Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
June 2006

Columnist — Allen Wright

The One That Got Away: Tall Tales from Mopars on the Strip, the Western Region Roadster Show, and the Junkyard

We all have heard the fishing and hunting stories. You know what I mean? The one that got away. The one that jumped out of the boat. "I had him right in my sights." Or "We got to the store and the sale item was gone...." Sometimes you just miss out on the deal of the year — or the century.

Going to car shows and talking cars seems to bring out unbelievable stories about deals missed and valuable cars found in barns. Unfortunately, normally the teller of the tale always seems to miss the boat.

I was in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 2006 for Mopars on the Strip. This was the unsupervised trip my pal Ron and I had planned for April. We actually took up our old Mopar parts and joined the swappers on Friday and Saturday.

One guy's story was that there is a junkyard full of old Mopars near the Nevada Test Sites, the famous Area 51. He was trying to sell a '63 Dodge for $14,500 that had obviously been in the desert. His story went on about his moving from Florida to Las Vegas to look for old cars to restore. The '63 Dodge didn't sell and if he plans a restoration he may want to go back to Area 51 and find a better candidate.

I trade him two 15" Chrysler wheels and 2 bottles of Rolling Rock for a gas tank from a '63 Plymouth he was selling.

Almost everyone at the show reported having, at one time or another, a Plymouth Road Runner. Lots of guys had friends that had Plymouth Daytonas and the stories went on and on and were very enjoyable.

On Friday night, we went to the Wal-Mart in North Las Vegas quite close to the track.We had forgotten some stuff for our swap space and had run out of cold beverages. I have never seen a larger Wal-Mart anywhere. They had everything. There were security cameras everywhere. No one was going to steal stuff from this Wal-Mart.

Which leads to my next tale, this time from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It seems like this body builder and his wife (or was it his girlfriend?) were having troubles. The troubles were linked with a female associate of the body builder. Somehow the relationships went bad. Next thing you know, the female associate of the body builder was found in a burned-out BMW (or was it a Jaguar) in the desert. The owner of of the BMW had ties to the body builder and his wife.

Now here is where it gets really interesting. The owner of the expensive BMW said the vehicle had been stolen. But the cameras at the giant Wal-Mart store recorded the fact that the car owner had purchased a bunch of lighter fluid at the store — just before he car was stolen and a dead, burned body was found inside of it.

Now, how would you explain that? This was a topic of great discussion as the story circulated around the car show. I think that rather than miss the Happy Face Smile sale on lighter fluid at the Wal-Mart, the car owner loaded up. After all, I think I am the last person on the planet to use ATF-F in old cars and, like the lighter fluid guy, I always load up when Wal-Mart has it on sale for 87 cents. You don't want that one to get away!

Tall tales were a-plenty at the Western Region Roadster Show in Bakersfield in May. If you like pre-1946 cars that is the place to be. There is a very nice atmosphere at the Bakersfield Fairgrounds and the Roadster folks are very friendly.

The best stories were about the all-steel Ford Roadsters (three of them) that were found in a barn. Another tale was a trailer that was parked behind a building for years that no one thought anything about. The buyer of the property sold everything on the property to a contractor for $10.00 if he would clear the land. You guessed it: in the trailer was a 1930 Plymouth, complete. The trailer had been there for years and could be clearly seen from Highway 58.

I probably drove by it, just like everyone else.

In the old car storytelling category, seasoned bargain hunters often talk about the Long Beach/Wilmington area. Recently, Tony Martinez moved Memory Lane Collectable Auto Parts from Sun Valley to Lomita Avenue in Wilmington.Memory Lane is located right next to Ecology Auto Parts behind the BP Refinery between the tank car yard and the container yard.

I got there before they opened and ended up having breakfast off of Avalon Boulevard and Denni. when you're hungry, I recommend hitting Tom's Family #9. There was steak and 3 eggs with everything for about $7.00. They use the picture board-type menu that is always a favorite with me. I can put aside the fact that there was no health rating posted. I will forget about the open restroom full of gang graffiti. If what I get it good and looks like the the picture posted, I am on board.

I knew I was in a hot area for old cars when across the street at Delta Muffler were a bonanza of cars: a 1941 International Pickup; a 1966 Chevy Impala 2-door hardtop; and a pair of pickup trucks from the 1960s, one Ford and one Chevy.

You can't miss Tom's Family Restaurant #9 or Delta Muffler at Avalon and Denni. Just look for the house with the festive holiday lights. I have been thinking of leaving the holiday lights up year-round on my house. I could fire them up at various times throughout the year: the 4th of July, Labor Day, my birthday, Cinco de Mayo, when the Angels win, my wife's birthday, when we mail the taxes in, and all other festive occasions.

Sorry, I drifted away from the Saturday tour of Wilmington.

I started with the Ecology lot of Lomita as I had a coupon for free admission. Ecology on Lomita is a huge yard with lots of cars. There were very few old cars and lots of imports. I scored four T-3 old-style headlights for $1.00 each. What a deal! They will go into inventory in the headlight box in my garage.

After about an hour and a half, I was down with Ecology. Their Mopar section was weak.

Memory Lane was also weak on Mopar stuff, but trucks were still moving cars from the old yard to the new one. Their new location will be great in the future and it will be a lot closer than going to Sun Valley from Anaheim.

It was about noon and there was one place left in the area: Pick-Your-Part on Blinn Avenue off Pacific Coast Highway. This operation has two locations, one north of PCH and one south. I started at the North location and found little of interest. Talking to a fellow parts scrounger, he commented that the other yard on Blinn was his next stop for Mopars.

This nice thing about Pick-Your-Part is they will give you a free pass for the second yard in the vicinity. Anaheim has two Pick-Your-Part yards as well, one on Beach and one on Katella, so I knew this policy. But as I was driving to the South lot on Blinn, I was thinking about calling it a day and forgetting about the second Pick-Your-Part location. But I was there and you never know.

Pick-Your-Part realizes that there are few idiots who do anything with Chrysler products. Most junkyards put all the Chryslers in the back and put the popular stuff in the front. Trudging back to the far left corner to the Chrysler/Mopar area I started to think about cold beer and a sandwich. It was lunch time.

And then I couldn't believe my eyes. There she sat, a 1962 Plymouth Savoy plain Jane 4-door sedan. It looked to me like she just moved into the yard.

The Plymouth was complete with the exception of the front funder that was crunched and in the back seat. I went to work in earnest and in five hours I had pretty well stripped her and loaded my pickup truck.

While I was there I also found a Ford Festiva grille for my sister-in-law. It was my lucky day.

That Monday, after work, I finished off the Plymouth at Pick-Your-Part.

Does this seem like a tall tale or an exaggerated story? I have pictures. See if you can find it in this issue! After all, Wal-Mart has pictures of me buying beverages in Las Vegas. I might as well have some proof of my own.

Car stories are part of the fun in life. And, if you have a good one, it just might be making the rounds long after you're gone.

Originally published in the June/July 2006 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright 2006 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.