Salvage Yard Classics: A Trip To Kansas City

What’s a guy to do when he has a short but indeterminate amount of time to kill when in Kansas City?  Why, you drop off the wife at her destination and go to a salvage yard!  What else?

This yard was not huge but still packed some nice surprises.  That’s what I like about Kansas City – surprises abound and there is always a new adventure awaiting.

As an immediate aside, and a slice of history in a piece ostensibly about salvage yard goodies, this is a good time to address the perpetually confusing Kansas City thing – yes, there are two of them and it is not a continuation of one city.  This particular yard we are seeing is in Kansas City, Kansas (referred to locally as KCK), a city which abuts not only the Missouri / Kansas state line but also that other Kansas City, the much more populated and better known one in Missouri (referred to KCMO).

A better history of it all is here, but in short it goes like this…In 1850, a settlement was incorporated as the Town of Kansas, with the name derived from the Kaw River which had been named for the Kansa Indians.  Missouri incorporated the area as the City of Kansas in 1853 and renamed it Kansas City in 1889.  All of this took place on the Missouri side of the state line.

In turn, several small towns west of the state line were consolidated into Kansas City, Kansas, in 1872.  Kansas did not become a state until 1861, thus KCMO predates both the State of Kansas and KCK.  Confusing, no?

I digress.

The front of this 1970 Ford Galaxie XL was really obvious from a long ways away.  Seeing it initially, I figured it was a sedan of some variety.  I did not see the ragtop until I was upon it – which only added fuel to the excitement of discovery.

Judging from that lower rear fender it looks like the old girl is on some type of irreparable weight loss program.

She also appears to have kissed somebody (or something) she should not have.

As is often said, it’s what is on the inside the counts.  The interior isn’t perfect but still looks quite presentable.

Standard power on the XL was a 351 although this one appeared to have the optional 429.

Nearby in the Ford section, and nowhere near as old, was a Ford Freestar (pretty much a third generation Windstar, as Ford was f-ing up their vehicle names for alliterative purposes).  You can see another one just to the left in this picture.  This red example was one of many; I quit counting these at about eight or so and saw several more after I quit counting.  Their sales numbers were never stellar and they all seemed to have wound up in this particular salvage yard.

Long ago, I drove one of these as a rental at work.  To illustrate how memorable these are, it was over a week from the time of discovery to realizing I had once piloted one.

With no replacement upon this minivan’s cancellation, Ford’s share of the minivan market in the United States went into Freefall after the Freestar.

One Ford that was hard to see camped out here was this 1985 Thunderbird.  This ‘Bird looked great – a great color in a desirable trim; what’s not to like?

Peeking inside revealed uncertainty – was the damage on the steering column and the missing ignition switch a result of moving it here or was it a contributing factor to it being here?  As was said in the old Tootsie-Pop commercial, the world may never know.

Shame on me, but I didn’t even think to pop the hood.  Given the lack of any “Turbo Coupe” badges, I’m guessing this one to have a 302.  Well, that’s what I wanted it to have, anyway.

This Thunderbird looked like it could have been started up and driven out of the yard.  But such is not to be.

This Mitsubishi Gallant was in even better physical shape than the Thunderbird.  It looked so lonely and forlorn sitting there I couldn’t help but preserve it for posterity as best I could.  The interior was immaculate, making me think having one of the seats for conversion into an office chair might be a swell idea.

Not to be selfish, and having no tools, I left them for somebody else.

Editor Jim Klein has correctly written about the prevalence of Chrysler PT Cruisers seen in his various salvage yards escapades, particularly ones in presentable condition.  I can corroborate his findings with a row of them at another salvage yard closer to home.

Yet this PT Cruiser was the opposite.  It was the only one here and it’s fairly obvious why.  This particular PT Cruiser was also a turbocharged unit as evidenced by a badge on the tailgate.

Another small(er) four-door vehicle was this semi-scavenged 2005 Scion xB eagerly waiting to donate more to the cause.  Have we ever seen another similar Scion in these pages?  If so, it was likely not a purple one nor did it have an automatic transmission.

These would look good with color contrasting wheels and a modestly raised suspension.  But good is such a blah adjective; perhaps I could instead say gnarly, rad, groovy, bitchin’, sick, or bad – pick your era of vernacular.

This poor Mercedes had been divorced from many its of cosmetic items but the core of it was untouched.

Identifying Mercedes models isn’t my strong suit although it had a gasoline powered straight-six.

Being a divorcee is also the case for this 1979 Porsche, presumably a 924 as that was what had been written on the rear fender.  Like with Mercedes, identifying these isn’t my forte.

Also similar to the Mercedes, all ancillary stuff had gone bye-bye.  I’m speculating these pieces for both the Porsche and Mercedes have been liberated by an entrepreneurial sort who has listed these items on eBay or some similar website.  More power to them as this increase the audience exponentially, making their odds of reuse that much higher.

What would a trip to the salvage yard be without a stroll through the General Motors section?  Incidentally, GM is one of the largest employers in Kansas City, Kansas.

I’ve always been curious what inspired GM, specifically Chevrolet, to partake of using the word “Euro” on cars back in the 1980s and 1990s.

From the outside this Lumina Euro doesn’t look fundamentally different than their regular baseball and apple pie non-Euro Lumina offerings.

Let’s look inside.

Yep, here we go.  This interior is unequivocally the definitive automotive interpretation of all that is European.  It is a sight to behold.

It makes me curious if GM had a Vauxhall or Opel with an “Americano” trim.

But at General Motors, the pendulum covers a wide spectrum since they will import something and utterly downplay the origin.

This was a find and not one’s ordinary Chevrolet.  Coming from Australia, it’s a 2012 Holden Chevrolet Caprice, imported to the states for law-enforcement use.

Presented in this black-and-white color scheme, law enforcement is exactly how it appears to have spent its life.  Where is the big question.

Like the Scion earlier, somebody has harvested the engine for new use.

This yard was organized differently than some others I’ve seen.  GM, Ford, and Chrysler products were all lumped together, but only passenger cars and minivans.  All other makes were clumped together.  In turn, all light-duty pickups and vans (of half-ton nominal rating and greater) were off to one side, with all makes commingling together.  So let’s take a quick look at two of them.

This 1975 (or maybe it was 1977, but they don’t differ much) Ford F-100 has sacrificed much of itself to be here.  Along with the bumper sticker seen above, it also possesses a personal ad.  Along the way somebody had carefully painted on the side of the bed “For a good time, call…” and gave a phone number.  But it wasn’t for Jenny at 867-5309.

The popularity of the General Motors “Square Body” pickups have increased significantly the last few years.  This 1985 GMC Sierra 2500 had once been a great example of the era.  That time has ceased.  This Square Body, like everything we’ve seen here, will soon be a Flat Body.

Some people have a flair for photography.  I don’t.  Pictures I take of cars are often little more than mugshots.

However, on rare occasion, things present themselves in a more obvious fashion.  So as a final salute to these several acres of cars, vans, and trucks that will soon enter a new phase of existence, I offer up this retouched Volvo V40 wagon.  It rather spoke to me in its bleak and lonely solitude on a windy and unseasonably cool day, presenting itself in a cold, sickly, and beleaguered fashion.

It was sad seeing some of the cars here; others, not so much.

All pictures taken April 22, 2023, Kansas City, Kansas