Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





Nice cars sitting in the weeds

stickguystickguy Posts: 14,458
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 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

Tagged:
«13

Comments

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    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: 21,970
    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)
    -Andre
  • 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: 21,970
    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!)
    -Andre
  • 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: 17,694
    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!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,854
    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!

    MODERATOR

  • If you like to look at cars like that check out this site. It's full of Mopars rotting away.

    http://www.carsinbarns.homestead.com/
  • 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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,854
    Oh, I think you miss the point of how sadistic some of those 'car misers' are....it'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.

    MODERATOR

  • 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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,854
    No, I think it's more than that (although that siutation might apply to some)...it'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?

    MODERATOR

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,694
    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.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Maybe it reminds them of when they were young and had teeth.
  • Must be the male equivalent of having a house with 800 cats. Sigh. Really makes me mad. Maybe the Trust for Historic Preservation could get eminent domain on these cars?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,854
    We need the automotive equivalent of the Humane Society!

    MODERATOR

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,970
    There was one of these parked at the curb on a fairly busy street in front of a house for as long as I could remember...at least the late 70's. It was a red 2 door hardtop with a white roof. Still looked fairly solid, although it would get more ragged with each season.

    One day in 1991 I was driving down that road and had to do a double-take. Somebody had rear-ended the car, and the quarter panel split cleanly in half. The lower half was crumpled, but the upper half was bent so that the tailfin was pointing up at about a 45 degree angle. And you thought the tailfins on a '59 Caddy were too much!!

    Then one day I drove down that street and the car was gone. I'm sure the neighbors were relieved, as they probably considered it an eyesore. Still, I kinda missed it. I got my '57 DeSoto in 1990, and had been planning on stopping by just to say hi to the owner, and see if he'd let me check the car out and compare it to the DeSoto. A great American treasure lost ;-)
  • Hey stickguy, I have seen them riding on a train..makes me drool. One year while riding the train north, the train stopped in a small town in NC and I saw an old 69 Chevy Camaro in someone's backyard, how I wish I could have gotten off there and bought that baby! It's amazing how many nice older cars one can see. I have yet to find my dream car sitting in someone's yard or a field but when that happens,I may just get off that train and buy it!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I don't know. I think I'd stay on that train. A car that's been sitting for years, especially in the weeds, is an ambitious project. The most likely reason it's resting is because something fatal happened to it in 1979, and now there's 16 other things wrong with it because cars don't like inactivity. And guys who stock their back yards with cars are generally not strongly connected to reality. The worst project cars I bought were the ones pulled from wrecking yards and back yards. If you can just get in and drive away, you're lightyears ahead.
  • bort1bort1 Posts: 13
    is a treasure chest of classics rotting away. My grandfather's farm is like that with nearly every car that he ever sent out to eternal pasture. I just wish that some were worth saving, especially the '59 Chrysler 383. It was the first car that my dad drove. Three '53 DeSoto *ignore*, a '38 Ford, and more than I can remember still rust out there. At least one I my cousins took the '46 Dodge pickup for revival. It was a basket case that had caught fire and had a shed fall on it, but it is about to come to life again with a blown 392 Hemi and new sheet metal. Can't wait to drive that truck
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Posts: 593
    For quite a few years now, I've been going to the Myrtle Beach, SC area on vacation. I-40 now runs east to west between I-95 and Wilmington, NC on the Atlantic coastline. For a long time, though, I used to take the secondary roads from I-95 east, before heading south from Wilmington down to Myrtle Beach.
    Just east of Clinton, NC, there was a 1971 or 1972 Chevelle SS sitting under a tree catching bird droppings. The car must have been there at least 10-12 years, unmoved.
    This car was the same color as the 1971 SS454 that I used to own, and every year that I drove by it there, I would get a tear in my eye, both for my stupidity in selling my SS, and for the sad fate of the SS that was just sitting there.
  • blarg1blarg1 Posts: 59
    These piles are there for a reason. Owner intended to fix em up, and didn't have the cash. All of these cars pre-date the credit card explosion.

    I see few post 80s cars in the weeds. Im sure they are out there, I live in a nice suburb.

    I always like the trees that sprouted through the engine hoods. Kinda makes the parking space permenent.
  • 404c404c Posts: 146
    I have some experience breathing life into derelict cars.

    First was a 1961 Renault Dauphine Gordini that had sat in a guy's yard in rainy North Vancouver for at least 8 years. A friend of mine bought it and we decided to do a modest "Red-Green" type restoration on it. The engine was seized - I sold him a good bottom end from another Dauphine. We had to unseize everything else on that car, from the brake adjusters to the accelerator pedal. The rust on the bolts was horrendous! All the brake hydraulics were shot and replaced. The few rusty bits of bodywork were chopped out and patched. The head was reconditioned. The car was subjected to a cheap-ish paint job which my friend bartered for. After an investment of some $500 or so, this car ran. It lasted for 6 years in everyday use and proved to be very reliable. The reason it died: my friend sold it and the moron who bought it stuffed the poor Gordini into a tree.

    I bought a 1963 Peugeot 404 sedan in 1985 - the car had already done 273,000 miles and it had been parked in the owner's yard in West Vancouver for 5 years. All the car needed was a torque tube centre bearing, an engine mount and fresh brake seals. I drove that car every day for another 80,000+ miles before it died of terminal rust.

    I presently have 1966 injected Peugeot Coupé restoration project in my nice, dry garage and most of the new sheetmetal to rebuild it. Hey, if you love a car, the economics of full restoration are meaningless. Obviously you don`t want to spend $50,000 on a show-quality restoration for a Peugeot, but a decent rebuild is actually quite affordable, especially if you do some of the work yourself. Also, consider the price of a good new car, what, $25 to 30 K?
«13
This discussion has been closed.