CC Outtake- A Future Parts Car for Us All

I saw this Cutlass Ciera last month, and it presented so nicely I felt compelled to take a picture. It’s really a nice car- clean, straight, and complete. We’ve documented these “Cockroaches of the Road” extensively here at Curbside Classic, but I may have a greater appreciation for them than most.

We’ve all seen Cutlasses, Celebrities, and Centuries in super clean condition after lengthy service. For example, based on a license plate inquiry, this 1995 wagon is 27 years old. At present, the owner takes exceptional care of it but we all know that will NOT last.

Sooner or later, this lovely Ciera wagon will move on. Perhaps it will find itself with a new owner, one not so focused on vehicle maintenance. Perhaps that quality Turbo-Hydramatic 125 will finally give up the ghost, or whichever pushrod motor it uses will drop a valve.

A recent salvage yard arrival.

No matter the reason, our ’95 wagon will someday suffer the same fate as this Chevy Celebrity, sent to a self-serve yard for any and all to salvage parts off its worn out carcass.

While a sad end to a nice ride, I really appreciate all the A-body owners who have kept these cars in service for the past thirty years. While someone could use A-body parts to fix other A-bodies, their presence in junkyards really means owners of more interesting cars can salvage critical parts off these time capsule vehicles.

As this Google search indicates, COVID has led to some surprising automotive part shortages. Components once readily available are now either MIA or vaguely promised “sometime in the future.” My solution? All the ’82 to ’96 A-bodies residing in junkyards across the country.

This week I ran an inventory check for five Denver Self-Serve yards. I found twelve different A-bodies, an average of 2.4 cars per yard.

Few other models from the eighties appear with this frequency. Thanks to GM’s robust components, these A-bodies populate salvage yards despite of their advanced age.

“But Dave,” you may say, “How can a crappy old Buick Century four door help me with my cool 1975 Pontiac Firebird?”

Well, if you need an inner door handle for that bad F-body, pretty much ANY ’82-’96 nerdy A-body has what you need.

Folks with a 1977 Olds Starfire can look for an EGR valve in certain model A-bodies, and the part bolts in and performs perfectly.

Folks with fancy nameplates looking for newer parts can also turn to the A-body. If someone needs an Idle Air Control (IAC) for their ’95 Seville, all they need to do is find a 1984 Buick Century 3.0 V-6 at the local yard. Sitting right on top of the intake manifold is the part they need.

Folks with import cars may be able to turn to the A-body as well. In addition to fitting millions of GM products, this MAP sensor fits a 1996 Acura SLX.

While this Throttle Position Sensor mounts into pretty much every Daewoo built between 1999 and 2002.

The A-body is a great source for “universal” parts as well. This Power Window Motor fits many GM models from 1979 to 2004. Given there are 12 donor cars here in Denver, I’m confident you can get one if needed.

Covering older cars, newer cars and imports, this A-body blower motor fits Cadillacs built in the sixties, GMCs built in the nineties, and the ’85 to ’95 Volvo 740 or 760.

As a final example, I offer you this tie rod end. While the A-body ended production in 1996, you can mount this part on your 2005 J-body Sunbird with absolute confidence. If you own a vintage Mopar, it also fits most K-car and P-car variants.

Making this part a fine way to end this presentation. Given there are (almost) no K-cars left in the junkyards, the only hope for their continued service is the Cockroach of the Road, GM’s ’84 to ’96 FWD A-body. Please keep this in mind the next time you see one, and perhaps you too can gaze upon it with increased appreciation.