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Well, it's been thirteen years (!) since this topic was active and it seems that most of the old wrecking yards have vanished. environmental concerns, neighborhood beautification efforts,
probably liability issues seem to have spelled doom for these places at least in my neck of the woods.
So, where are these wrecked and junked cars going now?
There was a wrecking yard I discovered down in Southern Maryland back in 1989 or 1990. It was pretty far away, and in an area I don't get to very often, so I only visited it a few times. One car I remember there was a 1958 DeSoto Firedome hardtop coupe that had a '57 grille on it, and still had plates on it from 1971. I'd always wondered if it had been wrecked at some point and someone threw a '57 bumper/grille on it, or it was some kind of factory oddball. They wouldn't mix and match parts to use them up, would they?
Well, I hadn't been down that way in ages, but a few years ago I went down that way, and realized that I didn't notice passing the yard. It was about 40 acres, and visible from Route 4, so I'd think it would catch my eye.
I mentioned it on Edmund's a few years ago, and a member who lives down that way (can't remember their member name though) said that when scrap prices went up, that yard got cleared out and everything was sent off for recycling.
I have fond memories of a place called Leon's Auto Salvage on Route 29, just south of Culpeper, Va. Granddad took me with him in 1978 when he went there looking for parts for a 1953 DeSoto Firedome 4-door he had bought from his brother in law. I remember him getting a fender, hood, bumper, and all the grille teeth for around $100. I went down there a few times from 1992-97, mainly on nostalgia trips, but I did score a few '67 Pontiac odds and ends. In 1992, it seemed it had barely changed. I was able to find the '53 that Granddad pulled the parts off of. And I found a '55 Fireflite Coronado sedan that I remembered being able to recognize as a DeSoto as a kid, but Granddad saying it was the wrong year. By 1994, the owner was starting to clear out and crush some of the less desireable stuff, and by 1997, it was cleared out even more. I'm kinda curious to get down there again and see how the place looks. But, I've checked it out on satellite photos, and I can see it's cleared out quite a bit. Oh well, guess nothing stays the same forever.
Definitely less wrecking yards in this area.
I remember back in the early 90s, there was an old time yard out west of Olympia, WA. It had been caught in some kind of estate dispute, and was shuttered for like 20 years - yet the cars remained. It was fenced off, but you could see it from the road. Then one day, it opened. It was all stuff from before 1970, tons of 50s cars, some pretty rare - many convertibles and oddities. I remember they had 3 fintails (they operated for a few years after re-opening, I think those came later). It was like a time warp - most of the cars aged fairly well in the gentle climate, it was a junkyard from 1972 moved forward a generation. Around 1997 or so, someone bought it all and moved it, I am sure harvesting the good parts and scrapping the rest. It's a huge empty dirt lot now.
Had it not been for wrecking yards. I would have been walking a lot in my youth. We didn't have any in the town I lived but about ten miles away, there were tons of them all in one small area. All of them are gone now.
In the city they are mostly gone, but out in podunk where my mother lives, most of the junkyards that were around 25 years ago still exist. My family had an 85 Tempo hanging around for many years, and I remember around 1995, it started to develop quirks - the junkyard helped for that too. The factory stereo failed, so I went to the junkyard to find one there. I remember they had a nice looking <100K mile 86 Tempo diesel on the lot (this was in 1995, I remember it), which intrigued me. I took the stereo out of it, knowing it would be an easy install. I didn't think it over very well, as that unit failed after a few months. I remember the same car was also involved in a fender bender which broke a rear light - I got a replacement at the junkyard. The power seat also died (in a fun smoke filled failure while I was driving) and it was fixed via junkyard parts. And for a very short time I had a 71 Datsun 510 wagon that was given to me - I got a windshield at another local yard, for $50. That was in 1994.
My dad liked to scrounge out weird things at junkyards. His 60 Ford had bad floors/carpets, so once it was fixed, he wanted to replace them, but didn't want to buy new material. The same yard I used for the Tempo had a very clean ~78 Olds that had apparently suffered engine failure, and went to the junkyard (this was around 1992 maybe). It was a close match to the Ford color, so he pulled it out, shampooed it, and shaped it to fit in the Ford - somehow, it worked. Not bad for like $10 or something.
The junkyards in So. California always had a lot of rust free cars to pick from.
For years there was an upscale yard that dealt only in Cadillac parts. This place, unlike the others
had cement instead of dirt and it was immaculate and as well organized as can be. If you needed a trunk lid, chances were good they even had the right color. Everything was on racks and clean.
I remember the place was HUGE and they had a large indoor area like a warehouse where they kept interior parts, electrical items and things they didn't want sitting outside.
They had engines lined up in rows. Every engine had been steam cleaned and tagged.
The tag stated what it fit and how many miles the donor car showed on the odometer. They would take compression readings and write those on the tags. Any engine that was suspect would
be parted out. They would not sell 4-6-8 engines or HT 4100 engines nor would they sell diesels.
The guy told me those engines were "pure trash" and that we wouldn't sell them.
This place wasn't cheap by any means. A buddy bought a wiper motor there once and he
said it was so close to the price of a new one that he almost passed.
For all I know that place may still be in business but probably not.
There are a couple MB specific yards in the country. Same deal, very organized, not cheap - but sometimes can be worthwhile. There's a notable one in CA:
I've always wondered how they can pull parts off of cars when they are stacked like that?
I once had to climb a stack of junk cars when this HUGE junkyard dog came after me!
The owner forgot to chain him up that morning.
Funny now but not at the time!
Never had to climb or experience a junkyard dog. I do remember being annoyed that the podunk junkyards were often muddy and a little disorganized.
Thinking of it, the MB guru up in Bellingham had a small junkyard back when he sold parts on ebay - maybe a dozen or two cars being dismantled. The shocks on my fintail came from there - he had a car being taken apart, and told me it had nearly new shocks - if I removed them, I could have them. As a student with limited funds, I jumped on that. That reminds me, with the fintail's blinker issues, maybe a junkyard blinker would work. Probably a part that doesn't fail a lot - takes 50 years to wear out.
Junkyard Dog - I think there used to be a pro wrestler with that name who went into the ring unleashed from his collar. I think you guys are right that most of those places can only be found out in the stix these days. I like when I happen upon one, but with mixed emotions seeing all those neat old cars decaying and being slowly picked to death. I know calendars with rusted out cars are popular these days, but they make me sad. Same with the old aircraft boneyards in the AZ and CA deserts. I hate seeing classic old F-4 Phantom jets or old B727's and Lockheed Tristars sitting out there. But it's kind of neat seeing them and some of the old liveries from current and deceased airlines. What the hell, sometimes running into someone you haven't seen in years can have the same affect
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