Sunday, November 24, 2013

Junkyard Adventure: Thompson’s Auto Parts



South Alabama junkyard smiles. If you find yourself lucky enough to be passing through the southern tip of Alabama, you must stop at Thompson’s Auto Parts in Midland City. Located just north of Dothan, Alabama on Highway 231. Roland Thompson, owner and operator, was kind enough to let Junkyard Life tour the yard with a camera and ask about a thousand questions. 
  Thompson guided me through his shop and showed me a few of his current projects. Thompson is obviously a skilled body man and mechanic. Only when I could be restrained no more, he turned me loose to my own devices. 
  What did I see? A southern Alabama classic car heaven is all.


1971 Chevelle SS stripped of carpet and showing off solid floor pans.

Chevy heavy

  Roland Thompson is primarily a Chevrolet guy. One thing that caught my eye was a fabulous green 1971 Chevelle SS. All the Q&A I could play with it, pointed to it being of genuine Super Sport pedigree. Round gauges, cowl hood, optional spoke wheels — it was all there. The carpet removed for all to see the floor pans, which seemed in great shape to me.


1961 Chevy Impala.

1971 Chevy wagon with SS grill.


Ready for paint
  Immediately catching our eyes was this 1971 Chevelle wagon with a lot of body work done to it. We love wagons. Add this 1961 Impala, a solid 
2-door hardtop, (in about the same stage of bodywork) and you would have stopped too. If Junkyard Life nerds are going to be passing by, you can’t just leave things like this in view.


1970 Chevy Monte Carlo, needs hood.



1971 Chevy Monte Carlo, hood available. 

Monte Carlo feast
  Thompson’s has a vast array of first generation Monte Carlos. Do we like Monte Carlos? No, we love them. There is nothing about these cars we don’t like, other than they are not ours. It’s a good thing Thompson sells whole cars, as well as other hard to find parts, because these Monte Carlos are too nice to part out.


Big block Chevy car in Thompson’s junkyard!



Where else are you going to find a complete 1966 SS 396 El Camino?

With the big block rat motor still at home? Check! A quick look reveals factory AC, power steering and power brakes. This car is something special.


1970 Olds Cutlass S.

Factory Halo Top made a fashion statement when new. 

Top this
  This 1970 Cutlass S was in remarkable shape. Notice the factory, weird, vinyl top that GM referred to as a Halo Top, because the car appeared to be wearing like, a halo instead of the full length version. I took lots of pictures of this car in different camera settings and it did not disappoint.



Second gen Trans Am fever at the junkyard.
A pair of 79-81 model Pontiac Trans Ams on hand. These two hard-top models had lots of great parts, like the tail light design and splitter pipes I cannot resist.
One of the Trans Ams oddly enough had this strange Buick wheel. We love odd and someone is bound to be looking for this.



This poor 1970 Pontiac was rescued after teenage car cannibals tried to emulate a targa top — with a saw! No anesthesia even.


A 1955 Chevy panel truck with a now ironic lettering that reads “Modern Cleaners — As Modern as Tomorrow.”


This mid-fifties Ford wagon was the subject of a lot of different camera angles. They all turned out great. I wonder where this car has been. Suburban housewife? Adventure traveler? Route 66? Hand-me-down teenage transportation? Two dollar per car load drive in night? Junkyard Life has questions like that.



Buy parts or whole cars
  Thompson’s Auto Parts deals heavily in Chevelles, Chevy II’s, Monte Carlos and really is a true Chevrolet fan. If you need something hard to find, give them a call. They sells parts and entire cars. Thompson also has sources and friends that share his enthusiasm. There are more cars tucked away on the yard. 


I spied this 1955 Bel Air 2-door post sedan in the weeds. This shoebox Chevy reminds me of our ’55 Hot Rod project. Roland digs Tri-fives too! He showed me a beautiful 55 150 that they worked on, that made Power Tour this year.

1955 Chevy Bel Air baby!

1971 Chevy Monte Carlo sits in the weeds at Thompson’s junkyard in south Alabama.
How many green first gen Monte Carlos did GM build? 

Seating for two in the trunk of this 1970 Monte Carlo.


Bigger is better
  One more Monte Carlo shout out. These two may be rough, but offer lots of hard to find trim and various other parts. I didn’t see an SS454, but knowing Roland Thompson, there may be one hidden in the yard somewhere. I imagine the green one in younger days, gleaming with those factory pin stripes highlighting the bold body.



Thompson’s motto 

“We buy antique cars and trucks, the good, the bad & the ugly—
running or not!” 
  So, if you have something interesting, give him a call at (334) 983-9053. They may just have it in there somewhere!
Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life



1955 Cadillac! How did it survive dramatic scrap price surges.



Junkyard Life Reminders and Tips:
  1. Never ever ever, just walk into a junkyard without permission. No exceptions. Even if you “know” them.
  2. If you get denied permission, don’t get huffy with the yard guard. Understand, they have to deal with theft and legal issues. Always be nice.
  3. Be sure to mention the project you are working on. They can steer you in the right direction.
  4. If you find something you want or need — always talk with them before you go removing parts.
  5. If you do remove the part, assure the business that you will NOT hack up everything that needs to be removed to get what you need. 
  6. If you do break something, tell them and offer to buy it. This is their business and they will appreciate the offer.
  7. Thank them for letting you look around. They don’t have to do that. It makes for a good relationship and raises your chances of doing good business in the future.

Happy Hunting!


Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
Send emails to Ron at Kidd403@bellsouth.net or Jody at junkyardbull@gmail.com.