Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lost History - California Junkyards, Part 1

Over the years I've been to a number of self-service auto recycling centers in northern California. The bigger yards tend to be a cross-section of the most popular and generic cars from the last twenty years - Ford Tauruses with dead transmissions and/or blown head gaskets, worn-out Buick LeSabres and Dodge Intrepids, sun-baked Honda Accords with 200,000 miles and work trucks beat to hell and back. You know how it is. But among the generica there's often a sprinkling of interesting older vehicles thrown in.
Sadly, most of these places don't allow cameras for liability reasons, a policy I find ridiculous. I see no harm in publishing my photos now since every car in the pictures is long gone. Even the yard they were photographed in is now defunct. Please forgive the less-than-stellar photo quality produced by a disposable film camera and a 1.3 megapixel cell phone camera. Here are my best California junkyard sightings from the eastern Bay Area (that I managed to photograph).

1951 Chevrolet coupe

1963 Rambler Classic 660

1963 Rambler Classic 660 Cross Country

1968-69 Dodge D-Series pickup

1969 Chevrolet C/10 pickup

1970 Chrysler New Yorker

1970 GMC 1500 Custom pickup
1970-72 Honda N600
1972-73 Datsun 240Z
1972 Ford Torino wagon
1972 Mercury Marquis
1972 Toyota Corona
1974 Datsun 610 wagon
1974-75 Ford Pinto
1974-77 Mercury Comet
1978 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham
1980-89 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Maloney Executive (?) limousine
1980 and 1981 Chevrolet Citations
1985-89 Merkur XR4Ti


  1. Neat little trip down memory lane. You should bring your DSLR when you visit the next yard. If you ask, they'll let you shoot :)

    1. Sadly, it is against Pick 'n Pull's corporate policies to allow cameras in their yards, and they're pretty much the only game in town in my area. From what I read, it's for insurance reasons- they apparently used to have people come in and take pictures of the junked cars and fraudulently claim to insurance companies that their car got totaled or whatever. I think it's a BS policy, but if you're good you can sneak in with a pocket point-and-shoot or a cell phone without having problems. My equipment just isn't any good for that and I don't get into yards very often.

  2. Nice photos, glad you were able to capture them. Not that it matters much, but the car listed as a 1969 Chrysler New Yorker is actually a 1970 (the wide silver trim at the bottom of the door panels is the giveaway).

  3. I'll take the 1972 Mercury Marquis;1972 Torino Wagon and the two 63 Ramblers