August 17, 2009
Unbelievably Awesome Junk At All American Classics!
By Jen Dunnaway
All American Classics in Vancouver, WA, is the kind of junkyard that you can absolutely lose yourself in. I’m not so much talking about the sprawling acreage or the huge number of cars here. It’s more about the kid-in-a-candy-store feel that you get from a yard where each rusting hulk you find is more cool than the last. Read more…
As its name suggests, All American Classics specializes in 1930′s-to-80′s domestics, with most of their stock seeming to cluster around the 50′s and 60′s. Though they’re not a u-pull-it lot, they welcome you to wander the yard and there’s staff on hand who will pull any parts you want. They’ve also got a great front shop where you can purchase everything from oddball trim parts to turn-key long blocks.
Out in the yard is an unbelievable walk into America’s automotive past–and like all the best junkyards, it’s like a car show without the hullabaloo, ghostly and serene. It’s amazing to think that each of these dilapidated hulks, some of them now nearly unrecognizable, was once chosen off the showroom floor or ordered from some long-forgotten dealership by an excited new owner–”that’s the one I want”–and the air resonates with the memories to which these rides have borne witness. Some of the scenes here are bittersweet: an old Buick Special with the brush-painted text “Just Married Good Luck” faded but still visible along its side; an AMC Javelin, torched to a bare skeleton and still stinking of burned car God-knows-how-long after the fire that destroyed it, now with a Christmas tree growing out of its trunk; a pair of Corvairs sitting nose-to-nose in the weeds; and countless wrecked cars with laden blackberry brambles spilling forth from under their hoods. The cars here are picked impressively clean before their date with the crusher–cut-in-half cars and completely stripped cars are pretty common in the yard, and judging by the rust and deterioration on many, a ride gets to sit out here a good long time before it wears out its welcome, ensuring that everything useful on it gets used. All American even sells running cars and project cars: those which arrive as non-running junk but are “too good to part out.” The impulse to save worthwhile cars is evident, and everyone gets a shot at a second life. Above all, this yard is a treasure trove of scarce vintage parts and totally salvageable sheetmetal, and it makes me really happy that places like this still exist–that they didn’t all succumb to the crushing craze back when scrap prices were through the roof. In any event, All American is the kind of place where you can spend a whole day–hell, a whole week–and it won’t even feel like time has passed. If you’re into vintage tin and you live anywhere on the I5 corridor, or anywhere in the Western US for that matter, you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage to AAC.
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