It’s a warm, sunny afternoon in mid-August and Mauston resident Bob Dziewior is just where he likes to be: in a field, surrounded by rusty old cars, helping an old-car restorer find what he needs.
“These guys come in here and they’re just in heaven,” Dziewior said.
It’s heavenly, too, for the 60-year-old Dziewior, an old-car fan who retired a few years back from his job as a Mauston High School art teacher.
Dziewior said that six or seven years ago he suggested to Jeff and Ann Manthey, who operate Manthey Salvage near Mauston, that they ought to consider sparing from the crusher some of the old vehicles coming their way.
“I’ll save all the old cars if you help me sell the parts,” Dziewior said Jeff Manthey promised.
Dziewior now has a part-time job he created for himself and Manthey Salvage has gained a small, but growing. classic-car parts business to supplement its metal recycling business.
It’s a win-win – sort of.
“It’s not a big money-making thing, but it’s helping the hobby,” Dziewior said. “They could make more money by crushing the cars.”
Dziewior gets a percentage of the selling price of the parts scrounged from the old cars by collectors who come from far and wide equipped with tools to remove what they need.
But $10 here for an old headlight and $20 there for a piece of chrome trim doesn’t add up to a big business, Dziewior said.
In the office at Manthey Salvage, Ann Manthey didn’t disagree with Dziewior’s assessment that the company would be money ahead to crush its inventory of old cars and trucks.
But Manthey said the couple enjoys supporting the old-car hobby and the business doesn’t really need the space.
“We’ve got space. We can make space,” Manthey said.
If nothing else, helping car fans find the original parts they need to restore old cars has helped to spread the Manthey name far and wide – all the way to South America, in fact.
The June issue of “Classic Show,” a Brazilian magazine with an English name and Portuguese content, featured an article about the salvage yard’s old-car parts business.
Dziewior said his phone has “rung off the hook” since that article and a previous article that appeared in Iola-based “Old Cars Weekly.”
Right now, there are about 300 classic cars and trucks housed at the salvage yard along Townline Road south of Mauston. That’s not a lot by salvage-yard standards, but unlike most salvage yards these vehicles were all selected for their appeal to collectors.
“A lot of them come from farm fields,” Dziewior said.
On Thursday, Dave Foglton of Westchester, Ill., a self-described “GM guy,” worked to remove a turn signal from a 1952 Dodge pickup.
In addition to being a fan of old General Motors cars, Foglton said, he’s a believer in the advice that a happy wife equals a happy life, hence the interest in an old Dodge.
“My wife’s father had one,” Foglton said. “We found one and now she wants to restore it.”
Dziewior, whose latest restoration project is a 1934 Ford pickup, lives in a house he built adjacent the salvage yard.
“So now I get to do it everyday,” Dziewior said.
Find the Old Cars Weekly article by entering “Manthey” in the search box at www.oldcarsweekly.com.
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