Jackpot Junkyard Finds: One Man’s Clunker is Another Man’s Treasure

The junkyard was the speed shop before speed shops. It was where you went to find cars, engines, and other odds-and-ends before manufacturers began developing parts for hot rods. In the good ol’ days, junkyards were stocked with all the best rides. It used to be no big deal to go and find a HEMI-powered Road Runner or a Mustang GT. Today, we’re left with the bone yards of modern sedans and minivans. But every now and again, someone seems to unearth something special. A diamond in the rough. To pay our respect to all that Mother Junkyard has given us over the years, we’re going to take a look at some of the best junkyard finds.


Kicking off the list of best junkyard finds is the 1969 Mach 1 Mustang discovered by David Freiburger on Roadkill. This ride, accurately dubbed the “Disgustang,” needed some surrious help when it was found rotting away in a Colorado junkyard. With a dedication to getting this legend up and running, hosts David and Mike battled thirty-seven years of dirt, grime, spider nests, animal droppings, and a variety of other gross discoveries.

The end result was something that looked like it could still live in a junkyard, but it was a running Mach 1 Mustang. And considering the build was sourced almost entirely from junkyard parts, it serves as an excellent example of the treasures to be had at the junkyard.

Junkyard Bugatti Camaro

There are plenty of great cheaply-built cars out there, but this Frankensteined Camaro stands out among junkyard finds. Owner Scott Harris purchased the 1980 Camaro off his brother for $1,000 bucks with the intention to turn a junky old car into a powerhouse. With a background in mechanical engineering, a budget of $10,000, an old barn-turned-garage, and one creative mind, he managed to do just that.

Built using junkyard parts, this quad turbocharged monster churns out 502-hp and runs the quarter mile in 10 seconds, proving that it doesn’t take big bucks to go fast. Nicknamed the “Bugatti Camaro” for what Roadkill reports is “due to its air of sophistication and luxury,” the ride has already become a bit of an internet sensation. Check out the 1320 video above to see how this truly unique ride stood up to the competition at the Houston Street Car Takeover in 2016.

Sloppy 9-Second Fairmont

It may be a Ford with a Chevy engine, but come on— it’s a 4-door Fairmont. Owner Matt Happel is a famous Pennsylvanian tinkerer. One of his builds that must be mentioned on this list is his LS-powered Ford Fairmont that can run 9 seconds at speeds around 140 mph.

With parts sourced from the junkyard, Happel showed not only how talented he is, but also how much potential these late model junkyard finds have to offer. His first set up, a 4.8L, managed 11.0 seconds at 126 mph. The addition of an Isky racing cam took him to 10.72 seconds at 136 mph. And a few years later when he swapped in a 5.3L and added a turbo, by his own account he drove over 100 miles to Cecil County, “belted out a foot brake 9.68 seconds at 145 mph, and then left, driving to York, Harrisburg and then home, approximately 300 miles, averaging 22 mpg for the whole trip if that isn’t insane enough.”

Yea, we say that’s definitely pretty insane for a junkyard find!

Dirt Everyday Junkyard Jeep

Fred Williams is a madman. We all know that. But to head to the junkyard with nothing but a set of tools and a lift kit with the plan to drive a Jeep home is a little on the extreme side. Walking away with a 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ with a 4.0 liter engine under the hood, is what we call crazy sweet success.

While this build might not have the speed or power of some other junkyard finds on this list, Fred and co-host Dave demonstrate the hidden gems that are sitting at the junkyard, ripe for the picking. They also show us just how obtainable a cheap off-road vehicle can be!

Roadkill Barracuda

There are many things to be found at the junkyard. A 1967 Barracuda is definitely at the top of the list. When David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan of Roadkill got their hands on this baby, they didn’t quite restore it, so much as patch it up and hit the strip. Found with a 360 V8 but lacking a carburetor, glass, brakes, or any interior, these guys had 24 hours to get it up and running and down to Houston for the NMCA Lone Star Nationals race.

They fixed up the brakes, got the lights working (ish), and upped the ante by hitting the unrestored engine with some good old fashioned nitrous. After plenty of burn outs, two trips around the drag strip, and their usual antics, they sold the car and flew back home. Maybe this wasn’t necessarily the best example of what to do with junkyard finds, but it certainly showcased the fact that there are some sturdy and worthy Mopars ready-to-go in the junkyard.

While the junkyard isn’t exactly what it used to be, it’s still stocked with fantastic parts and cars ready for the workshop. Sure, it takes a lot of love and even more elbow grease to get them up and running, but using the junkyard as a source is how real hotrodding has always been done.

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