For decades, if you ever needed a window winder handle from a 1957 Chrysler Royal, there’s been just one place you could go for such an obscure car part, safe in the knowledge they would probably have it.
Flynn’s Wrecking Yard, near Cooma, has been a one-stop shop for car restorers and repairers throughout Australia, New Zealand and even the US for nearly 70 years. It has become something of tourist attraction, too, with car enthusiasts able to wander through a paddock of 4000 rusting automotive carcasses for $10.
The owner, Wayne Flynn, describes it as the largest car yard in the Southern Hemisphere, but after decades of taking phone calls and salvaging car parts, he’s keen to move on with his retirement plans. His eight-hectare block is currently up for sale.
“When I sell it, I retire so the sooner the better,” he says.
The wrecking yard business came about by pure accident.
In the early 1950s, Wayne’s father, Jim Flynn, worked for a Cooma garage while also playing in a local band on the weekend to help make ends meet. One frosty evening, fresh from a gig, Jim, his wife and some friends were making their way back home when one wheel of the car went a little too close to the edge of the rickety wooden bridge in Dalgety.
A brief but catastrophic spin sent the car crashing through the railings, plummeting five metres to the ground below. It landed on the roof, crushing it down as far as the headrests.
“They all survived it,” says Wayne. “Mum got pretty knocked around and dad had a broken arm, but they all got out of it, luckily.”
From the accident, his father scored his first wrecked car.
“He started selling the parts and that was when he realised there was money to be made in this,” says Wayne.
In 1955, Jim bought a block of land off the Snowy Mountains Highway, and old and wrecked cars have been accumulating at the site ever since. Wayne, flush with mechanic qualifications from an apprenticeship at his dad’s car dealership in town, has been manning the yard since the 1960s.
“It was a good move, too,” he says. “We’re up here on a hill and it’s a lot warmer than Cooma.”
Much like everything else, the instruction to ‘store in a cool, dry place’ goes for cars, too. The ages of the cars in the yard stretch back to the 1930s, but Wayne says that thanks to the weather “they haven’t deteriorated too much”.
“I send parts all over Australia – Tasmania, Perth, Darwin, and even to New Zealand,” he says. “I even sent a couple of bits over to a bloke in the US who found us, although how I don’t know. It’s a sought-after place.”
The yard even drew the attention of the producers of Australian film Mad Max: Fury Road, who stopped by one day and picked out half a dozen cars for the set.
“Three of the vehicles went on to feature in the movie so that was a big kick for us,” says Wayne.
The yard has also featured in countless magazine stories, almost always followed by an influx of tourists.
Its main business is selling car parts, something that Wayne says has stayed steady the whole way through.
“I’m not a car nut like some people who could be here 24 hours a day, seven days a week and absolutely love it,” he says. “I enjoy my cars, but I’m ready for my weekends to come around and get away from it all.”
Wayne has a house at Merimbula, on the NSW South Coast, as well as children and grandchildren he’s keen to see away from Cooma’s chilly mornings.
The yard has been on the market for more than a year, but Wayne says this has mostly been by word of mouth. He says interest has been strong, and is especially picking up now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing.
Do you want a whole fleet of 1957 Chrysler Royals, by any chance? You can call Wayne during business hours on 02 6452 1866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.