The Death of the Classic American Automobile
Just yesterday, I visited an automobile junkyard in North Vancouver, Washington. I was accompanying a friend who was in search of spare fender for a 1964 Pontiac Tempest/GTO. "What is wrong with yours?" I asked. "Nothing," he replied, "but you never know..." So he currently has four spares - three right and one left. You never know.
Ok, I love junkyards, so I brought my camera for this trip. While my friend looked for the Holy Grail Fender, I wandered the yard and took photographs. The owner first started acquiring autos in 1989, but the yard looked as if it had been there since the 1930s. There were hundreds of cars dating from around the 1930s all the way up to the 1990s. The newer cars were usually accident victims with crunched front ends and deployed air bags. The older cars had simply been retired. Parts had been picked from many of them over the years so some were mere rusted steel shells. Easy to spot the cars which had been there for many years -- they were the ones with the vines growing on the inside.
Like most people, I admire the fluid design of the older cars. Who could not appreciate the curves of a 1954 Plymouth Belvedere, even if rusted through? It was a solid, American-made, classic automobile, assembled at the Highland Park factory in Detroit, Michigan. Yet, here in this junkyard, the remains are being cannibalized. Bit by bit, parts are removed and shipped all over the world to people working on "project cars". This one will be sacrificed so that others may live.
Someone from Cuba visiting here would not feel out of place. Under current Cuban law, only cars built before the 1959 revolution can be legally bought and sold. But thanks to the side-effects of perestroika and glasnost from the Gorbachev era, Cubans and Americans may soon enjoy the right to freely trade spare parts -- and a Cuban family might soon be able to purchase that new BMW.
In the near future I will post additional photographs and stories from the auto "graveyard". Stay tuned.
Havana: Car Purgatory
Classic American cars are given new life in Havana, Cuba.