The French Quarry Find

the-quarry-find

A while back I came across a story about an abandoned stone quarry in France that was jam packed with cars, but I struggled to find the source of the images or the whole story. Well after featuring the Hawkeye Collection, reader Mike H sent us a link to a Flickr account of the photographer that captured the amazing images of this incredible find. They also share the history about it, but admit it could all be fiction. Whether it is or not, this is an amazing sight to behold.

quarry-find-hdr

Vincent Michel is a part time photographer that is known for taking amazing photos of abandoned buildings, rusty equipment and forlorn automobiles. His photos are shot in what’s known as HDR (high dynamic range), making them a bit more dramatic than the real thing, but they look so good that’s alright with me! So let’s get into the story behind these cars, please be aware though, there are a lot of stories out there about this place. And who knows which is the most accurate?

the-quarry

According to Vincent, the story starts in 1940 when France is attacked by the Germans. Their overwhelming lighting warfare lead to France having to quickly surrender to the Germans and part of that surrender was providing resources for the war effort. Many people had to give up their personal property so that it could be melted down to build weapons and equipment. Obviously, that didn’t go over well with most people, but standing up to the German army wasn’t a wise decision. That didn’t stop one village in central France from taking some type of action to protect their vehicles though.

quarry-full-of-cars

Apparently the community got together to come up with an idea of how to keep their vehicles from going to their captures and that’s when someone had the idea of driving them to a nearby quarry that was no longer in use and was unknown to the outside world. So on an agreed upon night, they drove their cars out to the quarry. Then one by one, they were driven into the massive man made caverns. To fit them all, they had to be parked as tightly together as possible, but somehow they made them all fit. Once they were all tucked away safely in their new home, the entrance to the quarry closed and locked up.

french-quarry-find

No one seems to know why the cars remained in the quarry after the war had ended, but for whatever reason the place was simply forgotten. Perhaps people felt it wasn’t worth the work to drag their old cars out or maybe none of the original owners survived the war? We may never know whether this story is true or not, but one things for sure, somehow a lot of cars ended up in this stone tomb.

french-quarry
Eh hmm, something is off here…

Looking at the condition of all these cars, I think calling this place a tomb is rather fitting. It might have protected the cars from being melted down and turned into weapons, but it definitely didn’t protect them from the ravages of rusts. When the place was finally opened back up, most of them were beyond saving. The ones that were worth saving were supposedly auctioned off.

quarry-finds

I’d highly recommend checking out Vincent’s Flickr, it’s loaded with all kinds of amazing photos. I just wish we knew more about this place and whether this is the real story or not. Special thanks to Mike for the tip and Vincent for taking these incredible photos! If any of you happen to know more of the story, we sure would love to hear it!

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Comments

  1. Moose Feather

    Hmmm. A couple of those cars look postwar.

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    • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

      That’s just one of many things that is fishy about this story, hence why I want to know what really was going on here. There are a lot of new outlets sharing this the way Vincent tells it, but no one seems to be bringing up the fact that some of the vehicles were built in the ’60s or later. It’s possible whoever owned the place kept putting more cars in here long after the war ended, but that seems like a strange choice given the condition of the other cars. So does anyone happen to know more?

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  2. Mark

    Looks like a salt quarry…

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      For sure. That is a salt mine. What is left of those cars is iron oxide, and not much else.

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  3. MH

    I agree, not all are pre war cars. Looks like most have been picked for parts. I don’t believe that’s the real story.

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  4. brakeservo

    Doubt anything is economically viable as a restoration. Let’s hope they at least get saved for parts. Do the French build resto-mods or street rods? Lots of material for that here!

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  5. The Walrus

    Rust never sleeps.

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  6. PackardMike

    Seem to be many that are left hand drive. ?? Oddly fascinating photos…

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    • Trickie Dickie

      All French cars would be left hand drive. They drive as we do in the USA, well, kind of, except with more flair and Frenchness.

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    • brakeservo

      Why should LHD be unusual? In the 1930s it was typical that only the highly expensive European cars were RHD, such as Bugatti, Talbot Lago, Alfa and even many Mercedes, but the cheap and ordinary cars were LHD. Whenever I drive my RHD Bentley or Cobra I get comments from the ignorant such as “Oh, it’s European, huh?” and I have to explain that continental Europe is like USA hence “European” cars are LHD, but my cars are from England, hence RHD.

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  7. cudaman

    ya…………………it really doesn’t look real. I think they are all drawings……

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  8. Stephen

    I saw a story several years ago in a similar vein. A family owned junkyard in a closed quarry that contained many old muscle cars, including a superbird. Though it seems like a nice story there are several holes such as the presence of newer cars and the fact that so many cars were left in a cave by their owners with the intention of coming back for them later and not one was recovered. What I suspect is that tgese cars were placed in the caves by either the local population when they were done using them, becoming something of a wrecking yard. Or an individual who just needed a place to store his collection of project cars. Not a heroic war story, but more likely.

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  9. Sorted Corty

    Oh my GOSH! Those pics make my Barn Find hair stand on end!

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  10. junkman Member

    After talking with several Greatest Generation old timers in the junk business over the years, I suspect someone was hoping to get rich after the war by having a wonderful inventory of used parts or shredder stock. Turned out differently than they thought though didn’t it?

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  11. Dickie F

    I think that the war story may be true…..but the last guy in, forgot to leave his keys….

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  12. Howard A Member

    Probably under (salt) water for 30 years. I’d be inclined to believe the story, and I think the same was true in this country, as well. I read, during WW2 ( the BIG one) it was EXPECTED that if you had older cars, they were to be sent off for military use and some defied that order and stashed many of the cars you see turning up today. This, I think is what happened, just a little short on the planning. Maybe, as said, they didn’t have time.

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  13. whippeteer

    During WWII in the US, sending your old cars to the metal drives was the patriotic thing to do. Many rare and collectible cars ended up being made into tanks.

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  14. Tony B

    In the post that I read, it stated that the owner of the mine, added more cars over the years. So, possibly that’s where the newer vehicles came from… As a history major, I know that following the war-running automobiles really were at a premium. Motorcycle and scooter production was amped-up, due to the need for viable transportation… I would venture to guess that these cars were added a decade or so after the war ended, otherwise they likely would have been pressed into service at the end of the war… But, just my opinion.

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  15. Joel Chamberlain

    Agree with most of the above, it’s a pre-war vehicle wrecking yard. Too many parts missing on the cars for the hidden property story. Someone has been salvaging parts for years and have added some newer vehicles too.

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  16. Parkerdo

    Would love to have a couple of those grills for garage wall art.

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  17. Bobsmyuncle

    Stash of stolen cars being parted out is my guess.

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  18. Jason

    Those photos are so tweaked for saturation it makes my eyes hurt.

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  19. Bill McCoskey

    While this might be a salt mine, I doubt it. Salt is so crumbly that it’s not taken out in blocks. Look at the far end of the mine where it’s easy to see they were mining huge blocks. Probably a high grade marble mine that reached the end of the high grade marble. Hence after the war, no one wanted to re-open the mine for marble.

    Said to be as a result of French people trying to hide the cars from the advancing German army? I don’t think so. Especially with 1950’s vehicles in there too, I suspect they were put in there either to keep them safe from the weather or scrap thieves or to keep them hidden from the French government tax authorities, as after the war one had to pay big taxes on property, especially vehicles, in any condition.

    Whoever put them there, probably didn’t understand the poor atmospheric conditions, not realizing the alkaline conditions of porous/wet marble, and what it could do to metal. Not to mention the almost 100% atmospheric moisture saturation, and what that would do to wood and fabrics!

    Also visible in the pictures on the photographer’s website, is a dark but visible overhead garage door, with modern cement blocks on either side of the door, a type of block not used in pre-war Europe, but used extensively by the US military after the war. [“cinder blocks”]

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  20. geo1_20

    The story could be nice , but it’s a fake…If the photograph took that picture, and if the cars are real, they never were hidden during the war to escape the nazi requisition…

    Even the potograph Vincent Michel, said that the story was completely romanticized ( the first article came on facebook…)
    Those cars ( prewar and post war ) came from a museum who closed. the cars were stocked in a field during 25 years. When he was decided to plant the vine, the cars were placed in the quarry.

    Here is the truth :
    http://newsdanciennes.com/2016/12/05/autos-ont-ete-cachees-certainement-aux-nazis/

    Sorry it’s in french, and sorry for my poor english…

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