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?
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
On the occasions when our garage needed a part to fix an older car, as a junior mechanic I’d often get the job of driving over to a local yard to find and pull a usable part. I’d take as much time as I thought I could get away with wandering the rows of automotive history. Sometimes a bit too much time.
It wasn’t our service manager’s 1st rodeo though. On one fairly lengthy trip to retrieve a wiper arm linkage rod, he pulled me aside and confessed that when he was younger, he enjoyed looking at the older wrecks too, but I should only do it when retrieving something for one of our used cars and not a customer car as I might delay the promised completion time.
I was lucky to work for such a cool service manager. It wasn’t just a job for him. He genuinely loved and took pride in our shop work. He was from an era when it was customary to promote men to that position from the ranks of the most skilled and personable mechanics.
Definitely sounds like a good boss!
He sounds like Victor, my boss at Main Street Motors. I still remember him. That was my favorite job!
You had a fun day at the boneyard! That ’70 Ford XL convertible was at one time a really nice car! Shame it had to end up in the ‘yard. Thanks for sharing.
For some cars are just cars and only that. Shush, I didn’t say that. I mean it is not my opinion. Er, I’m just joking…
Oh no! That T-Bird is a 30th anniversary edition, a really cool car! Only 5000 were produced…another unlimited space dream car for me.
The multitude of switches and toggles in the center console/arm rest intrigues me. I can only imagine the ways those controls could have broken. But I’d like to harvest the console for use at home. It’d make an awesome remote control for an entertainment system.
The console switches controlled the mirrors, windows, and power seats. My ’87 had everything except a passenger power seat, and everything held up as long as I owned the car, and I was a teenager at the time! 🙂
My guess is the T-Bird is a recovered theft on which the claim may have already been paid. Good fox body bones in these. Shame to see it like this.
That XL convertible is a real rarity! I can’t say I would be a great fan of the ooodles of golden brown, but that 429 and the folding roof would make up for it. It looks like those things rusted like crazy even in Kansas City.
Ford should have skipped “Freestar” and just gone to “Freefall” for the minivan, and gotten credits for truth in advertising. Seeing one of any version of Windstar has become quite a rarity – yet I saw two Chrysler minivans (a Gen 3 and a Gen 4) parked next to each other at a fast food place yesterday.
I think the “Euro” thing that GM was into back then was a desire to evoke cool but without paying license fees to any of the designers who had some cachet. But it came off like some kind of generic designer knockoff. Like the road test article this morning about the 63 Chrysler, it was the American interpretation of the European interpretation of how Americans were interpreting Europeans. In other words, kind of a week-old stew.
For those fans of ’70 Ford convertibles, I saw this last week at Gateway Classics here in Denver.
In addition to the red paint, it comes with a 390, buckets and a center console.
@ Dave :
This one has a tremendous presence .
I agree, and am tempted to make a play for it, but the asking price is 20 k. Not unreasonable, but I’m not a buyer in that neighborhood.
Thanx for the walk through, I love junkyards and walking through them .
That T-Bird looks like maybe a theft recovery .
We used to have four salvage yards close by. All allowed individuals to roam at will. Being a collector of name plates and emblems (yeah, I know? 🤔?), spent many hours. Often found unfortunate victims seemingly crying out for resurrection. Two of the yards have closed. The remaining two will no longer allow access 😕. You must ask for specific items and employees will pull parts. Often takes hours! They claim it is due to liability issues??? 😠 😡 😤
I would say definitely liability issues. Different world we live in.
I suspect that it is all the stuff that people pull off of cars and then leave it lying all over the place. One gets tired of picking up after folks, and folks get tired of having to step over hazards in the aisles.
That PT Cruiser … Wow, not much left.
While not very big, they were quite heavy and sold feeling little “trucks”.
The engine room was so crowded in the NA version, I have a hard time thinking about where they put the turbo.
Aaron beat me to it regarding the 30th Anniversary T-Bird, and yes, it would’ve had the V8, as all of those had the 302, as well as the light gray perimeter molding (all other ‘Birds had the darker shade of gray).
What a shame about the ’70 Ford… Here’s what it SHOULD look like…
That ’70 Ford should have been scrapped years ago ~ that it wasn’t means someone loved it enough to try and keep it on the road all these years, I expect the final tipping point was the visible collision damage .
Sad yes but think of all the great cars that were simply junked because of age .
Agreed about the ’70 Ford! I came to say the same thing. I think the ’70 was beautiful and gave up little in external style to other large-car offerings from the Big Three. Plus, it was a convertible. Shame.
The pre-1999 Galant ended up there since too old for BHPH dealers, so at auction, highest bidder was salvage yard. Working class buyers now want ‘anything 2000s and up’.
90’s are in the ‘project car’ class, so 2 doors are desired.
Some of these also look like “estate cars” donated from descendants wanting to “get rid of” left overs. Like the Ford minivan, [actaully it’s a last Windstar, from the fascia], probably someone’s ‘retirement van’.
Great selection Jason. What strikes me is how complete the cars are, we have a couple of large U-Pull yards locally and the cars there are just bones, so well picked over it’s hard to find anything usable. Up to about 3 years ago this was not the case, I’m not sure if it’s pandemic related somehow or more the rising cost of both new and used cars.
There was a lot of inconsistency in what was picked over. Full-sized vans and pickups were all picked over to varying degrees, with engines gone from many. The non-domestic branded section ran the widest gamut from untouched to unrecognizable for what they were. The domestic branded passenger vehicles were the least touched of the bunch. This could lead to any number of conclusions although I suspect my timing plays a distinct factor.
The least touched of any of the domestic branded vehicles were those Ford minivans and any GM product with a 3.8 liter V6.
“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.”
Over the last few years, most of the Denver self-serve yards have migrated to this organizational style. Usually the SUVs end up in the truck section, but some small SUVs may end up in the car section while minivans can be classified as either.
Speaking of using a car’s bucket seat as an office chair, I know a guy in Delaware who buys passenger front seats and mounts them on 5-caster office chair bases. He uses only the passenger side seats for 2 reasons; first they are almost always in near perfect condition, and second, the adjustment controls are on the right side because most people are right handed.
He also sells office/car chairs with power adjustments. Those have a small 12v battery & charging pack hidden in the base of the seat, with a port to charge the battery using a power cord. He calls them his Executive Chair. Last I heard, the prices for his chairs start with a non-power cloth seat at about $700, and top line leather Executive Chairs were over $2,500.
He can also add embroidered emblems [car logos, company name, or the chair owner’s name]. As each chair is made to order, the wait time is running about 6 to 9 months, depending on the type of chair and what the donor car was.
There used to be a movie theater that I went to when my kids were young that served food along with the movie. All of the chairs in that place were seats that had come from some sort of Lincoln SUV (they had the Lincoln logo embossed on the seat backs). All of the seats were mounted on casters and still had the reclining mechanisms (thus, they weren’t power seats) that worked.
The kids loved sitting in those seats. I never could figure out where an entire room of used Lincoln SUV seats came from.
Sounds like Chunkys in Haverhill
I went to the one in Nashua 🙂
(so did YOU ever figure out where all of those seats came from??)
Great post Jason. I too would gladly spend a good part of the day walking through junkyards. In fact another thing I used to do with my kids on vacation was to find self-serve yards to just go through for entertainment. The first time one kid was denied access for wearing something other than fully-enclosed shoes was the LAST time my kids ever went out on an aimless day trip with me without bringing appropriate footwear.
“Remember SHOES!!! Maybe we’ll get to go to a junkyard!” 🙂
Looks like a nice walk, certainly beats golf. Some interesting finds there and yes that is a 924 and the Mercedes looks to be a gray market W116 280S or SE or SEL since we never got a gasser I-6 in these, V8 only for Die Amerikaner, neither vehicles I would expect to see in either KC but that’s the wonder of a junkyard.
And the V40 is just like the one we had from new, it won’t get picked over much, they seem rare on the streets nowadays and have mostly filtered through the yards but were a decent car in their day, sadly part of the disposable Volvo era which continues to this day.
A Lumina may be the least Euro car of all time, btw. At least the large Detroit barges of the days of yore have a cult following over there, not so the Lumina line…
Great finds, thank you! Sad to see so many cars just past the point of saving.
In 1987 I had an 8 month project in Kansas City. For the first 6 months it was Missouri but for the last bit we were moved to an office in Kansas. I used to work there one week a month and work remotely from Toronto the rest of the time. We were pioneers in remote work. I did not get an opportunity to visit any salvage yards, but on my walk from the office to the hotel I came across an antique car dealer. I don’t remember many of the cars but they were an unusual and expensive selection. The one that really stood out was a Peugeot Bébé, which was a micro car from 1905. It is the only one I have ever seen, and certainly not what I expected to see in Kansas City.
CC effect, I saw that roadsign on you tube two guys nursing a decrepit Pontiac home to Missouri I wondered if there were two cities by that name, they made it ok.
No Vauxhall Americanos but we do get a Vauxhall Mokka, closely related in its original incarnation, to the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore. Now, a Stellantis product of course, on a PSA platform
Glad you made it out. The salvage yard featured here is my.local one. I saw the ford truck a few weeks back. You have inspired me to do my own local samples of the wonderful salvage yard finds. There was a mint 280zx last year. It was actually for sale. No one bought it….then it got parted out. Keep trucking dude!