Sunday, May 13, 2012

Junkyard tour: Junkyard jalopy hauls parts, tools as road warrior of the salvage yard


Wrecked but still runs. Few cars hold the title as the toughest, battle-scarred S.O.B.s known as the junkyard parts wagon. Not much value to anyone but the junkyard man. These unloved, worthless war horses are invaluable at lugging tools and parts without breaking the backs of the dirty, sweaty men and women who work in the yard. Only the doggiest beasts make the cut. Mercedes, BMW, Lexus need not apply. Busted body panels and engines belching smoke are a requirement. Cheap, ugly and willing for abuse. Like a bad date and perfect for navigating a maze of salvage cars and cavernous potholes in a junkyard.

Rewarding ride
Junkyard work is hard. Pulling parts, hands bathed in grease, and bloodied. A thankless job that comes with the small reward of driving the junkyard jalopy. “Yeeeehaawww!,” belted out “Dukes of Hazzard” style. Tires spin, kicking rocks across the oil-blackened dirt. A parts puller speeds away on another mission into the mosquito-infested bone yard wearing a crooked grin. “Back in a jiffy!”

Bumper, doors and headlights removed or destroyed on this junkyard jalopy.

1996 Buick Regal serves junkyard duty at Jefferson County Auto Parts in Alabama.

A car no one would steal
Form follows function these doomsday machines. No doors, no problem. Desired parts are pulled from the junkyard jalopy and sold as necessary. Some body panels are yanked because they have no use. Doors? Optional. Rear glass? Broken intentionally to make grabbing tools and hauling parts easier. Trunk lid? Really, you had to ask? A car transforms into a Car-Camino without a deck lid. Perfect for hauling a Turbo 350 transmission and torque converter.
   The battery is the most valuable remaining part on these mutilated cars. You will find the keys in the ignition, unless the steering column is jacked up and the jalopy cranks with a screw driver. Jump in and go. Junkyard life continues for these cars as long as the junkyard man wants to keep them running. He has all the parts after all.

– Jody Potter,

"Pony Machine" scrawled on this junkyard beast of burden.

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to

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