Junkyard Outtake: Behind The Scenes


Ever wondered what it takes to make a Junkyard Outtake post – or wanted to do one yourself? In this week’s Junkyard Outtake, we’ll pull back the curtain and show you how it’s done.


Until recently, CC’s weekly junkyard feature has been something I’ve worked on alone. In that time, I’ve been fairly content with how it’s turned out. And even with five months’ worth of weekly junkyard tours behind us, there remain interesting sights to be shown in the foreseeable future.

Winter has made gathering new pictures difficult. (FYI, U-Pull shots come to you within hours of being taken, but the Back Forty shots were stockpiled last fall and are being spread out during the snowy months).

Come spring, there still are three more yards I frequent which haven’t yet been photographed, as well as two more-secluded spots I want to take you to, including one private yard with lots of ’60s iron, and one off-the-map operation teeming with AMC products. Rest assured that the Junkyard Outtake had not run its course.

But lately I’ve been thinking that the Junkyard Outtake could benefit from some fresh input. You’ve all seen several slices of junkyard life from my GM-centric, Midwest-based perspective… perhaps the time is right for some new points of view.

One of Perry’s finds

I was happy to see our editor, Perry, throw his hat in the ring this past weekend by writing a Junkyard Outtake of his own. It was great to see some fresh cars and get a closer look at some I might otherwise have overlooked. Hopefully others will follow his lead.

That said, let’s take a peek behind the curtain. What does it take to write a Junkyard Outtake?


I start by taking a camera to a junkyard. As I walk the yard, I try to take at least four pictures of each vehicle that seems interesting. An “interesting” vehicle might be one with odd options, an uncommon model or package, a sought-after or notorious model, extremely high or low miles, one that’s significantly older that those around it, or anything else that stands out.


Once the pictures have been shot, the review process begins. I aim to run at least five cars in each post, with around three shots per car. The pics that make the cut get resized and optimized; the rest are archived for possible future use.

With the pictures ready to go, it’s time to begin writing. I’ve developed a sort of format for the Junkyard Outtake which seems to work well, so we’ll stick with that.


The first thing we’ll need is a lead picture. This picture has to be attention-getting, but it can’t be one that either repeats later in the article or give away something we want to mention later. (Sometimes I’ll shoot a picture specifically with this in mind.)

Next, we need a sentence to the effect of “Hey, it’s Friday, and time for the Junkyard Outtake.” This might not seem important, but the more we tell you that the Junkyard Outtake runs every Friday, the more likely you’ll be to expect a Junkyard Outtake each time Friday rolls around. That way, hopefully, you’ll visit CC on Fridays and look for the Junkyard Outtake. Every Friday. Because it’s the Junkyard Outtake. Yeah. Junkyards. Fridays.

With that done, we now need a brief introduction, usually something semi-entertaining that relates to the content of the article. Sometimes it’ll even involve lightly bragging about how nothing can stop the Junkyard Outtake from appearing every Friday (see what I did there?). In any case, the idea is to get you interested in reading more.


With the intro out of the way, it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes. I generally run the cars in the same order in which I saw them (it makes things easier for me to keep track of). Each picture gets a caption–usually one line, but can be longer when necessary.

Let’s try a few, shall we?


Storytelling is a major part of the captioning process. So it would be fitting to start with this shot–and to tell you that this 2003 Suburban was one of two vehicles that drew me here today. The other was…


…this 2006 Chevy Express van. When I saw the two of them pop up in the yard inventory, I knew it was time to pay a visit.


I needed a back door handle from the Suburban. Unfortunately, this one has a lift gate, and not barn doors. All the other goodies I might have wanted had also been picked off. No good here!


The van was intriguing because as a 3/4 ton, it was practically guaranteed to have a 6.0 L V8 under its hood (er, doghouse). But I quickly lost interest upon discovering that it had covered over 400,000 miles. None for me, thanks.


Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed by the outcome so far. But as I was departing the truck section, something caught my eye. Could it be?


Yup – this beaten-down Chevy pickup was wearing factory “454 SS style” wheels (for lack of their proper name). A quick sweep of the area revealed that all four were present, and even had decent rubber. I’d never owned a set of these before, so I happily grabbed a wheelbarrow and loaded them up.


With my business completed, there was nothing left to do but roam the yard for more interesting cars.


Like this Impala, for instance. That’s a hot mess if I ever saw one!


One man’s blunder is another man’s opportunity. (Did it run fine before the fire? Apparently, somebody thinks so.)


Sometimes finding the right cars to photograph is just too easy. This ragtop Sunbird had no problem grabbing my attention.


Its top was even in decent shape. Where was this one when I needed it?


Holy white vinyl, Batman! I would have taken these buckets home with me had the left one not been truly holey. (You can’t see it from this angle, but the inside of the left bolster was shredded.)


I also like to occasionally revisit cars that were featured in past Junkyard Outtakes, especially those which weren’t shown in detail but still generated interest. This 300D is one such car.


Last time I only got one shot of this car, because I didn’t want to disturb the party who was working on it. But today I have it all to myself.


Underhood shots are nice. Snow-covered underhood shots, not quite so much.


More-or-less creative hacks, such as this tin headlight mount, always make for good material.


Sometimes a picture calls for a witty caption. Hmm… how about this: “Winter is temporary, but MB-Tex is forever.”

And with that, we just captioned 17 pictures! That wasn’t so difficult, was it?


Typically, there will be anywhere from 15-20 pictures to arrange and caption. After that comes a short teaser which highlights what’s coming next week… and we’re done! A couple of rereads, some last-minute changes, the usual once-over by our editor, and it’s ready for your enjoyment.

So there you have it: One more Junkyard Outtake done. As always, I hope you enjoyed it!

Next week, we dig into the Back Forty archives for more rusty gold… assuming Project XJ6 doesn’t find a way to kill me first. Don’t miss it!