Save These Classics! Pick ‘N Pull Project Vehicles

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

One of my biggest gripes about any number of self-service salvage yards is that they allow good project cars to go directly to scrap. There’s never a chance to “save” a car before it goes into the rows of junked vehicles where hacks with tools destroy half the interior to remove a $5 part. Thankfully, one Pick ‘N Pull location in California is giving us a chance to buy complete vintage cars, like this 1962 Dodge D100 pickup here on craigslist

Now, for sure, these vehicles are not likely to return to the road, especially in California. But if they go to another state with less stringent emissions requirements, or even they just become someone’s dream parts car, either fate is better than sitting in the yard for a few weeks and then getting flattened into a wafer-thin vestige of its former self. This Rover P6 3500 here on craigslist looks like it is worth restoring, especially with the desirable Buick V8 under the hood.

Sure, this 1976 Ford F250 here on craigslist is a little rough around the edges – it did end up in a junkyard, after all. But it doesn’t appear rusty and the interior is certainly clean enough to indicate it was loved by at least on of its prior owners. Also note the decent-looking El Camino parked next to it. While I always knew Pick ‘N Pull would sell whole cars, it seems there is someone at its San Jose South location that wants to give classics a fighting chance before becoming someone’s new refrigerator.

Last up is this homely Dodge Aspen, also here on craigslist. It’s just $899 and looks solid enough that it may even fire up and drive itself onto a trailer. This same yard offers buyers of its whole cars a 33% off coupon for any and all parts you may need for your new project, so this whole setup seems like a good deal for anyone needing a parts car. I’m not sure how the prices resonate with our audience, as these vehicles would likely never see the road again in California – but for those of us outside of the Golden State, could any of these junked vehicles be good buys?

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  1. Don

    Years ago I have gotten parts for a trans am a mustang a nova from pic and pulls . I think it’s a lot better then just having a car crushed like a lot of junk yards do🚘

  2. angliagt

    Nice to see them posting them on craigslist,
    where they might be saved as complete vehicles.

  3. Rod

    The Dodge truck would be a great one to get. It’s priced at an attractive price so I don’t think it will last. i would like to have it myself.

    • Walter Joy

      Ditto. If I had the money and time and experience i would want her. I hope someone takes her whole and saves her

  4. Don

    The little Rover has a funky looking hood 🤔

    • Chris C.

      How they sold the V8s in the US. I agree funky-looking but factory correct. UK version much sleeker without the scoops.

  5. JamestownMike

    SO glad to see their trying to save some cars! The pull a part in Phoenix was selling (not sure if their doing it anymore??) complete cars but sold on a parts only bill of sale (no title) because that had to pass emissions prior to selling to the public. It really sucks that in CA a private party gets a salvage title, unless it can pass smog prior to sale. You should get a clean title if your a licensed used car dealer, because the dealer is responsible for smog prior to sale. Regardless of salvage title or not, at least it’s being saved!

    • Woodie Man

      I’m almost sure in Cali you get a Salvage title from a Salvager no matter the state of the smog cert. If the car has been salvaged or bought at an insurance auction after having been totaled ( meaning the inflated body shop repair scam/insurance company collusion dooms the car), even if repaired and runs like a top, will have a title stamped SALVAGE.

      I see a few really nice cars with Salvage stamped titles and I personally would pass on them as even if I know the car is square, it hinders one’s ability to sell it down the line……to the average buyer.

    • That Guy

      Yes, that’s correct. 20 years ago I bought a running, driving 1973 Datsun 240Z from this very same yard for something like $800. It had no crash or other structural damage, it was just scruffy and needed lots of miscellaneous repairs. It automatically received a salvage title because it had been sold to a licensed wrecking yard. At that point, a car is legally considered scrapped in California regardless of why it got where it did. And yes, my intent was to flip it, which I eventually did after driving it for six months or so. I don’t recall that I made much profit, but I had fun. 😀

      I haven’t been to this yard for a few years now. The company is primarily a scrap metal business which puts cars in the u-pull-it area for about a month, sells whatever parts people choose to buy, then crushes what’s left.

  6. jaygryph

    The San Jose yards have their cars snapped up pretty quick by flippers. There was a 50’s olds, and a studebaker hawk I’ve seen in there for around $1200, that a few days later showed up on craigslist in someones yard for 6k.

    Man people sure get butthurt when ya call and ask them if they’ll take the wrecking yard price from a day before.

  7. Jim Mc

    Rover is gone already, somebody got a sweet deal.

    • Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

      Agreed. Even if just for a parts car, it looked like it was well worth the price.

  8. Derek F

    A few years ago I bought a Honda CRX Si to build as a track car from the Pick-N-Pull in Lomita, CA just like one of these cars. It was ( still is ) a solid car that someone sold to the salvage yard because they thought it was worn out. It seems all the inspection scrutiny that gets overlooked on everyday cars in CA ( no safety inspections-EVER! ) get saved up for folks trying to re-instate a title. Granted a lot of cars shouldn’t be returned to the road for various reasons, but it was a very time consuming and expensive process I won’t soon repeat. And I have a salvaged title to show for all my efforts.

  9. Bruce Fischer

    I wish they had some around here in East T,N. Bruce F.

    • Clinton

      They do sell whole cars at the Knoxville TN pull a part. Not likely to see examples like these though.

  10. angliagt

    In CA,you can still register a “Salvage” titled vehicle –
    you just need a light,brake,& smog certificate.
    Pre-’76 vehicles are smog exempt also (for the time being).

  11. Adam Wright

    I used to love going to Pull-A-Part and seeing cars that would normally have been crushed whole stripped to the last nut. There is nothing worse than seeing parts go into the trash.

  12. That Guy

    I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen that Rover kicking around on Craigslist a few years back, with no takers. It looks like the owner took the easy way out eventually. It’s good to hear someone bought it already. It would have been a shame to see it crushed.

  13. Jubjub

    Like that Rover. Chrome and trim look to be in good shape.

  14. Doug Towsley

    No details on the motors, But that Aspen PROBABLY has the leaning tower of Power Slant 6, they actually make a nice car, but the trannies tend to wear out before the motors. Not unusual to see 300,000 miles on one of those motors. The Ford truck looks like a screaming good deal. Im not a Ford guy but those are classics and will only go up in value. Restore or restomod. I have not been for a few years but locally the U-pull-it yards (I think they got bought out) were doing similar sales of vehicles. I like seeing that as well. Plus I like seeing people able to go pull parts,. I have taken my nephews and many enjoyable days showing them the ropes and learning some skills.
    But I was rather shocked a few years ago at my last visit how much higher the prices were. Used to be super affodable for parts but the local yards got really intense on pricing. I suppose they have to but I had a bit of sticker shock last trip. I need to go soon for a current project.
    (Ford Exploder-BattleWagon)

    • Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

      Pick ‘N Pull did jack their prices last year. I had a nice little side business of buying some odds and ends off of BMWs, paying the pullers and then sending them out to me. Still made money, even with shipping, but then they increased their prices and it was a money loser. The indy yards are still pretty fair, however.

    • mars2878

      20yrs ago when I started in the business, j/y’s in my area rarely paid $75 for a complete running car. sometimes they got paid to take them away. those days are gone. they actually have to pay higher #’s for crap cars, besides all of the extra epa laws that must now be followed. so parts the part prices go up.

  15. Dave Wright

    There is a cottage industry of people that strip valueable parts for resale. These self service junkyards are a wonderful resource….you can get small parts that a full service yard can’t afford the labor to pull and even learn how things attach that you are unsure about.

  16. Jake

    Heck that aspen looks ready to daily by my standards! It is a bit difficult to get a salvage vehicle back in the road here in NY, you have to bring it to one of a handful of state run inspection locations.

  17. mars2878

    I used to work @ the Freetown, Ma Pick-n-Pull until they closed both MA stores a couple years ago. we used to sell complete cars. the cars were sold as-is. only twice do I recall someone return a car. we sold them w/ titles & they were not salvage titles either. most expensive car that I put up for sale was $1999. we sold them on a class 2 (used car dealer) & class 3 (salvage yard dealer lic.) dealers license. if selling to someone in RI, I had to use the class 2 lic. as RI didn’t recognize #3. RI doesn’t issue a dealers lic. to salvage yards, so no yard in RI can legally sell a vehicle. If we bought a vehicle from a RI customer that was 2001 & older & didn’t have a title (as not required by RI law) & we deemed it worth selling, we would sell it w/ the dealer ppw along w/ the registration & bill of sale from the cust. If a MA cust bought that vehicle, they would receive a MA title. There might be other yards in other states can do ppw in this fashion.

    • Greg

      I bought my favorite Volvo from Gold’s Junkyard in Newport, RI in 1989. It was a 71 142E with the 135 horse high compression motor, and I paid $150 for it. All it needed to drive was a clutch. I drove it to San Diego that Fall, then to Seattle, where I eventually had to give it away for $300 in 1995.


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