QOTD: Mining That Junkyard Gold?

qotd mining that junkyard gold

Every week, Murilee regales us with a selection of something notable from his junkyard travels. Whether it’s an Audi 100 with infernal inboard brakes or some oddball Camry, the man never fails to disappoint.

Surely, he’s not the only one to prowl the yards across America. What’s your best score taken from a machine in The Crusher’s waiting room?

For this author, pick-yer-part yards were non-existent in the communities of my formative years, except for the town dump where one could scavenge parts for free from battered and discarded automobiles. You were often competing with black bears looking for their supper, though, so caution was warranted. Murilee has no such concerns at his local U-Pik save for the sketchier customers eyeing his junkyard toolbox or crazed LeMons [s]inmates[/s] competitors making a beeline for cheap GM superchargers.

Nowadays, the only outlet of the self-serve variety is a solid 75 minutes from my home — a distance which, combined with our foul winters, makes frequent visits a difficult undertaking. This is why I plan ahead when I’m bound for sunnier climes and reserve an afternoon for parts hunting at my destination. The rest of the family enjoys the beach; I enjoy rows of broken cars. I should probably seek help for that, eh?

Last year, I stumbled on a master class in depreciation — a VW Phaeton that had washed up in a Florida yard. It wasn’t a W12, but its speedometer was still good for supercar speed. Thanks to a flat price structure, I was able to walk out of the establishment with a 200 mph unit for the same price as one out of a base Corolla.

What’s your biggest score? It could be something you bought and resold for a relative fortune or simply a part you’ve been seeking for ages. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to plan my next trip.

[Image: ©2017 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

Join the conversation
2 of 42 comments
  • Matthew johnson Matthew johnson on Jan 30, 2018

    Transfer case for wife's WJ Grand Cherokee. $250 AND it has 30000 miles fewer than hers did. Coupla hours underneath with jeep on the lift and Bob's your uncle. Now what to do with the old one?

  • Salguod Salguod on Feb 03, 2018

    Back in high school and college I spent many hours in the local junkyards around Toledo (Spuds was a favorite) looking for parts for my 1976 Camaro and then my 1980 Monza. I think I walked every yard looking for a passenger fender for that Camaro and never found a good one. One day I ran across the remains of one of 2 1975 Hurst Olds sold in Toledo (I had almost bought the other) and later, shopping for Monza parts, I found my old Camaro in one of Spuds' yards. Many years later, when my daughter wrecked her Protege, she said I spent a hot Saturday morning pulling the entire front end off of one here in Columbus. It was a half off weekend so we got everything (headlights, hood, fender, bumper, bumper beam, radiator, ac condenser and core support) for, I think, under $150.

  • EBFlex "I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles"Assuming you went from 0 gallons to full (17.2), you have averaged almost 50MPG over those 2500 miles. 50 MPG in a Jeep Wrangler. To all of you EV nut jobs, tell me again how PHEVs are not the absolute best thing to happen to automobiles since the wheel. And tell me how they don't make EVs look like the awful play toys that they are.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird The Buick 215/3.5-liter aluminum V8 was one of GMs great engines. Unfortunately GM being GM in one of their greatest mistakes was selling off the tooling to BL. If they kept it around and improved upon it it would have been a fine motor for their compacts and midsize models through the OPEC oil crisis.
  • Chris P Bacon Not sure why a '21 is getting reviewed, because there have been improvements to the 4xe. I've got a '22 4xe Sahara. May 2022 build in High-Velocity yellow with a soft top. As soon as it was announced I knew I wanted to try it, not for the fuel mileage, but for the technology. I don't have a Level 2 charger, it charges fully overnight on the included Level 1. I see an indicated range of 27 miles regularly. Today it indicated 29 when I unplugged. I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles, a full charge costs me about $3 based on my current electricity supplier. I don't experience the rough transitions between electric and gas, so maybe Jeep figured it out? It's stupid fast when using all the power off the line. So much so that it will break the rear wheels loose when you stomp on it. I agree that plugin hybrids are the future. I see no need for a pure electric. This is the way to go.
  • RHD The word B R O N C O written in contrasting paint on the dashboard is quite unnecessary. The passenger certainly knows what kind of vehicle he or she is in. That detail is a big fail. The red and white Bronco looks great, especially with tires that have honest-to-goodness sidewalls on them.
  • Luke42 Aren't those trim levels just different colors of paint?That's what they sound like, at least. 🤷‍♂️