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ebonyandivory SuperDork
9/11/14 12:35 p.m.

...or theft recovery?

We have a ton near me and I know they get vehicles that customers leave behind etc.

I'm dreaming of finding a newish vehicle dented all over from a joy ride selling for dirt cheap.

digdug18 Dork
9/11/14 12:55 p.m.

I've bought from online places like that, govdeals, etc. Check if it has a title and keys. Some places ONLY allow a tow truck to remove items from their lots, so you might need to find somebody to tow it to your house or whatever.


dean1484 GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/11/14 1:02 p.m.

Yep. Done it many times

ebonyandivory SuperDork
9/11/14 1:09 p.m.

Is there any kind of blueprint to follow?

Is it as easy as stopping by the lot and ask if they have anything to buy? I'd like to sound like a serious buyer and some random guy they'd rather shoo away.

ebonyandivory SuperDork
9/11/14 1:12 p.m.
dean1484 wrote: Yep. Done it many times

Wanna post an example or two? We're they drivers or needed to be repaired etc.?

SilverFleet SuperDork
9/11/14 1:15 p.m.

My friend bought a car from INSIDE a MA junkyard (Brockton Auto Parts or Everett's, I forget). He bought it really cheap and it had a title and everything. I'm pretty sure he even drove it home.

It was a rare 1992 Plymouth Laser RS, with all the good DSM stuff. He had an identical one and was going to use it for parts, but it ran better than the original one so he kept the junkyard one. He drove the car for a couple years, eventually running a 12.9 at New England Dragway on old snow tires and steelies (and on the stock turbo too), and it still to this day has the yellow junkyard marker notes on the body.

Klayfish SuperDork
9/11/14 1:18 p.m.
ebonyandivory wrote: Is there any kind of blueprint to follow? Is it as easy as stopping by the lot and ask if they have anything to buy? I'd like to sound like a serious buyer and some random guy they'd rather shoo away.

I've done it. The first MR2 I ever got was free, as it had been abandoned at a repair facility. There's no blueprint per se. If you see a car that's obviously been sitting for quite some time, you need to go ask in person what the story is with the car. It may be something that the shop wants desperately to get off their lot..as long as you can do it legally. For my MR2, it belonged to a silver spoon teen. He had it towed in, thinking something had gone wrong with it. Turned out to be just a dead battery and some other minor electrical issue (I forget exactly), but the kid never came back. Through a little sleuth work I was able to track down daddy, who was the titled owner of the car. He happily turned over the title to the car and the shop was very happy to let me drive it away. It had a stuck caliper from sitting, but that was about it.

You really need to ask. You may get shooed away, but you may find something that they're eager to get rid of.

ebonyandivory SuperDork
9/11/14 1:20 p.m.

In reply to SilverFleet:

Thanks for that! I actually bought an $800 Bronco from Everett's but they now seem to be just a used car lot now like all the rest.

I have visions of seeing something such as an Expedition or suburban with a dent in every body panel that nobody wants. A real orphan or ugly ducking story!

MadScientistMatt UberDork
9/11/14 1:39 p.m.

At a previous job, we had planned to build a Locost-like car to showcase the capabilities of a new tubing cutter. I picked up a Chevy S10 Blazer to use as a donor vehicle for something like $250 - I can't remember if it ran. This was at a towing place that has an auction every month for unclaimed towed vehicles. Most of the cars were around 25 years old and very much in the sort of condition you would have expected to find abandoned on the side of the road by owners who would make a calculated decision not to come back and get them, although there was a G-body Monte Carlo SS (which puked so much water out of the exhaust when they cranked it that my first thought was it had a blown head gasket) and a Taurus SHO there. The Monte went for more money than I thought was a good price.

Mazdax605 SuperDork
9/11/14 1:50 p.m.

This car was saved from a salvage yard in CA, and repaired.


I bought it, had it shipped across the country, and sold it a year or so later to a friend who still has it here in MA.

It even had a cool article written about it on Hemmings sport, and exotic car magazine this year.


I was there for the photo session at the Larz Anderson, an dI talk with the writer about all things Japanese Nostalgic Car from time to time via email. He has a Montero that he is bringing to JCD at the Larz next month.

Vigo PowerDork
9/11/14 3:24 p.m.

There have been a couple of cars in the local Jyard sale lots that i regret not buying.

I've bought quite a few cars out of shops i worked at either during or after my employment there. Like, over half a dozen. But when you work there you generally get the straight story.

I dunno, as a professional technician i dont really worry about surprises very much. The things i am most likely to get screwed on are legalities with title stuff, not anything mechanical.

Cotton UltraDork
9/11/14 3:40 p.m.

probably my best score was a 1st gen mr2 with a slipping clutch for 400. The shop owner was asking 450 and when I countered he was like "are you seriously countering on a running $450 car?". He ended up taking the 400 anyway.

chandlerGTi SuperDork
9/11/14 3:47 p.m.

I bought a 5000 Quattro wagon from a shop, it had sat there for years and they wanted it to go away. $250 and the cost of the mechanics Lein and it was mine. Great car btw. It needed a battery and the grounds cleaned but since the battery was under the seat no one wanted to mess with it. Four hours cleaning grounds, six hours cleaning the interior(yuck!) and a wash and wax and I was rolling!

SVreX MegaDork
9/11/14 3:47 p.m.

The SVX in my profile was bought from a junkyard.

The SVreX

Placed 13th overall at the $2004 Challenge (out of a big field- something like 70 cars).

ebonyandivory SuperDork
9/11/14 3:54 p.m.

Any pointers for a guy with few connections (had connections 15 years ago)?

I know the guys that work at these shops aren't little old ladies looking to chat about kittens!

belteshazzar UberDork
9/11/14 6:53 p.m.

Make friends with a particular counterman at the yard. I got an '88 325is that had been abandoned. Paid 700. Needed a head, which I had. Sold to a friend who drove it like 8 years after that.

belteshazzar UberDork
9/11/14 6:58 p.m.

It takes time.No way around that.

Same counterman sold me an 87 Saab 900 coupe in almost perfect shape. Didn't need a thing. Previous owner died, family just didn't know what else to do with it, couldn't be bothered to sell it themselves.

ebonyandivory SuperDork
9/11/14 7:04 p.m.

In reply to belteshazzar:

Counterman at a tow yard? Or maybe a junk yard?

Just curious.

belteshazzar UberDork
9/11/14 7:23 p.m.

High volume salvage yard.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/11/14 7:48 p.m.

I have a deposit on car at the moment. I am waiting on the yard to get the title.

I got three mr2s from another yard. We made a school/rental car out of one and stripped the other two and used the parts for our other two race cars.

I have picked up cars over the years for parting or fixing. Just like purchasing from any other used car dealer.

Ojala HalfDork
9/11/14 7:53 p.m.

A lot of tow yards and junkyards have business cards of guys who buy certain kinds of cars. Back when I was into vw bugs I had the word out at most yards that I would buy old bugs.

stan_d Dork
9/11/14 8:00 p.m.

My challenge car came from a yard. No title. Did a mechanics lien received a clear title. It came back as a se-r spec V

Mike GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/11/14 8:54 p.m.

I came close - I bought a Toyota Van from Goodwill for $400. I stalked a Fiat 124 that was abandoned with a for sale sign. I watched where it was sitting, and when it disappeared, I called every wrecker company in town until I found it. I registered my interest, they told me how long it would take for the owner notification and title process.

Unfortunately, I was unable to buy it when the wrecking yard finally got the title.

Knurled PowerDork
9/12/14 6:14 a.m.

I do work at a shop, and if there is something at the intersection of interesting and unlikely to get repaired due to expense, I usually offer double scrap value plus paying for whatever diagnostic fees we have in it.

The funny thing is, any time I even verbalize this intent, the customer backtracks and decides to repair the car. This generally does not even require the customer to know about it. It's spooky.

'Course, scrap value on a lot of cars is $300-400 now, so this isn't quite the deal that it used to be.

I also have managed to get first rights on a couple cars. The Golf that I used to own was bought from a customer this way, he's an enthusiast and wanted to see the car sold to another enthusiast. There's another customer with a TT with a throwout bearing that is starting to scream, we've told him multiple times and he doesn't want to put the money into repairing it. (Have you SEEN how labor intensive a clutch in a TTq is? Yikes) I figure it has another year before it siezes and eats the clutch, and I have serious doubts as to him wanting to repair it when the car is another year older. So, I may be buying a non-running TT sometime next year...

Klayfish SuperDork
9/12/14 6:19 a.m.

Yards aren't a bad place to get a car, but at the same time they make a good amount of money from parting cars. Look in the yards of the local mom-n-pop mechanic shop or tow yard.

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