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Salvage yard stories

I recall going to the boneyard as a small kid with my dad often. I learned quite a bit about cars but just going there and pulling parts off and sticking them back on. My favorite memory though was taking a flathead and peeling Cadillac emblems off of cars by them time I was a teenager I literally had a small drawer full of them. Not sure why I went for Caddy emblems Was wondering if anyone else has any good salvage yard stories?

No salvage yard stories but remember hood ornaments became flexible rather than fixed due to vandalism. Also a cause for retractable antennas

As a young driver, I recall walking through salvage yards in the '60’s and realized people got seriously hurt in those wrecks. As a dad with young learning driver’s I took my kids for a “tour” and it had a similar affect on them.

I have also seen many such wrecks in the junkyards.
One time there was a car that was almost unrecognizable, all the airbags were deployed and covered in dried blood. Yet people were busy picking parts off of it.
Another time I pulled a part off of a car which had literally been folded in half. I desperately needed the part to get my taillights working again and didn’t have the money for a new part.
Yeah, the thought has crossed my mind. People possibly died in those cars.

When I was younger I wandered through these and looked at cars that died of old age, from wrecks, fires, and other mayhem. And I knew that some people died in some of them too. It was a good place to think and reflect, as well as get parts when I was young and broke. I took a female friend to one once and we wandered around talking, looking at things, and she gathered trophies. That was about 20 years ago and we’re still friends and she still has one of the items she snagged that day.

One memorable day was when I found a car that I had had towed away and junked a couple of years prior. It had a good motor when it was junked and the motor was pulled when I found it. I hoped the person that got the motor got many more years from it. It was kind of weird looking at the random garbage that I’d left in the car that was still there, and I wondered if anyone had gone trophy-hunting in my car. I reclaimed a cassette tape I’d left in the car, unwanted at the time, but now a trophy of my own. Kind of like a time capsule in a way.

My story only involves a junkyard. I was a trucker and bought “work cars” that had only to get me to the terminal and back with my gear (radio box and suitcase). These were always slant six Mopars in the $200 range.
I had a 70 Duster that had both torsion bars repaired by having new subframe repair kits welded in where the torsion bars had spun in the subframe due to rust. A few years later the bars spun again, the last one when I went over some railroad tracks and heard a loud bang and scraping noise. When I got out and looked, both torsion bars and the tailpiece of the transmission were dragging on the road. The road was the only thing holding the transmission in the car.
I was going to walk home but it started to pour so I drove slowly home and parked in the street. When I called the junkyard, the wrecker driver came, I gave him the title and he gave me the money. He hooked the car in the front, the windshield shattered and the car broke in half at the firewall.
I looked at him and told him he had better get his junk off the street. He had to go back and get a flatbed to winch the parts onto
A few years later I called the same junkyard to get rid of the next one and it was going well until I gave him my address and he said " I remember you now, I don’t want any more of your cars".
My kids told me that they had heard of people driving their cars into the ground, they had just never seen anyone actually do it.

The junk-yards I went to, they would break your arm if they caught you removing emblems and trim pieces from body panels…Those ornaments added a lot of value to the panel they were attached to…If ANYONE got that Bling it was the guys who worked in the yard…

When I would go parts picking, sometimes my wife would go with me…She would head for the Buick’s, Oldsmobile’s, Cadillac’s , lift the back seat up and see what treasures might be hiding under there…Usually, it was time well spent…

I’ve used “recycling yards” for a long time.

One of the most productive visits was with my broyther-in-law from Holland. He visited at the time their government started legislating seatbelts in cars, including retrofitting existing cars. His car, a Mitsubishi, did not have any, and new belts would be quite expensive.

Howewever, we found a late model Pontiac with the same color as his car interior, and for $10 we got 4 nearly new belts. The certification tags were sufficient to impress the Dutch government that these were the real thing.

My first experiences with junkyards goes back to the 60s. You could spend an entire day in the yard crawling all over every car in there, taking off what parts you wanted. That seemed to start changing in the late 70s to where they would only let you in the yard if they knew you and that you weren’t; stealing parts or wrecking things to get to the parts you wanted. The yards eventually changed from a front gate where you had to search for someone in charge to a front office with a counter and a locked yard.

The latter version was a complete circle from wrecks piled all over the place and rotting into oblivion to parts processing the day it came into the yard. They would completely disassemble the car and stock the parts. The rest went to scrap. Nice if you wanted something, it was in the computer and ID’d on the shelf. I recall having a worn throttle shaft bore on one carb and they wanted big bucks to line bore it and install bushings at the machine shop. So I went to the recycler and bought a replacement carb for 1/10 of the cost. Took 5 minutes for them to come back with the correct carb. Sure beat scouring the yard for one.

Contrast that to a couple years prior, I was looking for an electric lock solenoid. Oh no, you can’t go in the yard, you might ruin stuff getting it out. His “part man” was gone for 45 minutes and I’m getting steamed. What’s taking so long? I could have that thing out in 10 minutes! We eventually went looking and the owner was horrified to see a mangled door FROM BOTH SIDES! The guy was cutting open the sheet metal after having mangled the inner door panel. Yikes! That wouldn’t have happened if you let me do it, I smirked to the owner. That was the most expensive $10 solenoid they sold I bet.

This same yard had a late model Camaro (at the time) with a steering wheel and seats I wanted for a Chevelle restification. Windows wide open, seats soaked completely- no sale. What a waste. They would only sell the steering wheel with the column. No dice, just want the wheel. I must’ve worn him down over a year’s time coming in every few months. Still got the column I see (hee-hee). Finally he says, can you take it off without wrecking the column? No problem! I showed him my tools and he let me go get it. It’s still in one of my cars to this day.

Junkyards were great places to learn negotiation skills. Perfect example- had a bunch of drag racing friends that all wanted the ford fuel cutoff inertia switches. We went en-mass to the yard. I was first out of the gate with one and some other stuff. I kept the switch until last and basically said, oh yeah, I might want this switch if the price is right. $5. Sweet. As guys emerged we compared notes. One guy paid $20 for his. What happened? He said to the owner “I need this switch”. Big mistake! You never NEED anything! :wink:

I used to live in Saskatchewan and I can remember a bone-yard west of Regina near Moose Jaw, not too far off the the Trans-Canada highway that was chock-a-block full of massive forties and fifties iron - Cadillacs, Buicks, Packards and Hudsons . There were some (once) beautiful convertibles too - but everything was just sitting in the open, slowly rotting through decades of prairie winters and summers. Now these cars were not collision wrecks that I can recall and I remember the guy who owned them was extremely eccentric and prone to threatening anyone one who came too close with a shot-gun. I have no idea what happened to these cars (there must have been well over a hundred of them) but I heard the owner had turned down some really big offers, preferring to just let them gently rot back into Mother Earth.

A little over twenty years ago I worked at a salvage yard repairing cars. I remember these two guys that came back in the office after getting their parts pulled. One guy had blood on his face and the other was laughing. Evidently it took them both and a hammer to remove the part they wanted. the one guy said he was holding a chisel and the other had the hammer. The one holding the chisel told the other “don’t hit my hand”. So he hit him in the head instead.

My junk yard story is all about the type of yard I like to go to. Ever since I was a teen living in Fla, I’ve gone to You-pull-it-yourself yards. The first one a friend took me to was Copher’s U-Pull-It in Tampa. We spent hours there over the years. We both had old clinkrrs, and that yarc helped us keep our cars running for years. Now, I use Pull-A-Part, which has numerous locations in a few states. The cars are typically 10 years old or more, but, for a dollar, you can go in and look, wrench, and take whatever you need for an extremely cheap price.

Way back in 1950 two young men about ages 19 or 20 were killed when their late 1930s car hit a steel bridge frame at night. It could be speculated that they had been drinking but I did not hear that said by anyone. Their badly wrecked car was towed and then parked in the back lot of a dealer for that brand where anyone in our small midwestern town could view it.

I had been exposed to death two time previously at age 6 and again at age 8 but did not yet grasp the concept. Death was still a strange, eerie, mysterious, forbidding, somewhat frightening thing and at my young age that wrecked car loudly spoke death. When I got close to it I could see blood stains on the upholstery and there was a strange odor that I had not smelled before. Having a sensitive, very young nose I assumed that it was the blood.

About 8 or 9 years later and almost finished with high school I was fortunate to have the free run of a local auto salvage yard that was not efficiently run. The place was a mess with randomly strewn cars from the late 20s to the late 30s, weeds, scrub trees and fully grown trees to make a jungle. Among all of it one day I found the previously mentioned wrecked car that had been there in the weather with the doors and windows open for the past 8 or 9 years. When I got near it, I could smell the blood. Couldn’t have been with my nose.

When I was a kid in the '60’s my dad and I would replace engines in customer’s cars for a hundred bucks and we kept the donor car the engine came out of. We’d strip the donor so completely that sometimes it wouldn’t even roll, so we’d cut it into 4 pieces and haul it away in a pickup.

But on the ones that would roll we’d fill the gas tank with old used oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze, just to get rid of the stuff. The guys at the boneyard would invariably lift the car with their crane and thump on the gas tank to see if it had any gas in it, and think they struck gold. They’d position their barrel of already collected gas underneath the car and punch a hole in the tank with a wooden stake. As soon as the oil started to foul their cache of gas they’d scramble trying to get the bucket out of the way and save as much of their gas as they could.

I think my old man enjoyed that more than anything, and put the oil in the tanks just to watch that show.

Since antique cars are one of my major vices, I went to an auction at a salvage yard a few years ago. They were selling out their entire stock. Most of the cars were from the '50s and '60s and had been sitting out for 20 years or so. The yard had not been in operation for several years. Sad, neglected cars, some picked over, others pretty complete, but mostly paintless. There was a '55 Chevy convertible that the yard’s owner had apparently wanted to save from the ravages of time. He’d stored it inside a dilapidated shed. Over the years, the shed’s roof leaked, and so did the car’s. Water and other residue poured onto the front seat area of the car. It caused the car to get rather rusty inside. Once the floor was holey, the frame was next. It had also sunk down into the dirt floor of the shed. When car’s new owner arrived to tow it out of the shed, the tow truck he’d hired literally pulled the car into two unequal pieces.

My favorite junkyard stories are the times I find cars with parts that have been replaced just before the car was wrecked. I’ve bought a $275.00 fuel pump for $17.50, and a $185.00 starter for $10.00, to name a couple. If I find one of these parts, I’ll usually buy it and put it on the shelf to have a backup.

My car would probably not be running right now if it were not for junkyards.

I live within about 1/2 hour to one of the biggest salvage yards in the northeast. I can walk around that place for hours looking for stuff or just go in on a specific search and be in and out in an hour. Just started taking my Son with me, now that he’s old enough. Lots of fun going through the cars, pulling parts off, looking around. Rocketman

When I was a kid (back around the time that the earth was still cooling), our town still had its own dump, and the dump also served as an unofficial bone yard. My friends & I would ride our bikes to the dump, and spend hours climbing over the cars from the '40s & early '50s, in search of hood ornaments and chrome ID badges. Most of the cars had little or no body damage, and had apparently been abandoned because of major mechanical problems.

Since nobody stood to make any profit from these abandoned cars that were essentially just dumped there by the city, nobody objected to the removal of parts from them. In our basement, I set up a clubhouse of sorts for myself and a couple of friends, and we decorated the walls with the bounty that we pried off of those abandoned old cars.

At some point in my late teens–when my family moved to a new house–I disposed of all of that loot, and I just wish now that I had saved some of those hood ornaments and ID badges.


@VDCdriver…Our town dump was the same way. I was a Chevy nut way back when so I scoured the dump for automotive parts all the time. I was there early one morning when a dump truck rolled up and dumped about 20 old Ford flathead engines in a pile.

I called a couple of friends of mine who were Ford fanatics and they removed all of the engines in a few hours. I had to sit and listen to them as they told me how much money they made by selling the engines. They did buy me lunch the next day so I guess that was something.

To me they just looked like oddball engines but I’m glad I called my friends anyway. I know what flathead V8’s are worth today so the only calling I would do nowadays would be after-the fact. Live and learn.