Monday, January 30, 2023

How to buy junk cars and make money

Junkyard Life is always hunting for car deals. We shop driveways for dilapidated vehicles covered in tarps or dirty with debris or covered in tree sap. All telltale signs of a non-running vehicle. We bought this 2002 Honda Civic because it had a tarp covering the back window. The tarp was sagging into the Civic, showing evidence that the tarp had been there awhile. The reason for the tarp? A large tree limb fell on the roof, breaking the back glass and denting the roof. The owner, at first reluctant to sell, was ready to make a deal six months later. For $300, the ran-when-parked Honda found a new owner in Junkyard Life. We needed to do some major cleanup. A junkyard rear window glass, seatbelts, new wipers, and a new fuel pump were the major items replaced. The Civic was back on the road after the roof was pushed back into place using Porter power hydraulic tool. The lesson here is to look for a deal. They are parking in driveways and yards all over your town. A little sweat equity and little money add up to a profit if you decide to flip the project and not turn it into your daily driver. We see it as a win-win scenario. You may hit some snags along the way, but the more you practice the junk car craft, the more you will learn.
2002 Honda Civic in as-found condition, minus blue tarp that was covering damage.
How to buy junk cars and make money
  • Always look for a diamond in the rough. Scan driveways and yards for vehicles that have been parked for a long time. Dirt, debris on top, dingy with grime or damage?
  • Inquire with owner, and ask if the vehicle is for sale
  • Make your best deal. You will learn over time how to factor in the unknown expenses in the price or just offer scrap value. Many will be glad you took their eyesore away. Always another deal down the road.
  • Sweat equity: cleanup the vehicle, determine what need to be done to get it running. Buy junkyard parts if possible.
  • Mechanical: fuel systems, tank, fuel pump, brake lines, etc. Vehicle needs to be road worthy or sell as parts/project to make your money.
  • Keep a good attitude. You will encounter headaches. Besides the automotive grinding and busted knuckles, paperwork and trips to the DMV will become regular occurrences if you decide to hustle junk cars.
  • Don't try to hit a home run every time. Make some money and move on.
Jody Potter — Junkyard Life Watch more Junkyard Life on YouTube If you got time, we need your help hiring a cheap camera holder and dog food. Your views, and likes help us. Thanks! Buy a Junkyard Life TSHIRT

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Saturday, January 21, 2023

Budget Buick Build Before & After: Cherry Avenue Auto Parts Junkyard Part 4

Need a reason to visit a junkyard? Buy a busted Buick. Watch Junkyard Life put this grandpa-fresh LeSabre back on the road. We won the bid on a wrecked 2000 Buick LeSabre with $650 at a local Birmingham, Alabama wrecker auction. The Buick came home on a wrecker, but as a bonus, we had keys and the 3800-V6 engine runs. Well, sort of. The bent Buick has a torn up radiator, so we didn't let it run for long to avoid overheating the engine. This purchase would be prime flipping material – the Double Aught Budget Buick Build – if we could locate all the parts and put it back together. (Note: Save time, money, and headaches when you buy projects that run.)

We jotted down a list of damaged parts and a scoured websites, such as Facebook Marketplace and the local Pull-Your-Own yard. The key to a budget build is finding straight body panels that have matching paint to what you are working on. This saves big money. 

We found Cherry Avenue's listing on Facebook Marketplace. Their Buick parts car was the same color as our car! That's a major bonus. Bolting on same color parts saves a ton on paint expense. Even with the saving, we did spend $450 in parts for a $650 car!

Cutting away the bent parts and removing the damaged pieces left the front end of the Buick nearly naked. We found color-matched hood, fender, grill, and bumper cover at Cherry Avenue Auto Parts. We also snagged a replacement frame horn piece that was crunched in the front end collision. The new boxed frame horn structure (unibody does not have traditional frame) would need to be welded into place. A few other parts, headlight, air intake box, and radiator were located at the local you-pull-it yard.

I try to include my family in the many automotive projects that funnel across my driveway junkyard. This time my youngest daughter, Noelle, pitched in with some underhood wrenching to put the airbox and wiring back in place on the 3.8 liter Buick engine. My son, Joe, you may remember him from the Project $300ZX (, helped out at the you-pull-it yard grabbing a radiator and a headlight. 
Teach them how to do stuff and they will do stuff. It's simple. And you're helping yourself, down the road, at the same time.

The fun begins when you put the final pieces of a puzzle together. But there is always a few problems to solve. The Buick's factory aluminum hood did not want to line up with the fender edges. Metal against metal. Bam! No good. A degree in Alabama Auto Mechanics was needed. A chain hoist and a tree were used to pull the understructure into position. When all aligned, bolted, and welded in place, the fenders were mounted. The hood, headlight, grill, and bumper cover were easy additions. 
Almost as good as new! 

The Double Aught Budget Buick Build name is a nod to the 2000 model year, which introduced the redesigned LeSabre's front-wheel-drive, full-size, 3800-V6 to another decade of sensible transportation. You know your grandpa would give the Buick LeSabre a 4-star review every year. From 1992 thru 2000, the Buick LeSabre maintained a legion of buyers eager to hold the keys and place this full-size people mover at the top of the best-seller list.  

Leave us a comment. Do you think we did ok? After all said and done, about $1,200 was spent to get the Buick back in shape for the road. Have you worked on a similar project? We're always under a budget constraint at Junkyard Life. We cheap because we have to be out of necessity.

Do you have a junkyard or a junky yard?
Send us details and we’re on the way!
Send emails to Jody Potter at

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If you got time, we need your help hiring a cheap camera holder and dog food. Your views, and likes help us. Thanks!





Follow is for more from our Junkyard Life Rusty Gold Rescue Team! We are always hunting, junkyards, old cars mysteries and stories from the cool people who keep the world from becoming boring. 

Junkyard Life: The Story Beneath the Rust.