I USED to enjoy a nice rummage around my local scrap yard… the smell of decay, old leather and spilled oil had an almost narcotic attraction for me on any Saturday afternoon you’d care to mention. However, the world’s a much different place now to how it was in the 1990s, and no longer are these vehicle graveyards full of end of life cars, plodge full of filler and gaffer tape – nowadays, they seem to be almost exclusively stacked with cars better than those I drive on a daiy basis. Depressing indeed.
Before you snigger about the unsuitability of my motly collection of heaps for daily usage, consider that my depression doesn’t stem from the condition of my own cars (because, let’s face it, there’s no hope) – but more a case of why are scrap yards now full of vehicles that are there because they’re not new enough to be given a stay of execution. Yep, perfectly good cars are now being scrapped because – simply – they might need a couple of hundred quid spending on them, and there’s no incentive to do this anymore now that used values are so low.
Not only that, but garages are becoming increasingly uninterested in doing work any more involved than a regular service, often advising punters with cars older than ten years old, to ‘get them binned in favour of something newer.’
The scrap yard the picture above was taken at is located within five minutes’ drive of my place, was the first one I went to, and a quick chat to the proprietor was illuminating to say the least. Local dealers aren’t even bothering to send trade-ins to the auctions, preferring to sign destruction orders, and carting them straight off to the knacker’s yard. His words were chilling, ‘We get ‘em all in here – some with MoTs, but mostly cars just out of ticket, and needing items such as brake pads or exhausts to get ‘em all back on the road again.’
Of course, if you look at the Rover 220 Turbo Tomcat on that pile – said scrap yard owner will have paid £100 for the car; will be guaranteed to get nearly all that back for scrap metal; will get a few hundred quid for the parts off it… why on earth should it be returned to the roads? Why indeed… But should we moan about the situation – after all, classic cars are a minority interest, and if today’s secondhand cars don’t make that leap from banger to classic, does it really matter?
If you listen to the views on some Internet forums, then it doesn’t matter at all – cars such as the R8 will ‘never be a classic‘, in their blinkered view, and the sooner the world is rid of them, the better. As for new car buyers… there’s no interest there. So, the majority of people who harbour a penchant for 1990s cars are probably not yet in the position to do much about saving them, despite their rock bottom residuals. By the time the nostalgia scene does move onto this decade’s cars, they might well be all gone.
Now can you see why a visit to the scrappies was so depressing for me?
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.