Saturday, May 23, 2015

The place where cars go to die

There’s an old superstition that I grew up with - if you try a new food, you'll add 7 years to your life. I'm not sure if it's an Italian thing, or just a way of my parents getting me to try something new. But it always worked!

Either way, I feel like doing something new is good for my brain. It stimulates me and puts me thinking from a different perspective.  Damn, I did something recently that was so foreign to me, I felt like I was on a different planet.  It combined everything that's great about this city: grittiness, teamwork, reality, economy, race relations.... it was all that and more...

I went to Pic-a-Part! 

If you've never visited one of these places, I'd have to say that it's an acquired taste. The best description I can think of would be that it's an automobile junkyard, where you dig through the rubble, to find what you need. Like scavengers, picking boney carcasses. Kind of like Survivor, only with car parts. 

By the way - ladies get in free. What a deal!  

Admission for guys? One dollar. How can you beat that?

There are rows of dead vehicles, stripped of everything vital. Need a bumper, or an engine thingie? 

This is the place for you!

 Denny and I visited Pic-a-Part this week, as I was in need of a part for my truck, and I didn't feel like spending $150 for it from the dealer. The lid fell off my center console, and let me tell you, driving without it was a PITA. I never realized how much I leaned on this lid!

Of course, I could't locate just the lid. So off we went.

Lesson #1 - bring tools! I wouldn't have known this, had Denny not told me. 

We brought the old lid with us, and before entering the yard, one of the employees marked our part with some red paint. 

Walking through the miles of aisles, I wondered what the stories were behind some of these vehicles.  

Who camouflaged this SUV with spray paint? 

Why did this Lexus end up here? And what was that maroon stain on the seat? Premature delivery? Car accident? Off in the distance, there was a rumble, 

and then I realized what was approaching, where we were digging through the rubble.

 It's not every day you see one truck hauling another truck ten feet in the air. To everyone there, it seemed as normal as a forklift moving a stack of water softener salt at Home Depot.  

I thought it was amazing in its simplicity - moving a dead vehicle to its resting spot. Seriously, there was a certain gritty grace to this place. 

Come in, find what you need, get out.  But with an oil and grease flavor smeared into it.  
We finally located the row of abandoned Toyota trucks, and Denny quickly found the part we needed.

Here's the organ donor... I can't help but think this place is a hidden gem in the world of auto repair, although you have to put some effort into it. 

I'm sure a rear window and tailgate for a Range Rover is pricey, but here is a set in almost perfect condition! 

Some of the vehicles had a story to tell, that's for sure. Who took the time to put "my proven 4x4 hunter, with 2.4 power" on the tailgate of this truck? 

This vehicle was particularly well stripped.

The employees set up an engine hoist around this car, so that someone could pull out the block. I kept thinking this place is a car morgue. 

You're stepping over parts, and grime, baked for years in the sun. The place where cars go to die.

 With our part in hand, we paid as we exited the lot - $5.50! Not a bad deal at all, although I had to seriously sterilize it when I got home.

In the parking lot, a fellow shopper was having trouble trying to remove a part from his car, and Denny lent a hand. Well, actually - the guy didn't know a screwdriver from a cresent wrench, so Denny hopped under the car to help. 

 Once we got back to the shop, with a little finagling - the part was installed. It's not a perfect match, but hey - it's a truck! The color match is actually closer than it looks in this photo. With a little bit of antibacterial cleaner and some elbow grease, this part looks better than the original lid! 

And I have a great story to tell over beers sometime....


James William said...

WOW. You got all that at $5.50? I think I need to get out of the shop a little more often. Hmm

Christine said...

One word: Go-Pro. The two of you out there rummaging around would have been an cool video!