Junkyard Find: 1964 Plymouth Valiant 200 Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I just spent two days in California (returning to find my Civic completely buried by the Denver snowstorm I thought I’d dodged), visiting family and 24 Hours of LeMons co-conspirators. Time was short, but there’s always time to visit the junkyard! Colorado junkyards are good for finding long-forgotten four-wheel-drive cars, but you can’t beat the San Francisco Bay Area for doomed classic Detroit iron.

Yes, this wagon has the Chrysler pushbutton automatic shifter.

It also has California-style rust. That’s the kind of rust that results from bad weatherstripping allowing rainwater to get into the car, where it sits all winter… for years. Yes, that’s moss growing in the hole; I suspect this car spent a decade or two in a damp, shady back yard overgrown with weeds and wild blackberry bushes.

Then you get pine needles filling the rain gutters, which leads to this sort of rust.

These cars were cheap, reliable (by 1960s standards), hauled a lot of kids and groceries for their size, and sold in huge quantities. Sadly, most of the Valiant (and Dart) wagons were crushed at least a decade before station wagons become hip among old-car freaks.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 32 comments
  • Bunkie Bunkie on Feb 07, 2012

    I've been accused of being some sort of effete snob who values contrarianism because of my defense of the CTS Wagon I drive. THIS car is proof that that is categorically untrue. Almost this very car (although ours was a '65) was one of the major cars of my childhood. My dad bought it after his time with the company Volvo Amazon wagon ended. We hauled our bicycles to the repair shop in it. There were several pounds of beach sand in it from the two-or-three times weekly trips to Jones Beach or Point Lookout. My butt is still sore from riding in the back on family trips to D.C. We hauled furniture, firewood and newspapers collected for recycling at .55/100 lbs. The love of wagons is deep because of the sheer experience with the basic form, much of it gained from this very car. I don't really care what other people buy and drive except where those choices tend to limit what I want to buy. Wagons are cool. It's not fashion. They are cool because they are really useful.

  • Jmdazed Jmdazed on Apr 19, 2012

    I just bought one of these from original owner. She wrecked the front end. I wish I knew where this junkyard is?

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Defender looks way better than the Bronco in both 2-door and 4-door.
  • ToolGuy I found this particular episode to be incredibly offensive.I am shocked that eBay Motors is supporting this kind of language and attitudes in 2024.I will certainly keep this in mind next time I am choosing where to buy auto parts (I buy a LOT of auto parts).
  • SaulTigh When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.
  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.