The “Cuyama Historical Car Garden” isn’t exactly a junk yard, but it’s got to be the biggest tract of land littered with cars that anyone’s ever called “art.”
At the entrance of this immense expanse of primitive parking, a sign reads:
“A creative preservation project based on the oriental rock garden concept on the balance between form and nature. A memorial to the men of machines and to the machines of men. A sanctuary of form, time and witness. Please be respectful, by invitation only, no parts sold, estimated completion 1995.”
As Hagerty’s Tom Cotter explains, the place was owned and created by a Mr. T.M. Merkel, who “wanted to be an artist, and his medium was cars.”
Merkel lived in a nearby cabin on U.S. Forest Service land, which he was in legally under a recreational lease until 2009 when said lease expired and the government tore the building down.
His was the last holdout of 27 such ancient houses according to the Santa Barbara Independent, which also reported that Merkel passed away in December of 2016. What happened to him in between is unclear, but the hundreds and hundreds of vehicles parked there, which Cotter tallies at “between 1,200 and 1,800,” are still planted in the sand. You can see quite a few of them in the video above, and a casual internet search for the Cuyama Historical Car Garden yields plenty more pictures, too.
I’d never heard of this “Barn Find Hunter” video series, but I like the host’s low-key delivery. And who doesn’t like looking at rusty old iron?