End of the Road: Auto Graveyards
Dying a slow death
Most everyone loves the sensation of a new car. The paint glimmers, and all the adorning labels and accent pieces are crisp and properly placed. Tight hinges and fresh seals cause the doors to thunk when opened and closed. Inside, the panels and trim fit snugly, and the cabin is filled with that all-important “new car” smell.
Basically, everything is as it was meant to be.
However, apart from small samples that survive in museums or as personal collectibles, there comes an end to the usefulness of a vehicle and, thus, its life cycle. As with our human bodies, most will eventually end up in a graveyard.
To many non-auto enthusiasts, the idea of walking through an automotive scrap yard is probably akin to strolling through heaps of garbage. However, to many auto enthusiasts, it can be like a trip down memory lane.
Roasting in the desert
The Santa Ana mountain rage, in southern California, effectively separates Orange County from most of Riverside County. Despite more than a decade of on-again-off-again (mostly off-again) talks to construct a 10-mile tunnel under the geologic obstacle, there remain merely two arteries that motorists can choose from to circumvent the mountainous terrain: the 91 Freeway and Highway 74.
Because of that corralling, the 91 Freeway frequently operates about as well as a stadium parking lot after a popular event lets out. Highway 74 on the other hand offers a winding, mostly two-lane course that traverses low-lying portions of the range before reconnecting with civilization on the eastern side. That route includes some breath-taking vistas, but can result in an about-face and much back-tracking, if any kind of a blockage ensues. It’s a gamble.
Before I diverge too far from the subject of this post, it’s off of Highway 74, on the east end of the range, that I wandered into an auto graveyard. The yard, called All Cars Auto Dismantlers, is located in the city of Perris and, for being so small, had some interesting autos enduring the agonizingly slow dismantling process while slowly disintegrating in the desert climate extremes.
Wandering in amongst parts scavengers on a toasty 90° afternoon, I didn’t dart to any particular vehicle but rather started at the left and worked methodically clockwise around the yard. I’ve strived to accurately identify the vehicles but someone will have to correct me, particularly when it comes to non-GM vehicles, if they think I’ve made an error.
Also, there are 87 photos in the three-page gallery, many of which I did not include comments on below. So, if you are entertained by the sight of rotting cars, not exclusively interesting rotting cars, you’ll want to take a look at the massive image gallery on this post’s last three pages.
Now, on to some old bones.
1963 Ford Galaxie 500
Ford offered its Galaxie model in several varieties for 1963. I’m not sure exactly which model this is but, in any event, there are no doubt many a Ford fan that would cringe at the sight of this roughly half-century old coupe wasting away.
As you can see, the body is, in large part, straight. And it almost looks as if at one point it was in the beginning stages of getting a new coat of paint. There were signs of sanding and primer.
Unfortunately, the elements had their say with the interior. However, it looked as if most of the switchgear was still in place and there was limited cracking on surfaces.
1996-97 Cadillac Seville SLS
I’m not totally sure what model year this is but the design was introduced for 1992 and the generation ran, mostly unchanged, through 1997. I regrettably did not look at the vehicle identification number (for this or any other car on this visit), which could have informed me about specifics.
(Update: this appears to be a 1996-97 model due to the updated interior, thanks to GMI member germeezy1 for the tip!)
Regardless, I was really swooned by this car’s understated style when it came out and still am today.
Apart from the paint, this particular car doesn’t look too beat up on the outside. No real dents in the body but some of the trim was damaged or missing, and the lock had been pulled forcibly out of the trunk lid. The expensive and expansive LED high-mounted center brake light was still in place.
While the surface materials look to have held up pretty good, overall it was thrashed on the inside.
The gently curved, soft-touch surfaces in this car seemed so elegant at the time. Hard to believe this sold for over $40,000 when new (that is not a derision toward Seville but rather an observation about how disposable costly products are).