(first posted 2/28/2016) I first encountered Colorado Auto and Parts at the age of 14 or so, when my folks let me buy a running-but-not-driveable ’64 Valiant to faff around with for a few hundred bucks; the seller pointed me at the yard. At the time I had neither a driveable car nor a licence to drive it even if the transmission weren’t burned out, so—believe it or don’t—my mother drove me there from time to time. Later, I would come to drive myself there daily not to buy parts, but to sell them.
Mom would bring a book and sit in the front office while I frolicked around with Dad’s wheelbarrow in the Chrysler section. I found yardin’ very recreational. Partly it was the fascination and power, however empty, that comes with taking things apart (with tools; I never got any jollies smashing and ruining stuff). Partly it was the access to this metal-and-glass database of what fails—and when and how—in what vehicles. It was also much like fishing: You load up with tools and gear, bring some drinks, and go trawling through the rows, not knowing whether you’ll find zero or twenty examples of what you’re after or knowing exactly one example of something scarce is in there and hoping you get there before the other fifty people who want it. A small spray can of black paint was a useful bring-along to cover up the X spray-painted on a car you wanted parts from but lacked the tools or time: that X meant the car was soon to be crushed and shredded; de-Xing it granted an unofficial stay of execution.
Colorado Auto and Parts is a very large self-serve auto wrecking yard of the traditional model now nearing extinction: you bring your own tools, walk out into the yard, remove the parts you want, bring them to the office where they’re priced, pay and leave.
Legend (in the mid-1990s; it’s changed some now):
A: Office, cash counter, wheel/tire mounting and demounting, and primary pulled-parts warehouse. Engines, transmissions, driveshafts, wiper motors, used windshields, and manifolds downstairs. Taillamps, headlamps, header panels, tail panels, new windshields and mirrors upstairs. Plus and minus a whole lot of et-cetera upstairs and downstairs.
B: Customer parking areas.
C: Storage and quarantine area for vehicles with shady or missing paperwork, vehicles with state or other “hold” or “destroy” orders, and other vehicles from which no parts are to be sold.
D: Whole vehicles for sale.
E: Drive-on scale and main yard driveway. Tow truck weighs in, drops off junked car, weighs out. What the driver gets paid is calculated from the in/out difference. This is also where incoming cars are checked for concrete in trunks and other such weight-increasing tricks. The yard’s tornado contingency plan is that the office staff will get under the scale slab, though I was never told how; perhaps I was the designated redshirt.
F: Front end assembly (“front clip”) and truck bed storage racks. Every front clip had a card on the Rolodex in the office.
G: Dismantling and yard prep shop. Especially desirable (or bought and paid) whole engines, transmissions and other large parts removed and fluids safely drained prior to vehicles being placed in yard for parts.
H: Short-term pulled component storage (pulled engines, transmissions, etc. held for customer pickup)
J: Vehicle crushing area. Cars, trucks, vans…anything parked here is soon to be a subcompact.
K: Special-interest whole vehicles for sale—the nicer, more expensive cars that need eyes kept on them from the adjacent office. Also parking for the yard cars, those undead vehicles no longer roadworthy but good enough to drive around the yard.
L: Fluid storage. Large aboveground gasoline and diesel tanks filled from the tanks of incoming junk vehicles. When they’d get close to full, yard employees could fill up on the cheap with gasoline(?) that smelt of plastic. Top Tier Gas™ this was not.
M: Door assembly storage racks. Need a left front door, preferably blue, from an ’80-’89 Lincoln Town car with power locks and power windows? If it was on these racks, it had a Rolodex card.
N: Wheel storage racks—mostly fancy alloys in complete sets, each with a Rolodex card. There were also Rolodexes for pulled engines, transmissions, and so on.
O: General Motors passenger cars for parts.
R: Trucks and vans for parts, all makes.
S: Foreign import passenger cars for parts, all makes.
T: Ford, Lincoln, Mercury passenger cars for parts.
W: Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, DeSoto passenger cars for parts.
Z: Not part of Colorado Auto and Parts, this was Svigel’s New and Used Auto Parts, which had been there since the 1940s and still had plenty of vehicles from that time. A ’62 Valiant I bought an aluminum-block Slant-6 engine from in 1992 had been there since ’81 and was still there the last time I checked in 2001.
Not shown: Directly above area “W” in this photo was a serious full-scale scrap metal shredding operation. The shredder stood about five storeys tall, and had a massive inclined conveyor belt that carried metal biscuits (from area “J”) to the top of the shredder. They toppled end-over-end into the hopper, there was a noise like god’s own garbage disposal, and shredded metal and miscellany came flying out the bottom chute like shaved cucumbers from the cosmic Salad Shooter.
The dark, curving, wide line at the left of the photo is the Platte River.
One day, I saw a “Help Wanted” sign on the door when I went for some recreational yardin’. Having had more than enough of being kicked around as a cater-waiter, I approached one of the counterman, who said “I remember when yer mom used to bring you down here! Hawhawhaw…lemme go get Dan.” Dan, the head counterman, said “I remember when yer mom used to bring you down here! hawhawhaw…when can you start?” Bing-bang-boom, now I was a counterman. My primary task was to price parts presented by shoppers, write up an invoice, take the invoice and the money or credit card to Amy, the cashier sitting at a desk on the other side of the window in the wall behind the counter, get change or a credit card slip from her, walk back to the counter, give the customer the invoice and change. Boring as hell if that’s all there were to it, but there was much, much more.
For starters, even by the standards of a motley crew one might reasonably expect to find working at a wrecking yard, Amy was…well…exceptional. Within seconds and without warning, she could (and frequently did) go from courteous and pleasant to insulting and abusive and foulmouthed. And back again. Or not. It was mood-swing roulette every time I approached her window in the wall with a coupla twenties on a $32.19 invoice.
Now, most modern U-Pulls work on a prix fixé basis, wherein every different kind of part has a price. Carburetors: 1-barrel, $40. 2-bbl, $50. 4-bbl, $60. Taillamps: Under 5″ wide, $15. Over 5″ wide, $20. Chrome trim: 60¢/inch—these price examples are probably ludicrously outdated—all in non-negotiable block letters on a big yellow menu on the wall; y’want fries with that? That’s not how it was at C.A. and P; we countermen priced parts on the spot. Customer loyalty was generated and maintained by dint of the-more-you-buy-the-more-you-save pricing, and problem-child customers were discouraged by when-are-you-gonna-get-the-hint numbers at the bottom of the invoice. Obviously, it was understood there were to be no ridiculously special deals for friends, and there were appropriate general prices for various kinds of parts—especially if Dan was nearby—but beyond that, the broad discretion came in very handy. I’d been a customer long enough to remember when the office area was thick with blue cigarette smoke, so whenever some jerk decided the NO SMOKING signs didn’t apply to him, he paid as much of an asshole surcharge as I could get away with charging given the parts he was buying.
But outside of this kind of social-engineering application, pricing discretion had more important and useful purposes. We got the full spectrum of society coming in to buy parts. I gave very friendly pricing to the single mother of three, living hand-to-mouth and foregoing lunch for a month to afford a repair to her dilapidated old car so she could get to work for another week until something else broke. The zootsuited MBA who threw a tantrum when told we wouldn’t pull a trip odometer reset button for his BMW, he’d have to buy the whole assembly for a number of dollars he’d never notice missing? That guy got much less of a break; in fact he got a negative-break.
And when someone would try to steal parts, that was another matter altogether. One of my responsibilities was theft interdiction; this was one of the things that made the job interesting. People tried all kinds of scams. The basic “wear loose clothes, stuff your pockets, and smile a lot” method worked okeh so long as all that was attempted was little nameplates and turn signal levers and other piddly little shit—though whenever this stuff got put on the counter as part of a larger buy, it earned the customer an honesty discount, and if it got put on the counter as “This is all I need”, often we’d just wish the customer a nice day and send ’em on their way with the part priced at $0.00.
But you did have to keep a tight lid on the size of pocketed parts, lest they advertise themselves. Regrettably, I never got to use a California acquaintance and longtime counterman‘s technique of spotting an obvious pocket bulge, writing up an invoice including “that taillamp I’m going to need you to remove from your left pocket”, accepting the customer’s money and watching him sheepishly put the purloined part on the counter, retrieving a sawed-off sledgehammer from under the counter, smashing the stolen-but-paid part to smithereens and saying “That one’s defective; sorry, no warranty”.
Bigger attempts tended not to work out very well. There was a big sign all customers had to pass:
ALL CUSTOMERS MUST REPORT TO COUNTER BEFORE ENTERING YARD!
YOU WILL BE CHARGED
FOR ALL PARTS NOT DECLARED ON YOUR WAY IN!
So it was also my job to check incoming customers’ toolboxes and use a yard pen (very useful ballpoint bottle of quick-drying paint, would happily write on greasy, dirty or wet parts) to mark whatever car parts were found. This way, people could bring in their own parts to match up, and it would be clear who owned what when it came time to pay. Nevertheless, it happened again and again: customer would put a couple parts on the counter, I’d ask him to open his toolbox or backpack, and—lo!—there would be a smattering of parts therein. You never saw such wounded looks as when I would add them to the invoice and charge for them (the more strident and ridiculous the argument put forth, the more those parts cost).
One busy Saturday morning, a large family—mother, father, and at least five sisters and brothers—came in from the parking lot with a handtruck and several large tool boxes, which the wife and kids were handling with the greatest of ease. Not much to see there, so I waved ’em into the yard. Five hours later, covered with grease and dust, they came back in from the yard. They glanced furtively around as they tried to sidle around the crowd pressing towards the counter; it was almost closing time. Their efforts were hampered by the obvious struggle to drag the heavy toolboxes…two plus two equals five. I grabbed one of the walkie talkies and as soon as they crossed through the doors to the parking lot, I sprinted after them. “Stop,” I called, “I need to check your tool boxes.” Came the response: “We didn’t find anything we needed.” I said “Okeh, but I still need to check your toolboxes. You were supposed to stop at the counter.” Came the response: “No speak English”.
Oh, uh-huh. “Well, we have two options, one of which is going to happen right now. Either you can open all your toolboxes, or I can call the cops. What’ll it be?” Inexplicably, they understood me perfectly and opened the boxes. Holy cats, it was a regular NAPA in there. CV axle shafts, an alternator, most of an entire ignition system, a carburetor, I think there was an exhaust manifold; the parts just went on and on and on. I reported it on the walkie talkie, but didn’t really have to; One of the many perimeter video cameras was recording the whole thing.
Now, yard policy was to offer thieves a choice: they pay triple in cash for everything they tried to steal and they agree never to come back, or we call the cops and play the videotape. Without fail—every single time—thieves had the cash on them to pay 3× whatever price I made up on the spot. The cameras also caught the dumb kid tossing a blower motor over the fence, then ducking over to pick it up after telling us he’d not found what he was after. We buttonholed him, he paid triple…and came back a couple days later trying to return it as defective. Um, no.
On the other hand, the hand-to-mouth types who genuinely couldn’t ever afford anything not absolutely necessary never stole so much as a cigarette lighter knob. It was an excellent lesson in applied market sociology, only instead of paying tuition for it I got a paycheque.
So yeah, we got the whole spectrum of customers. Then again, we had the whole spectrum of staffers. There was Norm, older than dirt, who had owned the place since before Jesus got his learner’s permit. Norm always drove new Cadillacs and Yukons. Never really worked much, that any of us saw—just sort of showed up, looked around and left every now and then. Oh, and handed out paycheques. There was the little Mexican guy we called Lumpy, who sometimes worked out in the yard and sometimes behind the counter. One busy day, the phones were ringing off the hook. I answered one line, “Please hold,” answered another, “Colorado Auto and Parts,” and handed it off to Lumpy. He took the phone, said “Meow?” into the receiver, and hung it up. There was Calvin, the perpetually hung over tire-and-wheel guy. You could smell him coming long before you saw him. There was Marvin, who drove a ’67 Valiant; his facial expression made him look for all the world like Garfield the Cat. There was the torch guy, who looked scary as hell (Like “Animal” from The Muppets come to life) but wasn’t. Every morning he’d get on the walkie talkie and broadcast to all of us in a dead-flat deadpan, “Voices…I hear voices…” (a lyrical reference to the the Russ Ballard song). There was Gary, the forklift operator—more about him later. There was Amy, already described. There was Russ, who liked to sneak out into the warehouse when he thought nobody’d miss him for awhile and smoke joints and, ah, “read” the magazines he kept “hidden” between two alternator shelves. For the articles, no doubt.
The most dramatic theft I remember involved an attempt on Gary’s life. It started calmly enough: Someone in the back office, watching the video monitors, saw two someones park (area “B”) and walk into the quarantine yard (area “C”), which was off-limits to customers and posted as such. Gary got on the public address system and said “Attention, you are not allowed in that yard, please exit and come to the office immediately.” They didn’t comply, so Gary went out to fetch them. Seeing Gary approach, the two trespassers bolted for their car, scrambled in, and started forward—straight for Gary. The forklift tire company driver, who was in his idling truck filling out the paperwork for the tire he’d just replaced, saw what was happening in his rearview mirror. He threw his truck into Reverse, nailed the gas, and pinned the miscreants’ car between his heavy duty angle iron bumper and a brick wall. Had he not been there, Gary would likely have been hit. The two criminals bailed out of their totalled car took off running…straight into the arms of the cops who’d been called at the beginning of all this.
So what had been worth all the trouble and expense they’d managed to rack up for themselves in just a few short moments? What had they removed from the off-limits yard? It was a headlight bezel from a Ford Escort. Probably thirty of them in the main yard on any given hour of any given day. Three bucks at the counter for a primo example, buck-fifty for a passable one. Oh yeah, we got the strange ones, all right.
The forklift Gary drove was not one of the cute little compact models you see on warehouse floors. Oh, no. Each of this forklift’s tires was a little over six feet tall. One day, I had driven a customer from the office out to the back of the Ford section (“T” above) to retrieve a bumper, a hood and some other unwieldy parts he’d removed from an older Mustang or something. We got into one of the yard cars—the blue Ford LTD with the electrical system so screwed up you had to turn on the headlamps and push in the cigarette lighter to start it, then turn off the headlamps or else the starter would keep trying to spin after the engine had started—and off we went to the Ford section. We’d just put the last part into what remained of the back seat when the engine stalled. Outta gas. No matter, I had a walkie talkie with me. I radioed in for someone to please bring a can of gas out to the Ford section, and the call was acknowledged. Customer and I waited in the front seat of the car.
About 45 seconds later, the walkie talkie crackled and I heard Gary say “Attention occupants of the blue Ford yard car: Please hold onto the bar.” I was puzzled until I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the forklift approaching, with Gary’s usual cheshire-cat grin way up in the operator’s cab. “You, uh, may want to hold on…” I said to the unsuspecting customer. Gary skillfully slid the 20-foot-long forks under the car from the rear, gently lifted the car about 2 or 3 feet off the ground, and without so much as a jerk, we were travelling through the Ford section. The customer said “Heheh, this is kinda fun.” At that moment, from the walkie-talkie came Gary’s voice again: “To view the yard from a raised position, say ‘up.'” The customer blanched and said “What’d he say?” Well, of course, I couldn’t resist. Adopting a cheshire-cat grin myself, I thumbed the mic and said “Up, please…”. On command, Gary raised the forklift, and suddenly we were 15 feet off the ground. It was great fun, and there was no danger; the car couldn’t possibly tip over or fall off the long, broad forks. The customer didn’t know that, though, and he clawed at the dashboard, frantically saying “Say down! Say down! “. By that time, we’d reached the fluid storage tanks (area “L”), and Gary gently set us down right smack in front of the gasoline pump, politely bid us good day, and trundled off back to whatever he’d been doing with the forklift before.
That Ford wasn’t the only raggedy yard car. Not by a long shot. The granddaddy of them all was a gray ’82ish Buick Skylark 4-door. That car had a million miles on it, and its exhaust smelt of unspeakable evil (seriously, it was not a smell any car on this planet should ever put out). All of us tried to kill it; all of us failed. Dan usually drove that one. Then there was the short-lived ’77 Toyota, which I hated. There was something the matter with its carburetor; the engine ran fairly well, but would not idle. The car had a manual transmission, necessitating a tapdance on the pedals to keep the car running and go and stop with some semblance of safety. One day I was sent up the hill to Svigel’s (area “Z”) to pick something up. I’d had enough of the Toyota. I got in it, managed to tapdance it out the yard and onto the dirt road, and got it up to about 10 mph. I floored the clutch, put the transmission in 5th gear, floored the accelerator and slooowwwwwwwly eased out the clutch. The engine raced, the car crawled, the clutch cooked. I did make it to the top of the hill, but there was a wretched smell of fried steel on the wind. The car did not make it back down the hill. There was a steady enough supply of incoming yard cars that one more or less didn’t make any difference on any given day. My favorite was a sky blue ’77 Volaré (or maybe Aspen) coupe. It had a nice runner of a Slant 6 engine, my favourite kind, and a 3-on-the-tree. It was perfectly serviceable and quite presentable, and really too nice to be a yard car, but that’s what it was until one of the other staffers decided it had to die and left it in the crushing area (“J”).
Working at the yard also afforded me more-or-less first crack at parts off incoming cars. I was heavy into Mopar A-bodies, and scored some choice bits including two more aluminum Slant-6s. But the realities of the place called for prompt pickup of plucked parts; I waited a day or an hour too long and the 3.23 drum-to-drum 8¾” rear axle assembly I’d ordered yanked from a Duster or somesuch went missing.
There was some amusement to be had (beyond Lumpy’s kitty cat noises) with customers on the phone, too. When someone would call and say “Hi, I have a Taurus/Sable…”, interrupting them to say “Sorry, we don’t have a good 3-litre engine for you” would usually result in “…OK, thanks”, end of call. The same trick, mutatis mutandis, worked for Chrysler automatic transaxles. And at least once when the phone rang after 5:30, I picked it up and in my best porn voice said, “Colorado Auto and Parts…after hours…!”.
I’d love to be able to finish this post with a flourish, but I’m running out of good stories to tell. I had some surgery, missed a couple days’ work and didn’t bring them the doctor’s note they wanted, so the office staff fired me. That was pretty much OK…it was almost time to go back to school, and while I worked well with pretty much everyone, I really kinda didn’t belong. I knew it, they knew it…it was probably best for everyone that the job ended. I remained a good customer of the yard until I left Denver; some years later I encountered Amy in the parking lot, smoking a cigarette in her Datsun. Unbidden, she said “I’m sorry I was such a bitch to you when you worked here”. Very fine, then.
The yard’s days are surely numbered; Denver-Metro’s sprawl is devouring land in that area. Svigel’s got sold to a developer for some eye-watering sum of money, and it can’t be long before the rest of the scrapyards in that vicinity are paved to put up a
parking lot 10-storey parkade with a pink hotel condo tower, a boutique Wal-Mart, and a swingin’ hot spot Starbucks. Don’t it always seem to go?
A very entertaining read .
I too loved Junk Yards from an early age and wound up running a hole in the wall VW Junk Yard in the 1970’s , good times , the best ever in fact .
I hate lkq .
lkq is ruining it for all of us who enjoy junkyard treasure hunting. They are buying up all the yards. Rarely an old car to be found anymore if you live in greater LA. They just don’t turn cash quick enough. A few years ago, you could find dozens of interesting machines on any given day. Last visit, there were only four classics in the whole yard. A burned out Edsel Ranger coupe, a smashed up El Camino with the roof chopped off, a very stripped-out Beetle, and an almost cherry Volvo 122 missing it’s interior.
Not all is lost though much is .
I just spent three days (dayze ?) touring JunkYards looking for a ’79 Dodge full size pickup fuel tank , along the way I found some bits and bobs for my own cars , in the U-Pull-It in PO-mona , Ca. the cashier kinds squeezed me a bit for an old W-123 Mercedes bucket seat that was literally coated in filth then grease but nary a broken spring not rip teat or cut so I’ll give it a go cleaning it with Meguiar’s # 40 .
I wanted to buy the arm rest too but @ $5 I passed , after he’d rung me up for the seat he said ‘ hey , take that arm rest too ‘ ~ that was nice .
I really , _REALLY_ miss running a Junk Yard but my second Son was born in 1979 so I had to move on to better $ .
_Try_ to be nice to the yard Apes , most of them are kinda stuck working there and don’t really enjoy it like Gear heads do .
It’s not an acronym ~ it’s the name of the corporate conglomerate that’s buying up every self service Junk Yard they can , all across America , raising the prices whilst cutting the service .
At one time you could count of the Porta-Potties being cleaned daily and always having paper plus hand washing stations , now they only clean and re stock once a week….
Not good .
That was a great read! I spilled the coffee and my belly aches from laughing!
Junk yards are the only place where you can actually look at someones dreams
Fun read Thanks
We still have self serve junk yards here. I have enough parts cars myself though that I rarely need them. My wife says I could open a salvage yard myself, but then again I don’t sell things, only buy ‘ em. However, one of our local yards has a 78 Thunderbird ( I have a 79) that is the same color as mine but has a buckets/console/ floor shift interior in white and blue (my interior is all blue) so I will probably go visit and get it.
Nice story. Really enjoyed it.
I once bought a Volvo 245 Turbo from the author. Nice guy.
W’thank you! Which of my 245Ts did you get, the charcoal grey or the brown?
It was brown.
With quad rectangular European headlamps, a new windshield, and a non-catalyst headpipe. I remember it.
Great story. I once got charged for an old fuel pump that had been in my toolbox for years. After arguing I just put it on the counter and told them to keep it.
At a purple octopus u pull yard in Sun Valley in the ’80’s, I found a perfect set of highback front seats for my ’64 VW Squareback. There was a fat uniformed security guard watching me as I brought the first seat up to the counter and paid for it. I went back for the other seat and there was a foot long slash cut into the other perfect seat, along with the guard standing near it, his knife hanging off his belt. As I looked at it in horror, I got a wicked smile from the guard and an “Adios”.
Brought the other seat up to the counter, explained what happened and got my money back.
Other people spoil everything.
Why did he do that? Did you give him a look or something on the way in? What an a**hole
Sadly , this is simply how it is very often in junkyards .
No rhyme nor reason often , just little Neapolitans making sure everyone else is as miserable as they are .
The counterperson asked the guard in Spanish what happened. He told her the seat was cut like that when he watched me pull the seats out of the car. At least that’s what she said to me. I don’t speak or understand Spanish.
Nate has the best explanation.
Great stories, thanks for sharing.
I too spent too much of my formative years in and around junkyards. When I was 17 I got a summer job as a “auto dismantler” at a “we serve” style junkyard. I thought it would be the perfect summer job for me, boy was I wrong.
Without any training whatsoever I was expected to fully dismantle a wrecked car every 2 days. I remember the first time I pulled a front suspension apart I was doing something stupid like trying to pry a coil spring out and the boss came over and yelled at me. I didn’t know it was unsafe, but I soon figured it out.
As I didn’t quite fit in with the motley bunch at the junkyard, they worked me like a dog. I seemed to get a lot of vehicles with human blood splatters inside to dismantle. The one that sticks out the most was a Chev half ton that was totalled hitting a deer. Furs, guts and blood everywhere, ugh!
Anyway, I stuck it out that whole summer. I didn’t pay much, but I guess it was character building. I also got my hands on lots of choice parts for free too.
I can count the times I’ve been to a junkyard on one hand…but I loved reading about it. Thanks, this was great.
Columbus Ohio had (possibly still has) some good traditional u-pull it yards back in the ’80s. Edison’s was known for good prices, but had a smallish yard. They maintained an indoor stock of parts that were already pulled, which came in handy a couple of times. One wall of their inside sales area contained the largest display of hubcaps I’ve ever seen.
Just down the street was Woody’s which was all outdoors, but on a much larger lot. For the longest time, they had the hulk of some 1930-ish car by a tree near the office. It was pretty well beaten up and picked over. Upon inspection, cast into the top of the old flathead was the word: … “Terraplane”
When I was a teen in the ’70s, the rural junkyard nearest my home town was a dinky little place on top of a ridge a few miles south. The selection was pretty small, but you could almost always find what you needed. On one trip, I spotted an early Pontiac Tempest, complete with slant-4, 4-bbl carb and 4-speed stick shift. Too bad I wasn’t in need of parts for one of those at the time. 😉
Flint, MI area still has some good U-pull yards. Of course, the best ones are the “private yards”; places out in the middle of nowhere, with crap tons of old cars, and the property owner always willing to explain what’s what and show you around.
Great story. I also had a backyard car at 14. A 67 Chevelle with the impression of an oak tree on the front of it. I found it in a trailer park a few miles from home and the owner said he’d take 50 bucks for it. I was excited because I had saved up 100 bucks doing odd jobs. My father was not excited, in fact addimant “I don’t need a junk car in my yard”. Unbeknowed to me at the time my dad had mentioned it to a colleague whom I done odd jobs for. He,unlike my father was a car guy who told him it might provide a constructive hobby for me, reminded him of worse things a kid could get into. A day or two later dad came home and said “let’s go look at that car”. Once home I could tell he was getting into the project more himself. Usually he came home and wanted to sit down and watch the news.When I told him about a farm / junkyard where you pull your own parts cheap, he like your mom readily drove me there in his truck. We came home with a front clip and radiator and I was on cloud 9. I drove that car until I was 19. As mentioned in the above story,urban sprawl rolled over that farm / junkyard like a tsunami 20 yrs. ago. No old barns on the landscape now, just wide concrete boulevards and high end housing. Your compassion towards those that really needed the parts you priced was apparent. Self serve yards really help folks who are doing what they can and are willing to work for it.Your first car at 14 was the intro to your humorous story and I did’nt mean to launch into a COAL on mine it’s just that it stirred an emotional and fond memory of my dad.Thank You?
Y’welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.
Great read, and full of nostalgic references. I never worked in a yard, but spent many days wandering around them when my every day driver tended to be over 25 years old.
However, I did spend some time in auto shops as a detailer, and the characters you speak of were in evidence there, too. I was a college student at the time, and also didn’t fit in with the everyday blue collar guys. We had lots of laughs, but it was clear that the caste was cast.
This may be another case of “It was better in the old days”, but, last fall, I went back to my two favorite u pullits for the first time in ten years. I was struck by the lack of diversity in the looks of the cars, which were mostly from the ’90s and early aughts: without grilles and various other cues, finding your brand is much harder than it was 20 years ago. A bunch of jelly beans.
That was, until I found myself in the oldest part of the yard, with cars that might have been there since the ’60s. Home again!
A great read. I nominate this for an O.S.C.A. award for most fun read of the year!
Thanks kindly. I’m probably making a fool of myself by asking, but what’s O.S.C.A?
You’re no fool – I invented the award!
Sounds like Oscar, those awards they’re always on about on the news.
O.S.C.A. was an Italian sports/racing car company founded by the Maserati brothers after they left Maserati.
I figured if we had awards, that’d be a good spoof name for one! 🙂
Old and Special Car Appreciation Award.
aHA! I was overthinking.
I recently helped a salvage operator clean out a house he purchased which was filled with nos parts for desotos and mopar mainly. Among the parts for example, 4 brand new bumpers for desoto airflows, clamshelled together with cardboard between each one and bound with twine. 4 brand new 1940’s dodge truck left side fenders, still in factory gray primer also clamshelled together. This place was filled to the roof in every room with nos parts ranging from the 1930’s to the 80’s. Some nos ford and gm parts as well as salvage items were found. The guy must have cleaned out a desoto service department when it went belly up and just hoarded it all until he died 20 years ago. An example below, primered new quarter panel waits in automotive limbo for an uncertain destination.
Brand new grille, 1960’s? Cant identify.
Even older dodge brothers radiator
I assume Mopar – ’64 Plymouth?
Nope, don’t think so; click this and see for yourself.
Lovely story. Sounds like a fun place to have worked.
Yeah I used to frequent a junkyard similar to that Dollar Wally’s over near Bankstown in Sydney if you wanted it they had it somewhere find and remove it yourself, Irish George and I rebuilt a Mini Clubman S out of that yard and a XA Falcon and kept my disintegrating HQ van mobile, it was worth travelling right across town to get cheap parts there.
Fantastic read. Thank you Daniel.
British scrapyards in the 70’s always had several filthy, oil stained and possibly rabid Alsatians running loose about the place – your only hope if they cornered you was to climb up on to the roof of the nearest wreck.
This yard didn’t have dogs or any suchlike. But it did have vicious sudden hailstorms from time to time; I remember diving into a ’74ish Plymouth to avoid such a one, wondering if the glass would hold.
This was my experience at a place called Moyer’s Auto Wrecking in Crestline OH., about 1982 or so. I remember seeing Model T’s in there and old school buses from the 40’s and 50’s stuffed with windshields, etc. As I had gotten there first thing in the morning, I think I was the only person out in the yard, looking around, when someone yelled, “Get up on a car!, the dogs are still out”! Didn’t take more than a second, it seemed, to get on the roof of the nearest car. The yard guys had a good laugh.
Very nice read and great testimony of a
young man’s early job. Especially the
part about the LTD with the bi-polar
electrical issues, got a snort and chuckle
Here in CT we have LeBlanc’s and LaJoie’s
next to each other in South Norwalk.
Both operate in similar fashion to Colorado’s,
but even combined size-wise still could
not touch it. Sadly, all three have moved
beyond large inventories of anything before
1980, let alone 1970 or ’60. LeBlanc’s
is slightly smaller than LaJoie’s, and is
kept comparatively tidy, with pull-em
vehicles racked in tight groups separated
by wide dirt aisles that would gladly
accommodate several of Gary’s fork lift
on steroids rolling around 🙂
Lajoie’s has a separate metal business on
their yard property. The pull-ems are
arranged in rambling fashion by light truck,
domestic cars, and foreign makes. If I
recall correctly Connecticut recently lifted
a ban on pull-it-yourself auto salvage
yards, one of the only states I know of
that once outlawed it – ostensibly to
protect customers from themselves.
Daniel I’ll bet you witnessed first hand how some patrons can destroy a half a dozen parts to get at what they want with virtually no tools! Some of which is to be expected.Yet I am amused at a pic and pull when someone drags something into the office that appears to have been removed with a fire axe! On the other hand I have seen examples of comradere. Guys that are total strangers with a common purpose loaning tools back and forth. One guy offered to leave his wife stand there until he returned with the borrowed tool, followed by laughter all around. It was also amusing some years ago when the pick your parts business model was a growing industry especially in California. Some of the major news networks did stories on them as if it where a strange new phenomenon that a sizable amount of people can repair their own cars.
I thoroughly enjoyed your story – like several others here I never worked in a wrecking yard but I’ve spent a bit of time in them, both as a parts buyer and a license plate scrounger. Maybe I’ll get a chance to contribute a wrecking yard story or two myself.
Welcome to Daniel! He’s kind of an A-Body Mopar guru, and I read many of his posts on various forums when I bought the Dirty Dart; they certainly helped me get up to speed on its various idiosyncrasies.
Hilarious! Thank you!
Thanks for the excellent tale- While I lived in Denver, Colorado Auto Parts was my first choice in Salvage Yards. I always found their prices very reasonable, and agree that the prices dropped after I became a familiar face. In fact, back in 2013 I wrote a Curbside Classic article on a 1991 Isuzu Rodeo I purchased from the “used car” section at CAP (section D in the map):
CC Article- 1991 Isuzu Rodeo
The truck came from Wyoming, and it took the clerk (it could have been Amy, I don’t recall…) about a month to get the title, but the price justified the wait. The truck was complete, but the 3.1 V-6 had a bad rod bearing, After an engine swap, it provided many years of solid service.
I also related to your departing thoughts:
“While I worked well with pretty much everyone, I really kinda didn’t belong. I knew it, they knew it…it was probably best for everyone that the job ended.”
I had much the same experience while working at a School District school bus maintenance facility. I was the guy attending night school, while the other techs spent their time planning for hunting season or their yearly trip to Sturgis. We all got along, but seemed to use two different dialects.
One gem of information I gleaned from Daniel’s story today was he mentioned scoring a couple of aluminum block slant 6s. That sent me off on further reading today. In the past yr. I have read the history of the slant 6 . I think perhaps at Allpar and an interview with a developing engineer and A I forgot or B percieved it to be proto type RD prodgect. Although I was a toddler when these ceased production I learned ( sources vary) that 45 to 50 plus thousand went into production vehicles. It has likely been covered here at CC before. Once again I learn something new here everyday.
Over 50,000 is correct; one of the ones I snagged at CA&P bore serial number 51,xxx. It was in an early-production ’63 Dart and the numbers matched, which all squares up; the aluminum engine was introduced after the ’61 model year production began, and discontinued early in the ’63 model year.
My ’62 Lancer has its original aluminum 225, but I forget the engine’s serial number.
Daniel, loved the stories! I have visited many yards over the years for parts for in Oregon, and Nevada, 1968 Chevelle, 1965 TR4, 1972VW bug, 1963 Valiant, VW Squareback and a Scirocco; Fiat parts in Enland and France; Honda Civic and Accords in California; and Toyota, Honda, and VW parts in Washington. Despite being able to now afford repairs by others, I still LOVE going to the yards and just wandering and reminiscing about the cars I recognize and the friends who drove them.
I learned early about the broke honest kid discount when I put all the small bits on the counter along with the starter or distributer or whatever and the price was just a couple bucks.
Thanks for the smiles and laughs!
Daniel: Almost everything that I would say has been said by others already! An EXCELLENT story that brought back fond memories of events that developed my automotive knowledge base, and sadly, at the same time reminded me of how much time has passed and how things have changed! My favorite yard was a place called Crane’s, south of Atlanta. David, the owner would bend over backwards to help you; he had a knack of confidently assuring you that YOU could do whatever you were asking of him, and then would provide instruction, necessary tools, and supervision to assure that it was done correctly. I learned spot welding and other body repair skills because of him. He and his son created some really spectacular award winning custom creations. The yard had a range of vehicles from the 40’s to the 80’s – anything & everything, some of the older CAR-casses had sizable trees growing through them! Sadly, he died in 1991, suburban development surrounded the remains of the yard, but in a weird twist, the location is now a Copart lot!! 🙂
I’ll never forget the last U-pull type place (they are rare here in Michigan) that I visited.
Was the first time I’d been there. Needed sun visors, as my drivers side was broken. I pulled off a pair of them, and took them to the counter, asking how much they were. They told me a price that was twice as much as what was reasonable. I told them that’s too much, can you come down any? They said “Property taxes are expensive”, and threw them in a trash can! I walked out and never went back.
I like the idea of a U-pull yard, but at least in a full service yard you don’t have that issue.
Thanks, Daniel for an entertainng read. I’ve had a few wrecking yard experiences. One I remember was climbing up to the top of a 4 or 5 car high stack, chasing Vauxhall parts.
That stack started swaying some much I thought it would topple over with me on rather than in it.
Never stole any parts, but loose bulbs, fuses & bolts were fair game.
This one was at a wreckers in Pueblo, Co. In 2012 at least. I was told ‘the boss doesn’t like people taking pictures”. Too bad.
I once found a pristine 66 Charger in a junk yard. The problem was that it was land locked by piles of wrecks and to get it out was practically impossible. as there also were trees growing through the surrounding cars.
Great story, Daniel! Love the redshirt reference as well.
I remembered those summers in Dallas and surrounding areas during the early 1980s when I would visit those salvage yards with my late best friend, James, and a couple of other motorhead friends. Very extremely educational for me as I just earned the driver’s licence and learnt how to look after my first car, a temperamental Alfa Romeo, properly.
James and I made habit of wandering aimlessly around the yards, looking at the metal carcasses left by vultures and learning more about the automotive anatomies as well as studying horribly disfigured aftermaths of collisions or gross negligence. Sometimes, we would just take odd parts such as hood ornaments or cigarette lighters just for fun.
One day, we found a loose Ford LTD hood ornament and stuck it on his mum’s G-body Buick Century. His parents never noticed it for months…
We probably saw each other. I used to go to Dallas when they had those “anything you can carry out for $20 sales”. If you ever saw a light blue 74 Pinto station wagon that was me.
Loved the story. Could smell the old 90W dripped onto the floor. My Father was looking for Brass-Era stuff when I was a kid. There was a place in north Spokane called (I think) Two Swedes. It may have had a normal name, but everyone I ever knew called it that, even though there were actually three Swedish brothers who ran it. They had a mysterious long thin building with boarded up windows that was out of bounds to everybody. As I got older, with a so-called education, I stopped going to these places populated by men even older than my grandparents, and they naturally slipped into history. I think one of the side effects of being bulletproof in your late 20’s and early 30’s is the failure to recognize the multitude that contributed to make you what you have become, and the subsequent lessening of their input and wisdom in your life. I know I suffered from serious egotism and only recently have tried to show my appreciation for so many passes given me by my elders and betters. I was able to tell my Father how much smarter he became the older I became. The Two Swedes were part of that education and I can still hear that thick Scandinavian accent, smell the mustiness and the gear oil, lament their and its passing, and smile – with something caught in my eye.
I went to one in PA. That had that same barn. When he died, he had $50,000 in his pocket and millions in the bank, none of which was known to his wife. There were all sorts of rare cars in that barn. He knew every car and part inth
I missed this when it first posted, great read!
I spent a lot of time in salvage yards during my high school/college years. My favorite was Garmater’s Auto Salvage in Harlan Indiana, a little spot in the road northeast of Fort Wayne. You are exactly right about how this taught a guy what goes bad on every one of a given model. And it was always necessary to check every one of whatever you had just in case you lucked onto some trim piece that was better than the one in your car.
The other lesson I learned was why it was a bad idea to take a shortcut from one section of the yard to another by going behind the office building. Because that was where the dog lived. I continue to give thanks for the short, strong chain that stood between me and certain mauling one cloudy day. I never took that shortcut ever again at any salvage yard.
I don’t know how I missed this post earlier in the year but as a junkyard rat myself any stories like this fascinate me. Strangely I found myself out here in Denver as I write this due to the sudden and unexpected death of my grandfather, but since I finally had some down time amidst the chaos, I decided to use the warm weather and take my favorite pastime cross country, and pulled up the closest self service yard on google and headed out to what turned out to be Colorado Auto and Parts. I needed a few things for my Cougar project back home and lucked out finding a handful of MN12/FN10s in their main yards, and pulled what I could with a few basic hand tools. But the classics are on proud display behind chainlink fences, with first gen mustangs lining Radcliffe, inside there’s a 39 Plymouth truck radial airplane engine swapped in, and just outside a Texaco station. Very cool place, and the good news it seems to get good business still, there were even help wanted signs on the doors, so hopefully it’ll survive longer. As mentioned though svigels is closing down, but it was actually still open as I type this, there were a few customers I saw, and the yard behind it is still filled to the brim with cars. I was running way late at this point so I wasn’t able to stop in there, not that I really need anything though.
Funny thing is I looked this place up just now to see what it’s history was, and it led me right back here to CC
Habbout that for some serendipity!
One of my biggest beefs with LKQ is that when you want to just buy a replacement wheel or two, if the wheel has a tire on it they’ll either sell you the tire with it, or charge you to dismount the tire– even if the tire is not legal to sell or drive on in your state.
Oh, and they also sell used coolant. Not just mostly green/mostly pinkish or reddish coolant, but some really nasty-looking black stuff. Just in case you wanted extra crap in your cooling system. For an example store I looked at, it’s only $3.20/gal and you can get an extended warranty for another $0.96/gal, but, yeah… no thanks.
Colorado Auto Parts is still there as of March 2020 at 2151 Radcliff Ave. I lived a few miles away at 3001 South Federal Boulevard from 2008 to 2009.
Excellent story telling! Three dollar Ford Escort headlight bezel leads to totalled car! Hilarious!
Ah, DIY junkyards. I love ’em. I can kill half a day and not even buy anything, just looking around. Tools are a double edged sword, bring enough and carrying them will just about kill you. Go in with a rusty screwdriver and slip joint pliers and you’ll break whatever you’re trying to harvest if you even get it out at all. Now I genuinely try not to break things, but if it’s going to be an hour to get to a $5 part, or break something, sorry, somethings gotta give.
Then there’s junkyard psychology. It’s not the greatest job, so pumping up the guy at the register doesn’t hurt. Something like, “hey boss, how’s it going today” to pump up their egos a little. Certain demographics are more likely to either give you a break or overcharge you. The less they know the more they charge.
No way I could ever work at one, I’d probably spend so much off time there I’d have to change my address.
I guess I missed this one in 2016; a very entertaining and informative read here in 2022.
I haven’t strolled that kind of self-everything yard since the 1980s or so, and I’m sure I’d love it. I’m not sure how I feel about the part pricing after the wrenching has taken place—did any folks even ask for a ballpark number upon entry?
Thanks again for the benefit of your experience—much appreciated!
Yes, we were happy to provide ballpark pricing over the phone or before people entered the yard. 🙂
Loved junk/wrecking yards worked in one part time as a teen at highschool old school wrecking yard cars dating into the late 20s up to recent 70s writeoffs interesting stuff in there you simply dont see here anymore, but, I prowled the local pikapart recently for some Corolla bits for a friend and things have changed all those oddball cars Tatra shows us, it was littered with those some are hard to recognise when the panels are missing lots of late Audis, BMWs of all ages and I didnt find what I was wanting all Corollas the model I was hunting were either frontal wrecks or had been harvested already
I spent many hours and bought many parts from Colorado Auto wrecking. Wondering what year’s Daniel worked there?? I believe that Dan made the place a success, his encyclopedic knowledge of parts was truly amazing. In the end they treated him badly. I remember one time in the office, Norm’s wife had to look into my tool box, how ridiculous.
I worked there in the summer of ’97, I’m pretty sure, or might’ve been ’96.
Dan (head counterman) really did make the place go. What kind of badness did they inflict on him?
Maybe our paths crossed, I’m guessing I made some trips there then. When Norm passed on they pushed Dan out of the business and let him go.
Well, that sucks. Dan certainly had put in his time and surely paid whatever dues could be conceived, and then some! Hope he landed on his feet.
There was a yard across the street, just to the west of “C” on the map that was kind of the complete opposite of Colorado Auto and Parts. Disorganized, little turnover, overgrown with weed trees, and filled with relics from the 50s and 60s. It was fun to explore. My pre-teen nephew and his friends would sometimes go along with me and they had a great time while I was wrenching parts. A satellite view today shows it as a sand and gravel yard.
You know, I don’t think I ever went in that yard. Weird, eh!
We still have a U-Pull-It here, I’ve seen some quite rare cars there. I miss going there with my son who moved to Denver, I’ll have to tell him about this place.
I seldom frequent wrecking yards but admire them and am sad that they are becoming scarce…sure they don’t look good (from the neighborhood) but they fill a purpose….kind of like the “ugly” people, you might not enjoy looking at them, but appearance is only one attribute, though sometimes it seems that’s where most people stop. My Dad got into the semiconductor business by luck right after he got his chemistry degree in 1956; he’d chuckle about the difference between what he knew was the reality versus what many people thought, seeing people in clean rooms working in bunny suits, but in reality it is a chemical business like more obvious “dirty” ones, and there’s no substitute for the useful but dangerous materials (and the undesirable byproducts that come from producing the end product). Kind of like thinking all electric cars are necessarily “cleaner” than internal combustion…in one way they might be, but the bigger picture might be you are trading one set of vices for another..is one “better” than the other? Who is qualified to make the right judgement on which vice trumps which (tradeoffs are messy but always with us).
I used to see lots of yards driving by with my parents on the way to some (other) place…and don’t anymore. Once I got a car, I did get parts from wrecking yards at times (especially when I didn’t have much money) but knew that some parts were better bought at a jobber, while others were better at a yard. One of my friends had an F150 pickup that had a bad starter where he went to an Autozone to get a rebuilt one that didn’t work…they’d bench test it and it would spin but didn’t work when he installed it…so they gave him another…he went through the exercise 7-8 times with the same result…since they never tested under a load, it would spin just fine, but when meshed with the flywheel in his truck, it couldn’t handle the load. He’d have been better off just taking his chances at a wrecking yard especially if he could find a vehicle with obvious collision damage that probably had an OK starter that would have been much better bet than the poorly tested rebuilt ones he tried (I have same problem with batteries…they never test bad enough to get any warranty relief…they always test OK, the guy swears I have some other electrical problem and that even if I put a new battery in, I’ll need to come back to get the part that actually fixes my problem…I put in the new battery and…don’t come back for that problem for another 4 years (like clockwork on my 21 year old car).
Also good to spot problem areas on cars. Often thought instead of doing surveys, magazines might just go to wrecking yards to see what parts are missing from certain model of car, it is bound to be achilles heel (of course this takes time but if a model is made a long time without changes to part it can be pretty accurate). But of course cars deteriorate even if you don’t drive them, which likewise happens to parts on cars in wrecking yards. I tried to get weatherstripping for my ’86 GTi but in my local (sunbelt) yard every car I found had same part in worse condition than what I was trying to replace; I ended up ordering from northern yard and paying outlandish shipping (the part went from base of A pllar to start of hatch, one piece looking like an 8 foot hockey stick).
When I was in a minor fender bender years later, they of course totalled out the car but I was able to buy replacement fender, hood, radiator support and bumper bar (reused my existing cover) and with a friend’s help pursuade the bent unibody members close enough back so the bolts could line up again and I could secure the pieces..though these things of course rust when exposed to the elements, are probably the best reasons to get parts from a wrecking yard. Never could get soft parts like interior cloth and vinyl…maybe need to take a road trip up north, though salt and grime probably does a number on parts mouted lower down in passenger compartment.
Anyhow, that’s how I see them…wrecking yards are kind of like that ugly acquaintance that you don’t like to look at, but has other attributes that makes you glad they’re around. I just wish people could be less superficial and realize there’s a good reason to have them around despite…not everything can be beautiful (or clean or chemically pure or …)
An old guy taught me a simple test of starters decades ago :
Power it up and hold an old hammer with a hardwood handle by it’s head and jamb the end of the wooden handle between the Bendix’ teeth and the housing, the starter should easily chew the crap out of the handle .
Takes a second to test and load tests both the sprag clutch and the load .
This is why I remind others : never, _EVER_ turn in your old Core” until the job is finished to your satisfaction ~ I once got a ‘rebuilt’ Chevy starter from Pep Boys and it was so bad it couldn’t be rebuilt ~ some jerk had assembled it out of all junk arts, spray painted it then put it in the nice new box….
My old starter of course, was long gone by the next day when I tried to return it…
Good point on the “hammer” test, though not sure I’d sacrifice one (don’t have many to spare) for the test. Of course different engines would need different amount of torque to spin them, but “some” load even if not calibrated amount would be better than just spinning the gear in the air with no other load.
That’s my main problem with places like Autozone and the like that sell these parts…their “test” is somewhat useful but doesn’t give you a complete idea if the part will actually work….which leads to false confidence (you take rebuilt part home) and wasted labor (you put it in vehicle and find it really doesn’t do the job). Plus, as I mentioned about batteries, it leads to pointless arguements over whether something is “bad enough” to claim on warranty (have to wait till something is obviously “dead”; “not working” isn’t enough…so I put little confidence in warranty, since it seems mostly theatrics (didn’t know entertainment was part of the deal, kind of like a “lottery” whether you can actually claim on it). Don’t want to be stranded (don’t have extra vehicles) so I just ignore the warranty and buy the replacement without it…chalk it up to “hassle cost”. The thing that bothers me the most though some of the countermen push it farther to insinuate that you have another problem with your car (charging system, cables etc) that needs fixing and they part you want replaced “really isn’t the problem” . While I know this can be true, they seem to assert it without any proof, even to the point where they will say something like…OK, you can replace XXX today, but you’ll be back for YYY another time to actually fix the cause. This of course can happen…but without testing/measurement, how do they know? Remember, they did an incomplete test of your suspect bad part (starter, battery, etc.) so they really have no basis on knowing whether the part you allege is bad is good (maybe we should bring own sacrificial hammer handle with us when we try to claim on potential starter fail).
I’m sure they know this…and shame on them, for doing what ends up being a con job for their customer. It is hard enough working on cars without having uncertainty on whether something you worked on was using parts that could solve the problem. And having 6-7 of the rebuilt starters of the same model being returned in a row…they might even claim that you are destroying them as they like to do with electrical parts, where in truth the part shouldn’t be sold in the first place if it isn’t adequetely tested after rebuild.
Your point about keeping your old core, and having a cosmetic rebuild substituted is just sad..pure theatrics on their part…another con job to avoid doing what you’d hope they’d do in the first place, i.e. sell you a serviceable replacement part. I’d suggest they should get out of the business if they persist in that behaviour. Maybe junkyards should come back…it is a pain to remove a part from a vehicle, but if you see the main reason it was junked (not that vehicles can’t have multiple problems and of course not all are visually detectable) it at least gives you a clue…versus having 100% of the rebuilt starters having been turned in as cores for at least a suspected issue with them, with questionable rebuild effort and testing.
You’re talking about “Up Selling” and in my day, countermen were trained to do that ~ I don’t believe in it unless I know from personal experience .
Junkyards are great -but- they also need to want to sell ~ most of the non self service ones want far too much for a used part and then every five years or so turn over the inventory, scrapping all the good stuff they _could_ have sold easily….
When I ran a VW junkyard I was very low on inventory, I didn’t want to keep the stuff, I wanted to make money and be sure the locals came to me FIRST .
I too love those older junkyards that still have complete vehicles but they could have sold everything at a good profit decades ago .
On a vacation touring the Rockies about 20 years ago I noticed quite many yards in Colorado, all well stuffed. One Sunday at about 4.30 pm I stopped by a smaller yard near Pueblo (?): Open doors, greasy guys with tools going to and fro. So I stepped in and asked if they happened to have a pre 1978 Audi for parts.
I was told they were closed and just trying to get the “padre’s” 1979 Benz SEL running again. I said “Why, the sign says “Sundays till 12″ and it’s not yet 5?” All laughing, asking me if I were German or Brit or Aussie? Confessing “German” I was immediately recruited to lend a hand with the Benz, which turned out to have a defective ignition lock.
I left at dusk with a Bush-Jaeger CDI ignition module and the coil of a 1975 Audi. Today those parts are still on duty in one of my cars.
Fond memories! Would love to go there again to find out who is still in business.
That’s a terrific story, yourself!