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Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust

, 280 pages

10 b&w illus.

April 2016



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Usually ships 2-3 business days after receipt of order.

Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust

Salvaging the Automotive Past

Q&A with Author


What happens to automobiles after they are retired but before they are processed as scrap? In this fascinating history, David N. Lucsko takes readers on a tour of salvage yards and wrecked or otherwise out-of-service cars in the United States from the point of view of gearheads—the hot rodders, restoration hobbyists, street rodders, and classic car devotees who reuse, repurpose, and restore junked cars.

Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust is a nuanced exploration of the business of dismantling wrecks and selling second-hand parts. It examines the reinterpretation of these cars and parts by artists as well as their restoration by enthusiasts. It also surveys the origin and evolution of gearhead-oriented yards that specialize in specific types of automobiles; dissects the material and emotional appeal of the salvage yard and its contents among enthusiasts; and examines how zoning and nuisance ordinances have affected both salvage businesses and hobbyists.

Lucsko concludes with an analysis of efforts during the last twenty-five years to hasten vehicular obsolescence at the expense of salvage yards, mechanics, and enthusiasts. By examining how cars are salvaged, repurposed, and restored, this book demonstrates that the history of the automobile is much more than a running catalog of showroom novelties.

David N. Lucsko is an associate professor of history at Auburn University. He is the author of The Business of Speed: The Hot Rod Industry in America, 1915–1990.

"In this engaging book, Lucsko vividly articulates the culture of yard owners and users. The resulting book is a major work in discard studies and a valuable contribution to our understanding of automobiles as objects with histories informing their present and future value."

"David Lucsko addresses a topic that is utterly fresh and does so with insight, grace, and authority. In the literature of technology and culture, automobility is a leading narrative. With Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust, Lucsko spotlights the corresponding importance of what Tom McCarthy calls 'the automotive afterlife.'"

"[Lucsko] covers a lot of new and interesting ground in describing America's car culture, both its history and its technology."

"This thoroughly-researched book belongs in the library of all historians who are interested in the business, cultural and environmental aspects of automobility. It also deserves careful attention from historians of technology who study maintenance, sustainability and recycling, as well as technological subcultures of adapters, tinkerers and creative re-users."

"At times, a knowledge of automotive history and manufacturers would be a plus for readers, but this book is a treasure hunt through the wheels and fields of old car history that anyone with a hint of interest in the topic will enjoy, with no special knowledge necessary... Highly recommended."

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