17 beautiful pictures of automobile graveyards, where vintage cars are being reclaimed by nature

Photographer Dieter Klein doesn’t seem to be an automobile aficionado or a gearhead of any kind. So what draws Klein to travel Europe and the United States, exploring the forests and deserts with a camera in hand, searching for vintage cars that have been parked for good and left to rot?

“More than an interest in the cars themselves, I was struck by the impact of this extraordinary process of transformation,” Klein tells Business Insider.

Dieter’s images of automobile graveyards, places where abandoned cars slowly decay, show both the staying power of these classic cruisers and the strength of the nature around it, engulfing the machines and returning them back to the earth.

His photos have recently been compiled into a book, titled “Forest Punk,” for sale now. Klein shared a selection of images and the stories behind them with us.

Klein discovered his unusual subject of choice by coincidence, he told Business Insider. He was on a trip to France when he happened upon an ageing pickup truck parked and left for years in some bushes.

Sweden- Dodge, ca. 1935

'It was about 80 years old and had been standing there undisturbed for a good 40 years,' he said. 'By that time it had pretty well been reclaimed by nature.'

Sweden- Austin A35, ca. 1960

Klein says he wasn't much of a car person to be begin with, but the ruin piqued an interest. 'The contradiction of nature and this man-made machinery to be left alone for decades in such impressive scenery left a strange impression on me,' he said.

Sweden- Vanguard

Upon arriving back home in Cologne, Klein began to do research on more automobile graveyards. His second trip was to a spot in a rural area of Belgium where around 250 cars had been parked for decades.

Belgium- Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, and more

It was here that Klein arrived at the name 'Forest Punk.' 'Punk' has a different meaning in Germany than it does in the US, describing a sort of 'creature,' Klein said. He saw these cars as secret living things, hiding in the woods.

Belgium- Opel, ca. 1950

'The title is also similar to 'Forrest Gump' phonetically -- that's a little bit funny,' Klein added.

Belgium- Mercedes-Benz 180, ca. 1958

Klein said the the junkyard below, hidden in a tiny village in France, has been around for over 50 years and is a secret place to car enthusiasts.

France- Renault, Citro├źn, ca. 1928

It has over 500 cars and no information can be found about it online. Klein had to promise not to divulge its exact location.

France- Peugeot, ca. 1930

This junkyard in Sweden is two miles from the Norwegian border. In the 1950s, Klein said, the cars were disassembled and smuggled, piece by piece, over the border to Norway, where the importation of whole cars was forbidden. They were then reassembled in the dead of night.

Sweden- Ford Taunus, Ford Prefect, Ford Popular

In June of 2014, Klein made his first trip to the United States to photograph abandoned cars.

Oklahoma- Chevrolet

He started his trip at an auto auction in Oklahoma, at the site of a junkyard which had closed in 1953 and stood untouched for more than 60 years.

Oklahoma- Buick,Chevrolet

From there, Klein went on an automobile odyssey of his own, covering 5,000 miles.

Oklahoma- Chevrolet

He visited Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, and Mississippi.

Miscelleanous cars, Colorado

He plans to return to the States later in 2015 and has no plans to conclude his project any time soon.

Miscelleanous cars, Colorado

Klein said he's most drawn to visions of these 'pioneers of mobility standing still at their final destination.'

Oklahoma- Buick

While the cars have been there for decades, Klein said that soon nature will continue to decay them them until they are completely gone.

Colorado- Ford Rancher

'To get the chance to document what's left of this amazing scenery is my personal goal,' he said.


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