Champion Of Recycled Auto Part Power
GERALD SCHUSTER PHOTOGRAPHY
Colorado Auto & Parts has been in business since 1959 and Alice Corns has led the business her father founded for more than 30 years of that time. But, events during just 10 days in August have fulfilled more dreams for the company then Alice thought possible.
On August 5 the Englewood, Colo. company’s uniquely-original, custom built Plymouth Air Radial Truck or P.A.R.T. landed on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine, www.hotrod.com. On August 10 Alice and her husband Gary, vice president of the business, were in Los Angeles because the P.A.R.T. was set to be featured on Jay Leno’s Garage, the former Tonight Show’s host web-based series. The couple drove the P.A.R.T. to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah immediately after wrapping up the show.
Alice, Gary, Eric & Adam Corns
“Any one thing that happened in that 10 days was an once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Alice. “The stars aligned to make it all happen. It was one heck of an August.”
Alice said the entire 10 days was surreal and it was all due to the popularity of the P.A.R.T.
The P.A.R.T. was built by Gary and he and Alice’s sons, Eric and Adam, over a period of a year and a half. The truck is a 1939 Plymouth that the Corns already had in their full-service yard. Gary outfitted it with a 757 seven-cylinder Jacobs engine from a Cessna airplane he found at a local airplane salvage facility.
Alice said the build, which exclusively used recycled auto parts, is a way for them to bring attention to their used classic inventory and how recycled auto parts can be used to restore them.
“You could feel the momentum building up about the P.A.R.T.,” said Alice. “I told Gary we need to put something on it that has our logo on it.” The Colorado Auto & Parts logo is featured right in the front of the vehicle which has its own Facebook and Instagram pages, links to which can be found at www.coloradoautoparts.com.
The P.A.R.T. was gaining popularity locally, but it was the cover of Hot Rod Magazine that caught the attention of Jay Leno. Alice said shortly after the magazine hit the stands, like days, Leno’s people called and asked them to bring the P.A.R.T. out to his garage in Burbank, Calif.
“It’s a nonstop dream that was true,” said Alice. “I’m still amazed.”
Gary and Alice drove the truck out themselves and Eric and Adam flew out and met them there. Leno’s garage is actually a huge building in an industrial area of Burbank that houses his amazing collection of cars, according to Alice.
“Everyone was so nervous,” admitted Alice. “You’re supposed to have this conversation with this famous person.”
Gary spoke with Leno on camera and answered his questions about the truck. They also started the truck for Leno, but couldn’t drive it because it didn’t have plates. The entire segment can be found at www.nbc.com/jay-lenos-garage.
The experience has been just one of many because of the P.A.R.T. The Corns have been showing the vehicle at several events over the last year, including the Rocky Mountain Auto Show in Denver, Colo., the SuperNationals Car Show in Albuquerque N.M. and the Lone Star Round Up in Austin, Texas. It was during this visit to the Austin show where the P.A.R.T. caught the eye of Hot Rod Magazine.
“We’re not car show people,” Alice admitted. “We’ve been to eight shows this past year which is more than we’ve gone to our entire life.”
15 Minutes Of Fame
Alice said she’s not sure how the P.A.R.T.’s fame will be a return on investment for the business, but hopes it will have an impact the auto recycling industry as a whole.
“Maybe someone will see the show or magazine and they will call us or a recycler in their area,” said Alice.
But doors have opened in other industries. The Corns were recently invited to the Centennial Airport fundraiser in Denver, Colo. because of the P.A.R.T.’s ties to aeronautics. And, other T.V. and film production crews have had some interest in Colorado Auto & Parts but Alice said it is too soon to tell if anything will happen with it.
“What doors are being opened for us, we don’t know yet,” she said.
But, for the time being, Alice said they are focused on putting energy back into Colorado Auto & Parts. “That was a lot to happen in a week,” she admitted. There’s no way you can keep up that pace.”
Yet, Alice admitted that Gary has found a 1939 Plymouth Coupe that he jokingly said could be the P.A.R.T.’s sister. But, Alice said she needs some downtime, at least until after the holidays, to do anything else.
“It’s almost been like a tornado,” Alice admitted. “You always hear about 15 minutes of fame, I think we’ve had 45 minutes.”