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The Kar Press: Crushing Cars for Profit In Lynwood, California

While finding the photos for the recent post covering the EPA Documerica Project, a number of other interesting photos of wrecking yards turned up along with this well-known image of a Kar Press car crushing machine. A bit of research led to the “Los Angeles Times” where this photo by Larry Sharkey for the newspaper originated from along with a January 26, 1972, the story about the Kar Crusher image.

The short version of the story is; the portable machine was brought to a wrecking yard in the City of Lynwood in Los Angeles County by the Scrap Disposal Co. There the firm crushed one-hundred totally intact vehicles (shown above processing a 1957 Oldsmobile) which made it easier to transport them on flatbed trailers to its processing facility in San Diego, CA.

After arrival, the hulks were unloaded and fed into the company’s metal shredder and the metal then sold and shipped to Japanese steel mills for reprocessing and sale to the country’s automakers and other manufacturing industries.

Share with us what you find if interest in this story or any information about the “Kar Press.” View an interesting Motor Trend Channel video of how a modern You-Pick Parts salvage yard in Sun Valley, CA, processes its junked cars.

32 responses to “The Kar Press: Crushing Cars for Profit In Lynwood, California

    • Usually before crushing, only the tires/wheels and gas tank are removed. Shredders do not like tires (they jam up the shredder) and fuel tanks (they tend to explode). Everything else gets shredded. If you ever saw a car shredder they work sort of like a lawn and garden shredder only huge, and instead of a cutter there are slide hammers on the rotor to literally beat everything to pieces. The pieces come out the far side of the shredder on a conveyor, air is blown over the rubble to remove plastic/fabric/foam/rubber, then the remaining stuff goes through a Wheelabrator to separate magnetic from non magnetic. The magnetic is loaded onto rail cars (steel) to be sold, and the non-magnetic is sorted (usually by hand) and sold. EVERYTHING can be shredded excepting big ball bearings, they tend to fire themselves out of a shredder and can easily kill you.

  1. I sure wish that 3 piece back glass area would have survived and been shortened a bit and installed on my wife’s Miata… Guess it’s just the way of the world, and I have seen those crushers working in person, but it sure is sickening. The two cars I watched being crushed before leaving in disgust were a 41 Cadillac and a 61 Ford Starliner. I’m still not over it…

  2. Here in 1960’s Detroit I remember seeing flatbed trucks carrying “flattened” (hurts me now to say junk) cars stacked 4 or 5 high held down by a large chain across the top. Sometimes 10 to 12 at a time on the trailer. Can’t say if the scrap was sold to Japan or processed locally. I always tried to figure out the year/make of the cars. I also remember it make me sad to see them.

  3. Used to go to a remove-your- part yard; gas tanks were drained and wheels removed on arrival. No crusher, they used a big front-end loader to flatten the cars before shipment.

  4. Back in the old days, lol, my friends father ran vehicle recycling center(junk yard), I saw a crusher in action several times. His method of engine/tranny removal was to wrap a chain around the engine and lift the whole car by that
    with a crane, and then drop it and then jamming on the brake, ripping the engine/tranny out it like an internal organ
    in a bad kung fu movie.

    • The car beneath the ’57 Oldsmobile has a fuel filler door on the side of the left fender. I believe the ’57 Fords had the fuel filler behind the license plate. The hump in the top of the fender looks like it could be a ’55 or ’56 Pontiac.

      • John, you’re correct. All Fords from 52-64 had “Center-Fill Fueling” where the filler was behind the license plate. The exceptions were wagons and Skyliner.

  5. Always wondered if Odd Jobs’ Lincoln was actually crushed before being driven off in that Falcon Ranchero. Maybe Ford made a special “prop” car. That feels better than thinking they actually did it.

    • You can be sure it wasn’t a Lincoln dropped in the back of a Ranchero in “Goldfinger”. The weight of a Lincoln would have broken the Ranchero in half.

    • Hi Billy, actually, the Lincoln had no engine before it was crushed. In some videos, you can see that. Still, at 5000+ pounds, even without the motor, it was quite a load for that Ranchero.

  6. I never thought too much about the trucks carrying these hulks until traveling on rt 24 near Brockton MA , my usual route in the 70’s. I would see trucks going north and trucks going south on the same road…this brought a smile as I thought about the logistics involved

  7. used to frequent that area, well a bit north on Firestone Blvd., where there was a wealth of ‘Junk’ yards. Picked up a ’63 4 bbl 390 Ford V8 there, put it in the trunk of my ’56 Chevy, drove all the way to home near LAX, rigged up a hoist on the wooden beams in the garage, pulled it out (cracking one of the beams!) and later put it in my ’59 Ford. Sure was more fun than the original 292, but that was before 1972 and the demise of those pick and choose walk in junk yards I think.

  8. They came through our town in 72. A fork lift would lift the car and the gas tank was removed with pry bars (yes that’s how they did it). Next front end loader with forks would set two forks on the front fenders and a hydraulic arm would lift from the center with a chain around the engine. There would be a lot of snap, pop, bang and out came the engine with transmission. Next stop the crusher.

  9. I was at the same pick a part in 1990 and saw the most perfect 70 se challenger on its way to the crusher,10 mins too late watched it die and walked out in disgust…

  10. My brother has an automobile recycling yard. Not a junkyard. Not a Scrap yard. Now the forklift operator has radio control and the crushers are bigger. Guy works the crusher and loads the hauler who drives around an hour round trip to Hamilton Ontario. Lots crushed upon his return. 100 cars done in an afternoon. But all unibody stripped down cars. Price of scrap steel is way down now, less than half of its’ peak.

  11. You should check out the videos of a motor shredding machine. It chews up entire engines like popcorn. I’ve read where these mobile crushers went out into the countryside crushing cars in rural junkyards. Some of these yards had been in business for fifty years, lots of now desirable vintage cars destroyed. This was years ago when a car was worth around 300.00 each. The economics of this wouldn’t work Today. It’s painful to old car lovers but they should be recycled. If you want a vintage car buy it now!

  12. Years ago everytime my Dad saw a flatbed loaded with the flattened hulks of autos he would say ” Hey! Theres a load of those new compact cars”.

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