Mopar Salvage Yards - Another Man's Treasure
Four of the Nation's Best Places to Pick Up Salvaged Mopar Metal
From the September, 2006 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Kevin Shaw
Photography by Kevin Shaw
It seems nowadays you can't pick up a car publication without reading about a junkyard crawl. Unfortunately, that's how auto trends go. One day restomods and g-machines are all the rage, the next day it's rat-rods, old school gassers, and pump-gas, 10-second street machines; next month it'll be something else. That's the game we play in the magazine business-keep it fresh, stay on top of the trend, and make it appealing to your readers.
Unlike some of those nancy-boy car-show types who pay to have their spark plugs changed and tires rotated, we Mopar guys do it all ourselves. We find the car, tear it apart, build the drivetrain, piece it all back together, and go thrash it out on the streets and do gnarly burnouts. That's what being a Mopar guy is all about. And since we're Mopar guys, we're focusing our sights on some of the best Mopar-specific salvage yards in the nation. you might not have heard of some of them, which is good, because more often than not, it's the little guys that are going to have that ever elusive piece of grille trim, marker lights, or interior switches that nobody in the aftermarket has thought of repopping.
Space is one of the biggest issues with salvage yards ("junkyard" has a really ugly connotation, while "salvage yard" has a hint of nostalgia to it and looks better on a business card). Another issue is to have a location that won't reduce your inventory to lumps of metal flake and oxidation. The northern and midwestern states are brutal on sheetmetal as salted roads and freezing, wet weather can eat up the body, frame and all.That's why it's common to find a greater percentage of salvage yards in the drier, hotter climates. The Southwestern desert's arid landscape might not look too appealing to many of you, but for an ailing Plymouth A-Body or retired Dodge B-Body, it's pretty much ideal. So it's no wonder that two of our featured yards hail from Texas, one from Oregon, and another from Alabama. Land is ample, the population is sparse, and the selection is vast. The best thing about these salvage yards is you can pick up a car or just the odds and ends that your project Mopar needs. The Internet has been beneficial to thousands of enthusiasts, but sometimes it takes more than just sitting in your underwear late at night in front of a computer screen to make a project a finished machine.
OK, they might be showing...
OK, they might be showing off a bit, but the crew at Wildcat knows their stuff when it comes to high-performance Mopars and all the nuts and bolts that make a basket case into a true street machine.
Many haven't heard of these guys because they are not the usual brand of pull-your-own-part yards. this secluded supply and salvage yard is off the main drag, so much so you might have to borrow your buddy's 4x4 just to get back there. Dealing in '79-and-older cars and trucks, Wildcat is loaded with '60s and '70s musclecars, as well as a good amount of '50s automobiles and even a few '40s. the oldest car resting in the yard is a '29 Chrysler.
Wildcat Auto Wrecking was started in the summer of 1989 when Ed and Phyllis Yost purchased the 7.65-acre property in the foothills of Mount Hood, just 9 miles east of Sandy, Oregon. The property had been a wrecking yard since the '60s, named after the Wildcat Mountain Drive it is on. Ed had been dealing with Mopars since the early '70s as a hobbyist; all Ed and Phyllis drove were Mopars. It continued to serve as a wrecking yard with a penchant for Mopar iron and grew over the years with cars coming in on a weekly basis. In 1993, Wildcat became a Mopar-only salvage yard. It expanded even more through the '90s with the help of a crew of Mopar-loving employees-George Hetrick, Dennis Beard, and Randy Ashley. A new building was added with an office, an upstairs dry inventory, and a shipping department in 2001. The addition of a web site increased their national and international customers. Since that time, Wildcat has supplied parts for clients in Sweden, England, Australia, and Canada. Today, Wildcat boasts over 1,000 Mopars on-site, including over 100 vehicles worthy of becoming a project vehicle, plus a massive supply of individual parts in stock.
Since personal taste is a...
Since personal taste is a subjective matter, Wildcat has loaded up on nearly every body style produced by Chrysler: A-, B-, C-, E-, F-, M-, J-Bodies, Imperials, and trucks. As you can imagine, the supply of available E-Body and '68 to '70 B-Body parts is beginning to thin out as more and more enthusiasts come into the hobby.
Wildcat features a wide selection...
Wildcat features a wide selection of A-Bodies, C-Bodies, and Imperials from all years. If you liked our latest cheap cruiser Dart, here's your chance to make your own.
Can we offer you a fender...
Can we offer you a fender or maybe a bumper? This is one of the many large warehouse facilities that Dr. Mopar packs full of Chrysler-build sheetmetal. The Texan weather keeps their inventory from suffering the woes of cancerous rust.
The brainchild of Wendell Smith many years ago, Dr. Mopar functions as an appendage of A to Z Auto Crusher, out of Niederwald, Texas. In September 2005, Wendell left the country, leaving his yard and thriving business. Now owned by Reynell Smith and her son Robert Huff, this family-operated business has made a name for itself with online shoppers and web forum regulars. Due to the large volume of internet requests, Dr. Mopar was forced to open their doors to the public by appointment only. Operating on a computerized inventory system, Dr. Mopar features over 300 cars in the yard and another 10,000 square feet of warehoused parts. Robert says, "We don't sell new or aftermarket items unless they come in the cars we purchase off the street."
Underneath the giant Texas...
Underneath the giant Texas sky rests Dr. Mopar's Mopar-only paddock. Originally a crusher, the once scrap yard evolved into this Chrysler salvage field when founder, Wendell Smith, left the country. Now the new owners spend their time focusing on the more desirable '60s and '70s vehicles, the many C-Bodies outnumbering the dwindling A-, B-, and E-Bodies.
A couple of Chargers, a Coronet,...
A couple of Chargers, a Coronet, some '70s Road Runners and Chargers grace this corner of the Dr. Mopar yard. Picked through by the many needful Mopar enthusiasts, these cars are becoming a rare commodity for the Mopar-focused salvage yard. We like the Coronet wagon in the upper left-hand corner.
While many might try to persuade...
While many might try to persuade you to buy and build a forgotten A-, F-, M-, or J-Body from the mid-to-late '70s, we (and Dr. Mopar) would really like to turn you on to Mopar's forgotten line-the C-Body. Think about it, C-Bodies usually came with the biggest of running gear, big brakes, heavy-duty suspension, comfy interiors, and sleek, sloping lines that looked like the stately older brother of a Coronet or Charger. They make awesome projects, are different than the same old B-Body, and, frankly, we think the world's ready to see a Fury run low-11s in the quarter.
In 1975, Ted Stephens wrapped his '68 Super Bee around a telephone pole. As a 17-year-old, Ted wasn't in the position to dish out the cash needed to fix it, so he was forced to part it out to recoup his investment. His initial venture into auto salvage came at the cost of his first car. And from that time on, Ted has nurtured his salvage business into one of the largest vintage Mopar salvage operations in the world. Unlike some of the aforementioned yards, Stephens Performance happily sells new, used, and reproduction parts for all '62 through '74 A-, B-, C-, E-, and F-Body models. Licensed by DaimlerChrysler as a distributor of reproduction parts, Stephens is able to provide their customers with the same performance products as most dealers.
One of the cleanest, most...
One of the cleanest, most organized salvage facilities we've ever seen, Stephens Performance utilizes rows of storage containers and car trailers for more complete, valuable cars, such as this Butternut Yellow '68 Charger R/T.
Stephens Performance provided the lion's share of Mopar iron for the latest Chrysler musclecar craze in the film industry. Most recently, Stephens pitched in for the The Fast and the Furious series and last year's remake of the The Dukes of Hazzard, sacrificing several Chargers in an effort to bring the orange General Lee to celluloid. In addition, they were licensed in the mid-'90s to manufacture and distribute apparel and collectibles for both Vanishing Point films. In gratitude for their participation in the filming of the second installment, Stephens was awarded one of the Challengers used in the movie. television appearances on Motor Trend TV, Car and Driver, and Horsepower have also helped to spread the word about Ted's business.
Dealing mostly in used parts with some N.O.S. and reproduction items mixed in, Texas Acres was one of the first to offer new A/C and heater cores for '66-'70 B-Bodies. The small family-owned business has dealt with customers' worldwide thanks to a successful advertising campaign and a strong internet presence. A large world map in Ron's office is loaded with red dots indicating where parts have gone. Ron says, "We've sent transmissions to Katmandu, India, starters to South Africa, and the complete rear half of a '69 Charger to Germany. Many times during the year we entertain foreign visitors that stop in while on vacation here in the States."
Unlike many salvage yards...
Unlike many salvage yards around the nation that just draw from the local area, Stephens Performance draws in cars from all over, enabling their usable pieces to be distributed throughout the world. Stephens Performance isn't just a wrecking yard, but a Mopar distribution center.
You can't doubt the credibility...
You can't doubt the credibility of a Mopar-specific salvage yard when their employee parking section looks like this. Stephens Performance is packed with some of the most desirable Mopars available. Sure, the Hemi and 440 Six-Packs are pretty much all bought up, but that won't stop you from putting together one mean-ass clone.
Cars that come to Stephens...
Cars that come to Stephens Performance in reasonably straight condition are prepped and sold as complete project vehicles. The others that haven't fared as well are parted out, stripped, and sent to the yard to, hopefully, help bring another would-be basket case back to the road.
The proprietor of Texas Acres, Ron Stitt, is a Vietnam veteran, involved in the local police and fire departments, as well as in several city and church groups. After returning home from the Vietnam conflict, he made a career out of repairing major collision damage for 33 years. As it is with all Mopar guys, there always was a project car in the works, causing extra parts to accumulate. People began seeking out Ron for cars and parts on a regular basis, so he began selling the extras to locals in the '70s and at swap meets in the '80s. Realizing that there was a need for a full-time Mopar salvage yard, Ron decided to open up the Harker Heights compound, but not without a cost. Ron says, "in 1991, to purchase the current location of Texas Acres, I sold a collection of Mopars: a red '71 'Cuda, a white '66 Charger 383, a yellow '68 Charger, a red '65 Barracuda, a '65 white Sport Fury, a black and white '57 Belvedere, a red '55 Plymouth Savoy, and a black '36 Plymouth sedan."
Services surpass simply scavenging usable bits and pieces from discarded Mopars; Texas Acres sends out scouts looking for cars and parts from old wrecking yards and individual homes and properties. Non-restorable vehicles are completely dismantled and the non-perishable items are stored in rows and sections according to body type on the property. The perishable parts are stored in two warehouses. Inventory changes weekly as things are always coming and going.
Not looking like much from...
Not looking like much from the outside, Texas Acres resides next to one of the world's largest military bases, Fort Hood. Hiding behind those tall brown gates is one of the vastest Mopar-specific salvage yards in the nation. It's true, everything is bigger in Texas.
Hanging above the cradled...
Hanging above the cradled powerplants is a wide selection of valve covers, air cleaners, and exhaust manifolds. Anything from Slant 6's, LA small-blocks, to B and RB big-block engines, Texas Acres has got you covered. The pile of cylinder heads in the back might turn up some pretty impressive pieces of Mopar nostalgia for someone with the time to dig through them.
Don't be fooled, that's an...
Don't be fooled, that's an old Chrysler Fire Power 392 Hemi painted up in classic 426 colors. The rest of the engine lineup have either been pulled from totaled vehicles or pieced together from various Mopars that had already met their untimely demise.
But what about all the unused, unwanted parts and cars? Ron explains, "Many items are sold to core buyers, or if not useable, they are loaded into huge scrap containers kept on-site. Once filled up, the containers are swapped out for empty ones by a local scrap company, and the contents are recycled. I recycle more than just auto parts. The boxes and packing used to ship parts are supplied by a local retired gentleman. He gathers boxes and pallets from the local businesses by the truck load, and I buy them. We also keep paper shredders busy to recycle any and all paper for packing parts to ship." This process isn't the easiest way to do things, but it is the most eco-friendly. He continues, "Oil and antifreeze are sold to recyclers. All A/C-equipped cars are checked, and the Freon is collected by a licensed A/C company." Old tires are picked up for recycling into fuel, road coatings, or athletic tracks. Texas Acres strives to find new ways to make every item off the vehicles useful.
Take a seat. In fact, take...
Take a seat. In fact, take a whole interior. Part of the perishable items, the more delicate vinyl interior pieces are carefully hung out of the way and kept in a covered garage, safe from destructive moisture and external elements.
Grilles, rims, steering wheels,...
Grilles, rims, steering wheels, and trim abound in one of the many storage facilities at Ron's Texas Acres. He tries to keep salvageable vehicles together as long as possible because many of his clients come in looking for good foundations to start up a new project car. The cars that he deems "unsalvageable" are immediately disassembled and parted out.
Texas Acres has sold parts...
Texas Acres has sold parts to John Snyder from the Dukes of Hazzard and Show Cars, who helped supply Charger parts for the Dukes of Hazzard movie.
Wildcat Auto Wrecking
46827 S.E. Wildcat Mountain Dr
5310 Schuelke Rd.
1130 FM 2410