No. 138: A Rusted Enigma

Chevrolet had struck a decisive blow in the late 1920s when it put an inline 6 under the heavy hoods of its cars and trucks. The more-powerful engine caught Ford by surprise, but not for long: In 1932, the Dearborn manufacturer responded with the flathead V-8, tucked in a cute little package that would morph into one of the most iconic of American symbols: the deuce coupe hotrod.

By the late 1930s, Chevy’s once-renowned 6 was just another engine in another car. What happened to the engine in this one? What caused that hole in the hood? This 1937 Chevy Master Deluxe ain’t sayin’.

Shoshone, Calif., 2,040 miles west of Atlanta.

(Photo by Senior Junkyard Correspondent Harold “Tex Colson)

No. 136: Something New!

It was time. As the end of the decade neared, Chevrolet’s tough-ass line of pickups, the 3100, had grown old. In 1959, Chevy introduced the C and K series of trucks. Owners reported it rode as much like a car as a truck.

“C” meant light-duty, rear-wheel drive. The “K” designation meant four-wheel drive. If you bought a base-model C10, you got a machine with a six-cylinder engine not a whole lot different than those that had powered its predecessor. An upgrade got you a small-block V8 – the 283, a power plant so ubiquitous that it didn’t need introduction nor explanation.

The C line would go on until 2000, when an even roomier, smoother-riding machine rolled it aside. As another new decade (and century) bowed, the C left the stage – taking with it some of the no-nonsense details that defined mid-century trucking.

And yet those old haulers remain. This long-bed, built in 1963, was last registered in 1987. It hides behind DT Speed Lube in Middelbury, Vt., 1,120 miles northeast of Atlanta.

(Photos by Junkyard Correspondent Marva Brackett Godin)

No. 135: A Little Paint and a Lot of Prayer

It’s easy to overuse “iconic” when discussing American steel, but if it fits, use it. And the word certainly fits here.

Ford Motor Co. held on to prewar car and truck designs in its hurry to answer pent-up public demand for any kind of transportation following World War II. But even as plants in Dearborn and elsewhere stamped out body panels that were unchanged from 1941, the guys in the lab coats were busy at their drawing boards. In late 1947, they showed off their hard work when the first truly revised half-ton pickup rolled off the assembly line. It was so different from its predecessors that Ford called it the F-1 – the first of a line of trucks that continues to this day.

It was wider, longer, heavier. The new truck could seat three (so long as they were skinny) comfortably. It had a one-piece windshield! And this: Under some of those heavy steel hoods lived a flathead eight-cylinder engine. Chevy, Dodge and Studebaker offered only six.

The new truck was a hit, and was produced for six years with minimum changes until a new brute, the F-100, replaced it in 1954. And that truck, as you surely know, made way for the most ubiquitous hauler of them all, the F-150. Perhaps you have one in your back yard?

This F-1, needing paint and a prayer, was built in 1951. It rests on the flat earth stretching far and away outside of Tecopa Hot Springs, California, 2,035 miles west of Atlanta.

(Photos by Senior Junkyard Correspondent Harold “Tex” Colson)

No. 134. A Long Dinner Break

When the Maverick finally breathed its last, Ford promptly trotted out its replacement. The Granada was built from 1975 to 1982. In all, more than 2 million Granadas clogged the American roadways — each, surely, driven by an old lady with blue rinse in her hair.

This car? Great Aunt Myrtle, according to our correspondent, appears to have “simply pulled up into a yard, the ignition shut off, went inside to fix dinner and never came back.”

She stopped this 1980 Granada on a road somewhere in Alaska, 4,200 miles (more or less) northwest of Atlanta.

(Photo by Junkyard Correspondent Jordan Shenefield)

No. 133: “Sven, I Think We’ve Come to a Stop.”

“Sven,” of course, is a Swedish name – appropriate for this sad wreck.

In 1974, Volvo turned from its 140 series of cars to the 240 series. From a distance, they looked virtually the same – the same straight lines, the same boxy rider compartment. The front and rear ends were slightly different. You had to look under the hood to appreciate the change, where Volvo ditched its standard four-cylinder engine for an overhead cam design. The 240 cars also were available in a six-cylinder.

The station wagon became the symbol of the upwardly mobile set — young parents, squiring their babies around in the safest car on the road. Who hasn’t seen a Volvo wagon at a Saturday morning soccer game?

(A great American, Ted Davis, drove a 244 Volvo.)

This is a Volvo 242, come to rest on a dairy/compost mulch farm. It appears to be an early 1980s model. Maybe Sven can tell us.

Landisville, Pa., 745 miles northeast of Atlanta.

(Photos by erstwhile Foreign Junkyard Correspondent Marva Brackett Godin)

No. 132: Go, Devil?

This quarter-ton hauler was built in Toledo, Ohio. The earliest it could have left the Jeep assembly line at the Kaiser Willys plant would have been 1946, when American manufacturers hustled to make vehicles for the civilian market. That year, Willys produced a Jeep that was a lot like the model that became famous in World War II. A dead giveaway that this was not a war Jeep: The war models featured grills with nine slats; in 1946, Willys reduced the number to seven. Jeep continues that tradition to this day.

The latest year this Jeep could have been built was early 1949. The windshield changed in production that year from a split piece of glass to one broad expanse.

So that means this Jeep is a CJ-2A. (In 1949, the CJ-3A came along.) It is a righteous little machine.

Oh, and that “Go, devil?” reference: that was the nickname Willys gave to its 60-hp, four-cylinder flathead. I have one resting on my garage floor.

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, Oro, Grande, Calif., 2,100 miles west of Atlanta.

(Photos by Senior Junkyard Correspondent Harold “Tex” Colson)

No. 131: Dust, Dirt, Decline

What is this? Hard to say. Time and use have removed any identifying badges that would indicate if this car rolled off an assembly line at Dearborn, Detroit, Auburn, Toledo or some other city that prided itself on auto production.

It was built in the early 1930s; the slightly swept windshield post was a design element from that era. It also has suicide doors, which indicates this sedan was not a base model.

This car could just as easily be a Ford, Chevy or Dodge. Or maybe it’s a marque from automotive history – a Graham-Paige, perhaps, or an Essex or Packard. What’s more certain is that someone, about 80 years ago, shook a salesman’s hand. He (and it almost surely was a man) took the keys of his new car and drove away.

Now, it’s come to a stop in the dust, and the dirt, not far from the eastern face of the Sierras. Middlegate, Nev., once a stop on the Pony Express, 2,280 miles west of Atlanta.

(Photo by Senior Junkyard Correspondent Harold “Tex” Colson)

No. 130: Tapped Out, Mined Out, Abandoned

Senior Junkyard Correspondent Harold Colson — “Tex” to his intimates — recently took a blue highway* tour of parts of California and Nevada. As always, he brought along his camera. His patient wife, Deborah, said nothing – Tex didn’t mention anything in his dispatches, anyway – as her husband pulled off the road to photograph another wreck.

And what wrecks! Sit back, dear reader, and take a look at what has been left in the desert. Randsburg, Calif., 2,124 miles west of Atlanta.

(More photos from Tex’s sunny sojourns will be posted in the coming days.)


No. 129: Angling for a New Life

The Model T was a hit in Great Britain. The public snatched up the cars just as avidly as their cousins across the pond. But when the Model A debuted, in 1928, Brits didn’t get as excited. That led, ultimately, to Ford Motor Company’s decision to create a new line of cars for the British public. In 1949, the Anglia said hello.

It was a distinctive little thing, bug-eyed and big fendered — affordable, too. The Anglia was a smaller vehicle than the increasingly larger models produced in the States. It .came in a variety of styles: coupe, sedan, delivery and pickup. Look at any black-and-white Britiish film from the late 1940s onward and you’re bound to see one of these models parked on a street.

The line ended in 1967, but not its allure. As any hotrodder or drag enthusiast knows, the Anglia was popular with the race-car set. Thousands of Anglias underwent torch and wrench to become tire-burning little beasts. But not all. This truck, dating to the mid-1950s, retains the traits that made the Anglia a hit then — and now.

Arrow Town, New Zealand, 13,050 miles southwest of Atlanta.

(Photos by Foreign Junkyard Correspondent Marva Brackett Godin)