CC Road Trip: A Saturday Morning California Junkyard Drive

 1- Jag

Saturday morning, I had to run down to the junkyad to pick up a couple of trim pieces to help out a neighbor (the trip is about ten miles each way). On my way out the door, I grabbed my new camera in the hope of catching an interesting Curbside Classic or two.

Bingo! Rolling down Silver Spur Drive, a Jag XKE pulled up next to me at the light. (CC #1) I had time for only one shot, since I can’t shift, steer and shoot pictures at the same time. However, this brief encounter did give me an idea: How many Curbside Classics could I find during a typical California Saturday drive? Answering that question required me to take all pictures from the driver’s seat, which (obviously) limited their quality; that said, allow me to share a typical day of CC spotting here in Southern California.

2- Nova

Once I hit the Pacific Coast Highway, I saw a couple of unique cars–a Tesla Model S, a mid-’90s Ferrari and an early-50s Chevy Hot Rod. All three passed me while my wheels were rolling, causing me to miss all three shots. However, a late-’70s Nova pulled up next to me at a stop light in San Pedro. (CC #2).

5- Pinto

In the junkyard parking lot, I found three classics waiting for my camera. I’m pretty sure this ’79 or ’80 Pinto belongs to one of their employees, since I see it there rather often. It has the rare, one-piece glass hatch option first offered in 1977. Too bad I couldn’t post it in time for Pinto Day. (CC #3)

When my Dad bought our 1977 Pinto wagon, he mentioned the glass hatch option. As I recall, Dad thought it provided a lot of bang for 75 bucks and really improved the looks of the car. OK, Dad, if you say so….

3- Big-Chevy

Although this big Chevy four-door (CC #4) may also have been an employee’s car, I know a number of CC readers and contributors who’d like to put it in their own driveway.

4- Chevy PU

This nice, short-bed Chevy pickup (CC #5) left shortly after my arrival, but I’ve always considered this generation of GM pickups the best looking out there.

6- Olds

The first junkyard didn’t have the pieces I needed, so I headed across PCH to a sister yard about five blocks away. The first car I spotted on the way there was this Olds (CC #6); covered in LA fallout (grimy dust), I suspect it may be at the end of its life cycle. Still, it was sitting in a residential area and not in the junkyard’s receiving lot.

7- Cobra

While sitting at a light, waiting to cross PCH, I spotted this Cobra (CC #7) off to my left. Nowadays, there’s about a one-in- seven chance of it being the real thing, but most towns don’t even have a fake Cobra plying the streets, much less a real one.

7a- Old-Chev

As my eyes tracked the Cobra across the street, a flash of red caught my attention in the form of this early-’50s Chevy (CC #7) sitting at a tire shop. Given the setting, let’s assume the stovebolt six has been replaced with something more suited to grinding tread on the pavement.

8- Nova

After I crossed PCH, I found six cars in quick succession (CCs # 8-14). First was this ’76-’79-ish Nova two-door. While the wheels aren’t stock, the car itself looks reasonably well-preserved.

10- Eldorado

Next up, this very clean Eldorado–a bit newer than the others, and clearly prime CC material.

9- Impala

This Impala also looks clean, but I much prefer the Caprice trim on this generation of Chevy.

11- Old-Chev-PU

This fourth vehicle is a delight, right down to its fender skirts. Of course, it goes without saying that few trucks back in the day featured such a broad selection of accessories and brightwork.

12- Olds-Cutlass

The fifth car in this neighborhood is one of my all-time favorite A-bodies. I know many folks encourage patina, but I’d love to see this car fully restored, preferably in electric blue, or perhaps a deep shade of maroon.


Finally, number six of the group: a  ’71-’73-era Mustang. Since all early Mustangs are tied up in the hands of people who think their car is worth top dollar, these later ones are starting to get hot. This is the more desirable fastback model.

I know it’s hard to believe, but I did find all six of these cars in a five-block drive between two junkyards. Having lived in Denver for 30 years, I can assure you that the streets of California yield far more classics-per-mile.

 14- Firebird

The parking lot of the second junkyard also yielded a couple of pictures. First up is this Firebird, (CC #15) which wears “400” emblems on its hood.

13- Dodge-PU

I’m not sure if this mid-’60s Dodge pickup (CC #16) was in running condition. While reviewing my photos, I realized it’s the only Mopar in the collection and thus felt compelled to include it.

15- MR2

Finally, this first-generation MR2 (CC #17). All I can say is, “Well cared for–but tragically trimmed.”

18- Toyota

The second yard had the parts I wanted, including a bumper cap. It was minus a couple of plastic ears, so I stopped at Pep Boys to pick up some epoxy for the repair. On the way out, I spotted this early-’80s Corolla (CC #18) parked across the street.

19- 70s-X-Body

Then, up the street from the Corolla, I spotted this mid-’70s X-body (CC #19). I didn’t drive by it, but I’m guessing Buick Skylark.

20- CR-X

Heading home, I pulled up behind this second-generation CR-X (CC #20) while turning onto Crenshaw from PCH. I missed a number of cars while I was driving, but I did capture all those nice enough to stop for me.

21- Roadmaster

Near the end of my drive I spotted this Roadmaster (CC #21) pulling out behind me. I pulled over to let it catch up, but its owner opened up the throttle plates and zoomed by so fast I only caught this fleeting glimpse of its tailgate.

16- Miata

Finally, since I’d captured both Toyota and Honda two-seaters, I thought I’d throw in this Mazda for the trifecta. I couldn’t shoot this one from my car, because it is my car. 😉

So there’s my Saturday drive. As I mentioned, I also passed some newer cars that, while common in California, are unusual in other areas. I believe the final count was as follows:

Tesla Model S: 3

Chevy Volt: 2

Ferrari: 3

At this writing, the Model S might be more common around here than the new Dodge Dart. I spot one every two or three days, but can recall seeing a Dart only once last week.

Drop me a line next time you visit–I’ll give you some ideas for the best car-spotting.