I had the opportunity to go to a U-Pull-it salvage yard in Tampa, Florida, near our office a few weeks ago, and it reminded me of just how fun that sort of treasure hunting can be. I haven't done that sort of thing in probably 15-20 years, but this trip brought back a lot of memories when I used to hunt for much needed, used parts.
These days, you can find just about anything through the aftermarket, but that wasn't always the case (it still isn't for some). Most of my finds were pieces that no one was reproducing—I was big into second-generation Trans Ams at the time, and I was always on the hunt for interior panels, center consoles, or trim that was broken or missing from my car, Shaker hoodscoops, and the often overlooked factory ratchet-like automatic shifters.
The last time I really went on a salvage yard expedition I was on the hunt for Fox-body Mustang parts, and those cars were rapidly disappearing from the local yards back then. Scrap metal prices were up, and many of the yards chose to cash in on cars that were more than 10 years old. Finding cars from the '60s and '70s in junkyards was a rare occurrence then and even more so today—you'll usually only find them in vintage specific yards.
That's not to say that the vehicles in the yards today can't be of some benefit. Oftentimes you can pirate bucket seats, center consoles, as well as powertrains from the newer vehicles that you can make work in your ride.
For this recent adventure, our Colt of Personality project owner, Matt Guida, bribed me with breakfast to help him obtain some parts for a truck project he is working on. No one seems to sell the front 15 inches of framerail for the truck by itself (Go figure), so in we went, armed with a reciprocating saw that had a bad attitude and a taste for steel. While we were in there violating the poor donor truck's backbone, the saw ate into the firewall to procure some compound-curved sheetmetal for rust repair, and we also made off with some factory fender flares as well—we hadn't even thought about those before seeing them on the donor truck.
We have a return trip planned, as we had to cut (no pun intended) our trip short due to other obligations. There are still a few more parts we need to obtain—an antisway bar in particular—and we both want to check out what else the yard has to offer. It was quite large and we only made it about three rows in before we found the donor truck. Though the antisway bar should just unbolt from the frame, I think we'll bring the saw just in case.
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