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Question of the Week: What are the best parts you have snagged from a junkyard?

#1

Working on classic cars often means sourcing parts to replace worn out or otherwise broken items. That can be simple as calling up your favorite vendor or parts house, or perhaps you prefer to roll up your sleeves and take your toolkit to the junkyard.

A great source for everything from engine parts to trim pieces no vendor is reproducing, a junkyard is where to find parts that finish your project. With some elbow grease and negotiating, it can also keep your balance sheet in the black.


There are still a few good parts on this Chevy. (photo- Kyle Smith)

If chasing hard to find parts, you might have a favorite business that you know has a few of the model you are scouting out. Even if you are just going to a new yard to look around, be sure to take a well prepared toolkit to retrieve that piece you just can’t leave without.

So let us know below, what are the best finds you have brought home from a trip to the pick-a-part or junkyard?

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#3

So the truck in the picture is not a square body it is a glamour era truck! Square bodies are the 73 to 87s the glamour eras are the 67 to 72s, the truck in the picture is either a 67 or 68.
As for my best junkyard pick, back in mid 90s my brother and I were restoring his 67 SS 396 Chevelle. We removed the frame to have it blasted and powder coated, while at the blaster they ran it over with a forklift! I hit some of the local yards looking for a replacement and was lucky enough to find a 67 El Camino with a decent frame and ended up splicing the two together to make one good frame.

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#4

Not recently, but a long time ago, when I was a teenager…

My granddad made a point of taking me to the junkyard for parts for my first car. He pointed out a lot of the wrecked vehicles and said, this is where driver mistakes end up. Here, the hospital, and the cemetary. Words that still stick with me after all of these years…

Anyhow, I forget the exact part I was looking for (maybe an ashtray for the 74 Superbeetle) but in the glove box, we found three-four prescription bottles full of change. About $8.00 worth. Of course, that was back in the 80s, where local auto graveyards didn’t even charge you to go in and look.

#5

About 30 yrs ago, while looking for a rear bumper for an 86 Chevy truck I had, a ‘new’ arrival had just come in: a badly rotted 67 Galaxy convertible…with factory AC and a 427 side oiler. ODO read 47k and from the looks of the seats, I think that was accurate (not 147). The car was not in bad shape but the floors were so far gone my guess was it had been sitting in tall grass or the like - that when they picked it up with a front loader to move it, the car flexed as if it would break in half. I picked the motor (and my bumper) up for $450.

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#6

1964, bought my first car…1940 Chev for $50. Turns out that the front brake drums were scored so badly that I couldn’t use them. Closest replacement year I found nearby was a 1952 Chev. Took the drums, shoes, bearings, and the wheels and tires too…they fit perfectly on the 40 Chev…problem solved good enough for inspection. Wound up with 15" in front, 16" in rear. Kept me mobile for a year.

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#7

California Pick-N-Pull, found a 1965 F150 with a 9" 3.50:1 locker for $35. They don’t know, it’s just another rear end.

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#8

In 1980, I bought a 1968 Coronet R/T Convertible with a 440/4 speed for $100 at a junkyard in rural WV. The engine and transmission were fine, but it had been hit in the rear quarter panel, and the paint was faded and the top was shot.

Since the top was shot, the interior was shot. I freshened up the engine, replaced the clutch, recovered the front bucket seats, new carpet, and did a lot of bodywork in my garage… in fact that taught me how to do bodywork! I had a friend spray the car for me in his paint booth. I had about $2000 in it all told. I sold it a few years later for about $5,000, which allowed me to graduate from college without owing any money.

That was a good idea at the time… but I really wish I had that car today!

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#9

It was 1970 something, lady drives her Fiat into the passenger door of my ‘68 GTO. I called the local junkyard and was told “we got one but your going to have to paint it. It’s an ugly green color”.
Just so happens, my GTO was the same “ugly green” so no paint needed. I still think the dark metallic olive green looked good on that car with the cream/tan vinyl top.

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#10

Back in the early 80’s, I scored a Rallye instrument cluster for my '74 Challenger (still own, 69K actual miles) for $15, and swapped my flat hood for the scooped one.
Bought a running 340 c.i. engine to install in my A-100 Sportsman window van for $250.
But the very best “part” was an intact 73 340 Challenger for $600, in 1983!
There have been many, but those three stand out in fading “golden glow” of my memory! :slight_smile:

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#11

College days, winter finals, planning to head home to WA but Mom said I’d better fix my registration. I couldn’t get my Manta reg fixed until it had all the smog gear connected, and my EGR was toast. Parts were non-existent since Opel wasn’t handled any more at the dealer.

Just before finals and after a big rain I went to the junkyard. “Do you have a Manta out there?” “Yeah.” “I need an exhaust gas recirculation valve.” He looked out at the lousy weather and said “If you find one, you can have it. I’m not going out there.”

I trudged out through the muck, finally found a Manta and fortunately it had an EGR. I wrestled it off the manifold (plus some bonus bits) with my junkyard tools, slogged my way back, waved and drove home. The installation was an even bigger pain, but I finally mounted the EGR, then got reg’d, survived finals, and kept the WSP away. I did end up paying a few years later when I fetched a driveshaft from them, brought it home and discovered they’d handed me an Opel GT part. Doh. I made another trip in the VW Bug with the shaft hanging out the window…

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#12

1982, kid with one day old license suddenly stopped to turn left in front of my green and white ‘66 Ford F-250 pulling a load of scrap metal. I drove over his trunk leaving us both pretty damaged.
I was at the salvage yard one day and spotted a green and white ‘65 pickup with a good left fender and grill and thought I’d come back for that.
Time passes and when I went back I was told the truck had been crushed. I was crushed! Then one of the guys said he thought they had pulled some parts before it was crushed. Sure enough, on a pallet high on a rack was a green and white front clip missing the right fender. Perfect!

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#13

Back in my Navy days I was actually sent to work at Auto Hobby while I was waiting to get out. One of the perks was full use of the shop for free, and a good relationship with just about every parts store, machine shop and junk yard in the area. One day while doing some “work related research” I came upon an 83 Buick Skyhawk T-Type with the rally rims, I think I paid $40 for the set. Took them back to the shop and over the coarse of my shift I managed to get the tires from my 85 Fireo onto those rims balanced, and back onto the Fiero by end of shift. I had always liked the T-Type rims and they gave the Fiero a unique look.

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#14

A few years ago, I was looking through the Pontiacs when I popped the trunk on a LeMans. Inside was a '65 tri-power intake. Got it for $25. Most of the salvage yards in this area know me as the Pontiac guy and call me when they get anything older than a '75.

#15

Back in 1970 I ordered a new GTO without many options. When I got it, I quickly realized that I needed the Power Steering option I had failed to order. Went to a yard in Fort Wayne, pulled the pump and the gear box off a 70 pontiac that had been hit in the side…for $15. With a little effort I made that Goat a sweeter ride for just $15.

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#16

Back in 1970, I spotted a pair of 1941 Chey Fog Lamps in near perfect condition with the original brackets…still on them. They were attached to the front of a pick-up…Believe it or not the guy said he would take $26 for them…that’s exactly what I had in my pocket. I was 19 years old. I have no idea to this day why they guy said that amount…Truth is stranger then fiction…!!

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#17

In the mid 80’s I found a full set of Pontiac Kelsey Hayes 8 lug wheels, drums with and center caps in the trunk of a very rusty convertible. When I pulled them out the mounting adapter was laying the trunk underneath them. Got everything for $25.

#18

Spent a lot of time back in the '80s poking around junkyards in North Carolina.
Was always hoping to find an old Daytona or Superbird. In one yard I did find a '68 Barracuda. Body was straight as an arrow. Interior looked nearly new. Paint was faded and engine was blown. Two rows over I found another Barracuda that had been hit in the rear, hard!
Bought the car for $350 and the motor for a $100.
An afternoon with a friends help, couple of 6-packs and a pizza and the 340 had a new home. Drove that car for about a month before someone offered me $3000 for it.

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#19

I owned a 1962 Chrysler New Yorker for some 8 years. I wanted to add a passenger side mirror to it, but one that was authentic to the car was almost impossible to find. If I did find one it was going fro over 80 bucks, and that was over 209 years ago. I did find a driver’s side mirror and used it, albeit in an upside-down position. Only a good eye ever noticed that it was not a passenger side mirror. It served the car well and I was consigned to the fact that I would never have the correct one.

That’s when, to my utter joy, while looking at a '62 Newport in a junkyard, I decided to look at the '65 Imperial parked in front of it. I just wanted to look at one of my favorite cars. While looking at the 413 still in the engine bay I noticed something laying on the passenger side exhaust manifold. I could not believe my eyes - it was a passenger side mirror the same design as the one for my New Yorker! I couldn’t believe my luck! I was even happier when the yard owner charged my only 5 bucks for it!

I don’t know why that mirror was there, but it is still on the car to this day as I know the man I sold the car to. Looks great too!

Now, anyone want to buy a driver’s side mirror for a '62 Chryslerpasengerside ?

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#20

I had a 1970 Caddy Coupe convertible with the 472 engine and the last of the breaker point ignition distributors. It was a regular pain to keep it running and starting reliably. Mostly because the bushings on the shaft were worn and so the cam wobbled around on its own. On a separate mission to the bone yard for some Datsun parts for my L20b in my 510 I spied a 1974 Caddy with the same engine. Actually bored out to 504 (or thereabouts) with lower compression, but it had the more modern solid state HEI distributor. Back then there was no computer on board. It was all in the box. There was also no internet to quiz about whether it would fit or work. So I just bought it for $50 and took it home. I pulled the old one out and sized up the dimensions and the gear that engages the cam. It all looked good. With a new set of plugs and wires and a bit of time trying to find the right rotational position to get started at to even set the Spark Advance I ended up with an engine that turned over on the first crank every time!

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