Tech Article: The Do It Yourself Wrecking Yards
(Or how to save bucks while using foul language as the bolts on the part you are trying to get are rusted solid.)
by Ben Pila Jr.
So you've thought the Nissan dealer or a high priced wrecking yard is the only place to find parts for your Z (1970-86.) There is an alternative that can save you money and can be fun too. I'm talking about the do it yourself wrecking yards in San Diego County. Some of the members of the Z Club have already found out about the deals on used parts there. If you haven't found out yet, read on.
There are three Ecology Auto Wrecking yards (one is domestic only,)and there is one Pick-Your-Part which all are always full of complete cars and lots of parts on them. So how does a wrecking yard like these work? All the cars and trucks these companies get are either bought at auctions or bought from individuals for normally less than $100 for the whole vehicle. What these do it yourself yards do is drain all the fluids and organize the vehicles by make and line them up in rows for easy access. The yards commonly use old steel wheels welded together to raise the vehicles in the air. Once the entrance gates are open (normally 7 days a week,) you bring your own tools and pay $1 to get in. Once in, you just simply find the parts you want and remove them yourself and head to the cashier. You pay and then you exit with parts that are so low in price you wonder why you haven't gone there sooner.
Typical prices (give or take a few bucks,) of Z parts are as follows. Aluminum wheels with tires $20 each. S.U. Carbs about $20 each. Complete cylinder heads $55. Complete engines $125. 5-speed transmissions $89. Fenders $29. Bumpers $29. Hoods $29. There aren't many parts more than $100 and many items are $30 or less. Small rubber, plastic or trim pieces are just a few dollars. Just about any parts for the early Zs can be found (as long as someone hasn't broke it there.) You can also have fun finding other parts from other makes that might work on Zs too. Like seats and wheels. I've also seen aftermarket parts on occasion like sway bars and air dams.
The few negatives of the do it yourself yards are the following. No one that works there is able to help you if you need it (pulling or finding parts.) There are mostly 1985 and older Zs there but no newer Zs yet. Cars get rummaged through pretty quickly right after they get put out. Especially clean cars or custom wheels and such. There was a '76 280Z with 25,000 miles that some how made it to Ecology. It was picked over quick. I got the engine.
So, grab a friend and some tools and get over the the do it yourself yards and have some fun.
Ecology Auto Wrecking
800 Energy Way in Chula Vista (619) 661-6575
1530 Heritage Road next to Brown Field (619) 661-6575
2315 Carpenter Road in Oceanside (760) 661-6575
(The phone numbers may not be correct)
Pick Your Part
880 Energy Way in Chula Vista (619) 482-3770
Other places to find Z parts are at All Z Auto wrecking, buying parts from someone parting out Zs or buy the whole car, or see the Z-Whizz parts cars they have on their lot.