Best Junkyard Car Finds

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A classic car restorer knows the value of a good junkyard. Sadly, the days of finding a rare beauty are fading fast. Let’s examine some great junkyard finds.

Finding a rusted classic to restore might be more challenging than it once was. Many salvage yards are little more than places for scrap metal sales, where all kinds of discarded metal are ground down to be sold to overseas markets. The days of junk yard finds are fading; we think that’s too bad.

There was a time when cars had a place to die when they got old or couldn’t run. If you were careful and searched hard enough, you could find treasure in American junk yards. Walk through one of these graveyards, and you might spy your old Dad’s Impala, your uncle’s Cougar, or even a rare car, but today, you won’t be nearly as lucky. With the event of recycling, plastic parts, and the price paid for metal scrap, the possibility of finding antique automobiles on the cheap can be challenging. The truth is that most of the best junkyard finds have been discovered already, but for the treasure hunter out there, now and then, a classic car lover can strike gold. So what are some of the best junkyard finds we found? Well, read on for a few examples of junkyards you might want to examine.

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What Are Some Of The Best Junkyard Car Finds?

We’ve searched the internet for some excellent junkyard finds that any classic car lover is bound to love. These vehicles will need a bit of elbow grease to finish, but they are for sale and, if restored, could provide many years of quality service.

2003 Lincoln Town Car Signature

2003 Lincoln Town Car Signature
2003 Lincoln Town Car Signature

In its day, the 2003 Lincoln Town Car Signature was about as classy as a person could get. Designed as a large sedan with plenty of room and comfortable amenities, the car was a rear-wheel drive beast powered by a 4.6L V8 with an upgraded suspension system that helped the car glide down the road.

The Modular 4.6L V8 was one of the premium engines that Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury used for years until 2014. It first appeared in the Lincoln Town Car in 1990 and eventually went through most mid-size to large sedan lineups. (A version of the 4.6L also appeared in the 1996 - 2004 Mustang GT models). The 2003 Lincoln’s powerplant produced 239 hp and 287 lb/ft of torque.

The best thing about the Town Car was the premium grade interior, with leather seating surfaces, leather and wood wrapped steering wheel, and American Walnut wood accent trim everywhere you looked. Upgraded amenities like memory seats, enhanced stereo systems, and dual climate control added to the vehicle’s elegance.

2006 Ford Mustang GT

2006 Ford Mustang GT
2006 Ford Mustang GT

This 2006 Ford Mustang GT could be a beautiful black beast in the right hands. This particular Mustang is a convertible with a salvage title and is available for purchase. While we are partial to Mustangs in general, the 06 Mustang was a great year for the Blue Oval, and the 4.6L three-valve V8 provided more than enough power to lay rubber on the road.

The 4.6L V8 produced a whopping 300 horsepower and 320 lb/ft of torque. In its day, Road and Track burned the Mustang down the track 0 - 60 in 4.9 seconds. While the convertible didn’t have quite as fast of time, the car had a three-link rear suspension that could grab the pavement and was powerful enough to haul, you know what.

One of the best things about the Mustang GT is its growl. Dual 2.5-inch exhaust pipes would emit a fierceness to the drive. (People all around knew that you were driving a Mustang, which is exactly as it should be).

The interior offered an upgrade package with aluminum-cast trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminum accent spokes, and MyColor interior instrument panel lighting, allowing for over 100 color combinations. The upgrade also included leather seating, and the 500 Shaker sound system could blast tunes (particularly with the dual 500-watt subwoofers in the back).

1992 Chevrolet Corvette

1992 Chevrolet Corvette
1992 Chevrolet Corvette

The 1992 Chevrolet Corvette is a desirable find for a junkyard treasure. For all the street kings, this ‘92 Corvette is one of the best years to own. It had 355 lb/ft of torque and enough hustle from the 5.7L V8 to get you anywhere quickly. While the ‘92 ZR1 is the model most highly prized, this is still a lovely rendition of what many consider an excellent sportscar.

The LT1 V8 engine produced an insane 300 hp and could be coupled with a six-speed manual transmission as standard or an automatic option. (This particular model is automatic). The car was equipped with a rugged suspension with a new Integrated Traction Control System that navigated curves nicely, and the 17-inch Goodyear Eagle tires were tuned for effective handling and response. In short, this little Coupe was fun to drive, and for the lucky few individuals who were fortunate enough to own one, it was a driving pleasure.

The ‘92 Corvette was a sports car that didn’t skimp on frills, being one of the more nicely equipped sports cars on the market then. The interior was leather, of course, with an effective-looking cockpit encompassing the driver. Stick shift controls and a center stack were easy to reach, and several amenities were included, like air conditioning, power windows, locks, and seat controls. The Delco AM/FM stereo and heated and powered outside mirrors were a must.

1965 Ford F100

We wanted to include a truck in the mix for those looking for that kind of vehicle. While Ford was trying to compete with Chevy and Dodge, they were cranking out f100s in the mid-sixties like nobody’s business. This 1965 version is an excellent example of a “Flareside Shorty” with most of its parts intact. The F100 was produced primarily as a Styleside (straight sides) pickup, so Flaresides are the rarer of the lot.

The F100 was an essential truck workhorse with a standard 240 ci inline six, 300 ci six-cylinder, or a 352 ci V8 as an option. (this ‘65 has a six-cylinder). The rear bumper has been modified and painted, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be replaced.

The interior is a primary bench seat, and the dash is straightforward. The manual transmission gearshift is chrome and sits high above the seat for added convenience for the driver. Ford boasted that there was enough room to sit three full-sized adults in the cab, and there might have been (although it was probably a bit cramped). The dash was equipped with a large center gauge that held the speedometer and odometer, with the fuel gauge in the upper left of the circle and the temp gauge on the right. Dummy lights for the alt and oil pressure were also a part of the center gauge.

1965 was also the year that Ford introduced its new Twin I beam suspension, which allowed the front wheels to move independently. The innovation was so successful in helping provide a smoother ride to the pickup that Ford continued to use the system until 1996 on the F150 and 2016 for the F250 and F350 models.

1968 Volkswagen Beetle

If you are a baby boomer, you likely spent part of your time growing up riding in a VW Beetle. (The VW Beetle carried more than one boomer through high school). This simple compact was easy to drive with its sewing machine engine in the back. It didn’t burn rubber down the road, but they were virtually indestructible.

The VW Beetle has the distinction of being one of the most popular cars on the road, so replacement parts are still out there and, in most cases, easy to find. (However, some parts may take a bit of searching). While most Beetles came equipped with a manual transmission, 1968 was the first year that VW offered the “auto-stick” transmission (also called semi-automatic), a simple 3-speed manual linked to an electro-pneumatic clutch and torque converter. The driver simply lifted their foot off the gas and shifted from gear to gear.

The interior of the VW Beetle was plain cloth, usually a drab grey color. (There was a back seat, but it was very cramped). VW didn’t believe in power windows or power locks (or any other convenience, for that matter). Since there wasn’t any room for the battery in the engine compartment, VW was forced to put it under the rear seat, which made jumping the car a challenge in the cold winter months.

The steering wheel was oversized and overlooked a large center gauge. Smaller temp and fuel gauges were located on either side. There weren’t many amenities on the car (most did not have AC), although they did have a heating vent system that drew hot air from the engine and piped it into the cabin. (Many of these VWs heated so well that owners sweated themselves while driving in sub-zero temps).

1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass
1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass

The 1969 Olds Cutlass was considered one of the premier muscle cars of its day, and it was prevalent (in fact, one of the best-selling cars Oldsmobile ever made). The year before, the Cutlass had undergone an extensive redesign (mirroring the 442). With its large 350 ci V8 engine, the car could rocket down the track doing 6.6 seconds 0 - 60 mph. (The 442 boasted an even bigger V8 with 400 cubic inches and 350 horsepower).

The 350 V8 engine in the Cutlass produced 310 hp @ 7800 rpm, which was nothing to sneeze at. The bench seats (both front and rear) were standard (although front bucket seats with a center console were optional. Customers could choose one of six interior colors - Red, Black, Teal, Parchment, Gold, or Blue). The dash was nicely equipped with amenities like tilt-steering, recessed tunnel gauges for focused driver information, and a padded color-coordinated dashboard that seemed to stretch forever. The standard column shift manual transmission was offered on most models, although customers could opt for “four on the floor” if they chose to do so.

Most of the engine work has already been performed on this particular junkyard find, and the car is being sold as a “run and drive” - (which means it starts and will drive at least a few yards). If you are looking for a piece of American muscle, you could do much worse than a ‘69 Cutlass.

1999 Mazda Miata MX-5

1999 Mazda Miata MX-5
1999 Mazda Miata MX-5

I want to say this as officially as I can. Driving a 90s Mazda Miata MX-5 should be on everyone, and I do mean everyone’s bucket list. This 1999 Mazda Miata is an excellent example of why the car is so popular among car collectors, and what makes it even better is that it is a convertible.

The Mazda has a 1.8L four-cylinder engine that produced 140 hp @ 6500 rpm, which was more than enough to power it anywhere you needed to go. With a top speed of 123 mph, this little sports car could fly down the road (most insurance companies made owners pay higher premiums due to its capabilities for speed).

The tiny two-seat cockpit is just big enough for two people, and with the top down, the ride is little sportscar fun. The Miatas of their day were like driving a British sports car with the dependability of a Honda Accord. These little cars would run forever if you took care of them.

The six-speed manual transmission was standard fare, although most Miatas in the US had an essential 5-speed or 4-speed automatic. (Take it from us; the manual is the way to go. Trust us. We know what we’re talking about). The interior was basic cloth, with clutch, brake, and gas pedals, all within easy reach for the average adult. While the Mazda Miata might not be the world’s rarest scrap yard find, car enthusiasts love them.