A Day at the Junkyard

I haven’t had much time to work on the Tempest lately, but I was able to check one thing off my to-do list this past weekend.  The 60’s-style seat belts don’t play nice with modern child seats, preventing me from driving the car on days when I have to take the kids anywhere or really driving it at all on the weekends.  So, after a few failed attempts, I finally made it to my local Pull-A-Part on Sunday.  This particular junkyard is located (naturally) in a semi-burned-out industrial area just south of downtown.  Being part of a chain, it’s surprisingly nice and well-kept, and despite the 9,000 volt electric fence, it’s normally a pretty decent place for a gearhead to spend an afternoon.  Sunday started out overcast and humid.  By the time I got there, the sun had come out, turning it from “gee, it’s uncomfortable” to “words-I-can’t-print-here” hot.

After letting the employee inspect my tool bag to make sure I didn’t have any torches or a stick of dynamite and paying the one dollar entrance fee, I started walking up and down the GM aisles of the yard, looking for cars with beige interiors.  I needed something before the advent of rear-seat shoulder belts, which I thought would be easy to find.  However, the yard was a little sparser than usual and had a higher number of late-model cars.  I also forgot that most of the cars in the yard have either broken windows, open trunks, or both.  Since all that rainwater eventually makes its way under the back seat, most of the belts I ran across were moldy and rust-stained.  I was starting to lose hope when I stumbled across a 1994 Buick Roadmaster station wagon, not unlike this:

I made my way around back, realizing that the seat belts under the folding, rear-facing 3rd row seat would likely be undamaged and rarely used.  I was right.  They were more copper-colored than gold, but close enough.  Someone had already removed the gas struts from the glass tailgate, so I pushed up on it, intending to bend the hinges back over the roof of the car.  Instead, the glass shattered loudly in my hands, scaring me half to death and showering me and the inside of the car with pebbles of safety glass.

Undeterred and uninjured, I liberated the seat belts and their buckles from the rear of the car, adding a good bit of my own perspiration to the already (I’m sure) abundant bodily fluids in the back of the Roadmaster.

I normally spend a good bit of time wandering the yard, even after I’ve found what I was looking for, checking for anything weird or unusual.  Despite the heat, I couldn’t help but take a look.  In the past, I’ve found late-40’s Chryslers and a few mid-60’s cars, but this time, I didn’t find anything of note besides the usual smashed and used-up Cutlasses, Intrepids, and Sentras.  I did find this metal-flake green, side-pipe equipped “Hell Camino” in the parking lot, however.

My treasure safely in the trunk, I should have the new-to-me belts installed in the Tempest in time to go for a Sunday drive with my girls.


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