Muscle-Car Spotting in a Michigan Junkyard

Plenty of shells, but sadly little of value is left

Finding a junkyard that still has old cars is getting harder and harder. I know of a handful that have disappeared within the past few years. That doesn’t mean they’re all gone, though. I was fortunate enough that a gentleman gave me a tip about a yard in Michigan that still had a ton of cool muscle cars.

I was in Detroit for a week doing some work, and I had a day free to do anything I wanted. I did what I always do: I looked to The Map. If you haven’t seen or heard of The Map before, it is a web-based map that allows me to pin items onto it. Every lead, story, and tip I get goes on The Map for a future adventure. Some call it a treasure map; I just call it The Map. I looked over The Map to see what I had not hit yet. I saw a variety of interesting leads north of Detroit, so that’s where I headed.

Sadly, most of the spots were either closed, full of newer cars, or had cars that were crushed. But there was one more spot to visit, a place I had heard was worth the trip. Pulling up to the yard, I could see a bunch of cars at first, but they were mostly newer cars. There was also a collection of other nonautomotive vehicles and projects easily viewable.

After pulling in and being greeted by a gentleman, the first thing I spotted walking into the yard was a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible nearly buried in spare wood and other miscellaneous stuff. This place could be much more interesting than I first thought.

Walking the short road to the main yard, we passed a variety of minibikes, motorcycles, and other small motorized vehicles on one side. On the other was a pond with a bit of land between the road and the pond. Between were more random vehicles, but one stuck out above all else: a 1967 Ford Mustang GT fastback with the rear end hanging over the pond. That did not do the poor car any favors. The owner was kind enough to point out that if I tried any funny business I would end up at the bottom of that pond. I kept walking.

Just off to our right entering the yard was a 1967 Pontiac GTO and a 1970 Chevy Corvette. I popped the hood on the GTO, and there staring back at me were two four-barrel carburetors. This had been someone’s hot rod at some point. And it was complete as well.

I saw all sorts of cool cars scattered about in the yard. A 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle up on top of a bus. A four-door Pontiac Catalina. A 1970 Ford Mustang SportsRoof sitting in the weeds. Then I spied something special, but it was not easy to get to. On top of a group of buses was a 1969 Mustang Mach 1. One of my all-time favorite cars, this was even in the right color. But how to get a closer look at it? I found a tow truck that I was able to shimmy my way up in to get a good view of the car. From afar it was a good-looking car, but up close it was bad, very bad. Even though it had been sitting on top of a bus, it was completely rusted out. The door had been open so long that a tree had grown from the ground, between two buses, and in between the Mustang’s body and door. I got down from the tow truck and just shook my head.

We kept on walking, passing a Mercury Cougar and another GTO. This one had a small-block Chevrolet engine under the hood. With headers and aftermarket intake and carb, it looked like someone’s fun car at one point. Another rare car near there was a 1970 Chevelle SS 396. This one didn’t have an easy life. It was pretty much a complete wreck but still wore the SS 396 badgeswith honor. You could still make out the SS stripes on the decklid.

Just across from there was a 1970 Chevy Malibu sitting next to a 1969 Mustang Mach 1. The Malibu was a two-door, and the owner pointed out something interesting about the car once you looked closer. Someone had bolted on an original 1970 cowl induction hood, and it was still on the car, in the open position. Blew my mind that it was still sitting there to this day.

For the next hour or so we wandered through the yard, with the man sharing stories about nearly every car we saw. A 1970 GTO over here, a bunch of Camaros over there. It amazed me what the guy remembered. The 1965 Dodge Coronet 500 that the driver had wrapped around a tree trying to kill his girlfriend; he later went to jail. The 5.0 Mustang that was the best drag race car he ever had. It was quite a trip back in time with him.

We made our way to the last section of the yard, where the really good cars were, starting with a pair of 1966 Mustang fastbacks sitting side by side. They weren’t GT cars or anything super rare, but they were nearly complete fastbacks. How often does that happen? On the other side of the section was the top car by his reckoning, a basically untouched 1970 1/2 Camaro Z28. A peek under the hood revealed the original engine with nearly all the original components.

My eye was on a car we had walked past just before the Z28. This 1967 Camaro SS convertible was rough, but what made it interesting was where it came from: Berger Chevrolet, the famous Grand Rapids, Michigan, supercar dealership. It came with a 396 with an automatic transmission. Red car and red interior, it still has the By Berger emblem on the tail panel. Sadly, the car was nothing but a rusted-out shell. If it had been a special car by Berger, I could see restoring it, but it didn’t even have the high-horsepower 396. The tach was the smaller 5,500/7,000-rpm tach. And it didn’t help that the engine and transmission were missing.

Every time I hear about places like dying out, I just look at The Map, hope it’s not true, and plot my next adventure.

Editor’s note: You can follow Ryan Brutt on a multitude of social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. He says, “If you know of any cool cars, let me know. I’ll add a pin to my map!”


This 1967 Camaro SS convertible was hanging out at the front of the yard, being used to store lumber and other items.
If it weren’t for the bad drought, the rear of this 1967 Mustang GT would be in the water, not hanging above it.
This 1967 GTO was one of the first cars I came across walking into the yard. It is fairly complete front to back but was heavily rotted in the back end where it was basically lying on the ground.
Surprise! A Pontiac V-8 with the dual four-barrel setup still under the hood. You don’t see that very often.
This Corvette looked pretty good from this angle, but from the other side you could see it had been in a bad accident. Badges said it had a 454, but under the hood was just an old kidney-bean wheel.
I guess if you need to get the rearend out of a 1970 Chevelle, why not put it on top of a bus?
And then there was this 1969 Mustang Mach 1, also on top of a bus. It was completely rusted from the body line down, basically, and the door had been open so long a tree had grown up between the door and the body—on top of a bus!
This poor 1969 Mustang SportsRoof was buried not far from the Mach 1. I could not tell what it was, but there was a spare shaker hood lying not far from the car, so you never know.
Another GTO in the yard. This 1967 Goat was someone’s hot rod at some point, as it had Cragar wheels and a hot Chevy small-block under the hood.
The poor remains of a toasted 1970 Chevelle SS396. If not for the stripes and SS badging still on the fenders, I would have walked right past it.
This 1970 Malibu was wearing an original 1970 SS cowl-induction hood. And it wasn’t from the SS396 parked next to it. It amazed me that it was still there.
Sitting next to the Malibu was another 1969 Mach 1 Mustang, this one on the ground. That didn’t do it any favors, nor did the open windows and Michigan winters.
I have heard from a few people that this is a rare Chevelle, a 1968 SS396 300 Deluxe. It was pretty stripped except for the interior, which still had the Malibu steering wheel with the small SS396 badge on it.
This 1970 GTO had seen better days. It was complete front-to-back but really badly rusted. You can see that someone had tried to open the hood, and it just fell apart.
This complete 1969 Camaro RS sat along the edge of the yard. It was a good-looking car in its day and could probably be saved with enough time and money. But you can see that the rear axle assembly is in the car now.
This 1970 1/2 Camaro Z28 was complete nose-to-tail, including the engine. This was another car that suffered from sitting on the ground.
One of the best cars in the yard was this 1965 GTO. Could not pop the hood, though.

It may not have been one of the supertuned Camaros from Berger, but I still could not believe I ran across a Berger Camaro in this yard. The SS badging was still there, as was the By Berger badge on the tail. A large hood from some land barge had been put on top of the car, where the convertible top used to be, to protect it from the elements.

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