Sunday, July 15, 2018

VW Microbus with 21-windows is a Samba-shaped roadside attraction in North Carolina

No windows, no paint or drivetrain. Rusty burned T1 Transporter hulk is still a head turner.

Samba! Unbelievable sight to behold sitting beside a highway in the southwest corner of North Carolina. It was a 21-window VW Bus or Samba for those with uber Volkswagen knowledge. A crustified shell for certain. No glass, scant paint, zero interior, no trim, no wheels. Drivetrain? Ha! Are you joking?
  But there it sat in the Appalachian foothills. Beside an outbuilding covered in rough hewn wood, a mere 25 feet from the roadway. Stickers bearing the Harley-Davidson name and a faded confederate flag adorned the doors of the makeshift garage that flanks the VW bus. A bright yellow and black sign warns, "CAUTION: Smile big at the camera," for those who stop to look at the burned shell. I’m guessing plenty do. A nearby house and the sign must be enough to keep the Samba safe. 

Money maker
  Even in this condition a VW Samba bus (23 and 21-window varieties) brings ridiculous money. $85,000 is not an unheard of price for a complete basket case. Or, so I’m told by those seemingly knowledgeable VW folks that I talk to at car shows. Maybe they are sharing the legend perpetrated on TV? 
  "In nice, driver condition $135,000 is a common asking price." 
  Really? I’m not sure who buys a $85k basket case? But that means there is money to be made at the low end, if you can dig one of these up. Whether it be out of the woods, buried in a swamp or a battered, burned wreck out of a junkyard. Don’t worry, I’m looking too!

This one has 21 windows. Built between 1964-1967.
A yellow sign warns that visitors should smile because you're on camera if you stop to look at the 21-window VW Samba bus.

Look but don’t touch
  I didn’t have the courage to bother the owner with my questions. They no doubt have heard them all. Yes, they know what it’s worth. They don’t want to sell. If you have to ask, "how much?," you can’t afford it. Carry on.

Samba knowledge
  The 21-window Deluxe Microbus/Samba models were built between 1964 and 1967. They featured a large canvas sunroof. The 23-window VW Deluxe Microbus/Samba was built prior to 1964. 
  The Volkswagen bus, known as a Transporter, Microbus or just plain VW Bus originated in 1950, but they were not exported to the United States until 1952. Only 10 were sold in U.S. that year. Success and sales followed the split window bus through 1967. In 1968 they were redesigned and the split windshield, and V-indention on the front body panel was no more.
  Many different models of the VW bus were available touting their functionality and fuel economy. Buyers could choose from a Deluxe Microbus (extra window varieties), Pick-up, Double Cab Pick-up, Camper, Station Wagon, Deluxe Station Wagon, Kombi and Panel Delivery transporters.

Disclaimer, mea culpa
  I’m no VW expert, so mileage may vary on my accuracy. Please drop me a note if I’m wrong about something in the story. I probably am. 

(Note: Coming soon: a short video of this VW Samba for Junkyard Life Youtube Channel)

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life

A sign warns that visitors should smile because you're on camera.
No windows, no paint, no wheels or drivetrain. The rusty, burned VW Samba’s remains still turn heads.

Got a cheap old VW bus to sale? Or a great old car/truck/bus story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

One-owner 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix makes third Hot Rod Power Tour

Hold tight. In 1972, soon after USMC veteran Tony Parnell was discharged from the service he began searching for a new car. Parnell put $50 down on a new Ford Grand Torino. But after a drive in his buddy’s white 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix, Parnell retrieve his deposit at the Ford dealership and plunked it down on a Golden Olive 1973 Grand Prix of his own. Equipped with a 400-V8, turbo 400 automatic transmission, black cloth interior and black vinyl top. The car was a testament to the over-the-top styling of the 1970’s and the long hood/short (for the time) deck lid that was the brainchild of John Z. DeLorean.

Parnell and his wife, Pam, enjoyed the sights and sounds of the 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour behind the wheel of the 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix that they have owned since the car was new. The mid-sized GM colonnade is still a sight to behold 45 years after it was delivered. Parnell proudly touts his original ownership. Holding the keys tightly on a Grand Prix that still wears almost all of its original equipment, right down to the pinstripe on the long hood. Tires and wear items have been replaced during the car’s 100k miles but you would be hard pressed to find a more original 1973 era car in more original condition.

Take a look and listen to Parnell’s story that he shared at the Hoover, Alabama stop of the 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour. This was Tony and his wife Pam’s third HRPT.

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Watch: Burnout Callout: Melting rubber before the hot rod road trip

Smoke show! The boys from Junkyard Life get called out for not doing burnouts. Keith Lively and his all-wheel-drive 1966 Chevy Impala built on a 2004 GMC Denali chassis are up to the task. Chained to our custom TJ "Money Burner" Jeep Wrangler with 1-ton axles, 6.0 liter LS engine and 4-doors, the Impala let them rip. Smoky burnouts for everyone! 
  Afterwards the junkyard-style 1973 Pontiac Grand Am, owned by Jody Potter and driven by Ron Kidd, with the 400-V8, posi equipped laid some stripes.
Then, Keith and Ron get a laugh discussing the merits of Lively’s rubber burning abilities. Enjoy the show! And... Do Not Try This At Home!!!  

Hot footing to HRPT 2018
  The gang loaded up and headed to Bowling Green, Kentucky in these two car for the start of the 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour. More road trip tales are coming soon.  

— Junkyard Life

Do you have a hot rod road trip story? Send us the sweaty details!  Email details to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

Read the very first Junkyard Life story. Not for Sale - 1970 Road Runner to ruin

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Watch: Abandoned 1963 Chevy Impala SS 4-speed rescued from the woods

Watch this! We haul an abandoned 1963 Chevy Impala SS 4-speed out of the woods 40 years after it was left for dead. The Junkyard Life Rescue team, led by Keith Lively, hustled into action in the backwoods of Alabama. All it took to rescue the onetime gold Impala SS was a chainsaw, a monster Jeep and a tractor. The Impala SS was among a small hoard of mostly Chevrolet iron that was abandoned in the 1970s after their engines were snagged for roundy-round racing. The stash included a 1970 Chevelle, several Vegas, one Chevy II and a 1967 Bel Air 2-door post. All were hauled home and will begin a new life as parts cars or projects for us or someone else. 
  We’re super proud of the 1963 Impala rescue because it is a true SS with bucket seats and a 4-speed. Score! Keith worked all angles for a couple of years before connecting with the property owner to earn permission to retrieve the cars. But, he did it! And the Impala has tons of great parts and even a spare set of bucket seats in the trunk. We want to see this classic brought back to life! Stay tuned.

— Junkyard Life

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

Read about another car that was among the abandoned finds in the woods: A 1970 Chevelle!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Last-minute build, getting ready for Hot Rod Power Tour

Shot of truck in earlier build stage.

Thrash time! With the Hot Rod Power Tour, just two weeks away we all have a long list of things to check, fix, and build before we go on the week-long trip. With an estimated 5,000 participants already registered there is a lot of work being done in a short time. We at JYL are no different. Our 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser is still in the shop with a bad transmission and the all-wheel-drive 1966 Impala is just now finishing upgrades. Our editor-in-chief, Jody Potter, seems to be the only one who thinks he’s ready to make the trip (editors note: Doubtful!). 
  With so much still to do, we went to our friend Mike Ellison’s shop, Musclecar Outfitters, in Dodge City, Alabama for help to get our group ready. This is where the story gets good, at least for the reader. We walked in looking for help only to find the shop truck that is our back up parts and recovery rig still taken apart and sitting in the rear of the shop. This truck, a 1968 C-10 assembled from parts of a half dozen 1967-1972 Chevy C10 trucks, has made the last 10 Power Tours. We had to ask, what happen to the truck? 

Mike Ellison working to get ready the 1968 C10 for the 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour.


Junkyard Life: Mike, the truck was running great just a few months ago what happen to it ?
Musclecar OutfittersWe had some down time so we decided to upgrade the truck with a ton of new parts that had been sitting in the parts room for months. 
JYL: What upgrades are you making to the shop truck?
MCO: We built a new motor with a Sniper fuel injection, new Sniper fuel system, new exhaust, rims, and full interior. The rest we just left the same. 

Holley Sniper fuel injection installed.

JYL: Why wait until now to pull the truck in to the build bay?
MCO: Customers come first. When the dates for the tour were announced we had a huge rush of customer’s cars to get ready before we could start back on the truck. Plus, with the added new projects the truck just got pushed back. 
JYL: We would love to help get the truck ready. It’s just not the same without the shop truck with us. 
MCO: We are currently working on the truck starting at 5 am until we open and then back to it whatever time we finish our customers cars at night. There is 6 weeks of work to put into the truck in just a few hours a day with only two build weeks left. The truck hasn’t missed a Power Tour in 10 years and it will make this one also.  

More to come
Stay tuned to see how the truck makes the trip and what it took to finish it.  This is one project Junkyard Life is ready to take on and help however Mike lets us.

Keith Lively
— Junkyard Life

Ellison’s 1968 Chevy C-10 has seen several different looks and seems to be undergoing engine/parts swaps all the time.

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

Friday, May 18, 2018

Readers’ ride: 1985 Ford Mustang GT

White hatchback Stang was pulled out of a garage in stck condition.

Dang! It feels good to be a GT. “Grand Touring” has gotten lost in the world of acronyms. A wonderful descriptive adjective combined with a verb that we excited car guys turned into a noun. We borrowed this term from the British, whom take their driving very seriously. Back before the days of Ford’s “fox body” Mustang, the GT package disappeared for a while. That was okay with Mustang buyers of that era. If they couldn’t make the GT package exciting as it used to be, then don’t tease us. Well, they went and did it right. Motor Trend compared them to exquisite German engineering and indeed thought Ford had stolen BMW’s crumpets in the year of our garage find feature car. 1985 was a good year indeed.
  As they tested their toes with some 302 V8s throughout the 1970s and in the early 1980’s, Ford Fox buyers knew that something wicked this way comes. And now it is 1984. What is new for 1985 models in the otherwise yawn fest in automobile showrooms? The original owner of this 1985 Mustang GT saw a way out of the mundane. 

A dual-snorkel air cleaner, pure vintage muscle car tech, helps the 302-V8 breathe.

Holley Be Thy Name
  Who would have thought a legendary Holley carb would be feeding anything other than speed store patrons in that era? It was quite the surprise for Mustang buyers underneath that awesome duel snorkel air cleaner. More good news under that! The 302 V8 was back and a little angry. 210 horsepower angry. A roller style camshaft and roller lifters were present. Tie this to the available 5-speed manual transmission and this became an enthusiast car in the era of otherwise disposable transportation. Hold on, American streetlights… this could start another horsepower war. Which it did and left almost everyone wanting to leave their legacy under someone’s right foot.

A Holley carb feeds the 210-hp engine the Go-Go juice.

Optioned with options
  Junkyard Life’s friends Jason and Deidra Trammell recently rescued this white hot example of 1985 Pony Car Prestige. This car was a very well optioned GT from the beginning and was treated accordingly along the way. How could someone resist a crisp autumn night with the t-tops out (t-tops are a Mustang thing too!) and the musical symphony of sorts provided by the tuned exhaust? Somehow, the original owner did resist and eventually the Trammells scored a high option, low-mile fun machine that’s a little on the rare side. 
  We love the halo-style seats and the integrated spoiler. The Trammell’s car is finished in Oxford White with a very classy Charcoal interior. Every power option seemingly known to Ford was checked, except the shifting. You must do that yourself, but who are we kidding? We would love to! Fresh out of the barn and into their extensive collection, this pony has a good new home. They plan to keep it as original as possible. 
  Junkyard Life intends to be there for the initial cranking. Jason and Deidra are going through the usual motions taking care of things that have been dormant for several years before that happens. “GT”? As far as we know, it stands for “Good Times.”

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Halo headrests in the Mustang 5.0.

5.0 Fun facts: 

  • The famous 5.0 liter displacement mathematically is actual 4.9 liters. 
  • In 1982 the GT name came back after a 13 year absence. The slogan? “The Boss is Back.” 
  • 5-0 (pronounced “five oh”) was slang for the police in urban areas.
  • “Hawaii Five-0” a television series about law enforcement from the 1970’s is widely credited for the nickname. The show however, was actually named because Hawaii was America’s 50th state. 
  • Ford further fed the stereotype (so to speak) when they produced 5.0 liter Mustangs for law enforcement, hence 5.0 was forever associated with police.
  • The LX based (Code SSP “Special Service Package” ) police cars were very powerful, but unfortunately did not handle very well in inclement weather. They are very collectable today and usually come with a story wrought with adventure. 
  • The 1993 5.0 suffered the curse of a hypereutectic pistons, thus not allowing the high doses of nitrous oxide that the 1985-1992 Mustangs could handle.  
  • In 1986 the 5.0 Mustangs got their first fuel injection. Despite the power rating being lower than the 1985 model (210 hp vs 200 hp) However, the fuel injection and a few tricks to free up more power made the 1986 model perform a little better. Time taught us they still had much up their sleeves.
  • Robert Van Winkle (Vanilla Ice) converted from an IROC Camaro to a Mustang GT drop top in white and let us all know he was rolling in his 5.0
  • Adam Sandler revived Vanilla Ice and his 5.0 for a great scene in his movie That’s My Boy. Sharp eyes may spot that the movie car is an automatic. The original ’Stang that Vanilla Ice drove was a five-speed. 
  • In a recent interview with Vanilla Ice by The Car Connection, he told them he wishes he did still have that 5.0.

Spotting the 5.0 emblem on a Fox body gave instant cred. 

View from behind the wheel of a 1985 Mustang GT.

Subtle GT decals spelled doom for would-be racers driving Third Gen Camaros.

Fog lights on your LX?

1985 Mustang GT ready to be unloaded. 

Power windows and locks on this heavily-optioned 1985 Mustang GT.

Wimbledon White Mustang GT hatchback. 

Stereo controls and command center for fuel gauge and lights.

Tach baby! And 80,000 miles on the odometer.

T-tops in a Mustang GT? Yes!

you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  
Send emails 
to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

Friday, May 11, 2018

How to Build a Cheap Custom Intake

Smooth out the ugly on the cheap. Our LS intake on the 1966 Impala AWD never looked better.

Build it! Can’t afford a high dollar looking intake. Is your budget tight ? No problem, it just takes a little time and a junkyard intake.  Here’s how’s it done: 

Go to your local junkyard and pick out an intake to match the one on your project vehicle.  

Shave off all the extra plastic but save the sensors mounts they will be needed later. 

Use the plastic you cut off and a soldering iron to plastic weld (melt) the holes until filled. Install the sensors mounts in the rear of the intake out of site. 

Sand and finish the top with a little body filler. 

Pick a color and tell you buddies you ordered a custom intake.

Keith Lively
— Junkyard Life

Share your Budget How To with Junkyard Life. 
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Keith Lively’s 1966 Chevy Impala is an LS-powered, 6.0, all-wheel-drive monster that he built during a thrash to make it on the Hot Rod Power Tour several years ago. Yes, he finished just in time. Now it has a cool custom intake too!

The big, AWD Impala handles much better than anyone expects. Take a look at the ride-along video below.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Abandoned 1963 Chevy Impala SS 4-speed rescued from the woods

After 40 years the Junkyard Life team haul out this classic Chevy.

Gold in the Hills (with FOUR gears!) We have a barn find project that we call "the Prospector." However, Junkyard Life staffer Keith Lively really is a prospector. He found a host of seemingly forgotten Chevrolets in the deep woods of Alabama. With his trusty blue oxen (a homebuilt Jeep named “Money Burner”), Keith “Paul Bunyan” Lively began extracting the vehicles from the forest. Everyone scored on this Bowtie find, but Keith brought home the gold! It wasn’t easy. Our rusty gold rescue team had to spend a few days in the woods clearing trees to gain access to the cars and create an exit trail to haul them out. 

Factory 4-speed Impala SS console still rests between the buckets seats.

In the sticks
  The last and coolest car we dug up and dragged out of the woods was (hold on to your pick axes, fellow automotive prospectors) a 1963 Impala Super Sport! Now that the lumberjacking was done, we still couldn’t get it out. Unless, we had a monster truck and a four-wheel-drive tractor. We just happen to have those! I (Ron) drove Keith’s LS-powered, blue oxen “Money Burner” Jeep pulling a trailer and Keith trudged his way in with a tractor. Truly, nothing else could have done it. Jody pitched in, by pulling, pushing and waving directions while filming the whole spectacle (stay tuned for video). 

Weathered paint around the SS emblem is a thing of beauty.
Weathered paint around the SS emblem is a thing of beauty. 

The Junkyard Life Extraction Team does it again!
  It was a true SS with bucket seats and a 4-speed. Score! It took Keith a couple of years of occasional checking in with the property owner to get hold of this gaggle of Chevrolet goodness, but bless his heart — he did it. The Impala has so many great parts and even a spare set of bucket seats in the trunk. Unfortunately, the 327-V8 and 4-speed are gone, but it was as if they were removed and the car just pushed to the side. What? Who could have committed such a crime against vintage car humanity? 

This is how the ’63 Impala looked, among trees and several other abandoned Chevys. That’s a 1968 Impala coupe in foreground.

What we found out
  You know how as of late everyone wants to put an LS based power plant in everything with wheels short of their lawn mowers? Well, in the 1960’s and early 1970’s Chevrolet’s 327 c.i.d. was the hot power ticket. Street racers, track racers, street machines and anyone with an ego and a small block wanted the 327. The former owner of our Chevy garden was no different. By the time we found our third full-size Chevy in the woods, we sensed a pattern. Sometimes things are what they seem and it seemed someone targeted full-size Chevys packing 327’s, removed their power plants and discarded the cars.  

A modified Jeep TJ with a Chevy LS-6.0 pulls the 1963 Impala home.
The 1963 Impala SS spent the last 40 years in the woods until the Junkyard Life team, led by Keith Lively, haul it out.

Anybody’s guess?
  So the land owner snagged the 327s. What we don’t know is where they went or even what kind of Chevy he was racing or just running back and forth to work. Thirty-or-more years later, we got what was left. That sounds like something we would do, doesn’t it? 

We thought it looked gold. Maybe it has been repainted, although faded now.
Paint code 932 listed on trim tag of the 1963 Impala SS.

Color me Gold 

  If you can’t imagine how cool this 1963 Super Sport is, try to imagine what it was — a very stunningly beautiful and infinitely fun car. Code 932 paint and code 858 trim comes back to be Saddle Tan with Saddle interior. Although the Impala appears to be code 920 Autumn Gold, either way a very handsome appearance. It was not loaded with options. The original buyer checked off all the fast things his budget allowed. We know he could have gone faster, but that was expensive. This was a nice car. So he opted for the 4-speed and 327 combo. No air conditioning or power things, just self shifting fun in the upper level Impala body with Super Sport trim. 
  You would have to spend some money to outrun it. Just ask the Biscayne guys who ran Super Stock at the time.  

No longer equipped with engine or transmission, the Impala will hit he road under Lively’s care.
Loaded on the trailer, the Impala moves for the first time in decades.

I smell rubber in the future
  All is well that ends well, that is, us getting a 1963 Impala with three pedals. But, will this be the end of the road for this golden beauty? Absolutely not! If Keith does not keep it for himself (he is our Impala expert at Junkyard Life) we will find it a good home that insures us that someone will be chirping the daylights out of second gear! 

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Jody Potter, left, and Keith Lively study the situation before they move the trailer under the rear of the ’63 Impala.

Junkyard Life’s Impala Fun Facts:
  • When we first set eyes on the ’63 SS, our hearts stopped when we saw the fender emblem — from 20-feet away it looked like a 409. 
  • Aforementioned emblem actually was a 300 emblem (1964 Chevelle issue) that did not belong on the car.
  • Junkyard Life staffer Ron Kidd spent an hour researching before determining the emblem was incorrect.
  • We thought for a minute that the car was a 50 year anniversary Impala built in Anniversary Gold code 927. However, we were off by a year. That was done in 1962. None of us here at Junkyard Life are sure it is not a re-paint in that very color.
  • We’ve read that only 300 or so of the anniversary cars were built, which made Ron wonder about the validity of his conclusion, thus more research on that darn emblem. Jody and Keith told him that from the beginning.
  • The 50 Millionth car built by GM was a gold 1955 Bel-Air. Thus, at the time people were confused when they again celebrated a 50th in 1962. This time it was years and not number of cars built.
  • Smokey Yunick was loaned a 409 Impala in 1963 and didn’t like it. Chevrolet engineers cold shouldered him for a year after all the bad press. 
  • The Beach Boys loved the 409 Impala and wrote a song about it. One of the Wilson brothers owned one and was known to engage in red light battles.
  • The advertising campaign for 1963 Impalas was “Jet-Smooth.”
  • The full-size Chevrolet line was using a new modern frame, known as the X-Frame. It was to provide more rigidity and strength. Crash tests indicated that the frame didn’t work as well during side impact collisions.

As found condition of the 1963 Impala SS 4-speed abandoned in Alabama woods.
When you find a classic car in the woods what do you do? If it is a 1963 Impala SS we bring it home — with permission of course.

Detail from driver’s seat of the 1963 Impala SS 4-speed console with bright swirled trim details.

1963 Impala SS 4-speed interior holds buckets seats.

Saddle interior holding up on most of the interior including rear seats.

A tractor was needed to lift the front end of the ’63 Impala SS to better ease it onto the trailer.

Keith Lively used chains, tractors and his monster Jeep, “Money Burner,” to yank the Impala SS out of the woods.

Loaded up ’63 Impala SS is ready to move.

Shiny Gold or Saddle Tan paint visible on area once shielded by the round tail light panel on the ’63 Impala SS.
Shiny Gold or Saddle Tan paint visible on area once shielded by the tail light panel on the ’63 Impala SS.

Quarter panels look surprisingly good on the abandoned ’63 Impala SS.

Back in the 1970s older cars did not have much value once wrecked. This one was basically scrapped out for the engine.
The damaged fender is only body damage on the ’63 Impala SS and was likely the cause of its demise. Back in the 1970s, older cars did not have much value once wrecked. This one was basically scrapped out for the 327 engine.

Ron Kidd holds a wiggly reptile that he found living under wet piles of leaves in the ’63 Impala’s trunk.

Read about another car that was among the abandoned finds in the woods: A 1970 Chevelle!

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at