By on December 12, 2011

Some cars that show up in junkyards were moving under their own power just days before their final tow-truck ride… and others spent decades in a field somewhere, waiting for the price of scrap steel to make hauling-away worthwhile. This Colt, which I found close to the ’83 Cordia in a California self-serve yard, is the latter type.
Lichens growing on the weatherstripping tell a story of long-term abandonment.
25-year-old newspapers in the back offer more clues.
There really isn’t much worth salvaging on this old Mitsubishi, but I can’t resist breaking out the camera when I find a car this weathered.

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26 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1972 Dodge Colt Wagon...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Wow, japanese cars do look a lot alike back then too, just like today. I thought it was a Corona or Corolla wagon of similar vintage.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Wow, talk about a time capsule. I was 2 years old when this car ended up here (if of course, the newspaper is close to ‘time-of-death’).

    I wish there were more ‘yards up here in the rust belt that had old stuff like this that hadn’t been crushed. Just to see with my own eyes :)

    I really enjoy these posts. It brings me back in time.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Love the newspaper news box in the upper left corner; glad to see the 1% were doing well back in ’86 too.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I can’t think of a single thing to say – good, bad or indifferent about this car, except I hated all foreign cars back then, especially Toyotas. Now? not so much…

  • avatar
    turtletop

    My friend’s parents had this exact model of Colt wagon. My reputation as a budding teenage shadetree mechanic had spread, so when it started to act up and run a little rough, they asked me to take a look at it. It only had 88K on it, so I figured that it just needed some love via a tune up and a few new filters.

    It arrived at my house and I popped the hood open. It was then that I noticed that every last damn part on the car was factory. Spark plug wires, cap & rotor, hoses, belts, air filter, you name it… NOTHING been maintained or replaced in nearly 10 years. The real shock was the oil filter… bone stock Mitsubishi, covered in Japanese script, put on when the engine was assembled. The oil had never been changed, they’d just kept topping it off. Yikes!

    I pulled a spark plug out of the head. It was covered in coolant. I put it right back, put the spark plug wire on and closed the hood. I called my friend, told him that the job was over my head and to please come and get it while it still ran. Even at that young age, I knew a can of worms when I saw it.

    In the end, I was actually impressed with the Colt. A 70’s car that would run for 88K with absolutely no maintenance whatsoever? You were doing well to get 100K out of a lot of cars on the market then, maintained or not.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    100K max even if well maintained…
    This.

    My dad bought his first Japanese car (an early Accord) back in that era. I can never forget the amazement in his voice when he told me that bis Accord had hit 90,000 miles without requiring anything but routine maintenance. Never bought another American car.

    I will say though that back in the late 60’s we had a Plymouth Valiant with the 225 slant-six which (if my teenaged-self hadn’t smashed it to smithereens) would probably STILL be running today.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Yes, I remember when a coworker kept bragging about how he had only put three sets of plugs into his 1986 Accord, along with oil changes, in 186K miles. Then one morning the Accord stopped running on the way to work.

      I asked him if he had ever changed the timing belt.

      His reply: “Timing belt?”

  • avatar
    obbop

    Pride of ownership oozes out of every rusty pitted pore.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    A buddy of mine got a couple of Colts because his Dad worked for Chrysler Aerospace (a NASA contractor) and was eligible for substantial discounts on Mopar vehicles. Kent’s 1974 Colt sedan had an unusual quirk – if you pulled the driver’s seatbelt to the end of the inertia-wheel travel, the dome light would come on. We called it a “sudden deceleration warning light”.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    I have been noticing a lot of older Japanese cars in the self service yards around Atlanta lately there was a late 60s vintage Toyota Corona in the lot I visited yesterday. I guess the spike in steel prices has caused people to clean out their back yards.

  • avatar

    While it isn’t quite this old, Ray Magliozzi (sp.?) of the CAR TALK guys on NPR owns a 1987 Colt Vista . . .

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    Sometimes the owner of the property finally dies. A friend of mine knew an old lady who died about age 88 after having been widowed for twenty years.

    We went over to the house and her late husband’s 1970s Datsun wagon, orange, was parked under the open carport with four flat tires and covered in dust. I opened the drivers door and the interior was pristine. All the dust on the windows must have blocked UV rays from fading the interior. Not much rust on the car to think of it.

    Anyway, it had 1988 tags and plates. She hadn’t known how to drive and when her husband died the car was left parked exactly where it was when he parked it and it stayed right there with the cats living under it for twenty years until she died.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I was tooling around Germany having the time of my life when that newspaper article was published. K-town and points there about. I don’t remember seeing any of these on the road back then, but of course I can’t remember lots of things from that era.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Is that a Challenger/Sapporo/Mitsubishi Gallant next to the COlt?

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    From the looks of it, it had a minor front end collision and/or perhaps the motor crapped out and it was put out to pasture to sit for a decade or two before finally being scrapped.

    It also looked like someone’s already picked parts off it already, the entire instrument cluster is totally gone as are some other parts like the H/VAC panel and knobs but the actual control still remain.

    Nice fine there MM.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    My mother bought one of these new back in the day. It was spartan inside — hard plastics and no power equipment — but decent, other than the fake textured wood on the dash. The car was reliable – it’s only issues over ~10 years of daily commuting and grocery getting were a failed fuse for the tail light circuit, water pump failure around 90K miles, and loose bands on the transmission in its later years. I remember my father packing the back full of firewood and tooling up the steep hill to our home several times a year, as we had wood stove heat supplementing our furnace. While unloved due to its appliance nature, it worked without failure (other than the above) until totaled in a rear-end collision. While skeptical of Japanese cars at first, this car and my father’s rock solid used-and-abused for years Plymouth Champ (aka Mitsubishi Mirage) sold me on them.

  • avatar
    and003

    I wonder if the window glass and body shell can be salvaged?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    As always;

    Your photographic skills and commentary remain top notch .

    So too are the various comments following , these junkyard finds are the best blogs I’ve read in years .

    -Nate


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