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Nice cars sitting in the weeds

stickguystickguy Posts: 13,573
Just wondering how many of you see nice (or not so
nice) old cars sitting out in a field or back
yard, and have an urge to rescue? (Isell, I'll
count you in automatically).

At a house around the corner from me (down the
street from the Nomad and Model A guys, for those
of you keeping up with my recent posts in other
topics), there is a large supply of cars I like in
poor shape. For the 3 years I lived here, there
was an early 70's Chevelle SS sitting in the back
yard, behind a pool with no water (the house was
missing a bunch of shingle until recently just to
add ambiance). The SS needed a paint job, but
looked OK otherwise. they also had some rust bomb
Blazers and a mid 70's Corvette. A few months ago,
a '75 Trans Am (really ratty looking) showed up,
parked in front of the SS (even had a rag jammed in
the space where the shaker hood should be).
Anyway, a few weeks ago the SS disappeared, and the
Corvette took its place fo honor in the backyard.

My point (since I really should have one) is this:
Do any of you have inersting cases of cars as
lawn ornaments to share? And have you ever
actually approached a stranger about buying one of
them (or to berate them for letting a nice
potential classic go to rot)?

2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,347
    I know better. Those cars may be tempting, but have no appeal to me. Just like the '50 Chevy I talked about.

    I would never buy a restoration project. I think a person is FAR better off spending the dollars for a finished or original car.

    And I'm glad we have a Homeowner's Association where we live...just in case!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Yeah, something that's been sitting in the weeds in going to be a heartbreaker. It was probably junk to begin with, and aging didn't improve it. Plus, I'd be reluctant to deal with someone who treated his money, cars and neighbors like that--not exactly a ringing endorsement of his common sense.

    No, that's almost as bad as buying something that's been sitting in a wrecking yard--but if the car just arrived at the yard, then there's hope. And usually lots of hard, poorly rewarded work.

    What worked best for me, back in the days I was buying project cars, was looking for an interesting, straight car that was spending all its time parked in a driveway or in front of a house. It was surplus, but it hadn't gone to seed yet. You could probably drive it home--which is 99% of the secret of success--clean it up and have a little fun. No major mechanical work. There used to be lots of these cars in the Bay Area, where people generally treat their cars well and rust isn't a problem, and sometimes you could get a decent deal.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    The problem with buying a derelict is that the guy who owns it probably doesn't have a firm grasp of reality--even less firm than the average car nut.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,583
    Somehow I've ended up with a few of these over the years. I used to live with my grandmother, who has several acres, and plenty of place to stash a car (or several). I had a 1969 Dart GT that I had fixed up, and totaled after 2 years of troublefree driving. I promptly went out and bought a '68 Dart 270, which wasn't nearly as reliable. I held onto the '69 for parts, and had it hidden behind a barn.

    I also made the mistake of buying a 1969 Bonneville for $400 from my cousin. It ate starters faster than my golden retriever eats table scraps. Specifically, it ate starter solenoids, so when you tried to start it, it would keep cranking until it either started or killed the battery. It was smooth and fast, between the time that it would finally start and the time it would overheat, but that was about it. Looking back, I wish I had just gotten it fixed instead of finally getting rid of it, but I was married at the time, running out of money fast, and couldn't afford to keep it.

    I live in a condo now, so it's a little harder to have "lawn ornaments" today. Still, I haven't learned. Last year, a friend gave me his late grandmother's '67 Newport. I got historic plates for it, parked it at the curb, and drove it around the block every once in awhile. Mechanically it was great, but the body was rusting, and the interior was falling apart. When the brakes finally failed, that was it. I've already got a couple of antiques, and really didn't need another one, so I sold it.

    I still have the '68 Dart, btw, and it's pretty much become a "curb ornament". I get offers all the time from people who want to buy it. Logic says I should unload it, but it's been a part of my life for too long now. Oh well, maybe some day I'll wisen up and get rid of it (or fix it up)
  • sgaines1sgaines1 Posts: 44
    If you ever want one, just go to New Mexico. I think the entire 70's production run ended up in trailer parks there. I was just there for a weeks vacation, and...oh my god! Hundreds of old cars and trucks sitting everywhere. Chargers, Impalas, LTD's, Mk. III-V's, everything Detroit made in the 50's, it's all there. It's no exaggeration to say that the average yard had at least 2. If I ever win millions of dollars, I'll go on a rescue mission with a fleet of trucks. Sure, it may be only for suckers to restore these cars, but it keeps more of them around for the future.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,583
    Hey gang,

    I almost forgot about 2 more "lawn ornaments" that I still have, in a roundabout way. About 20 years ago, my grandparents bought 20 acres of mountainous land in southwestern VA. There was a 1958 Edsel station wagon and a late 40's Buick on the property, both looked like they had been there forever, full of bullet holes, nothing but metal left (not that those old cars had a lot of plastic).

    Well, last year, my grandmother signed the property over to my uncle and me. I'm kinda curious to see what another 20 years have done to those old cars! (I haven't been down to that property since I was 10!)
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    My mother's parents in maryland have a few old cars on their farm, including a two-tone gray mid 80's Town Car, minus engine. The car had sat there for so long that you couldn't see it for the weeds. My brother "found" this car when he went out with orders to mow the weeds down. Didn;t Jeff Foxworthy say something about "If you mow your grass and find a car?"
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,347
    Because an 80's Town Car doesn't seem all that old...!
  • I reverse engineered my last project. Saw a '56 Mercury 4dr sedan sitting which had the original AC, so I negotiated and bought it for $800. After deciding it was too far gone, bought a 2dr fixer upper which luckily could use alot of the parts from the donor car. I have also spotted a '40 Buick 2dr coupe sitting in a field in Tucson. Then today a guy was telling me about a man who has a 55 Olds he just wants out of there. I can't seem to quit. Help!
  • Hey, billy, you need to "run the numbers" before you buy the car. When you see that your restoration budget will add up to about 5X what the car is worth, you'll be cured!
  • If you like to look at cars like that check out this site. It's full of Mopars rotting away.
  • The one that really bugs me is the guy down the street from me with a Jaguar E-type V12 convertible. The car has been sitting in his garage for the entire 14 years I have been living here. Such a beautiful machine and it is just sitting there with boxes piled on top of it. I have never seen the guy doing anything with it. I'm sure that at this point, it would cost more to bring back than it would be worth but it seems a shame to see it just sitting there rotting.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I'm drooling on the keyboard!
  • Hey Mr. S, how about a change of plan? I'll get a flatbed instead of a bulldozer, and we'll go seize those carsinbarns cars from those lazy morons. If they complain we can give them some Hyundai Excels, Plymouth Horizons and Renault LeCars. I mean, if they don't care about wonderful cars like that, they don't deserve anything more. And they can still get the morbid thrill of watching cars disintegrate. In fact, it will probably happen faster with the cheapies, so they'll end up happier. Plus, it'll save me all the work of digging a hole.
  • Oh, I think you miss the point of how sadistic some of those 'car misers''s exactly because it IS a Jaguar V12 that the person enjoys seeing it rot; otherwise, they would not be "important" hoarders. Anyone can hoard a Renault, but it takes someone special to ruin a Jaguar V12.

    Very often what happens is that a somewhat exotic car breaks big time and the owner offs it to a bottom-feeding bargain hunter (like ME for instance!).
    But UNLIKE me, many of these bargain hunters have neither the financial or cranial abilities to fix the transmission on a Maserati or the cylinder heads on a V12, so the car just rots. Call it "prestige by proxy" if you will.
  • I know a guy who has a '68 GT KR500 Shelby Mustang convertible sitting in a tiny rundown garage with an inch of dust over the car. He will NOT sell, and has been offered $60,000 for the car by a collector from Kansas City. My dad told me the same guy had a real Shelby Cobra stolen in the 80's that also sat. This guy owns a junkyard filled with valuable cars. The yard shut down in the late 70's. This guy is strange. He lives in a rundown mobile home surrounded by all the cars like a dragon that loves to sleep surrounded by a pile of gold. Except unlike gold iron rusts.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    In all fairness, most of these guys have big plans for their cars. It's just that, after they pay for the essentials of life like beer and chalupas, there just isn't enough money left for a restoration.
  • No, I think it's more than that (although that siutation might apply to some)'s really a kind of sickness, a holding on to either impossible dreams (of restoration) or impossible goals for oneself (that one actually had the skills to restore it).. I'm sure there is a clinical name for it. I'm almost sure the man will die before he sells the car. This seems to be a control issue perhaps? Watching people beg?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,347
    Not far from where I lived, sitting alongside an old house was a '48 Chevy. From the time I was in Kindergarden through high school that Chevy just sat there. The owner must have washed it and kept the tires pumped up since it didn't look that bad. NEVER did I see that Chevy move!

    In the later years, it sported a large NOT FOR SALE sign in the window. Guess the owner got tired of having the doorbell ring!

    Sometime, around 1972 it disappeared.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    There's a similar situation near my parents' house. The hostage/victim a '56 Mercury Phaeton, not a car too many people know or fantasize about, but kind of interesting: basically a 4-door hardtop with a factory top chop. This one has OD, which probably decreases its value but makes it more interesting to me. Anyway, it's been sitting in a driveway for at least 15 years, probably longer. I talked to the owner years ago, a crusty old guy who would never sell it. Yeah, it's probably a control issue. "I've got mine, and I'm not going to share." Something like that. They don't know or care that the car is slowly dying in their driveway--or maybe they do.
This discussion has been closed.