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Remember old time wrecking yards?

isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
In another thread here, a poster has talked about old time wrecking yards.

This reminded me of a different time...

Back in the mid-late sixties when I first started driving, if it weren't for those "junkyards" as we called them, I would have been walking and not driving!

I remember walking in..." Do you have a radiator for a '55 Chevy?"

" a couple that look pretty good...did ya bring any tools?"

Then the owner would point out a couple of Chevys in his huge lot that he thought might still have decent radiators (or whatever) in them.

He would then caution us to stay out of the area where the dog was tied up (generally a 100 lb. German Shepard) and warn us not to throw any stuff over the fence to come get after hours, etc.

An hour later, we would show him the radiator and any other trinkets we might have found.

" does 10.00 sound"? " I'll throw in that tailight lens too"

Now, it's 30 plus years later....sigh.

That old junkyard is long gone...real estate values etc.

Today we have Auto Dismantler Yards!

Everything is neat, clean and expensive! No longer can we wander around, pulling our own parts. Heaven Forbid, we might get hurt and sue them!

Now, they can't dump oil and anti freeze into the ground (a good thing, I guess..) everything must be recycled!

It was amazing what 10 or 20 dollars would buy!


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,504
    I always wanted to open a yard where I could weigh people when they came in and when they left, and charge by the pound.....all you can carry!

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  • dranoeldranoel Posts: 79
    I remember riding my bike to the nearest junk yard, as we called them at that time, in the late 40's. One time I remember buying a horn button and the hood ornament from a 1936 Cadillac for my collection.I think the owner charged me a total of $.50 A few years later, 2 good used 5.50X17 tires and a front bumper for a 1936 Chevy cost me a total of $10.00. A friend of mine used to get free used motor oil from the same yard for his 1931 Model A Ford. I can remember seeing some neat old classics in the yard--early to mid 30's Lincolns, Packards, Pierce-Arrow,etc.--all eventually went to the crusher, I'm sure.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    When my 1951 Ford Woody (gawd I wish I had it now) broke a rear axle, guess where I had to go?

    An hours worth of FILTHY labor liberated an unbroken axle from a donor car.

    Price - 5.00!

    I wonder how broke 17 year olds can keep their cars running today?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    fathers and sons bond these days, now that junkyards are cleaned up or on their way out. My father always took me with him, and in Florida those yards were a real adventure: a big pile of cars in a clearing hacked out of the wilderness, with all kinds of vermin living in them, run by a guy out of a Faulkner short story. It's probably all been paved over for Disneyworld now.
  • egkellyegkelly Posts: 17
    This brings back memories. When I was in college, my roomate's father ran a junkyard in Springfield, MA. This covered a whole hillside, and he had all kinds of interesting wrecks. he used to sell a lot of body parts to repair shops-bumpers, hoods, fenders, etc.-why don't shops use salvage parts anymore-are the newe parts cheaper? Anyway, one day I was with my friend-we were delivering a nose to a local repair shop, We were going a bit too fast, and a gust of wind blew the whole thing off the back of the truck! It was smashed beyong use-buy was be POed!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    In my area there is a group of wrecking yards all owned by the same company.

    They have seperate yards for different makes.

    Japanese, GM, Chrysler, European.

    They are squeaky clean inside and out. They wold never let a customer into the back to remove parts.

    Instead, most everything is inside their huge front showrooms. Everything is cleaned and labled.

    If you need an engine for your 1990 Toyota Pickup, they will probably have three or four to pick from. All sitting in a row, with the number of miles that the wrecked truck had when the engine was pulled, compression readings and prices. Of course, the lower the miles, the higher the prices.

    And, the prices are NOT cheap!!

    These guys are pretty savvy now. If they know a new disc brake rotor is, say, 50.00, they will charge 35 or 40 dollars. they know if they are too close to new pricing people will just buy new.


    I think body shops still do use used parts, especially when the wreck isn't covered by insurance. It must have been something to see when you guys lost that front clip in the street!!
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    in Corvallis, Oregon there are still some great wrecking yards that tell you what section to look in, and then let you go get the part yourself. B$R Auto Wrecking, the local yard that's one of the best around here, has everything online and organized, so they know what they have and where it is, but they still let you look. A few years ago I was wanting a lower control arm for my old Dodge Van. Sometimes they have a "shuttle" which in this case was a clapped out old 71 Ford 4door, which the grease guy and I bombed around in till we got to the section where we found the part. The old Ford had a 390 that was still chugging and poured out the smoke-no hood, etc, but it was half the fun just to be driven to the section in that thing while we hooted about the car. He then left me there with my tools. "I'll come back a little later" he said. They aren't too worried about insurance yet. We're still kind of backwater around here. Lots of two lane country roads, etc. Great for a car nut! I wondered how long that Ford would last if a brick was put on the throttle. I loved Shifty's story awhile back about his wrecking yard days! And I remember, back in 1966, how I couldn't give away the 265 out of my 55 Chev [with 46,000 miles on it] after putting in a 327. I finally was allowed to just dump it at one place in San Jose--for 5 dollars! My how times have changed. Good topic Isell.
  • I always kind of enjoyed just wandering through the yard. The old guy who ran it tolerated us. Depending on what we were looking for he would kind of size us up to see if we were capable of pulling it ourselves, if so he would just kind of point in the general direction of where to find it. If not he would take you out to it and offer suggestions on how to remove it.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    Once while poking around, I guess I wandered too far. Anyway, Rin Tin Tin (the old guys will know) decided he didn't like me. To escape, I had to climb a pile of cars. The top one I was on teetered as the mutt tried his best to get to me.

    The owner came along with a bull whip and got the dog off my tail. My buddy who was along laughed so hard he literally peed in his pants!

    carnut...yeah, I know should have paid that guy ten bucks top place the brick on the gas of that Ford. I'm sure he would been happy!
  • Growing up there in the late 40's-early 50's and going with my Dad to several yards for parts for our family cars was a real experience. One yard must have had the corner on '41 Plymouths. The yard is still there and run by the owner's son who is always p/o'd about something. However, he knows every car in there and what's still left of the carcass. Last visit revealed a '24 Buick, '37 Buick w/sidemounts, several '50 & '51 Lincolns,
    Some '40's and '50's Packards, '25 Jordan Playboy
    Roadster, '35 Nash Eight Sedan and the rest was pretty much later '70's and '80's stuff. When prices for scrap steel were low, they sold parts and when scrap was up in price they cut the cars up and sent them to a huge scrap wholesaler just down the road. The better cars still running fairly well, they sold.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    Once, a buddy of mine took a trip up the coast from So. Calif in his 1954 Chevy.

    Somehow, on the return trip, he managed to run over something that put a small hole in his oil pan. He had budgeted barely enough money for food and gas, so this was a big time disaster!

    He managed to limp into an old time junkyard that had closed for the night.

    After sleeping in the Chevy, he discovered that this junkyard did, indeed, have a donor car among the collection.

    Only one problem...the car was siting on it's brake drums on the ground!

    Since the car was about to be crushed, having already surrendered most of it's usable parts, the kindly owner told him he could have the oil pan for free!

    Good thing my buddy was (and still is) skinny!

    Using an Army entrenching tool he carried in the trunk, he had to DIG a large trench under the donor car so he could crawl under the thing!

    He managed to get the pan off after about four hours of the nastiest, filthiest work you could imagine. Luckilly, his old pan gasket had remained in one piece.

    After this was over, he stripped naked, used an outdoor shower and threw his clothes away before changing.

    Ah...the "hungry years!"
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    Our extra car happens to be a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee....I know...don't say it!

    Anyway, the radio has been acting up recently. The AM quit working etc.

    Since it's a third car that we don't drive much, I figured the easiest and cheapest way to solve the problem would be to find a good used unit at a wrecking yard and replace it myself.

    I guess this topic spurred these thoughts on!

    I had already checked with the local stereo shop who wanted 300.00 to replace it with an Alpine cassette unit and install an Alpine CD changer I already have.

    Well..Since our other cars already have upgraded CD systems, I figured that a stock cassette unit would make more sense. After all, I still have lots of cassette tapes, motivational stuff, books, etc.

    So, off to the "junkyard" I went...

    As I mentioned earlier, there is a large chain of yards not far from me. I went to "ACME" domestic.

    I walked into an immaculate showroom. There were rows of car seats, tagged with (high) prices.

    On the wall was a sign...MINIMUM LABOR CHARGE
    50.00!! Wow...what if I had needed a tailight lens...?

    The friendly counterman was happy to help. He asked me what I had. A stock AM-FM cassette unit with the big deal.

    Ah...but it WAS a big deal! I was informed that I had the upgraded unit...AND...they had one in stock!!

    And they wanted a measly 200.00 for it!!!

    I honestly think I'm in the wrong business!!

    No..I didn't buy it! I'll either beat on my dash to make my AM work or I'm off to the stereo shop!

    I think I'm getting old....
  • dollcdollc Posts: 1
    My husband owns a wrecking yard in Oregon and he has so many classic car/truck parts (chrome, etc.) that he needs to get rid of at a bargain because he is closing the yard up to move permanently here to Texas. He has a 1935 Ford panel truck, a real project car. A 1941 International, '53 Chevy car parts, '53-'56 Ford pick-up parts, etc. Let me know if anyone of you are interested.
  • Here in NC there are some Pick-U-Parts where you can still go and pull your own parts, the prices aren't too bad compared to some others. There is even a yard here one Saturday a month you can get in for $40 and can keep what ever you can carry out. But you have to carry it yourself.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    A slightly used big block Chevy engine!

    Grunt....Nope! Can't quite lift it!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,046
    ...just south of Culpeper, VA, on Route 29, has over 100 acres of old cars. They opened in 1961 or so, and as they ran out of room, just bought up more farm land.

    Back in 1978, my grandfather took me down there with him to look for parts for a slightly mangled 1953 DeSoto Firedome he had just bought from his brother-in-law. I remember us finding a DeSoto...I didn't know the year (I was only 8), but knew it was a DeSoto by the toothy grille, and it was also the same color as ours...kind of a pale turqouise/sea green. Well, we finally did find a 1953, and I recall us getting a hood, driver's side fender, grille, and bumper for something like $125.00

    I went down there for a nostalgia trip in 1992, and, believe it or not, the '53 was still there! I found the other DeSoto, too, and this time I could identify it...a 1955 Fireflite Coronado...triple-tone turquoise, black roof, white spear.

    Leon's started crushing cars in 1994, when money started getting tight and Nations Bank was threatening to forclose (or so he said). The last time I was down there (1997), a lot of cars had been cleared out, but mainly newer 60's, 70's, and 80's stuff...common cars he had plenty of.

    I remember he said that the '53 DeSoto was still running when they got it in the early 60's. It was just an old car that nobody wanted anymore, so it got junked. In fact, at one point, when they expanded their junkyard, they actually started it up and drove it to its current spot. Actually, they had a lot of cars like that...just old, outdated cars that nobody wanted so they were retired. Of course, I wouldn't put too much money on that '53's old 276 Hemi firing up tomorrow ;-)

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    It wasn't a big deal to crush a beautiful 54 Chevy Bel-Air hardtop with a PERFECT So. Calif body.

    I watched this happen in around 1969. The old Powerglide had given up.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,046
    I almost bought a beautiful (in the eye of the beholder, at least ;-) 1965 Chrysler Newport from our local junkyard. They had just gotten it in...383 2bbl, 2door hardtop, engine sounded beautiful. And it was in much better shape than the '68 Dart I was driving at the time. The only problem was it needed a new tranny.

    I would have bought it, if I hadn't just bought my 1982 Cutlass Supreme a couple months before. I had bought it because it seemed like a good deal, and I wanted to take the Dart off the road for a while and fix it up and repaint it. In retrospect, I would have rather had that Newport than the Cutlass, but it's over and done with now.

    About 3 years later, I DID buy a '79 Newport 318 that needed a new tranny and was pretty good otherwise, but it just wasn't in the same league as that '65!

  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    more recently, at an old junkyard around here [Corvallis, OR] a fairly complete and pretty decent looking 57 Olds super88 4dr hardtop-just sitting there looking forlorn. Sure, it was a 4dr, but still it looked a little too nice to be sitting in a junkyard-at least these days. This junkyard [Benton Auto Wreckers] has since had a fire in their building and closed up. Don't know what happened to the 57 Olds.
  • Exactly. But you can still get some nice odds and ends and be able to carry quite a lot.
  • There are still some old-time salvage yards where I live in NJ. Pagano's Auto Exchange in Cedar Knolls is small, but good if you own a common car. GI Auto Salvage on RT 46 is a big "you pull it" yard with reasonable prices. I was able to find the long rubber trim part that fits between the rear bumper and the body of my 1986 Pontiac Parisienne Safari and bought it for $10 to replace the deteriorating one on my car. I had to spend a long time removing the bumper from the donor car though...that was the only way to get at the part. I don't think the traditional junkyard will ever be totally stamped out. There are just too many cheap do-it-yourself car owners out there.
    -Andrew L
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    is that you almost felt like you had entered another dimension. Banged up, parted out cars scattered haphazardly, sunk into the mud or stacked in a big pile. Makes and models you hadn't seen in years.

    The last time I was at a yard it was a pick-your-part with careful rows of mostly late-model cars. It looked so neat and tidy I think they vacuumed it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,504
    We did a cartoon once in Road & Track about modern wrecking yards. Some guy is standing in front of the fence and another man comes out of the yard, dressed in a long white shop coat and shiny shoes. The wrecking yard employee is saying:

    "Hello. My name is Jason. I'll be your salvage counselor for today"

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  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    My family is from NE Pennsylvania and there is a U-Pull-It junkyard in West Hazleton which is only a few miles away from my parents' house. For only $2.00 admittance you can go in and browse for whatever you want. This yard is huge and full of vintage 1940s, '50s and '60s vehicles.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Shifty, you and Egan are the two reasons I still take Road & Track. Well, that and a certain reputation for journalistic integrity. But I don't fit the typical reader profile--I don't own a yacht.
  • you worked at R&T shifty. Great mag, great content. Love the charts that break down and compare the test cars. One thorn in my side tho, why'd you guys have to go and change the dimensions of the mag-- it doesn't fit neatly on the shelf in my room any more. Sure there's the added benefit of room for extra content, but i think your editor, Mr. Bryant, should have considered how the new shape would affect the reader's archive system... :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,504
    Well, come talk to me about that in the "Ask Mr. Shiftright" discussion in the Sportscars Board, okay?

    And thanks for the kind comments!

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I wonder if old-time wrecking yards started disappearing after Ladybird Johnson made them build solid fences so the public couldn't see them. Remember that? This small but onerous act may have tipped the balance away from yards run by unlovable eccentrics to the sanitized mainstream business it is today.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,504
    Most definitely I think her...was it "Make America Beautiful?" campaign had an effect. It's too bad, some of the effects of her "jihad against junk" were good, but many of these old yards just packed up rather than come up with acres of fencing. So wrecking yards became more highly capitalized ventures, and, of course, then had to pay for themselves. So things went upscale.

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  • Back in the 70's when I was dating my darling wife of 27 years,we were sitting in her living room one night very close to each other.After a period of silence,I said to her,"sweetheart,I would rather be here with you than to be in the junkyard".She knew right then how special she was to me.
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