. In this case, however, the previously private inventory won't go straight to scrap, and the town's scrap businesspeople are in fact playing an instrumental role in saving tons of tin that you just might like to know about.
A year or so ago, Merle and Mona Shortman of M&M Iron, Shane Hegle of Hegle's Sales & Service, and Dave Bell of Bell Motor Co. partnered up to purchase the good with the bad, and the long, arduous task of moving and sorting began. The initial idea was to hold a series of live auctions. When the first did not pan out as well as expected, the plan changed. At the time of this writing, Rustless in Montana is open by appointment to the public. Arranged in rows and covering 40 iron-rich acres, potential projects and parts are plentiful.
From ground level it's impossible to put this in perspective, but Rustless in Montana is kind of like a big, old outdoor orphanage with an overabundance of classic trucks in the mix awaiting adoption. With low-rust cabs, doors, fenders, and hoods standing in line around the outskirts of the acreage, this is an excellent source for real-deal steel—and in no worse condition than we'd find outdoors in California.
On that note, let's continue with a little photo tour. Know that as we go, there's an even wider variety of classic vehicles available here and that we're focusing this time mainly on a small sampling popular pickups. Maybe you'll see something useful for your current project, or perhaps the beginnings of your next build. If something catches your eye, give Rustless in Montana a call—and if you happen to remember, tell 'em I sent you.