Junk Yard | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

Scrapped Bricks

I’ve been making a semi annual trek to a wrecking yard pick-n-pull near Quantico Virginia ever since I got my car, with occasional success. This year, however, there was limited rewards for my travels. Actually, there were no rewards. For the first time there were no 200 series Volvos to be found in the European division of their automotive graveyard. There were a couple S70s and one 940, but everything else was of German origin: Mercedes, BMW, Audi and VW.

So I was amused to see this post on Auto Week describing the large numbers of 240s limping through San Fransisco junk yards. I suppose there were just more of these cars purchased in the Bay area than around the DC Beltway. Or perhaps they just lasted longer out in California. Either way, I wish I could have been picking parts out of all those California bricks during Thanksgiving instead of standing in the mud in Virginia looking at an empty, rusted landscape.

BONUS: Here’s a picture I drew while visiting the scrap yard a few years back.


Junk Yard Throne


During Thanksgiving I had a chance to go to the local pick-n-pull near my parents house. There were three 200 series in there, as well as a turbo 940 and turbo 740, both turbos about 1994. There was a manual tranny in one of the 240s, but I don’t have the scratch to buy it. Instead I pulled the tan seat covers off of one, then took out the bottom passenger cushion. They charged me for the whole seat, but I didn’t need it. I’m gonna swap it into the driver side with a new set of springs. Above is my current seat, below is the “fresh” vinyl and slip cover.


locate-ink-junkyeardfordBONUS: I drew a picture of a towering pile of cars and posted to my Flickr page.


Cash for Clunkers is on

More details are emerging about the “cash for clunkers” incentive program that was approved by the Senate this week. It sounds better than what had been proposed back in January. From the AP:

Here’s how the plan works: Car owners could get a voucher worth $3,500 if they traded in a vehicle getting 18 miles per gallon or less for one getting at least 22 mpg. The voucher would grow to $4,500 if the new car’s mileage was 10 mpg higher than the old vehicle. The mpg figures are listed on the car’s window sticker.

Owners of sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks or minivans getting 18 mpg or less could receive a voucher for $3,500 if their new truck or SUV got at least 2 mpg higher than their old vehicle. The voucher would increase to $4,500 if the mileage of the new truck or SUV was at least 5 mpg higher than the older vehicle.

The program was aimed at replacing older vehicles _ built in model year 1984 or later _ and would not make financial sense for someone owning a vehicle with a trade-in value greater than $3,500 or $4,500.

The MPG stipulation makes sense, and it’s not $10,000 as had been proposed earlier. Steven Levitt on Freakonomics blog is still skeptical, however:

Let’s say you own one of those vehicles which you could sell for $3,000. If you use Cash for Clunkers you get an extra $1,000 for your vehicle. So of those 5 million people driving gas-guzzling old beaters that are worth almost nothing, how many of them are going to be pushed over the margin to buy a fancy new vehicle because of a $1,000 subsidy?

I have no idea where he’d find a car that would qualify for the subsidy that could get $3000 on the open market. Even pre-1990 Volvos barely pull $2000. Good luck getting even that much for a 1983 Ford Escort.

But Steven’s original argument is still strong: people who are driving cars that qualify for the incentive program probably aren’t in the market for a new car. Those who are in the market have a great incentive to search for any old P.O.S. to limp into the dealer for a nice $4500 rebate. The secondary market that will arise would be an indirect consequence of this silly program.


West Coast Brick Graveyard


The pickings haven’t been too bad at the Pick-n-Pull I frequent on the east coast. I’ve managed to find mint tail lamps, a clean grill and the holy grail of 240 parts; intact door pockets. Most of the junked 240s I see are over 20 years old, so I hope we still have a few more years of parts to pick.

Jalopnik has a theory for the proliferation of junked bricks on the west coast:

Berkeley and its nearby East Bay cities… have long been inhabited by legions of folks who swear the Volvo 200 series was the Best Car Ever Made… that is, until the Prius arrived. Once a bulletproof hybrid Toyota enters the stable, paying Sven the Volvo Mechanic $1,800 every six months to fix a car that gets 18 MPG no longer seems like the bargain it once was… and thus begins the long tow-truck ride to the junkyards of Oakland and Hayward.

Thus begins their tragic photo essay of 240s decaying in the California sun.