Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

KING OF RUST.(Final)

Byline: Rick Nathanson Journal Staff Writer

One man's junk is another man's gem, and Archie Lewis knows a thing or two about junk and gems. He's the king of the pack rats, possessing unlikely items that fetch a princely sum.

For 43 years, he has operated Lewis Antique Auto Parts, a 21/2-acre site near the southeast corner of Montano and Edith NE. Peeking in through breaks in a fence, passers-by can glimpse old, rusting cars and trucks in every size and shape imaginable.

Some of the vehicles are fairly intact, while others are in various states of disassembly and degradation. A good many of these rust buckets would have been regarded as junk 50 years ago -- but not in Archie's eyes. "I see treasures," he says. And cash.

Archie, 66, is a bearded, pony-tailed, leathery-skinned, plain-talking, good-natured fellow. "When I bought this land it was prairie. There was no Montano, no freeway, no nothing," he recalls. And pretty soon, Lewis Antique Auto Parts will not be there either.

Archie, who lives in a trailer on a vehicle-filled adjacent lot, has sold his antique car yard and purchased eight acres in Moriarty, next to where his son lives. That property contains a 16,000-square-foot former truck terminal building. …

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