People come up to me all the time and give me story ideas for The Last Word. What I've heard over the past two and a half years is “You've got to do a story on Schaefer's Auto Art.  You've got to do a story on Schaefer's Auto Art.” Well, today is the day.   

Wow!  What took me so long to come here?  This place is fantastic.  An entire front yard of artistic creations made of auto parts.  Dick Schaefer is the man who designed all the pieces. He gave me a tour starting with a creation called Automan.  Automan’s body is composed of an engine, a transmission, and a drive shaft. His shoes are made of brake shoes.

“Get it? Shoes? Brake shoes?” Dick said with a smile.  

Over the years, Automan has been dressed up as many things such as a pirate and a Halloween scarecrow.  Today, he's a golfer.  

Standing beside Automan is a two-headed dinosaur, a scary creature with spark plugs for teeth.

"Oil pan for his head.  Little wrenches for his paws,” says Dick.  

Dick's front yard in McKean Township has been a showcase for his auto art since 1988.

"My brother had a junk yard, Denny's Auto Wrecking, and I used to hang around there all the time,” says Dick.  “I used to bring these car parts here and start figuring out how I could do this and that and weld them together."   

Dick's first project was welding together the front halves of two Lincoln Continentals.  It was a magnificent vehicle.  It ran like a top.

"I wanted to get it inspected and drive it but Pennsylvania did not have a sense of humor for that.  So, it just sat around here,” he said. 

Later came creations such as the Bumble Bee. It's a drum taken from a cement mixer truck combined with the front end of a Saab. It has legs made from drive shafts.  There’s also a spider. It's a Volkswagen “Beetle” painted black with long, long metal legs.

"I get a kick out of just sitting out front and watching people go by.  Checking it out.  They're pointing and whatever,” Dick says.   

Schaefer's Auto Art has been a must-see destination for visitors to Erie.  Dick has a mailbox along the road for people to comment on what they've seen.  Tourists have come from across the country and around the world.

"The whole thing was just for a smile,” he says. “For people to drive by and just see and smile.  My saying is if I had a dollar for every smile, I'd be a millionaire.”

Schaefer's Auto Art is located at 3705 Hershey Road.  Parking is on the side of the highway in front of the display.  There's no admission fee.

Dick says he does not construct the artwork entirely by himself.  He says friends come over, they have a few beers, and then they start welding.