Junkyards, a Love-Hate Relationship

junkyard_love-hate2Due to a series of stupid errors, which I may or may not blog about later, I found myself this afternoon slogging through the desolate wasteland of the self-serve wrecking yard. Anyone who’s owned an old Japanese car has probably found him or herself in a similar state, driving 20 minutes to the part of town where no one would ever think of building a town house complex, not even during the biggest of bubbles, and actually paying good money for the pleasure of trudging through a barren, hot and dirty lot filled with things that normal people generally try to avoid.

Broken glass, pointy bits of bent metal, vast smears of black sludge, it’s all here. And all you have to do is wade through it, armed with a bag of wrenches and a tetanus shot, to find the elusive part that you either bone-headedly broke or was already missing when you fell in love with the car and bought it against your better judgement.

junkyard_love-hate3You suddenly become an expert at spotting your make and model by nothing more than the corner where the roof meets the C-pillar, because that’s the section both most visible and the one least likely to get mangled in a crash. And if you do happen to find a match, and the part you need on that match is still in tact, well then that’s gold, Jerry! Gold!

So where does the hate part of the equation come in? Well, the dirty little secret is that pick-your-part chains don’t make their money selling you that little plastic bauble for 10% of what the dealer would charge. No, they make it by crushing the cars and selling the metal cubes that result. In recent years a worldwide demand for steel has shot the prices of recycled metal skyward. And the bigger the wrecking yard chain, the more likely it is to be owned directly by a metal processor. We’re just the maggots used to clean the bones, and paying them for the privilege.


But what would we do without them? It’s not even like you can just barge into your local dealer and demand a 20-year-old trim piece that’s out of production. So we continue to forage. And sometimes we find a yard, like the one we visited today, who tries to look out for collectors and puts older “classics” in a special section away from the quick-rotation rows of death.

Here, however, is the thing. The photos peppering this post were all taken today in Wrecker’s Purgatory, but what do you notice? Not a single Japanese car. Yet scroll down to the gallery below and you’ll see several examples of the wondrous, doomed J-tin elsewhere in the very same junkyard waiting to be dropped in the crusher in just a few weeks.

Sure, the special section has some early 60s Falcon Rancheros, a ’70 Olds Cutlass, the occasional Triumph or Alfa, and that International Travelall is pure awesome, but look behind it: a Pinto Wagon! That gets a stay in limbo while a Japanese car of the same era like this Honda Civic gets put on the fast track to the slaughterhouse!? Same goes for the Pinto’s less popular cousins, the Mercury Bobcat and  Mustang II, while this gem of a Subaru 4WD Wagon that’s just as old and rare gets booted to the quick disposal queue.

It’s maddening! It makes you want to bash your head into a door panel, really. But we can’t think of a better alternative to these self-serve junkyards, so we’ll continue to do the march,and post things of value to our fellow JNCers in the Junkyard Finds Notification Thread.

This post is filed under: junkyards.

30 Responses to Junkyards, a Love-Hate Relationship

  1. Sr-FairladyZ says:

    Even sadder are the junk yards around here in NYC, I live up the block from 3 of them. You’re lucky if you find ANY cars form the 70’s at all. About 80% of the yards are 1990’s junk. I did however found a few nice VG30DE MAFs down there for $60ea though! 🙂

  2. redma61 says:

    thats funny i guess we just missed you guys
    me and my brother where just at the miliken pick your part yesterday.
    we where pickin off one of the celica supras
    have you guys seen the old landcruiser set aside with the other old cars?

  3. BlownArrow! says:

    I love the yards! I’m normally at Ecology in Santa Fe Springs… Big yard
    I enjoy the “ritual” of getting up early on Saturday, stopping at the same gas station,
    get the same breakfast, getting to the yard just after 8:00..
    It always takes me back to my childhood… As a young boy/teen my dad would wake me early and take me to the yard to savage mopar parts to support my dad’s car crazed hobbies… gee the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…. 😉

  4. slickwrick says:

    thats the milliken yard!

    i was there yesterday!

  5. zukiru says:

    hate to see cars there like those
    maybe a little sun-faded but still in good shape.

    when I was searching for my XT which are uncommon here, they had one at eh yard which was faded but perfect otherwise.

  6. Jesse says:

    It looks just like the Richmond Pick ‘n Pull, but they’re completely lacking a ‘cool cars’ section. It’s pretty much just domestic vs import (and they get very confused most of the time). I remember a lot of ‘yards in New England that would just let you in the back, let you pull whatever parts you want, and charge you a few dollars for them as you left. I went there several times looking for Acura parts for my CRX, and walked out with new engine/trans combos for $50 a piece. Out here in Cali, the yards are pretty terrible pricewise.

  7. 4AGE KE70 says:

    Condolences to the classic cars that have been thrown out to the junkyards,but it is good for us to buy the spare parts,isn’t it?I hate to see a classic car stay in a junkyard,why don’t just sell it or give to their neighbour if they’re desperate.If I have a classic,rusty classic car,I don’t want to sell it,rebuild it.

  8. redma61 says:

    we must have walked past eachother at some point??
    did anyone see a blue mr2 in the parking lot?

    maybe we can start a junk yard meet???lol

  9. Ben says:

    That’s amazing how all us JNCers were at same yard! I was wearing a blue jeans, a red FairladyParts.com baseball cap and a blue Ford Fusion Hybrid t-shirt (don’t ask, it was a freebie 🙂 ) and my partner in crime was wearing Dickies work pants and a dark blue VW t-shirt.

  10. redma61 says:

    nope but im sure i would have recognized a jnc celeb like you ben

  11. BlownArrow! says:

    Hey I’m game for a JNC-Yard meet! 😀

  12. redma61 says:

    yeah time for a junk yard meet!!
    i dont think i have ever heard of that before
    it could be a new car trend

  13. slickwrick says:

    i may have

    were you there on the half off sale where it was almost impossible to walk the damn yard?

  14. slickwrick says:


    i may have

    were you there on the half off sale where it was almost impossible to walk the damn yard?

  15. BlownArrow! says:

    yaaa…. New trand, JNC-yard crawl 😀
    Car meet in gruby “work on my car clothes” , bag a tools, fist full of dollars, and your ride!

    Ok ben it’s your job as our trusty leader to get this rolling! You could take pic’s and do a insert of the mag! 😉

  16. colink says:

    All junkyards are sad if they have japanese cars in them

  17. Ben says:

    A junkyard crawl is a great idea…. is there a way to get pics cars in the yard beforehand, post them to see if other JNCers need anything, and all hunt for them during the crawl?

  18. BlownArrow! says:

    Do you mean for out of state or country guys (people who can’t make it) sure…
    We would have to send a scout a few days b4 to check and see what’s in there yards,
    Get a few people for different area’s, take pic’s in there yards, send them to you. Then you pick what yard
    to meet at….

    or we could meet at a yard we all know that has a fare amount of jnc’s and go there, if the yard has something for you cool, if not then you help a buddy pull parts, kind of informal meet and greet..

    I’ve been on the forum for awhile and know a lot of people here, “BUT” would walk right by them on the street and not know them, unless they a sigh with there name
    (Jeremy = BlownArrow)
    We need to get together as forum group.. (this would be a perfect reason)
    It would make JCCS or any other car show allot more fun if I knew who the hell you all are!…….lol…:-P

    • Ben says:

      I guess if we plan a time and place we can ask people to post their requests on the thread…

      Your 2nd point is why ppl need to buy 7 JNC t-shirts and wear them every day of the week 😀

  19. BlownArrow! says:

    Ok so start a thread on the forum and let see where it takes us..

    Might get huge… so big we ask the yard to cater to us and have the yard only open to JNC’ers for one morning

    or a few of us get together have a beer and a taco off the roach coach and hang for a little… either way it should be fun.

    oh I have one shirt, I wear it all 7 days….. 🙂

  20. redma61 says:

    well when does everone usually go to the junkyard??
    weekday,weekend,morning ,afternoon(i personally prefer morning)
    me and my brother are open almost any morning

    we can pick a spot far out in the parking lot(dont want anyone confusing my car for a jun kcar)

  21. BlownArrow! says:

    I normaly go on Saturdays in the morning, but I’m open to any time on the weekend
    and after 4:30 during the week….

  22. BlownArrow! says:

    We could promote it like cars-n-coffee, Grease-N-Clunkers or my favorite
    JNC’s Second Anual Junk Yard Crawl! 😀

  23. slickwrick says:


    haha ok

    sounds good!

    i just hope im not the only colt there

    will the cars be organized by make?
    because it will be sweet if they were just thrown all over the place.

  24. redma61 says:

    first we can pick a day and time and see who shows up
    im thinking milikin is a good spot for now??
    most likely a saturday?

    • Ben says:

      Milliken seems like a good spot. The cars aren’t grouped by make, just import/domestic, car/truck. Since we were all there a few days ago maybe it would make sense to wait a couple weeks so they have some new stuff?

  25. BlownArrow! says:

    Well that would give us time to organize and get the word out to more people who may be interested…
    I haven’t been to the Milliken yard so I’m in it will be all new to me…. 🙂
    “slickwrick, I just hope I’m not the only colt there” You may be the only colt but you’ll
    be with mitus fans, I’ll have the arrow.. I can park her next to yours so your wont get lonely.. 😉
    Saturdays good…!

  26. BlownArrow! says:

    Oh ya tomorrows satuday… FYI I’ll be at my usual yard. Ecology in santa fe springs
    be there around 8ish… I’ll be the big tall dorky guy with the full sleeve tat…..
    hope to see some of you..

  27. slickwrick says:

    im at the milliken yard once a week. and 1st week of the month is the best time cuz thats when they get a fresh batch of cars!

    “slickwrick, I just hope I’m not the only colt there” You may be the only colt but you’ll
    be with mitus fans, I’ll have the arrow.. I can park her next to yours so your wont get lonely.. ”

    alrighty then ill just need to make some additions to the car and ill be rolling.
    even if i dont take the colt ill still be there!

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