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Question Of The Day: What Is It About Junkyards That Works For You?

Question Of The Day: What Is It About Junkyards That Works For You?

I was five when I was taken to my first junkyard. My cousin Vance was hunting something down for his 1976 Dodge Charger and I begged and pleaded with him until he caved and let me roll with him. Had my mother known I was going anywhere near that place, she would have killed him on the spot. Broken glass, sharp metal, wrecked cars…no, in hindsight, it wasn’t a smart idea, but as I weaved my way through stacks of Mavericks, Torinos, Vegas and whatever else was coming and going through the yard that day, I was in heaven. As Vance raided some nameless shell for whatever it was he needed, I was sitting in some mid-size 1970s Ford having a ball behind the dead and lifeless steering wheel, the wreathed horn button looking me dead in the eyes.

Thirty-odd years on, and I still love to do a good yard crawl. I’ve had great times in a junkyard. I’ve toured Desert Valley Auto Parts’ north Phoenix location and stood slack-jawed at the sight of two matching 1975 Road Runners stacked on each other like cordwood. I’ve busted my knuckles at the Pick-and-Pull that sits at the end of the runway of McChord AFB in Washington State more times than I dare count. I’ve wandered through massive yards in-between Colorado and the Mississippi River hoping to find that diamond in the rough sitting in the tall grass. I’ve found snakes underneath cars in Texas, bald-faced hornets in southwestern Washington, and as for the yards I hit up during my service time…well, better not to say anything, really.

Junkyards tell the final chapter to a lot of stories. Whether it’s the Firebird that got away from it’s driver and went ass-end first into the trees, the old Chevy truck that worked until it’s frame broke, or the K-car that made the amazing fall from new car to 19th owner and a ton of stickers, each vehicle enters the junkyard showing the scars of the years gone by. Most vehicles are there for a reason, some were just turned in by people who couldn’t be bothered to keep the machine up, and some were dead on arrival and are just waiting for the crusher. But we still hunt through them, looking, hoping that there is something worth saving.

Or maybe that’s just me. What about you?

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10 thoughts on “Question Of The Day: What Is It About Junkyards That Works For You?

  1. bob j

    Ahh yes,

    Junkyard crawling. When I get the chance, which now is rarely, I enjoy the junkyard crawl experience. I look at the cars, mostly 80’s and back, and think when I see a fairly intact vehicle, what the story was behind its demise. I have to admit some amusement, when I see a car in the junkyard that already has installed junkyard parts installed on it (the infamous yellow marker part ID). I think, that it must’ve been fated to die and the owner finally gave up trying to fix it. I think that in most cases, it must’ve been a very nice car when it was bought new.

    On the rare occasions when I stumble upon the remains of an actual musclecar from the 60’s, early 70’s or late 80’s, I wonder if it could be resurrected, but realize that the time, effort and of course, money, preclude such a thing occurring except in very rare cases. A friend once said “Some must die so that others can live”, when cannibalizing those cars/trucks. Not all of them can be saved, although I confess I often thing I could make a good cars out of all of the scrapped similar models. AKA I can fix that :^).

    In my youth, I saw cars in the junkyard that I dismissed at the time as being good only for parts that would be considered good project starting points now. I myself scrapped some cars that I’d like to have back. Some will hate me (and in retrospect, I deeply regret) having parted out a triple-black loaded 1969 GTX, which had been laying out deep in a farm field and long abandoned. I was even able to start it and drive it for a short distance down the road before I committed to buy it ( It ran badly, but it was able to use all 3 gears of the column mounted TF-727. I think I gave the guy $300 for the car). It’d probably be worth 50K+ now. Ah well, if we knew then what we know now…. I recall a guy I knew who bought a 6-BBL 70 Challenger for $1,300 around 74, when people were jumping out of thirsty High-Performance cars while they were still moving ;^).

    I learned that lesson well, and took advantage of a similar situation when I picked up my low-mileage V10 Excursion (28K at the time) and gas was $4.50/Gallon. I digress. I’d recommend the junkyard crawl to any parent who’d like to see their kids develop an appreciation and affection for cars.

    Bob J

  2. Anthony Catalanotto

    Id like to someday take a trip out west and do some junkyarding. The cars I see pictures of have no rot/rust just trashed interiors. Here most everything ends up there due to rot or accidents.

  3. 75Duster

    When I was recovering from a serious illness after retiring from the military I often went to the salvage yards for exercise and therapy as well as to see how the local salvage yards had changed and what was in there.

  4. PMT64

    I recognize that yard in the photo. I always make a pass through that place when I am in the area. The $2 entry is cheap therapy…lol

  5. Bryan

    Went to the local pick and pull yesterday and, while just meandering around, came across a 1961 MG MGA. Such a car has absolutely no reason to be in a place like that. There was rust (I live in Virginia) but nothing that could not have been repaired. I looked over that car for a good 15 minutes. I tried to at least get the steering wheel for \”garage art\” but did not have a large enough socket.

    I remember in the fog of my youth all the old MOPARS that could be bought for a song. I bought a 1970 Cuda with a 383 (no title $200) for parts to repair my 1971 340 Cuda. One of the small farm towns had a 1970 legit Hemi Cuda that had been a drag racer. No motor or trans but could still see the \”SHAKER\” sticker faded on the under side of the hood. They wanted the princely sum of $500 for it! We thought they were crazy. Hell that shell alone is worth $20K now just for what it is!!!

  6. Gary351C

    My last trip to Pick-your-part was a 4 hour adventure and I got a trunkload of parts for the Crown Vic and my wife’s ’92 Toyota and I had to force myself to leave instead of making another pass through.

  7. tom j

    a walk through a yard is relaxing and happy. i go to them for project parts and adapting weirdness and unexpected solutions, not inexpensive repair. (i drive ramblers, they ain\’t been none in west coast yards for some time.) they seem to be disappearing around los angeles, i suppose inevitable, but sad nonetheless.

  8. Jim Wessen

    A few of my muscle cars came from the Junkyards 69 Nova SS $300.00 66 Baracuda $200.00 70 Challenger $ 450.00 now you don’t find anything like that. At least I still have my 71 Chevelle

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