There are very few things that really annoy me in life. Politicians kissing old ladies, people with a no-fault attitude, and the existence of the Hyundai EON are a constant source of niggling. But one of the worst things, in your author’s opinion, are demolition derbies.
It has always been a fault of mine to give certain animistic qualities to things I possess. Every cell phone that I’ve owned is essentially a circuit board with a battery and a screen attached to it, yet I still felt like I was losing a companion when I replaced some of them. Cars are especially likeable, I’m sure most all of us agree. As they age and take you on many adventures, you get to know their quirks as they develop and they develop a sort of “character”. Other people simply go, “Eep! A quirk!” and proceed to replace them with the next beigemobile that comes off the line and perhaps always associate a healthy dose of negative equity with their old car. Cars that are already at the bottom of the pecking order get crashed or scrapped if they are lucky.
If they are not scrapped, they enter the world of demolition derbies. Here, insult is added to injury and participants make sure that the poor car’s last run is filled with pain and suffering as a crowd gathers to see the refrigerators-to-be get smashed, crashed and bashed until they have no useable components or body panels in them. Yeah, see that Tempest front wing that could mean the difference between a restoration and a GTO clone? Shame, because some 22 year old in a ’97 Civic has crashed into it and rendered it useless.
Some people would see them as cars given one last blaze of glory before they are broken down and resurrected as consumer goods and perhaps even other cars. Most wouldn’t think that fair and just enjoy the senseless and, in the grand scheme of things, harmless fun. I just see histories crashing into each other. Every car has a story, has it not? Would you cringe if you saw a car that you used to own being crushed for fun and profit? 73ImpCapn doesn’t have anything to fear. Partly because I’m sure his amazing 1973 Imperial LeBaron will be taken to a demolition derby over his dead body, but mostly because Imperials are banned from demolition derbies for being just so damn strong and well-built. Lord knows how many they went through before reaching that conclusion!
But what about you? Am I being just a Big Girl’s Blouse and reading far too much into cars that have to be incapable of being registered to end up there? Or is it really a cringeworthy thing to watch?
I agree so much with yor hate, that I refuse to read this article, and learn about beauties lost forever because of these barbaric acts!
I’m totally with you Gerardo. Demolition Derbies hit a nerve with me. I don’t care how poor condition a car is in. If its life is over, then let it rest in peace. Don’t destroy it to a hunk of twisted metal.
There’s actually a guy who lives about a mile away from me that is big into demolition derby. Stripped cars can always be seen in his driveway, and he has a dedicated “work” (more like “destruction”) garage attached to his house. This very minute he has a rare Lincoln Mark VI and a early-’80s Coupe de Ville, both already stripped down. It pains me to see this everyday I drive by.
Kind of like football – perhaps both should be banned.
Well in the Southern Tier old cars are usually too rusty to be roadworthy anymore. My Caprice was worn out and rusty from being in New York so I sold it to a Demo Derby instead of scrapping it.
I hate demo derbies too. EVen if the car itself is an unrestorable rustbucket, it usually has lots of parts that can go towards restoring another one of its kind. Many salvage yards realize this and have the good sense to place the sought-after classics in a separate section of the yard where they stay longer than the obligatory 90-day cycle.
Not half as bad as deliberately destroying perfectly good cars. Or are those Cash-For-Clunkers videos just a bad dream ?
I could only dream of driving a “clunker” like that Volvo when I was driving real clunkers. What a horrible joke that program was — and it accomplished nothing.
We needed a truck when Cash for Clunkers was in full swing. We were on a farm, and had absolutely no truck.
That program hurt us a lot- it took us over 2 months to find anything- and we ended up with a beat up 1989 Scottsdale with a clutch going out, and a failing transmission.
That was one of the real goals of cash for clunkers, the progressive belief that the world is a better place when the working class doesn’t have their own vehicles.
You NAILED it, CJ. Lots of cars destroyed needed only some basic maintenance (which was long neglected) to get them up and running, reliably and even emissions compliant. Some poor down on his luck Joe Schmo would be more than happy to have a 15 year old Taurus that at least gets him to work reliably. Much better than being late due to a broken down POS or a bus line that’s a joke and subsequently fired, sent to the welfare and foodstamp line. But that’s what scumbag politicians WANT…desperate and dependent constituents.
But, but, but they’re supposed to use “public transportation!!!”
(sarcasm off now…)
Okay MR74, granting your point for the sake of argument, what’s worse, politicians who want desperate and dependent constituents or businessmen who want desperate and dependent workers who will snap to attention and say “Yazzuh, boss!” when told to work OT off the clock?
@ MoparRocker74 lots of the cars that went to C4C were perfectly serviceable in need of nothing. One that really killed me to see was a Ranger that only had ~60K on the clock and would have retailed for far more than it brought in C4C money. I’m not sure why the dealer didn’t give them the same amount in trade in and then make a nice $2-$3K profit. Many that did go though were at the end of their service life. My buddy took his daughter’s 1st gen Explorer in that had ~250K on it, was kind of ratty and that he had only payed $1500 for a little more than a year before.
Exactly. Some were junk. I remember an old Ford (Tempo?) that had the hood held on with a ratchet strap. It had a certain smell to it, and you could hear the wheel bearings a block away. That wasn’t a great loss.
I remember a 1990s F150 that we would have killed for. 351, auto transmission, 130k or so on the clock, drove fine. Killed in C4C.
The 1989 we got should have been in Cash for Clunkers. We were tight on cash and it was the only thing we could find. Town is 20 miles away- there’s no public transportation.
Today, it’s still reeking havoc on used car prices. Whoever thought of this idea should have to answer to it at their end-of-life interview.
One of the biggest issues I take with this is that the government was paying big $$ for cars and destroying them. As we all know, the gub-mint gets every red cent they have by forcibly ripping it from the paychecks of hardworking people or off the profits of legitmate business. This isn’t ‘political’ talk, this is fact.
The elephant in the room is, people were getting ridiculous amounts of $$ for junk…up to $4500, in the case of a rusted out and electrically fried ’91 Imperial that my grandmother gave to my cousin to swap in on a new SUV. So the people getting this sweetheart deal are going to be ill-advised to bite the hand that feeds them. And yet, when you look at the insane amount of state and federal income taxes a working guy or gal pays (funding this monkey business) its nothing short of criminal.
FWIW, I did the math. If Uncle Sam were to ‘graciously’ allow me to actually KEEP the money they steal from me and put it towards a new vehicle (Detroit iron, of course) then essentially I could have bought a brand new Challenger R/T without it affecting my normal finances. What if that deal was offered to everyone who has a job, provided they buy American? No need for a bailout then.
The only problem with that idea is that when you buy a Detroit car you’re funding the very corruption that is killing the country. It is far more patriotic to buy from a transplant that organized crime doesn’t have its hooks in.
You think that Volvo’s bad? I was working at a Lexus dealer when C4C was in effect… you should have seen the drop-dead GORGEOUS 70k mile ’89 Jaguar XJ6 we took in C4C trade… IMHO it was a felony to destroy that beautiful automobile.
The hundreds of death videos like that during the Cash for Clunkers program reminded me exactly of demolition derbies in their pointlessness and dumb entertainment.
Not to go off on a rant but I’m still irked by that program. Whether or not one might agree with the merits of it politically or economically they can not possibly argue that running 690,000 cars at WIDE OPEN THROTTLE for the 7 minutes each until they seize in a smokey hydrocarbon billowed mess was good for the environment itself. This video and the hundreds of others posted were sickening. Not to mention I still see “fuel sippers” that thus didn’t qualify from the 80s and 90s billowing various colors of smoke from their exhausts around here(which, call me crazy, seems like a more appropriate placement for the word clunker) , what a brilliant idea that was.
The Umweltprämie (environmental premium), the German car scrappage programme, more commonly known as Abwrackprämie (scrappage premium) didn’t require the cars’ engines to be destroyed. The cars couldn’t be sold either though, once the paperwork was filled out, the car with that VIN was no longer allowed on the road. Filing for an Abwrackprämie was done by the owner, not the dealer where he would then use the premium. Many perfectly functional cars that were worth (much) more than the €2500 they got for it were sent to the scrapyard that way, but because they still ran, literal boatloads of them were clandestinely exported to Africa and the like. When I heard that, I couldn’t help but be happy.
Of course, some of them ended up on silly YouTube destruction videos, but some of them were put to better use: the producers of popular action TV show Alarm für Cobra 11 used up a lot of them. Have a peek at imcdb.org for this show (link), you’ll see what happened. At least a bit better than in demolition derbies.
I don`t really like DDs, but I don`t hate them either.What really irks me about Derbys are the older Imperials, NewYorkers, T Birds, Panthers, Mustangs, Monte Carlos, Caprices, etc that could have a second chance have to go in such an undignified way. There are plenty of real crappers out there that can be used, so instead of using desirable future collectibles or classics, lets just use the bottom feeders instead. BTW, DDs and NASCAR are fun to watch when I`m in the mood for some good brain dead fun. Many years ago :National Lampoon” had an article called Classic Car Demolition Derby or something that featured vintage Bugattis, Jaguars, Delahayes, Cords, Rolls Royces, Duesenbergs, 500 type Mercedes, etc being destroyed. Thank God it was only a comic strip!
Some months ago on TTAC, Jack Baruth wrote a story set in a future where artists could use nanobots to perfectly recreate long-dead models. If that becomes reality, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing a “Replica Bugatti Royale vs. 12 Replica Yugos Deathmatch,” particularly if both “cars” could reform instantly after the spectacle was over with no harm done.
I enjoyed that sci-fi article too. It does pose an interesting question of what happens when we can (re) produce anything from any era. For that kind of battle bots death match spectacle I’d like to see a dozen T-34-76s take on a single M1A2 with robot crews.
Just wait til 3D printers can work in metal. The idea of synthesizing a ’68 Charger but with modern upgrades as I see fit….AH YEAH.
They’re doing it now! Jay Leno uses a 3-D Printer to make metal parts that he can’t replace through other means. Check it out:
HOLY MONKEY!!! Making things in plastic blew my mind when I first heard about it, but this is nothing short of amazing. This will revolutionize the automotive world.
It seems like senseless waste, I’m in the anti- demo derby camp.
Demolition derbies are so childish, and appropriately the one and only time in my life I thought they were cool was when my age was a single digit… also the last time I played in the mud myself.
And they weren’t even entertaining then! The cars are by requirement gutted, stripped and vandalized by the hillbilly “teams” who enter them(most of the parts are usually scrapped too, not sold for restoration purposes either) so there’s no glass shattering or anything that at least cinematic car destruction has to offer the senses. It’s just metal crumpling at slow speed.
Totally agree with your comment, Matt, as well as this entry. “Me smash” seems like such a primal, useless instinct.
As in your example above, the appeal of DD’s diminished pretty quickly for me from single-digit age. I must have been about 13 in the late 80’s when I went to a DD at the Genesee County Fair in Michigan when I felt real regret watching what must have been a 10-y/o Eldorado get its front (driving) wheel get hung up on a rail and rammed mercilessly. There was also a seemingly nice 2-door Gran Torino (perhaps a ’74 or ’75?) painted in hideous colors and called “Rena’s Revenge” which got bent all out of shape. I kept thinking, “What a waste.”
My thoughts go to the initial purchase point at the dealership, when someone picked out the car and drove it home with some degree of excitement. The Eldo’s end was quite the comedown, given its luxury pedigree.
I kinda hate the whole concept, and have avoided them to date, but as a semi-gearhead am interested in the setup rules.
Geez, you get to having more than 20 rules and then it seems like 21 should be “NO FUN ALLOWED”. Granted, most of them are to ensure safety and/or fair play, but still…
43. No “sedagons”? What’s that supposed to mean?
A sedagon is a station wagon that’s had its D-pillars cut and its roof crushed down from the c-pillars back. No, I don’t know what the advantage of doing this is.
From what I’ve read, turning a station wagon into a “sedagon” will result in the roof sloping down into the “trunklid” area.
Basically, you’re using the roof to add structure to the rear of the car, making the back of your car much harder to damage.
Some derby sites were showing people building them, so they must be legal in some derbies.
Thanks Matador. The first photo of one that I found was of a pretty poorly executed conversion, so it didn’t look like there was a structural benefit. I’ve since seen a couple where the roof is creased a couple times so there is a panel to weld around the perimeter of the luggage bay.
One of my much older brothers used to take me to DDs in Texas in the early ’60s. I could be wrong, but I think the only setup rule back then stated there were no setup rules. Some of the cars looked like they had just rolled off one of the used car lots that lined the boulevard outside the local Army base.
“Welcome to DD. First rule of DD is do not talk about DD. Actually, no, first rule is no Imps. Second rule is do not talk about DD. Third rule…there are no rules.”
“But you just said–”
“Did I stutter? No. Rules.”
And thus, Death Race 2000 was born.
I’m no fan of DD’s either–we got a lot of yahoos who come to me asking for sponsorship–“I’ll paint your name on the roof and think of all the folks that will see it” No thanks, I don’t ask anyone to help pay for my hobbies, and thats what DD is–some guys think they are Mario Andretti of the arena but if you have watched one DD you have seen them all. There are a lot more thrills on YouTube watching real life smash ups.
“Back in the day,” the DD was a lot more acceptable because hey, it’s not like Detroit will ever stop making BOF V8-powered RWD crapcans, right? And now we look at DDs and say, “Stop! You’re depleting our precious nonrenewable resource of BOF V8-powered RWD crapcans!” At least here in MN the average DD car is too rusty to be driven safely anyway.
I prefer Enduro races because in those, it’s in the driver’s best interest to keep the vehicle in semi-running condition for as long as possible. A skilled driver might even be able to pass on the remains of a ’79 Monte onto their son (or daughter) one day. Seeing drivers with lower IQs than their own dogs deliberately destroy old iron for “entertainment” interests me about as much as “tractor” pulls. There’s no accounting for taste, I suppose.
But I guess I’ll just say that I don’t like DDs for a much more basic reason–I’m deaf in my left ear (not from exposure or anything, just an illness), and I’d really like to keep my right ear for at least another 58 years, so I avoid them on the principle that they’re just “too darn loud”!
As a gearhead I get tractor pulls, its drag racing inverted to emphasize torque.
Maybe if they were stock tractors, I’d have more interest. “Pull on Sunday, plow on Monday” used to be a real thing. Today’s $100K professional pulling monsters are no more valid agricultural tractors than a NASCAR stock car is valid on-road transportation.
I sometimes watch the stock tractors. It’s not something I’d ever do to my equipment, but it’s at least more honest than some of the crazy modified tractors they have.
Plus, any chance to watch the local White guy beat a John Deere is well worth the watch! 😉
Good point, Dr. Z, I hate DDs because they destroy the kind of cars I like. I would probably be less vexed if they were DDing 1998 Camrys. That said, even then it’s a huge waste of a car someone could probably use.
Gerardo, you seem to have found the one thing that we can all agree on!
I don’t like seeing old cars used in the derby***, but most of them were bound for the wreckers anyhow (or were bought from the wreckers), and ultimately the free market sets the value of the car. The sad truth is that there are a lot of unloved old cars out there, especially 4-door sedans as well as cars that the owner has lost the title and potential purchasers don’t want to go through the hassle of obtaining another.
These wind-up for sale in the classifieds cheap enough that they attract the attention of someone that’s looking for a parts donor vehicle and the derby guys who will smash them up then get a good chunk of their money back when they turn the remains in for the scrap metal price.
Sometimes a derby guy will show up at an old car forum that I’m on and offer to sell the parts that they’re stripping off their latest car. They wind-up getting bad-mouthed by one of the board members. Invariably, they then say, “Selling these parts isn’t worth this aggravation! I’m just going to throw all the stuff inside the car when I turn it in for scrap!” and then nobody gets to benefit.
As for the Imperial exemption, it was really the pre-1967 BOF Imperials that gave them the reputation. I don’t know if derbies have a blanket ban on all Imperials or just pre-67 models.
***One that haunts me to this day was seeing a ’67 Newport sedan in the ring. It was spray-bombed in black and white. It had already been in a derby before and they had straightened it out enough to run again.
Yeah originally it was just those Imperials that had the front fenders and header panel welded into one solid unit.
They’re not my favourite, I would really like to see a LeMons race which is almost the same thing.
In the late 80’s I was at the fall fair and saw a 1970 Barracuda getting ready to go in the DD. I asked the guy why, why? and he said it was terminally rusty. Sure enough the first hit the whole back end came apart at the rusty seams.
Destruction of cars aside what puzzles me is the amount of time required to prep the car, when you could very likely be using it for all of 2 minutes. Not enough return on investment for my time, certainly.
I hate demolition derbies more than I hate broughams.
Ironically, demo derbies is how a lot of broughams have met their end.
Oh, I’ll admit, I’d enjoy watching a demolition derby if it consisted of a bunch of nicely restored (or mint survivor) broughams, all shiny and new. That’d be my one exception. What fun is it watching a brougham trashed if it’s already 99% dead when it gets to the track?
Another one in the “hate them” camp. I do realize that the majority of cars are valueless, rusty, and/or otherwise used up, but it still pains me to see what was once a perfectly good car destroyed for fun. I can’t help but imagine what that car currently getting pounded into oblivion might have looked like if it were restored rather than destroyed, or what the previous owners might think. I definitely had a couple people looking for derby fodder inquire about the ’82 Malibu I was selling for $450 years ago, but I turned them all down as a)the car wasn’t that bad off yet and b)even if it was, the thought would have bothered me too much.
At least DDs over here seem to be a little less twisted (no pun intended) than the semi-equivalent banger racing in the UK. There, prizes are often given for the rarest car entered, which really just burns me up. A one-of-a kind Vanden Plas 4 Litre R coupe, once owned by Winston Churchill, met its end on a banger track. Just appalling.
I liken demolition derbies to automotive cockfighting. Disgusting.
I’m only fine with demolition derbies that have cars that I don’t like at all. 😉
When can we have a 1990s Hyundai fighting against a Ford Tempo?
Or all 80’s GM DD with their FWD crapboxes….oh wait, most of them have already became Harbor Freight roll cab tool boxes without being in a DD. These cars were a one car DD show from the day they left the dealer.
A relatively new thing is compact derbies. I hadn’t seen one TV since I was a kid but a few years ago I ran across a compact derby on TV. They were interviewing one driver who detailed his strategy. They had a rule that listed a max original curb weight so he studied until he found the car that was barely light enough to qualify an early Comet 2dr. The body looked near perfect when it started and I just wanted to cry. Most of the vehicles though were GM FWD cars from the 80’s and early 90’s where were entertaing to watch drag there azz around when the wheels would no longer roll due to the rear being that crushed.
Twenty five broughams, all nicely restored, the entertainment doesn’t end until the last one stops moving.
So, if I take this right, if it’s a car you don’t like, then it should be destroyed, right?
On an episode of DSC’s “Misfit Garage”, the guys bought a 2nd-gen Cavalier coupe as a a demo derby runner and rolling advertisement. The car didn’t last one event.
Much like that show probably won’t last one season. Ba dam bum 😀
What would be better?
1975 Impala sits, rusting next to a garage or in a driveway for 15 years or so before going straight to the scrap yard where the owner will get $400-$500 cash and the car gets crushed almost immediately.
1975 Impala gets caged and runs a season or two and sometimes even three before being scrapped?
I usually bring in two to three loads of scrap metal to the yards each month. The yards I go to do not offer cars for parts to the public. And they pay more than an auto recycler.
Typically, scrapped cars and trucks here go over the scales, get unloaded via a claw and are crushed within a day or two.
I’d rather see someone have some fun with it.
Scenario A. Moving or not at least it’s there, at least I can still look at it, at least there’s the POSSIBILITY someone will save it.
I’ve knocked on so many doors trying to snag a deal only to hear the same stories. Usually like “Do you know what that car is worth”, “I’m gonna restore that”, “My kid keeps bringing those things here”.
They never move.
I’m not into “Patina” or “Ruin Porn”. Watching a car slowly sink into the ground isn’t “beautiful” in my eyes, it’s laziness.
It would be extremely rare for a demo car to last that long, if it makes it to a second event it is unusual. There is a guy that lives near some of my rental properites who does demo in 74-76 Impalas, often clamshells. and he goes though many cars in a year. You’ll see one show up on his trailer. A couple of weeks later it will be prepped, drive by a week or so later an it will be bashed and a couple of weeks after that another victim will be on the trailer.
Im not ‘into’ DD’s myself. I seriously have a problem with destroying cars that have any collector value, or contain good useable parts that someone needs for a restoration. Now, if youre talking battered rust buckets with little in the way of serviceable sheet metal, then I say strip the interior parts and anything that can be reused then go for it.
OTOH, most modern DD’s generally are using worn out unloved taurusablebu’s, or camrundaiccords so Im all for letting them go for it. Older sedans often have parts that can be used to restore a 2 door or a convertible so that’s a no go for me, however most modern sedans are just transportation appliances with little to no enthusiast interest. Does anyone shed a tear when you see a Bic lighter flicked for the last time and tossed away? I feel the same way about a wrecked camry.
I support DD because largely the cars used are meeting a somewhat glorious end after many years of service. My first car (1982 Celebrity) met its maker in a DD after having been passed through many hands in the family and having survived over 15 years (that reminds me – still haven’t done any COAL).
I can’t think of a better end for a car that was often like the Millennium Falcon, I often paraphrased Han Solo – “I THOUGHT I FIXED THAT!”
I’ve never been a fan of demolition derbies. If a car is too far gone to be rebuilt, how about having the car stripped of everything except the frame and the parts recycled for something else?
I haven’t seen a demolition derby in 30-some years, so I’m not speaking as a fan, but … if the cars used for this purpose had any higher, better use, somebody would have purchased them for that. The alternatives to demo derby, LeMons, crapcan, and other fun-based end-of-life uses are the car getting crushed/recycled, or sinking, on rotting tires, into a hoarder’s back 40. Would more, better 1957-62 Imperials be available today if they were junked or parked, instead of derbied, 40 years ago? You’d have to assume that Imperials with usable, valuable parts were parted out–maybe before the derby. (LeMons encourages that–as I understand it, whatever you can sell off your car is credited against the $500 purchase price limit.)
I don’t really find demolition derby entertaining in theory or practice. The best I can say is it’s better than an event I remember from about 1975, when I saw people breaking a car with a sledgehammer at a county fair. That was frightening! But I find it hard to believe that this kind of thing is a substantial drain on the old car hobby, by eliminating cars that were driver or collector level from the market, trashing serviceable replacement parts, or driving prices higher than other factors on their own.
On a related note, I despise movies and tv shows that demolish large numbers of “old” cars (Here’s looking @ you “Dukes of Hazzard” !) 🙂
I can’t remember ever going to a DD. If I can say that the day I die I will be pleased. There are a batch of things that I don’t care for and that I thought were counterproductive. With “cash for clunkers” and DD you have hit two that are high on my list. I think it’s time for my nap.
Wow, I really can’t believe all of the DD haters here! I’ve been attending them since I was a child (always attended the one at the county fair), and actually ran a 1975 Pontiac wagon in one about 20 years ago and won two heat races with it (won $120, and had $60 invested, mostly in the $30 tow strap to get the car to the derby). It was loads of fun, but we made a few novice mistakes in car preparation (see tips below that we didn’t know about at the time) that got us knocked out of the derby early (also, apparently adding too much Marvel Mystery Oil can cause your engine to mysteriously sieze up).
It’s a hobby, just like anything else, and there are lots of tips & secrets that the veterans use (inner tubes in the tires, strategic cutting-torch slots in the frame, 24V batteries for the starter, welded spider gears in the differential, and so on).
As has been said, most of the cars that are out there were on their way to the boneyard anyways and would never have been restored. Plus, who restores 4-doors and wagons? Very few people (I’m one of them, but I’ve learned my lesson getting burnt on the resale).
I’m still waiting for the SUV demo derbies (but unfortunately, a lot of roadable 1990s SUVs did get taken off the road by cash for clunkers) but those seem few and far between.
Go out to hayseed county and you may be lucky enough to witness school bus demo derbies, or even (gasp) combine demo derbies (I’ve actually been to one of those as well).
Go out to hayseed county and you may be lucky enough to witness school bus demo derbies, or even (gasp) combine demo derbies
I’ve never been a fan of demo derbies, but I’ve long had the original combine derby in Lind, Washington as one of my bucket list items. It’s actually an entire weekend of festivities including a parade through town featuring the combines and the grain trucks that race between demo heats.
Even combine derbies aren’t without their critics. Farm machinery collectors often cite the fact that many of the combines destroyed in Lind each year are rare factory-built hillside models. (most recent hillside combines are standard models with aftermarket hillside modifications) Lind is in the middle of the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho where wheat is harvested on hills that would make even a Land Rover Defender owner think twice,
The 50-something me isn’t interested in demolition derbies. The 20-something me participated in a few, usually a good way to dispose of last winters beater car that probably shouldn’t have been on the road anyway. Rusty 10 or 12 year old 4 door sedans were not envisioned as a hot restoration property or parts source at the time.
They were just old cars that no one wanted and that were going to be crushed. That ’90s Hyundia or Ford Tempo? In 1982 that’s how we saw ’70s Galaxies, Impalas and Furies. We often harvested the engines and transmissions afterwards, if anyone wanted a 400 Ford, 350 Buick or whatever. Usually you couldn’t give the stuff away.
The problem is DD teams were still hunting for those same ’70s Galaxies, Impalas and Furies beyond 1982, like up to 2002(the last time I was at an event), probably 2012 for all I know. If it was all about disposing of junky late models it wouldn’t be as bad but that’s not the case it seems. The big cars will always be ringers against late models in these events and that will forever guarantee their use until there’s nothing left.
Yeah, not saying I’d do it today. Demo derbys must have changed a lot if folks are using ringers. Top prize was maybe a hundred bucks back in the day, and it was just a fun diversion on the way to the junkyard. Usually the winner ended up spending the prize buying everyone else beer…
It’s been 30+ years since I’ve been to one though.
I don’t know, I can take and leave DD. I guess I would be sad if a classic old car I like was being used (like a 1960’s Lincoln Continental or GTO) but I could care less if some Mopar (like a Newport, Cordoba or Polara) were used. The quicker there is no more examples of mopar products the better.
Since we’re being honest, I would be fine if there was an all-Ford class at the derby.
Ya, it would be sad to see Fords used, especially agains classic mopars. At some point the mopars would have to start hitting each other. New acronym “First Old Rod’s Destroyed!”
But seriously, at least old tanks that get demo’ed don’t get pushed off a cliff into a river or just ditched in the bush. The fluids usually get proper handling etc.
Many are charity fund raisers.
Also, no chance of some brainless pimp turning it into a donk!
I’m surprised no one has mentioned the outlawing of pre-1967 (unibody) Imperials in DDs. Apparently, the 1966 and earlier BOF cars were so tough to kill that they would routinely win.
That aside, I always wonder where the new DD cars are coming from. I suppose Panthers are still new enough that they’ll make up the bulk of them, but you’d think that, just like the pre-’67 Imperials, as the last BOF cars made, they’d be too dominant and get disallowed.
The outlawing of Imperials has been brought up by myself and others.
Unfortunately there are still a few Demo Derbys that allow Imperials in Imperial only demos.
The later 67-68 Imperials will have their stub frames yanked and placed in a New Yorker, or Newport, to be used in a “non imperials” demo.
I detest all demo derbys and the people that have destroyed many savable cars.
Some one commented earlier, that only rusted hulks get demoed.
Not really Demo guys want non rusted vehicles.
The entire demolition derby thing is lost on me. The cars are so modified that they are just shadows of what they were. Why not just let the yahoos get out there on tricycles and battle it out?
Ha ha! They have school bus demo derbies around here every once in a while (as a back to school thing). I must say those things are pretty stout (my 10 year old son was intrigued). While I certainly do not condone demo-ing anything that could be a potential CC, it’s hard to deny there are many very boring cars out there that are difficult to shed a tear for. I know that’s very subjective but as a percentage of cars that would soon be scrapped anyway, DD has got to be a miniscule slice. And they do still get recycled.
It’s not just that Imperials are tough in general. It was almost impossible to hole an Imperial’s radiator, and that made them very hard to kill. I had a ’63. A thin person could literally have slipped between the grill and radiator. Here’s a pic from the web showing how much crush space they have.
Well thank you for the shout and link-back, Gerardo.
I can’t say I have strong feelings about derbies. I mean, I like “The Blues Brothers,” and they trashed plenty of c-bodies. But I hate that “Green Hornet” used up so many ’64-’66 Incomparable Imperials decades later.
I guess I’d prefer to see old cars used up in races. Does anybody race sedans or wagons? Last stock car track I visited still ran a class of ’80s GM midsizers, but they were all two-doors.
I attended one derby, in Rawlins, Wyoming, in 1995. My buddies and I were shocked to see a clean Continental Mark III among the field. It looked at least as healthy as the ’71 Catalina we’d driven to the event. From Maine. 🙂
Incidentally, Big Girl’s Blouse would be a great name for a drag racer. With some serious Dagmars.
The late Kevin Martin would have had something much funnier to add here!
If your that worried about saving a car from a DD or the crusher.. put your money where your mouth is and Buy it! Go down to the impound yard and save it’s soul. Your spouse will be thrilled seeing it everyday in the corner of the yard. Never mind the extensive amount of rotting sheet metal, mold-infested interior strewn with discarded litter and cigarette butts, and several already-missing parts. I forgot about the rat feces. The DMV back fees will cost you even more if you want to put it back on the road. Then there is the emissions test, complicated by more missing parts. Sure, if it’s all in tact, pre-smog or passable, and currently registered, then save it. A ’64 Sedan DeVille now lives happily in Sweden because I didn’t DD it. Nobody wanted the ’75 Coupe DeVille or the ’76 Mark IV that had languished in the in tow yard for weeks, forgotten and filthy. They were going to the scrap yard eventually. Try and part it out. See how many people light up your phone just dying to get a piece of the former V8-6-4 broughamobile that couldn’t be crushed. Then, when you’re finally done with it, you still have to haul the carcass to the scrap yard. Some cars should be saved. Some are too far gone to be worried about.
I did that, actually. I started with a 1987 Chevrolet that was covered in Bondo, resting under a tree for 8 years. The interior was a mess, and a few parts were missing. It was a difficult project. But, I ended up with something that I could love. That’s worth it alone.
Since a lot of square body’s are used for derbies, finding a replacement door was a challenge!
Not a lot of people will restore a mid 80s LeSabre. But, some of us need parts. Some of us use older stuff for pleasure or work. Some of us can actually see something that’s “an eyesore”, and can make this:
This is something the Brits do better. Just search “banger racing” on YouTube to see. The complete and utter insanity is worth whatever cars get scrapped in the process.
In the 1960’s I nearly cried watching all those Grampa – Mobiles being destroyed , 1940’s & 1950’s cars , ’55 Chevies and Crown Victoria ’56 Fords etc….
As mentioned , then they were just worthless old cars as the 1970’s ones are now .
All through the 1980’s and 1990’s @ Saugus Raceway Demos there was one fellow who’d get *pristine* 1960’s vintage Cadillacs and paint them pink and put a pink panther on the roof…
IIRC , that same fellow always had some air horns off a _train_ ! boy howdy those suckers were _LOUD_ .
I rather enjoyed watching the school bus demos as well as the C Class Camper demos , Combine Demos were just boring to me .
No one has yet mentioned ” Train Racing ” that’s done on Figure 8 Tracks….
Maybe they should have a standard derby car built of tubing and mostly flat sheet steel. The identical construction would make it more of a drivers contest if the cars were all of equal specifications. The suspension could be hand built as well. Other then engines, transmissions and rear ends, the wrecked pieces would be recycled and replaced identical replacement pieces needing only new steel to build. Make it mid engine to help protect the drivetrain. Steering boxes, balljoints, springs, etc could be manufactured as replacements. There would still be a few used parts that would be required, but most could be manufactured new. It would be more expensive, but would be a way to have fun without using up cars which otherwise may be restored or used for parts to keep another on the road. I keep my cars for 25 or 30 years in good running and looking condition and eventually lack of parts and parts cars will make them too expensive to maintain. Of course, if everybody did the same, the market for new cars would be a lot more limited. Just wrecks and rust buckets would need to be replaced with new. But since most want the latest and greatest, this would never happen. I went to Saugus Raceway back in the day and have to admit it was fun to watch, especially the figure 8 racing. But sometimes you would see a nice car get destroyed and it really was kind of a waste.
You’ve just described NASCAR except the mid-engine part.
True, but it started out using real stock cars. This is what it evolved into. Although to the extreme in terms of cost and corporate involvement. Same idea for DD except on a low budget home built scale.
What difference does it make whether the car goes to the crusher or to the demolition derby? The car gets crushed either way. I would rather see the car go to a salvage yard where people can pull parts off of it, but a demo derby is better than just melting it down. Cash for clunkers, on the other hand, is a sin. They are using public funds to buy good useable vehicles which are then intentionally ruined. This is like kicking poor people in the face.
Many DAF enthusiasts (certainly the ones who like the tiny models) still get mad when they think back to these “special events”:
These small family cars with their Variomatic (the predecessor of the CVT) were laughed at back then: cute little cars for the disabled and the elderly. Now they have a cult-status and the really good ones are collectibles. Certainly the coupes.
I must say though that the shows were great fun to watch, certainly at the age of 15….
As a wagon fan, it always bothered me that DD favors wagons. I cant prove it, but I think DD’s sucked in many highly roadable wagons back in the day when no one saw any value in them. Since giant 60’s/70’s wagons have gained much more collector interest in recent years, that has probably diminished the number of survivors and parts cars extant today.
I’m with many of the other commenters , have an all FWD derby and I would possibly be entertained.
The last derby I saw had a compact car class and a minivan class.
Only seen one Compact car derby. I believe it was in Wisconsin. The first gen Escort wagons held up best.
I detest them immensely. A “competition” based on the celebration of sheer destruction?
I attended one at the Arizona State State Fair in the mid 70’s – my last -and anguished while pristine, AZ rust-free sheet metal was squandered in a momentary frenzy. As it was the 70s, the victims were largely 50s machines that are so coveted today, commanding 5-figure prices and up.
I get it, but when I was a kid way back when…I would have killed for that Smash up Derby, with two plastic 50’s vintage cars that you would wined up with collapsible parts…but thinking back, I would have been bored pretty quickly always putting them back together.
My brother and I got a set — probably for Christmas. They were cool for awhile but didn’t hold our attention very long. YouTube Video: Smash Up Derby by Kenner.
The sentimental, car-loving side of me agrees with you completely. But then there is the rational side of me that recognizes that if these cars had any value, they wouldn’t make it to the DD.
A neighbor has a big hulking 76-ish Marquis 4 door. It was his mother’s car and ia supposed to have something like 40K on the odo. But it has sat outside and not moved in the 20 years I have lived here. It is badly deteriorated and would surely be a money pit. The prices of similar cars, even in great condition, tells us that there is certainly no shortage of them. I would hate to see the car in a DD, but I am also not ready to plunk my own cash down to “save” it.
This topic also reminds me of the scrap metal drives of WWII when lots of old cars from the 20s were scrapped. It’s all about value, I guess.
I don’t care if the cars are Camrys or Accords, or even old 4 door sedan American cars, but old hardtops whether 2- or 4-door are strictly verboten, as well as 2-door post models – and that includes Colonnades or any other coupe with fixed rear side glass!
Hate Demo Derbies, case closed.
Demo derbies make me sad, but not really mad unless a reasonably fixable model is wasted with no good reason.
Cash for clunkers, on the other hand, enrages me. Even if I agreed with an officeholder on just about everything else, support for C4C would, alone, be enough to deny him/her my vote. Even the name angers me. “Clunker” is supposed to mean a total POS, or a really dumb idea when used in the non-vehicular sense. But you could have C4C’d a mint Cadillac Brougham as a “clunker”. I remember seeing a Country Squire wagon that looked to be in excellent exterior shape prominently displayed as a C4C representative at a dealership. I was apoplectic, to the point of having to pull over and cool off.
Got to admit, while I hate seeing some of the potential fixer uppers be destroyed, it is a mixed blessing. For one thing, most derbiers are o.k. with selling the unused parts (interior and exterior trim, glass, bumpers not of the 5-mph variety, etc) for a reasonable price, and if you happen find one who prefers demoing the cars you collect, this can be a treasure trove of usable parts for a restoration project. That is how I originally began buying, repairing and selling clamshell station wagons back in the day. I had always wanted one since I was maybe ten years old, and around the time I started to drive, there just so happened to be a network of people in my town who had them for the derby, and rather than throw all the parts in the dumpster, I was able to get whole interiors, spare tail lamps, grilles, mirrors, even upgrade interiors with optional items. And then, there is a certain rush to watching a derby- and seeing a car like the one you have (or aspire to own) win the show. Akin to muscle car enthusiasts watching a Monte Carlo, Charger or what have you in the stock car races.
Something just occurred to me. If so many “desirable” classics had not been destroyed in derbys, the remaining ones would not have the value they do now.
If I could have derbied my 74 Impala instead of selling it for 50 bucks I would have. My co worker who bought it swore he aimed to restore it. Totalled it driving drunk off road instead, then buried it in a field. I am certain he did not drain the fluids first. I still get super pissed thinking about this.
It was my first car. I would have really enjoyed mashing some lesser beasts with my Impaler.
From my perspective, the front end was shot, needed new tires, got terrible mileage and the interior was beyond saving.
It would have been perfect for demo, or ice racing, which they stopped doing in the Yukon just before I got rid of it.
I agree. This is a disgusting form of ‘entertainment’ and such a waste of cars that could supply spares to keep others running.
When I sold my 1964 Humber Sceptre Mk I to a couple of guys back in 1981, they surprised me by asking me to drive them around for a few miles and then sat in the back and cooed like a couple of contented lovers. They paid me my asking price and only then took the keys and drove away in it.
Years later I read an article on banger racers and realised my car had been purchased by such low lifes and had probably been trashed the following weekend.
Personally I would love to see an all Toyota Prius/Nissan Versa demolition derby… That would be most acceptable.
I totally appreciate where many of you are coming from, but I definitely lean toward the ‘blaze of glory’ ending. There just aren’t enough people interested for everything to be held on to. Many people bemoan the loss of these great cars, but few of those very same people have the space/money/passion to snatch up the everyman’s full-size sedan /wagon. You can’t save them all. Most of these cars are unwanted or only wanted by people who don’t have the means to actually save them. Way more cars to be saved then people to save them, so they’re either derbied or unceremoniously crushed. Same loss. I just became a major part of this argument with my purchase of a 1971 Pontiac Safari. One owner, 50,000 miles. I paid more than I wanted to and I had to sell another old car (69 T-bird) to ‘save it’. I’m glad that it won’t be derbied, but I love the legendary status of these as derby cars and how it has become so much a part of their history. If you’re interesting in saving everyday cars, start stockpiling those Cavaliers/Sunfires while you have a chance. Nothing lasts forever, but there’ll always be just enough old cars around to keep them special.