...It all started about two years ago, when a ship carrying 4703 shiny new Mazdas nearly sank in the Pacific. The freighter, the Cougar Ace, spent weeks bobbing on the high seas, listing at a severe 60-degree angle, before finally being righted.And they decide to destroy them all and the scrap metal goes to Schnitzer Steel:
The mishap created a dilemma: What to do with the cars? They had remained safely strapped down throughout the ordeal--but no one knew for sure what damage, if any, might be caused by dangling cars at such a steep angle for so long. Might corrosive fluids seep into chambers where they don't belong? Was the Cougar Ace now full of lemons?
The Japanese carmaker, controlled by Ford Motor Corp., easily could have found takers for the vehicles. Hundreds of people called about buying cheap Mazdas. Schools wanted them for auto-shop courses. Hollywood asked about using them for stunts.
Mazda turned everyone away. It worried about getting sued someday if, say, an air-bag failed to fire properly due to overexposure to salty sea air...
Next stop: Schnitzer Steel, a salvage yard down on the waterfront that's home to an immense metal grinder. "You turn 7,000-horsepower hammers loose on them, and they're eaten in 10 seconds," says Jamie Wilson, Schnitzer's manager. A bemused smile spreads across his face as another load of Mazdas disappears into its maw.
Moments later, metal shards--most no bigger than an ashtray--sprinkle onto a mountain of scrap near Schnitzer's dock. There, a freighter prepares to take the scrap back to Asia where it will get recycled.
Wilson looks on and concludes: "It'll all probably end up coming back as cars."