Desert Valley Auto Parts Junkyard Trip, a Video Collaboration with Chris, & a Visit from Jay

Odometer (Legend):  156,369

Odometer (Integra):  246,561

I clearly don’t watch enough TV, because somehow I missed the fact that a local Phoenix area junkyard was the set of a Discovery Channel TV show back in 2011.  The series, called Desert Car Kings, was filmed at Desert Valley Auto Parts (DVAP) near 7th Avenue & Deer Valley Road on the north end of town.  I haven’t been able to find any episodes online but there are a handful of short clips on YouTube and it looked like a pretty cool series.

The desert is indeed a great place to look for vintage cars and parts.  While interiors, dashboards, and rubber/vinyl trim pieces age and crack terribly, usually the fundamental body parts – frames, panels, and engine components – stay remarkably rust-free and preserved. I frequently visit the local junkyards for that reason, but the ones I’ve been to have a lot newer cars in them and sometimes aren’t very well organized.  DVAP was laid out in a very orderly fashion by make.

Desert Car Kings lasted for just 1 season and 10 episodes, but one of the things they did during the show was restore cars from the junkyard.  That’s always sort of been a fantasy of mine:  Plucking a car from the path of imminent destruction (the crusher), giving it new life, and putting it on the road.

My friend Dane who you met on the recent MDX trip to Nevada introduced me to DVAP.  He is quite the connoisseur of vintage and collectible cars, with the following in his collection currently, from oldest to newest:

  • 1959 Imperial Crown
  • 1964 Dodge 440
  • 1966 Chrysler Town & Country
  • 1969 Imperial LeBaron
  • 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo
  • 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4
  • 2010 Lincoln MKZ

Can you sense some Mopar loving there?  Dane and I visited DVAP on a Saturday morning and got more than our $2 admission worth wandering around and checking out the inventory.  In the end, we didn’t make any purchases.  Here are 8 minutes of random video I recorded.

Check out this lineup of a couple of the year 1992’s best performance sport coupes.

This weekend, my friend Chris came over to grab lunch with me.  I met him a couple of years ago through the local Integra club (“AZ Second Gens” – about 50 members strong) and have followed his car adventures on his YouTube channel ever since.  Here’s the link so you can take a look and subscribe for yourselves.  We did a car-key swap and headed to lunch at a burger place a few miles away.  Here are a few minutes of video of the meet-up.  It was great to link up.

Here’s the video Chris put together.  27 minutes worth!  Get your popcorn ready or order a pizza first.

While you’re on YouTube, I have some other gems for you.  Check out this next video if you get 30 seconds to spare.  It’s an Acura commercial from around 1993.

What caught my eye right away – without even having to do rewind and replay – was the bridge crossing of an NSX and a Legend at about 8 seconds in.  “Navajo Bridge!” I screamed in my head.  I’ve driven over it dozens of times.  What’s odd, though, is that the video was shot just 2 years before a new bypass bridge west of the original 1929 bridge was completed.  The deck that the Legend & NSX were being driven on is now only open to pedestrian traffic.  Even so, how can I possibly resist re-creating this with my own cars in the newer bridge that runs parallel to it?

Notice in the freeze-frame above, the distinct pattern of criss-cross metal railing along the side.  Below, I’m standing on the same bridge (but along its west side, instead of east) and you can see the newer bridge in the background.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined some friends for brunch at 5th Avenue Cafe in central Phoenix.  Roger showed up in his 1965 Dodge station wagon, and I took the NSX.  There was a little bit of ‘something for everyone.’

Earlier in the week, I got to go to lunch in a 1962 Porsche owned by my friend Bob.

It had an incredible amount of interior space for a vehicle of that size!

I had company from San Diego this past weekend:  My friend Jay rolled into town on Thursday evening in his 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL550 drop-top.  What a stunning ride in Storm Red.

He and I cruised down to Tucson on Saturday morning to meet up with some friends for brunch at Cup Cafe inside the historic Hotel Congress.

Perfect day for a patio chat.

Baked egg something-or-other.  Those potatoes were my fave, though!

Jonathan making his attempt at a group shot, selfie style.

Jonathan and his roommate Corey’s garage.  I approved.

And a quick clip of me driving Jay’s Benz.  It’s 100+ more horsepower than I’m used to handling.

Thanks, Jay, for the visit!

I think you’re all caught up now!  Have a great week!

21 Responses to “Desert Valley Auto Parts Junkyard Trip, a Video Collaboration with Chris, & a Visit from Jay”

  1. The visit from Chris was cool, great to see his perspective in his video too. No food shots from Shakeshack? Tell me you got a milkshake!?! Loving Roger’s Dodge wagon, it looks like it’s in superb condition.

  2. Great post all the way around… especially enjoyed your trip to DVAP. I didn’t know it existed. Very nostalgic will need to see it sometime.

    For a split second when I spotted the pic of the two CB7s I thought it was my 93SE – really.

    Sorry for not posting more too many domestic distractions…

    • Let’s hit up DVAP sometime on a weekend. In the short visit Dane & I made, I really didn’t get to explore as much as I would have hoped to. I learned a lot about classic cars and some of their cool features. Did you know that in 1969 Dodge had an option on the Polara model called a “Superlight” that was a single, high-intensity bulb in the grille that was even more powerful than a high beam? It lasted only 1 model year before federal mandates squashed the idea. I love learning trivia like that.

      The CB7 in Tucson is a 1993 SE, just like yours, but with 301,000 miles on the odometer. It needs a little love but it’s a survivor.

      Good luck with the domestic projects and say hello to Linda!

  3. Very cool post, Tyson. Old Acura/Honda commercials are the best! It’s interesting that the bridge you’ve driven over so many times had a starring role in the commercial!

    So much awesome sheet metal in this post, too- I’m not a huge German car aficionado, but that Benz is stunning.

    It’s been a little while since we’ve seen the Vigor- how’s it holding up?

    • My friend James and I are already talking about heading to the Navajo Bridge to re-create that 1993 Acura commercial with the Legend & NSX, 25 years later with the same vehicles. Stay tuned – sounds like a great weekend road trip idea.

      The Vigor is looking and running great. I had a replacement headlight housing installed to correct a crack in the old one. The car will be going to northern California the weekend of 3/24 for a car show called Radwood (80s-90s focus) like a similar one that I took the Legend coupe to back in December. So it’ll get a ~1,600-mile round-trip road trip soon!

    • Now that you mention it I do recall the Superlight option. It was as you say available for only one year and I recall a neighbor of mine had it.

      Speaking of trivia did you know that GM offered in ’69 an option for a remote snow traction spray? I definitely recall seeing this in the Impala / Caprice brochure and possibly other models.

      It consisted of two small nozzles located within the rear wheel wells. A replaceable canister located in the trunk was plumbed to each nozzle and was activated by a remote switch near the driver.

      Basically it released a timed mist of chemical propellant that reduced tire slippage and enhanced traction in snow. I believe it too was one only a year feature probably with a low take rate…

  4. That Mercedes though! Did you ever ask Jay if he was in St. George the Thursday prior to his weekend in Phoenix? If not, his car has a twin. Also, I would pay to drive that wagon with simulated wood-grain paneling, Chevy Chase style. Speaking of, can you track down THE wagon used in the film? Didn’t it have a dozen or so headlights of the square variety?

    I am just putting my most recent blog post together this afternoon. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. There are only so many variables when it comes to documenting a half marathon. I guess I could count how many steps next time…. 🙂

    Happy trails!

  5. Jay’s M-B coupe is gorgeous!

  6. So much was packed into this posting. I feel like I did watch a show of Desert Car King… I think it was on FX. The Integra looks good in my blind spot.

  7. Action packed post! I didn’t even get to my popcorn since I was too engaged in Chris’ video. My appreciation for the 2nd gen Integra keeps growing. If you and James need a hand on recreating that commercial…hit me up! 😀

    • Now you’re talkin! Okay, I will schedule the commercial re-make soon. I admit even I haven’t watched Chris’ video in its entirety – I might have to do it in segments as I get a free minute or two. When are we going to beef up YOUR YouTube channel?!

  8. Beautiful 62 Porsche.

    • And it ran great too! I thought about asking Bob to let me take the wheel, but after he told me it’s insured for $70,000, I decided to let him be the pilot, haha. We only went a couple of miles away to the local burger place anyhow.

  9. What about that Mercedes? Is that a retractable top convertible? If so, does it also have a glass sunroof??

    • Yes and yes! I wish I’d recorded video of how intricate the mechanical process is when the top retracts! I’d hate to think what it would cost to repair it if anything broke.

  10. It would cost a lot. That Mercedes has so many things that can and will break in the future. Great while it works but I would not want to own that car when it gets old. No way is that Medcedes going to age as gracefully as our Acuras. 😉

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