You have to be on the front lines of the old car hobby to truly understand the pulse of this dynamic world.


It’s populated with people who know far more than I do about old iron so the best strategy is to listen more than talk.


This is a free education.



It beats high school math on many levels from basic interest level to practical application. In other words, I’d rather learn how to deal with a stuck carb float than a long geometry equation because being stuck by the road requires much more than theory. Plus, car guys are so much less condescending than my Grade 12 mathematics teacher.


But you also hear about issues that really affect car guys in a profound way-recycling yards are high on the list. This is not a car guy bias against anything green because car guy were the first real recyclers.




Car guys were recyclers long before Al Gore ignored his very limited and simplistic hard science knowledge in environmental issues to cash in on his high-profile VP status. The public called these early car guys hot-rodders, but one fact was clear-they left wrecking yards with tons of parts destined for their new rides.


Car guys were recycling long before Greenpeace started ramming oil tankers with rowboats and their tactics made a lot more sense when they breathed new life into old car parts.


A recent conversation with four hardcore, talented and highly respected car guys shed more light on this issue. One of them mentioned that he’d seen a rare 4-speed 1969 Impala SS barely get saved from a date with Mr. Car Shredder. The conversation floodgates opened after that when every one of these car guys related story after story about rare iron being hauled to, flattened in and hauled away from recycling yards.




These were old vehicles that could contribute hundreds of nearly extinct trim or mechanical parts. They were crushed for roughly 200 bucks when the seats alone would have sold for 5 times that amount simply because somebody had to get rid of Aunt Matilda’s junky old Dodge. Often, the surviving family didn’t know or care what a 68 Charger RT was worth, nor did the recycling yard, because in many cases the operators were obligated by local or federal law to bale the poor old car.


We don’t need to save tens of thousands of 1990s Ford Escorts but some common sense should prevail when a 40-60 year old car gets a last ride to the wrecking yard. Even 4 door sedans (the red headed stepchild of car collectors) deserve a better fate than a future as a microwave door. Here’s one example of a one owner 1965 Pontiac that was 30 minutes away from that grisly fate. This was a solid survivor car and its new owner was thrilled to drive this car away from its hellish future.




We can’t save them all-that’s reality but we can save them from hard and fast clunker/junker laws that show zero amnesty for cars past a certain point. Don’t get wrapped up in feel-good enviro-laws when a vintage 59 Impala is on the execution block simply because it was scooped up by the state.


Communication is a 2-way street. Car clubs need to get involved with recyclers on a regular basis and open up channels that convince these guys that cars can bring a lot more than 200 bucks to hobbyists.




Civil servants have to lighten up too-don’t make these trips to the recycling yards for old iron a mandated-by-law one way trip by enforcing inflexible rules with zero right of appeal. If some guy has 300 cars strewn throughout his backyard in the Hollywood Hills by all means haul them away, but open up channels with car guys to disperse the fleet.




Don’t go home with smug civil servant glee that “you did your job” and protected the taxpayers because we need to preserve our automotive heritage, not justify your job.


As for Car Guys-fall on that hand grenade for that ’69 Impala SS because nobody else will...


Jerry Sutherland

For more stories about old iron that was spared execution please click here-


TREV:Well, knew it was happening, but I pretended it wouldn’t really happen, how could it? Who would load up a restorable 1956 Caddy Coupe De-ville 2 dr. hard top, and send it to the crusher? How about a real rusty 61 Caddy Rag top? Along with dozens more these cars are now 2’x3′ metal bales, a part of history gone for ever! I think of the possibilities these classics had. All these cars were for sale. The owner would load them on your trailer for a lowly $300.00 Wouldn’t it be nice if more of the younger generation had a interest in building one of these cars.(instead of sitting on there butts playing video games) And what about the sense of pride a young man would have felt if he(or she)got one of these cars on the road. Think of how that may guide him in every thing he takes on in the future! Cadillacs were once the car every one dreamed of one day having. When Elvis Presley first came into money, the first thing he did was buy his momma a shiny new pink Cadillac. Think about this. In 1959 a average full size Chevy, top of the line Impala would run you about $4000.00 A new 59 Caddy averaged “13.000.00! How could these Iconic American Classics become worthless? A few months ago a man who had over 300 Caddys was told he did not have the proper zoning to be selling parts from these cars, so he put the word out, hoping that people would flock to his place to save these cars. He only sold a hand full of them. One of them a 1959 2 door hard top sits proudly on my front yard. Every time I look at it, I do not see a rusting hulk I see one of the most beautiful cars to ever come out of a GM factory. Truly as sad day for people like me hopelessly lost in the 50s.–The Rev