Keeping a vintage car on the road often means staying vigilant with maintenance for all of its mechanical components, plus taking scrupulous care of the delicate trim. A junkyard is often the best place to prowl for bits and baubles that are no longer available from the factory, but there are lots of other parts on other cars that are worth keeping an eye out for as well. So, if your well-stocked junkyard tool kit has allowed you to nab your target parts with time to spare during your next junkyard visit, consider poking around under hoods and in trunks. Here are six such useful items that could well save you some trouble with your next project upgrade.
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I wouldn't suggest a junkyard turbo or supercharger to anyone. There is a reason that car went to the junkyard and while it may not of been the fault of the former owner, I still wouldn't take the chance that something was maintained properly. I could possibly see if the car had very low miles that coincided with the car's age, but still.
Always grab these small items.
if you specialize in specific cars small trim items are a must. Most times they never charge for any of them.
every fastener I remove goes in the tool box.
Back when I was a teen, my brother and I were rummaging through a graveyard of abandoned cars looking for a window motor for my girlfriend's (and future wife) car. We found one and my brother went about extracting it as I wandered about looking for other treasures. Unfortunately, he didn't release the tension on the counter weight spring and when he removed the motor, the mechanism sprang shut, trapping his hand in the machinery. I was on the other side of the graveyard when I heard his scream. It took over an hour to extract his hand from the door. On the way to the emergency room, my brother decided he was going to live and that the incredible looking injury with an exciting amount of blood was just lost surface skin.
Good lesson there. There still is some anger left in dead cars. When pulling parts from a junked car, always be wary of it trying to bite you.
This is a very cool article. I was just in my local pick & pull yard yesterday pulling stuff from an E30 BMW. I was thinking about the many years and many yards that I have visited. There was a time when most towns had auto salvage yards that reflected the personalities of the owners. Today, most of the yards around me reflect a corporate efficiency and high prices to match.
There used to be an auto salvage yard in Delaware that used bulls instead of junk yard dogs to maintain security. The yard had wide grass lanes between the rows of cars. If a bull got too close, you jumped up on a hood until it went away. There was a yard in New York State that stacked cars two and three high. When I was young, I would scale the pile looking for good parts. There was a yard in Virginia whose owner would go to Richmond and buy the entire back row of used car lots. Some beautiful cars would land in his scrap yard that would break your heart to think about today.
There is still a yard in Dunsmore, Pennsylvania that was so big that we never found the back side of it in the 1980's. That yard had Corvettes and XKEs sitting in the mud at one time. The pick & pull section of that business is now much smaller, but at one time, it may have been the biggest yard in the country.
There is no thrill for me that is more satisfying than finding the perfect parts car in a salvage yard. After years of searching, I still remember finding a Kelsey Hayes disc brake set up for an old Dodge Dart that I was restoring. It was like all of my past Christmases put together. My favorite cars are models that still have examples to be found in the salvage yards.
I often wonder about future collectable cars. I suspect you'll need to be a mechanic as well as a computer person as it seems the computer systems often fail before the mechanical parts. BMW's are notorious for this.
before all the aftermarket front ends were created we used go to the junkyard and get corvair front crossmembers, for years they were widely used by rodders, another nice front end was the AMC Pacer, came complete with rack and pinion and disc brakes. they were a little wide but it wasn't a problem narrowing them. I guess this would'n be considered a small item but I had to get my two cents in.
BMW rear battery cables also have an exploding disconnect that fires during a crash to disconnect the battery. If you pull a junk yard cable, plan to put a new end on it.
Unusual... but very cool article. As an old school mechanic (with a little junk yard dog cross breeding), I love to look at connectors, hardware and fasteners. I know it may sound crazy but I see them as potential GOLD. Talk about rose colored glasses!
This reminds me that I really need a junk yard TOUR soon. Somehow, a warm winter day in the northeastern US, some bright sunshine and a little light snow on things is a beautiful picture. And yes, these junkyard cars WILL bite you! Critters can scare the crap out of you too. Just go slowly, be very careful, and everything will be fine.
Junkyard horns are still a bargain if you know what to look for. I never liked the dinky "beep beep" toy on my Avalon...a set of 113 dB trumpets from a Lexus LS430 bolted up and gets much more respect.