The Herald Bulletin

September 28, 2013

Jim Bailey: Auto graveyards passing from the scene in Anderson


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Where do old cars go when they finally run out of gas for good? To an auto graveyard. There they are cannibalized and the remaining usable parts are recycled to somebody else whose vintage machine can make use of them.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times. With the auto industry making an inglorious exit from Anderson, fewer auto enthusiasts do the hands-on thing. Or if they do, the plethora of auto parts stores dealing in new merchandise will do nicely.

A recent phone call alerted me that a piece of history apparently has called it quits in Anderson. G.W. Pierce Auto Parts, one of the area’s longstanding auto graveyards on Church Street off Mounds Road, is no longer open. And no one is answering the listed phone number.

G.W. Pierce is an auto parts chain with a number of other locations. It was one of two traditional auto graveyards in Anderson in recent years. Rangeline Auto Parts, on Rangeline Road just north of Mounds Road, apparently is the lone survivor.

Two other used auto parts outlets are listed in the phone book, DV Enterprises and Jones Used Auto Parts.

Back in the day there were others. Simkin’s Auto Parts was a fixture on Mounds Road near Pitt Street. That was in the era before ordinances were enacted that forced junkyards to wall off or put up foliage to camouflage the carcasses of automobiles that had gone to their last reward.

Donnelly’s, on Grand Avenue near the wetlands, was another when I first came to town back in the 1950s. Later I believe it phased out its auto parts operation in favor of glass installation and sales.

Until very recently on East 10th Street near the end of Grand Avenue, the shell of a small building was all that remained of another bygone auto graveyard. I have a vague recollection of old vehicles rusting out there in the valley along 10th Street between Grand Avenue and the area that is now Extension Heights.

Those are the ones I remember. I’m sure there were others.

A couple of observations come to mind. One is the phenomenon popularly known as planned obsolescence. Cars, of course, fall in the category of durable goods, things built to last a while. But automakers are constantly restyling and improving their products to entice drivers to trade up every few years (preferably even more often). And despite a booming used car market among the less well-do-to, those older models soon wear out and have to be junked. Today’s cars keep going considerably longer than those of a generation ago, though, and may have a lot more age on them when they finally are sold for scrap.

Also, automakers have replaced many of their cars’ mechanical parts with electronic components. The days when car owners tinkered with their driving machines is fast disappearing.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.