Saturday, May 22, 2021

Loaded 1976 Chevy Monte Carlo at the scrap yard


Scrap that! I guess we do live in an era where someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure. Look what we found unceremoniously discarded at the side door to a scrap yard. A 1976 Monte Carlo Landau!

The first look I took just made me shake my head. How could someone NOT want this? How could it have been saved this entire time and only now finding its way out of hiding and into a crusher? This place does not even entertain selling parts. It literally means a few dollars to them. 

When Jody said that this car has his name on it, I thought he was speaking metaphorically.

Now my second look yielded more head shaking. I didn’t realize it at the time, but upon closer inspection this baby was loaded! You just had to look a little closer. The full Monte, If you will.*

Original window sticker was in the car!

Someone may have left the original window sticker in the car and possibly a Junkyard Life Monte Carlo Nerd could have come along and retrieved the document for a story he planned to write. This is all just speculation at this point. Who said anything about a window sticker?

Knights of the vinyl top table in the order of Landau.

If there was a window sticker, it may have alerted (alarmed?) the Monte Carlo Nerd to other hidden and not so hidden treasures. Desired options fill up this disco era Colonnade. This silver Monte with a vinyl top was some looker in its day. Someone beat us to the small block 400 engine that Chevrolet left under the hood. Yes, it was indeed a small block 400 power plant. Two options above the base motor. Shame.

Window Sticker, Where Art Thou?
Looky there! The original paperwork just sitting on the bench seat. Who could resist?

Cruise control under the hood still intact.

More options
That wasn’t all. It wasn’t cheap. If we did have that window sticker, it potentially could have told us about all of these options: 

  • 400 4 barrel ($73)
  • Power bench seat ($124)
  • Power windows ($99)
  • Power locks ($62), 
  • Tilt wheel ($52)
  • Cruise control ($73)
  • 15” wheels and not hub caps (actually standard on the Monte according to the window sticker we don’t have)
  • Rear window defroster ($77)
  • Cloth interior (free with this package)
  • Illuminated sunvisor with vanity mirrors ($23)
  • Extra lighting group for the trunk, glove compartment ($31)
  • Landua roof package (no charge in this case)
  • Air conditioning ($471)
  • Intermittent windshield wiper ($28) 
  • Color key seat belts ($17)
  • And for a substantial amount in 1976 American dollars… an 8-track stereo ($324)!

You got all this and more for a mere $6,985! At least that is our guess. We would confirm if we had that confounded window sticker. We can only guess that it was borrowed by an inspiring automotive journalist for the integrity of the article he was going to write. Sounds like a nice guy. 

See 8-track stereo?

Mandatory poke of slot on 8-track stereo is the official tape deck test.

Four Squares a Day…

This car was a nice package all wrapped up in luxury, comfort and performance. Would we have liked it then? 

1976 was a great year. The Monte Carlo was still big.** Chevrolet celebrated America’s independence with a new beginning for the classy Monte Carlo, the entry level Malibu and the racy Laguna. Maybe not so much a beginning as a new front… the square stacked headlights. 

Is there a sadder sight than a Monte Carlo parked on the hood of a 1982 Camaro?

Hey, four eyes!
The headlights were met with mixed reviews from many different perspectives of the new automobile buyers. They ran the entire gamut from “Yay!” safety via improved visibility to “we hate the new stacked headlights.” Junkyard Life is guilty to some degree. What can we say? We love Colonnades but prefer the round eye headlight era.  

What doesn’t this have? Sunroof, tachometer and bucket seats are all we can think of.
What would you have ordered?

Stop the madness
So someone’s trash may be someone else’s treasure. I wish our treasure would stop showing up at scrap yards. There are so many other avenues that do not lead to the foreboding scales. Then people like us would not cringe as we pass by. That is indeed the Junkyard Life.

Ron Kidd
– Junkyard Life

Editor’s Notes:
* We allow Ron only one “Full Monte” joke in his Monte Carlo articles. Why do we do this to ourselves and our readers?

** Ron tried to use another “Full Monte” joke here. Like I said, he is limited to one.

Optional 15-inch Monte Carlo wheels.

We believe the name Monte Carlo is responsible for a few children named Monte.

Bumpers that only people who lived through the 1970s understand.

Cruise control on the stalk.

Last look. The next day the car vanished from in front of the scrap yard. We suspect the giant shredder ate its way through the Monte Carlo, options and all, in seconds.

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Atomic Blast 10: Rat Rod inferno of good times

 Atomic Blast Rat Rod event at Gulfport Dragway.

Junkyard Life had a Blast… An Atomic Blast. The annual Rat Rod celebration in Gulfport, Mississippi is very aptly named The Atomic Blast. This is one of the only West Coast flavored Rat Rod Runs on this side of Nevada. We are now believers in The Atomic Blast. We've always loved the original recyclers (hot rodders) but now we have an all new appreciation for driving junk. These apocalyptic cars captivated our hearts for two days. Simple, not simple, fast, brutal, fun loving, flat, satin, fire! I need a thesaurus to find more words to describe this fun event.

We had heard of the Atomic Blast, but had never attended. Once our friend Stefanie Lea from Road Rage Garage heard we had never been, she made a request (an order?) for us to attend. Stefanie has found a way to submerse herself in what she loves — flat finished patina preserved tire smoking hot rods and the great people that come along with them.

The weather forecast would have scared the slick hot rods away. Not the Rat Rods. Keep in mind, some of these are driven and they don’t necessarily handle well in the rain. Some of them don’t actually have a water tight roof. Yet, these tire smokers did come from near and far.    

A pink rat rod truck burns the tire completely off the rim.
The Rat Rods burn rubber until they got no more to burn.

Smoking Isn’t good for You? Yes, It Is!

These rat rod guys are not afraid to light em’ up. This is practically an event that advocates smoking…tires that is. They like crawfish too, but let’s get back to the smoking. Junkyard Life brother Jay explained to us newbies why it is called “The Atomic Blast.”  He explained it to us, but yet…unpack all of your adjectives and you still feel the best words really are “Atomic Blast.”

Stefanie Lea raises her arms to signal the rat rods to start burning their tires.
Stefanie Lea says "Light'em up!"

Stefanie Lea: The Goddess of the Burning Radials 

Coordinator and hostess Stefanie Lea waits until near dark. Then she places two Rat Rods that are actually flame throwers on the track behind the burnout box (another aptly named area). She then places as many fearless homegrown Rats in the burnout box that dare rise to her calling.

When the sun begins to lower itself in the horizon behind the Gulfport Dragway, Stefanie raises her arms like a symphony conductor and line locks engage. RPMs go up and she gives the go ahead to start incinerating tires. Wait. There is more.

Once the cars begin to disappear engulfed in the tire smoke–another cue from Stefanie awakens the now invisible flame throwers to shoot fire from the center of the smoke...thus, The Atomic Blast!

Billowing smoke rises high above the burnout box and flame throwers shoot up into the sky making an atomic spectacle.
This looks like the aftermath of an atomic blast. Well, not a real one, just the smoke and fire from dozens of big block rat rods, some with built-in flame throwers. It is a sight to behold! 

Watch this! The sight, the smell we love (Hey, note to self: million dollar scented candle idea) and the sound. Oh my. The sound. The sounds we love from a variety of Detroit power plants. Roaring together in automotive symphonic harmony. You can feel the heat and the patriotism. Many rods are adorned in American flags and like the song says, when the smoke clears, the flags are one of the first things you see. You, my friend, have been Atomic Blasted. There is no coming back from that.

Dennis Landry wheels his RATical rat rod down a beach road in Gulfport, Mississippi


This sub culture of the car genre is so much fun. The Atomic Blast offers so many activities and is so inclusive. If you feel you just can’t see everything…fear not. Stefanie has included what she calls “Roll Call” where every car cruises, i.e., “rolls” in front of the bleachers to give everyone a good look and often a little rubber is left behind.

Grumpy's 1941 Dodge WF-31 with a Detroit Diesel 92TA engine and flame throwers that shoot enormous amounts of fire high into the air.

More Cruising Add Water and Music

The Atomic Blasters also do a beach cruise along the beautiful coast of Gulfport and Biloxi. Nothing is more rock and roll than that. Except maybe the musical guest. The Martini Shakers treated us to some awesome throw back rock-a-billy.  A great band and really nice people. It is so nice to see and meet people that love where they are and what they do. These guys rock.

There was even a kid’s motor bike cruise that also drew a lot of attention. What can you do if you are a young car guy or girl that can’t yet have four wheels? You make do with two wheels and look like a tiny Fonz. "Ayyy!"

Rat rodders compete in the crawfish eating contest at the Atomic Blast 10.
Crawfish eating contest is part of the kick-off festivities.

Cruising, Crabs, Crawfish, Rats – oh my!

To kick our weekend off, we caught the cruise to The Cajun Crawfish Hut in Long Beach, Mississippi. Just a stone's throw from Gulfport down Beach Boulevard on Highway 90. Here, they fed us spectacular food, rocked us with the Martini Shakers and schooled us in crawfish consumption. The now famous Atomic Blast Crawfish Eating Contest was soon underway. MC’ed by the infamous original rat rodder Dennis Landry, aka Crab or Crab Who? This event was great messy fun! The winning consumer of the Cajun crustaceans was a 27-year-old Army paratrooper named Shane Jackson. Shane is no stranger to Atomic Blast awards. It seems the first rat rod he built kicked the bucket on the first time out, which granted him the dreaded “Damn My Luck” award. 

We spotted more than 200 Rat Rods and other cool cruisers in the pit area and campgrounds at Gulfport Dragway during the Atomic Blast 10.

We Want More!

Do you like traditional home grown hot rod fun? Do Rat Rods fill your hot rod heart? Then you need to do this. Do you want to see a 425 Olds duke it out with a 390 Ford? Grudge races, swap meet, food, music and tire smoking traditions? The Atomic Blast is for you. This annual Rat Rod Run is held every April at the Gulf Port Dragway. Let us not let the West Coast have all the fun. Thank you, Road Rage Garage for including us in the party. Check those calendars and we will see you there! We were told they also have a Halloween event in October for those of us who will have a hard time waiting. Keep a rat look at the calendar and never miss The Blast again.


Ron Kidd

— Junkyard Life 

Step 1: Apply throttle

Step 2: Hold down the gas pedal

Step 3: Never let up

Shane Sink, Jackson, Mississippi

Shane Sink's winning combo burned the tires right off the rim.

Dennis Landry, Larose, Louisiana
Landry, known as the godfather of this event with his big-cubed Rat Rods and willingness to keep the rubber burning and the party going was also the Master of Ceremonies at the Atomic Blast. You could spot him easily in his orange shirt and white overalls.

Dennis Landry gets ready to fire up his Rat Rod for a beach cruise.

And away he goes!

Burnout box was always filled with mayhem. Two rat rods take a spin for the crowd.

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