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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Junkyard tour: Jefferson County Auto Parts

“Birdeye” Sims watches the wreckers roll in with new inventory.

The unusual is the usual at most junkyards. “Birdeye” Sims, owner of Jefferson County Auto Parts, works six days a week from the driver’s seat of a white Chevrolet Impala. Recently, “Birdeye’s” health has limited his mobility and confined his workspace to the Impala. He sits behind the wheel, keeping a sharp eye on a wrecker loading cars. Between draws from his cigarette, he answers a customer’s questions about parts, prices and the large collection of antique cars he has on the yard. When a phone call for a part comes in at the front counter, his daughter-in-law, Wendy relays the message to “Birdeye”. Quick as a blink, she gets an answer back. “Birdeye” tells her if they have the part, where it is, and the sale price. The battered air dam on the front of his Impala proves he knows the junkyard and its roads like the back of his hand.

Wendy Sims works the counter, answering calls to Jefferson County Auto Parts.

For more 35 years, Jefferson County Auto Parts has been the lifeblood of the Sims’ family. During that time, buying and selling cars and parts has turned into a family affair. His wife, son and daughter-in-law are all part of the day-to-day operation. His son, David Sims, has taken over most of the heavy lifting and his share of essential junkyard headaches. Daughter-in-law, Wendy Sims, is the energetic voice that answers the phone. She directs the customers questions to “Birdeye”, in the Impala. “Birdeye’s” wife, Brenda, can often be found behind the counter helping customers, too. On the day I visited, scrapping cars was the top order of business. A junkyard has to make money, even in tough economic times. Scrap prices were $11 per 100-pounds for cars. A 3,500-pound car would bring in $385 for the yard. Goodbye cars, hello money.
1958 Oldsmobile Eight-Eight, 2-door hard top at JeffCo Auto Parts. Was $850.


Believe it, or not. A 1941 Ford sedan delivery at Jefferson County Auto Parts.




Antiques or junk?
Most junkyards scrapped their 1940s and 1950s vehicles long ago. You don’t have to look far to find the old stuff at “Birdeye's” junkyard. A rare 1941 Ford sedan delivery sits beside the front gate. How often have you seen one of those? Need parts for a 1958 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight? How about your 1959 Pontiac Bonneville or 1951 Willys wagon? Most of the old stuff, 50 or more cars, is gathered to the left of the main building. Take a left, and the old car section, is on your right. If your willing to walk, you may discover more than a dozen jaw dropping classics. A 1951 Ford parked on a mound of red clay. A 1942 Chevrolet coupe with a slightly mashed roof waits for restoration. The old cars are worth the trip. Meeting “Birdeye,” priceless. 

Where is it? Hours?
Don't get lost, use the map. Remember the New in New Mulga Loop Rd. I got lost and found another junkyard that I will share with you soon.
Jefferson County Auto Parts
6340 New Mulga Loop Road
Birmingham, Alabama 35224
(205) 781-1370

Hours - Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

“Birdeye” Sims, also known as “Pop,” at work in the Impala.


Wendy Sims, the voice of Jefferson County Auto Parts.

Slightly wrinkled 1942 Chevrolet coupe at Jefferson County Auto Parts.

1950 Chevrolet sedan at Jefferson County Auto Parts.

1951 Ford at Jefferson County Auto Parts.

1951 Pontiac Chieftain, left, at Jefferson County Auto Parts.

1951 Willys wagon at Jefferson County Auto Parts. Was $500.

Found this classy 1959 Pontiac Bonneville door panel at the junkyard.

Not many 1959 Pontiacs look this good in a junkyard. Was $650.

1960 Dodge with push-button shift transmission.

Jefferson County Auto Parts owner, “Birdeye” Sims.

1960 Dodge at Jefferson County Auto Parts.

Looks like a 1936 Chevrolet hiding in the pines.


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