If you’ve attended an automotive swap meet in the last thirty years, you’ve seen this guy. He stands about five foot nothing, dresses in a navy blue shop coat and wears his hair in a crew cut. Generally he slouches; hands deep in the pockets of his jacket and in front of him are a train of six foot tables. On the table are boxes containing new old stock; carburetors, distributors, starters, generators and what have you.
Lately, there haven’t been too many swap meets but that doesn’t keep Jack Corley from going to work. Five days a week (though he is pushing ninety) he patrols the long aisles of his Gresham warehouse. There are thousands upon thousands of parts here- mostly stuff for older domestics. He doesn’t have to check the computer to know whether or not he has your part. Actually, there is no computer…the inventory list is in his head.
Corley started in parts business working for a Kaiser dealership. As the last Kaiser rolled off the assembly line in 1955; that was just a few years back. He bounced around some; his longest stint was with Niehoff Ignition Company (almost twenty years). He also ventured into auto racing and became a distributor for numerous high performance lines.
Yeah, Corley’s bread and butter is NOS auto parts but if you’ve never been to his warehouse, you owe it to yourself to go. He still owns the Offenhauser Midget he raced in the sixties and the steel bodied ’32 with the Hemi engine he used to terrorize the streets of Portland back in the day. Walking into his warehouse is like stepping into a time machine. There is an extensive assortment of oil cans, race car toys, car club plaques, old calendars, posters, pennants and automotive displays. There are walls in the office covered with framed 8 x 10 racing photos. It is truly one of the most impressive collections of automobilia in the Pacific Northwest.
But don’t forget why you came! Whether you’re restoring a concourse vintage car or scabbing together a rat rod, Jack Corley is your man. Don’t look for him on the Interweb cause of course, he isn’t there. The physical address for his warehouse is: 909 NE Cleveland Ave., Gresham, OR 97030. The phone number for Jack’s Specialty Parts is: (503) 667-1725.