If you grew up in the ’50s or ’60s, and your family was not well off, you learned to be thrifty. One way that you learned to be thrifty came into play once you owned your first car at about 16 years old for most. Inevitably, the time would come when your car broke down, and you needed a part to get it fixed and running again.
Not only did you have to learn to provide your own labor, or you had a friend to lean on for help or to learn from, but you also needed to be able to afford the part. The cost of a new part was prohibitive at such an early age, and your parents were not making enough money to assist you. So, you soon learned that you could go to a used car parts yard for certain parts like a used or rebuilt starter or a used truck rear end.
These used parts yards would sometimes have hundreds of used up or wrecked cars on several acres of land parked side by side on multiple rows. All you had to do was located a car the same make, model, and year; or, in a lot of cases, similar to yours as a lot of parts did not vary over several years of manufacture. All you had to do is show up with the right tools to remove the part from your chosen vehicle. The car may have been totaled in a wreck, but nothing was wrong with the generator or starter. The wrecked car still had a perfectly good carburetor or radiator, perhaps. You might even be looking for something major like an entire engine or manual or automatic transmission. Maybe your car had been in an accident, and you were just in the market for a body part like a fender, a door, a hood, or a trunk lid. You had to have the proper tools and be able to remove the part from the car yourself, but once removed and taken inside to the parts counter, you would not have to pay a lot of money.
In some cases, like with electrical parts such as a starter or battery, these lots would even offer rebuilt parts for a fraction of the cost of a brand new one. These parts might even come with a limited warranty, unlike the used components that you removed. The point is that when you had limited funds, you just had to make do with the money that you did have.