Curbside Recycling: A Trip To The Pick-A-Part

I spent part of my day yesterday at the junkyard.  It seems that my ’93 Crown Victoria found itself involved a minor incident with a shallow ditch and some brush.  Fortunately, there were no injuries (except to the pride of a certain someone who shall remain nameless). Anyhow, the most pressing needs were a rear view mirror and a turn signal lens.

Modern junkyards certainly are different from those of my youth.  Back then, my favorite junkyard (Garmater’s Auto Salvage, in Harlan, Indiana) was a place where I walked through mud and mire to find a half-dozen of whatever I was driving at the time.  The same stuff was there month after month, so eventually you learned exactly which unit had the right parts for you to pull and take to the office. Today’s Pic-A-Part is a whole new experience.  First, everything on the lot sits on concrete, so mudholes are no longer part of the experience.  And because the selection of car-casses turns over rapidly, you never know what you’re going to find.

As I walked through, I thought, “Hmmm- from a CC perspective, there’s some interesting stuff here.”  I saw things I never expected to see in a high-volume modern salvage yard. Still, I was a man on a mission, and I powered through the lot in search of my parts, only to learn a lesson when I got back to the parking lot: Ford had changed the connector plug on the power mirror between 1993 and 1996. That meant I had to go in a second time, and I decided that I’d take the time look around and share what I found, including this Merkur XR4Ti.  There never were many of those running around, and it amazes me that one would come to rest in a high-volume yard like this one. It also seems to be in amazingly good condition. Not surprisingly, nobody was crawling around this one on a busy Saturday. Hey, what’s a car like you doing in a place like this?

Another oldie is this 1980s Accord. Around here, rust has taken most of these off the road, but if there’s a reason to keep an old Merkur, then surely an old Accord will generate some revenue. This one looks pretty untouched, and perhaps is in better condition than most of the few I still occasionally see on the streets of this area.

How long since you’ve seen an old Nissan Z car?  When I was in college, the 280 Z was starting to displace the Camaro as the average midwestern kid’s object of automotive lust.  At some point, the car sort of went from a Top 40 hit to a lounge act, but either way, there were lots of them out and about; lately, though, not so much.  But there’s one here, and apparently it has generated more than a little attention from scavengers.

Once I’d secured the second, correct mirror (this one from an actual ’93), I gazed around the Ford area and found some legitimately CC-worthy stuff.  We featured a Big Bronco quite some time ago, and here’s another one. Even though Ford made these for only two years, they’ve remained popular among Ford truck fans.  Actually, this one almost looks to be in better condition than the one we featured here.  This Big Bronk certainly was a little more unusual than the Windstar and the F series flanking it, both of which were quite well represented here. I should also have snapped pictures of two Club Wagons, one ’94-ish and one from the ’80s, both highly-optioned (and highly-rusted) Chateau models.

I suppose that a 5.0-liter Fox Mustang convertible should not really be considered out of place here, but this car appears surprisingly sound for a boneyard find. Judging by the lower body cladding, this looks like a GT.  A straight, red, Mustang GT convertible–and still it winds up here.  Good looks and good genes alone don’t always get you through, I guess.

I did not expect to see a big, ’70s Town Car.  This is either a ’76 or ’77 with the full-instrument dash, and an interior resplendent in full white leather.  It hurts me to see such a car here, but I guess a few of these must live out their days as organ donors to supply the fairly large number still on the road (or, more likely, in garages).

A car that enjoyed a substantially smaller demand (both when new and for parts now) is the Lincoln Versailles.  This forgotten blast from the past did not affect me in the same way the Townie did, even though it seems to have been in much better condition when its owner gave up on it.  Its malaise-era 5.0-liter engine has not yet sparked any interest, but its disc brakes and rear end have surely made someone happy.

Is there a sadder sight in all the world?  Not everyone will agree with me here, but something made me want to haul this one home.  A silly idea, to be sure, since it would supply a near-lifetime of work to some tortured soul.  This car probably belongs here more than any of the others due to its advanced-stage cancer.  However, I noticed that its great 440 V8 was already gone, and will no doubt live to power another, more fortunate Mopar of some kind.

I went into the yard expecting to see a sea of Tauri, minivans and pickups, and   I certainly did plus a lot more.  Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise to visit a modern, high-turnover salvage yard and still come across some older cars that were, until recently, legitimate Curbside Classics.  Very soon,  they all will be gone for good; in all likelihood, one will return as your next card table or toaster.  But on this sunny Saturday, they were still here to serve as a source for some hard-to-find part for another classic waiting at a curbside somewhere.