Classic Car Junkyard: Find Your Diamond in the Rough

January 27, 2012

When searching for a classic car, a junkyard is probably not the first place that you would think of looking. It's true: while many viable classic car restoration projects are readily available through more conventional means (eBay is a good source), finding a project car at a classic car junkyard can be an adventure. There's also a good chance that you might find something unexpected. Rare cars are found in the unlikeliest of places. Here are a few tips that might help you score junkyard gold.

    1. Know What You're Looking For - The first step to finding something is to know just what you're looking for. Of course we'd all like to be driving an ultra-rare Boss Mustang or Hemi Cuda, but you should set a realistic goal of what you would like to find.  For the purpose of this article, we're going to say you're looking for a late 1960's Chevrolet Camaro. Surprisingly, finding a specific car is much easier than finding "a car."
    2. Get Involved - Just like anything else, it's not what you know that's important; it's who you know. Since you're looking for a Camaro, a good place to start is by getting involved with people that love those cars. That shouldn't be a hard thing to do. Search online for a local Camaro enthusiasts' club, and go ahead and join even if you don't have one. Lurk a Camaro web forum like this one; they usually have sections with cars for sale (Or for other kinds of cars, there's a list of other forums here).  You might find just what you're looking for that way. Sure: maybe you didn't hunt it down in a junkyard with a flashlight in the rain, but if you find what you're looking for then what's the difference?
    3. Ask Around - Ask other enthusiasts if they know of a graveyard that might have an unclaimed prize. Word of mouth is the most valuable tool. But don't stop there. Try posting advertisements on bulletin boards and car clubs. A car enthusiast recently scored an amazing deal on a rare 1969 Ford Mustang through a posting on a bulletin board at a senior center.
    4. Go off the Beaten Path - When searching junkyards, you're going to have better luck finding a complete car if you seek out less visited locations. Junkyards that are less known and aren't freely advertised are where those treasures are. Again, finding these places is where word of mouth really comes in and proves to be invaluable. These places truly do exist. Case in point: a Ford Mustang graveyard was recently located in Rhode Island--this site had over 200 vehicles, all from the 1960's and early 70's.
    5. Don't Give Up - Remember that classic cars have to be more than just a hobby to be worthwhile. They have to be a passion. If you stay on the hunt and don't give up, you're bound to find just the gem you're looking for.

    Related Questions and Answers

    Can I Buy Classic Car Junkyard Parts Online?

    A classic car junkyard is a great place to locate hard to find parts for your classic project car. Many of the larger salvage yards that specialize in classic cars have websites which will allow you to browse their yard in a virtual fashion. Some, like Old Car City, have forms that you can fill out online to request parts out of their inventories. Old Car City is the world's largest known salvage yard that specializes in classic cars. A quick online search for classic car junkyards will give you a number of options to find the parts you need.

    What is the Most Popular Avenue for finding a Project Muscle Car for Sale?

    There are many ways to find a project muscle car for sale. Looking in the classifieds of your local paper, finding auto sale magazines and going to junkyards are all time tested and popular ways to find that next project car. In the past, using the classifieds and checking with local car clubs were the two most popular methods of finding cars to work on and fix up. However, with the advent of the Internet, online sources such as eBay are quickly gaining in popularity with many collectors and hot rodders. These online sources allow you to find cars in a wider area, yet still stay within a set distance from home.

    Are there any Junk Yards that Buy Cars for Cash?

    You're looking for junk yards that buy cars. Just about any junk yard will be happy to take your car off of your hands. Some of these will only pay if the car is in decent shape with usable parts. Others will pay you a minimum price, no matter what condition the car is in. There are a number of junk yards that will negotiate with you a price that is acceptable to you and them. Generally speaking, you're going to have to look pretty hard to find a junk yard that won't pay cash for your car.

    Do Junkyards Offer the Best Prices for Classic Car Restoration Parts?

    You're looking for classic car restoration parts. Depending on the year, make and model of the car and what parts you need, you'll have a wide variety of resources to rely on to find the parts you need. As an example, most auto parts stores will carry suspension and engine parts for cars that date all the way back to the Fifties, especially when they are popular cars. Sources like Year One and collector car parts catalogs will have your harder to find parts, both new and used. Junkyards will most likely have a good selection of used parts, which will be the best price available. Where you go will depend on whether you want new or used parts, normally.

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