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What was your best junk yard find?


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At Standard Auto Wreckers we operate a U Pull It yard in Toronto, Ontario and we also run free parts days where folks can come in for a flat fee of $49.95 and you can walk out with everything you can carry. Sometimes our customers find some real gems.

I would like to know about some of your best finds at your own local auto recycler? Pictures would be great too!

Edited by S_A_W (see edit history)
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Stripping out a 1964 Dodge Polara in a yard once, I found a bunch (4) boxes of Hotwheels and Matchbox cars. You know the ones with the layers of cars stacked inside. They are all in beautiful condition and I still think about the poor kid whose parents junked the car with his toys in the trunk. I still have them in my toy collection.

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my best junkyard find, 1953 pontiac power antenna in working condition

my best swapmeet find, took 22 years to find a NOS tailpipe extension for the 53 pontiac

my best ebay find, NOS rear draft deflector for very little money

my best pontiac club magazine find, NOS 1953 pontiac rear window wiper kit complete

on that tailpipe extension, five minutes later, bump into another pontiac club member, who was also restoring a 1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina, he ask me if i had found anything good, i told him of my find, he wanted to buy it from me.

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32 Ford sitting beside a 56 Packard. The Ford had been cut down to make a tractor in the forties. The cowl, hood, rad, engine, trans, and front part of the frame were intact.

They were way in the back against the fence of an old junkyard near here. They sat there for years. I thought of buying them but couldn't figure out how to get them out of there. Other cars had been dumped randomly for years, barricading them in.

About 3 years ago they cleaned out the yard, everything went. I didn't find out until too late. I asked the owner about those cars, he remembered them and told me they went in the bin with everything else.

Then he told me I could have bought them any time, he would have brought his crane around the other side of the fence and lifted them out.

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Then he told me I could have bought them any time, he would have brought his crane around the other side of the fence and lifted them out.

Darn! It reminds me about something my better half always says, "If you never ask, you will never know"!

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Gosh, there were so many great finds back in the 1960's and 1970's I don't know where to start. But, I'll log two of the more recent ones. Gimmel's Parts in York, PA was undoubtedly the best junkyard ever. In the 1960's and 1970's it was loaded with old cars all up the side of a mountain, and had a barn full of parts. In the 1980's I bought a 1940 Pontiac and remembered how many old Pontiac's were on that mountain. I went up there, and they were all still there, even tho the lower part of the yard had been modified. Sitting upside down, with no front end was a 1940 Pontiac I remembered from years before, never moved. One windshield was out, so I crawled through it and there was the original radio. I took it out and went home, only to find out it was a two part radio. The next week I went back and told Hap Gimmel my tale of woe and he said go back up there and I could have it if it was there. Sure enough, it was there. After getting home, we hooked it up to power and it WORKED! In the late 1990's another fellow and myself visited a junkyard full of 1970's cars in Virginia. As we rooted around in the trunk of a rotted Electra, quarters started falling out of the rear bottom of the fender onto the ground. Suddenly we realized there was a rotted bag of quarters in the well of the fender, and they were falling out like from a slot machine, all green and mildewed. All in all we got $60 worth of quarters and split them.....pockets bulging of course! :)

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)
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1958 in one of the junkyards in Avanel, New Jersey, I found an early Crosley Hotshot, and bought it for $8.00. I drove it home, and got it looking pretty good. It was a ball to drive, and eventually I rebuilt the engine at a cost of about $35 includine machine work.

The next year I paid $8 for a one-week-old Rayco convertible top off a '51 Chevy and installed it on my red 1949 Pontiac. The Chevy also donated a $ .50 fender skirt to the Pontiac. A Buick ('47?) in the yard gave up the Guide traffic Light viewer. Another Pontiac had a "Lighted" Chief Pontiac Hood Ornament which cost $2.50 -- it worked !! Later, a Cadillac provided the set of triple horns, a set of snow tires, and 2 bags of tire chains for $10 TOTAL.

Years later, in the mid-1990s in a junk yard somewhere in Texas I bought a radio for the '34 Buick for $85. The radio did not play, and after disassembly I found an envelope with four $100 bills - old currency - pre-war. A new vibrator got the radio working.

One man's junk is another man's jewel.

Edited by Marty Roth
typos (see edit history)
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1958 in one of the junkyards in Avanel, New Jersey, I found an early Crosley Hotshot, and bought it for $8.00. I drove it home, and got it looking pretty good. It was a ball to drive, and eventually I rebuilt the engine at a cost of about $35 includine machine work.

Wow, those prices are just insane...even adjusting to today's dollars it seems like a pretty sweet deal! I mean in 1958 folks were earning around $50 a week right? So that would be like finding a car for $200 these days?

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I was pulling the horns off an old lincoln town car in Bradenton florida and when i yanked the coolant resovior out of the way a quarter was underneath it! Also in the same yard i was pulling a seatbelt retractor out of a taurus and i found a five dollar bill under the seat! Not exactly like finding gold but it made my day! and that fiver paid for the horns!

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a quarter was underneath it!

Back in 1911 that would have been a good find?

Elgin Creamery Butter, brick form, lb..........................................35c

Pure Buckwheat in 10-lb sack, worth............................................40c

(The old-fashion kind) special 10-lb sack......................................28c

Chocolate Cream Drops, our own make, 15c regular Saturday......................10c

Oranges, "Flordia Sweets" dozen....................................30c

Cake, Chocolate Layer, our own make in carton "Country Club" brand, each.......10c

Beans, hand picked Navy, special, 6-lb for.....................................25c

Rice, Japan Head, worth 8c-lb, special, 6-lb for...............................25c

Eggs, Country, guaranteed fresh, dozen.........................................34c

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It was at Triplett Auto Wrecking in Akron, Ohio around 1962, there was a 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta convertible, two tone blue, with the Eldo style wrap around windshield. Even then I knew how rare these cars are (under 200 built) and went back a week later to see only the hood laying beside the crusher machine. Dang!

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Of all my wrecking yard tales the one told most often pertains to lost treasure. I was working at a VW dealership in Arizona during the mid 1970s. There was very little market for 40s or early 50s stuff taken as trade ins so the dealer seldom allowed more than $100. Most of these cars ran but smoked, were rust free but had little or no paint, and the interior was often shot. Many of these were one owner cars. We would set them out back down by a sand wash along side the wrecks. Once a year a company with a portable crusher would come in and buy everything. Well, this old boy traded in a late 40s Pontiac fast back on a new Scirroco. I delivered his car, he lived in Oatman on an old alignment of Route 66, and I drove the trade back, about thirty miles. As per direction I parked it out back, salvaged the owners manual for my collection, and lifted the back seat cushion to gather a couple bucks worth of change. I left the seat beside the car and the doors open as it didn't matter since the car would be crushed soon and the winos and bums often slept in them. Well, about two months later a fellow showed up from California and spoke with the boss about the Pontiac. It was his fathers car and he had recently passed away. The boss had me take him to the car. He pulled the back seat cushion and behind a sheet of black fiber board fastened to the springs were three or four old socks. I do not know how much money was in them but I did catch a glimpse of one roll as he checked the sock and the first bill was in the $100 denomination. I got some change and an owners manual and missed hundreds of dollars!

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A 1935 Auburn body for $300. It had a perfect floor in it that went into a cabriolet.

I was rewarded with many other small parts as well. It came from French Lake Auto Parts in central Minnesota about 4 years ago. Not many Auburns in salvage yards any more.

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In 1978 we bought my first new car, a black 78 Buick Regal. It was a sharp car that would scratch some gravel. A few years later there were kids in the back seat and the red velour was always covered with zwieback toast crumbs. We sold it. My son got a bit older and we were on the first of many trips just walking through a local U-pick it junk yard and there it was. The red seats, the positive traction and the 4 barrell were gone, but there were still crumbs on the rear floors. It was my car and finding it in a junk yard was like wandering a cemetary and finding the marker for an old friend.

Bill

77buicks.jpg

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In another junkyard in the early 70s, there was a 1958 Packard Hawk and a 1940s Dodge woody station wagon, built on a light truck frame, painted with blue house paint. I'm sure there were other gems but those were 2 I wanted to buy but couldn't afford.

There was another junkyard that got a lot of vehicles from a hearse dealer. At one time he had a 1939 Cadillac hearse , a 1940 Packard hearse, and a 1950 DeSoto limousine. He also had a 1949 Studebaker convertible, and a lot of other neat cars.

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while living in Rochester N.Y. several years ago, I had a 64 Dodge Dart Gt conv. I posted an ad for a conv. or 2dr. A guy answered my ad and said he had the 2dr hardtop GT. I asked how much for whatever I could strip from it.

He said as long as I left the engine I could have everything else for $125. Boy did I work my butt off that day. I practically rebuilt my convertible.

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In the late 50's, I was a teen working nights at a service station in West Texas. There was a wrecking yard next door which got a lot of 30's and 40's cars. They would pull the radios from the cars as they came in and test them. The working ones went on a shelf, but the non working ones were tossed. The old man that night watched there knew I liked the radios and would save the non working ones for me. Usually there was just a bad tube and I could combine a couple of radios and make a working one. Wish I had kept them now. They would be worth a few bucks and make some car guys very happy.

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I was with a friend coming ome with an empty trailer and looking for muscle cars in junkyards. Up in Aberdeen SD, there was a yard that had a beautiful 88 Buick Electra wagon. Nothing broken and great red velour interior. I bought it and drove it for 65,000 miles before needing garage space for other toys. Sold it for the same price I bought it for.

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:)Harrys u-pull-it. Hazelton PA. I had bought a fugitive from a junk yard Chevelle for the wife and it was really a sad looking thing. Bucket seats from a Olds. in the front looked like a couple of cats used them for a scratching post,no carpet no headliner and the paint come off when I tryed to wash it. But she loved it so I bought it. First stop was Harrys. I found a Chevelle there and removed the front seat,the belts and headliner. I also got a headlight ring and the whole works cost me $8. This was in 96. I recovered the front seat with the correct kit,installed the headliner and took it, on the ill advise of a friend to my first car show. Befor then I had never heard of a car show or the AACA. Bottom line I have to say my best find was an introduction to the old car hobby and thousands of new friends.:)

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Not a junkyard fidn but a "field car". 1970 AMC Javelin in Big Bad Orange a premium color at that time. It had been sitting along a busy highway near a migrant worker house here in CA since the 1980s shielded from sight by a line of windbreak trees. It had been abandoned by a migrant worker years ago and I bought if from the rancher. It still had the keys in the ignition. I paid $300 including $100 to the truck driver who scouted it for me and made arrangements with the rancher for me be buy it.

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A local JY had a VW Thing that was fairly complete.

A couple of weeks later we were at Carlisle and told a VW Thing guy about the car. He was from Alabama.

A week later we were back at the JY, they had a few 65-66 Mustangs we were taking parts from. The VW was gone. Asked the owner what happened.

He was surprised by a call earlier in the week. A guy from Alabama called him and came up and bought the car. It was the darnedest thing as he never expected anyone wanting one of those cars that bad.

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This is sort of straying off the car subject but 25/30 years ago north of Hamilton Ontario I saw an airplane junkyard. There were all small private types,some with twin engines, but no commercials. I have heard of other such sites mostly in the southwest US. I wanted to stop but was over ruled by wife and kids. I love junkyards of all kinds!---Bob

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Back woods of Tennessee was looking for old camper trailer parts and found a rather expensive 90 Watt Solar Panel laying against a pile of car hoods. Someone had wrecked into one of those yellow highway department directional signs and the solar panel was unharmed except for some burrs in the aluminum frame.

For educational purposes note that solar panels sell for anywhere from $4 to $6.50 a watt.... and this panel would easily be $450 new. So I'm thinking I'd get out of this yard dirt cheep since this panel looks like it's been sitting there for a decade. Asked the gruff yard owner and he says he want's to keep it one of these days he's gonna charge some batteries with it. I use solar dc power with my vinatage camper and when I'm vending so I asked what his bottom dollar price was. He says I need $50 for the panel and the charge box. I said I didn't need the charge box ( it was old 1980's tech ) and he would only sell the set. So I forked over the $50 dollars and tossed the charge box later on.

I remember about 2 hours after the fine purchase, I stopped at a rest area in the Smokey Mountains and hooked up the solar panel to my Coleman DC powered cooler/fridge and by golly that single panel was able to run the fridge in direct sunlight. To this day that 90watt panel is still pushing out a lot of power and is my favorite panel to take on the road.

Once I rented a office at a high volume / small salvage yard... I'd always check the scrap dumpster for goodies: one day someone dropped off half of a 1950's Triumph motorcycle in parts. The gas tank alone brought in some big money. We need to start a thread about cool things you've found in scrap piles and dumpsters...!!!!!!

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1992, in a junkyard in Lawton, Oklahoma, I found this rust-free 1964 Studebaker Commander 4-dr. sedan, 259 V-8, 3-speed with overdrive, and about 80,000 miles showing. It had no dents, no rust, engine was complete, needed paint and upholstery and a tire. I kept looking it over and could not understand why it had been junked. I think one parking light lens was missing, otherwise the car was all there! I bought it for either $300 or $400 (can't recall which), towed it home, put a battery on it and gas in it and it ran well!. Put tires and belts and hoses on it, and drove it as my daily driver for about a year. Then, I did a full restoration on it (paint, upholstery, chrome) and mistakenly traded it for a 1950 DeSoto sedan. At least I had the satisfaction of literally rescuing an unusual, unwanted piece of automotive history from certain oblivion. The junkyard closed about a year later and most of the cars were crushed.

Pete Phillips

Sherman, TX

1948 Buick Roadmaster

1949 Buick Super Estate Wagon

1950 Buick Roadmaster 2-dr. ht.

1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

1958 Rambler Ambassador 4-dr ht. wagon

1959 Buick Electra 2-dr.

1962 Buick Electra 225 4-dr ht.

1963 Chrysler New Yorker sedan

1963 Buick Wildcat conv. 4-spd

1964 Rambler American conv.

Edited by Pete Phillips (see edit history)
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One of my best finds was 2 years ago in a Ga. junkyard. I found and bought a 1972 Pontiac GTO hardtop "X" code 455 HO rolling body in which the yard owner sold it to me for $250. and even loaded it on my trailer for me! Sadly, the same yard had a '65 GTO hardtop that was factory tri-power,a/c,4 spd, Tiger Gold that was $250. but by the time I made it back,some yahoo got it and immediately put it on Ebay for over 3K. It was in sad shape with no running gear but I did end up with the Rally gage cluster out of it. And recently I found a '57 Buick Super Cabellero hardtop wagon in another yard that I am negotiating right now. I think it may be $500.

Edited by BOPcollector (see edit history)
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I wish I had taken pictures. In 1975 Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept. hired CRUSHER CO from Oregon to come in, tow away tagged abandoned vehicles, put them in an impound yard, and subsequently crush them. You could "buy" any car in the impound, and take off all the parts you wanted, but you could not have the whole car. I "bought a 1948 Dodge and a 1947 Chrysler (I was working on my derelict '48 Chrysler), and took away two pickup loads of parts for $20. The Motorola radio that I pulled out of the Chrysler turned out to be gutted, and was full of illegal drugs. (I destroyed them)... but the dumbest thing was not "buying" a mid-twenties Hudson that was there. I think I should have taken every part except one thing with a serial number on it... you think of these things years later.

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Wow, some of these finds are unbelievable!! I would love to know how much money was in those socks!!! I once found a roll of twenties (10 of them) in the back of the glove compartment of a 1989 Ford Probe (first year they were made I believe) back in 1995.

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Ok, it wasn't in a junk yard, but in about 1977 I was stationed in Dover Deleware (Air Force) and one of my friends moved into a duplex and I agreed to help him move. When we got to the duplex there was a convertible sitting under the carport. I went to look at it and it was a 1957 Chevy Belair Convertible. The top was half down and there was no interior. I had him ask if the owner wanted to sell it and I got it for 200 dollars. But wait, there's more, when I went to pick it up the owner asked if I wanted the interior, he had removed it and put it in a storage building. The original engine had been replaced with a 327 out of a Corvette. Wish I hadn't sold it now.

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One time around 1976 or 7, Ken Buttolph and were out junkyarding in NW Wisconsin. While we were there the junk yard roll back rolls in with what appears to be a near flawless 1973 AMC Ambassador, 9 pass. station wagon, yellow with wood paneling. It was a 360 V8, with automatic AC and more. I looked over and it was a really nice car. I am think what could be wrong with it? So I asked the junk yard owner why it was being junked and if I could buy it before it went in the yard. He told me the owner had just done a valve job on it in his drive way and could not get it to start. Sooo, I bought it for $100. Took it home, turned the distributor around 180, tighted the head bolts to spec and drove it for a year and sold it for $700. Geez, I wish it was that easy these days!

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Dumb question but as they say "the only dumb one is the one not asked". So here goes. I was born in 51 and raised in a small Illinois town with a couple junk yards. As most kids from that era we loved doing the "normal" stuff, hunting, fishing, mushroom hunting and the like. A good day was one spent at the junkyard hanging out. Now with all the building and construction, peoplewanting to get out of the cities, many of those treasure spots are gone. Where/ how do you go about finding yards that they still allow you to "hunt"? I'd love to be able to take the grandkids on some of the treasure hunts!!

Shooter

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Guest mystarcollectorcar.com

NOS 55 Dodge rocker panels a few years ago-they were sitting in the trunk of a parts car in the original boxes at a well picked over yard.Couldn't believe that I got them thrown in with the door handles I was buying.

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One more-a few years ago I was in a yard and they had a row of cars that were hours away from being baled.One was a 59 Plymouth Belvedere 4 door with the factory dual antennas-they were in great shape so 20 bucks and a few minutes later, I had them off the car.

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Found a new old stock 1964 Dodge Dart grille in a yard hanging off a nail. I could tell that it had never been mounted....got it for $5.00. A couple of weekends later a guy and his wife had to have it for $100.00. They were restoring a convertible.

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I was wandering through a junkyard near Rockaway NJ, looking for parts for my 84 TA and another car we have. Wandering around I spotted a 80 Z28, but then I wandered over to a more secluded part of the yard. Spotting a tarp that appeared to be a convertible with no top up. I pulled off the cover expecting to find a MG or a Trimuph. Imagine my utter shock, when I pull it off and find a mid to late 60s E-type roadster.:eek: It was fairly complete, perfectly restorable. That was when I was in HS. Four years on, the yard has changed. You are no longer allowed to wander around the yard. I asked about the car. "Oh yea I remember it. It was scrapped. The car was brought in as it hit the end of its life, sat around and was scrapped." Now whether it was a BS story about it being scrapped or not that was no doubt the best find I ever found in a salvage yard.

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