Junkyard Find: 1964 Plymouth Valiant 200 Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1964 plymouth valiant 200 station wagon

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.

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  • 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?

  • 56m65711446 Well, I had a suburban auto repair shop in those days.
  • Dukeisduke Yikes - reading the recall info from NHTSA, this sounds like the Hyundai/Kia 2.4l Theta II "engine fire" recall, since it involves an engine block or oil pan "breach", so basically, throwing a rod:"Description of the Safety Risk : Engine oil and/or fuel vapor that accumulates near a sufficiently hot surface, below the combustion initiation flame speed, may ignite resulting in an under hood fire, and increasing the risk of injury. Description of the Cause :Isolated engine manufacturing issues have resulted in 2.5L HEV/PHEV engine failures involving engine block or oil pan breach. In the event of an engine block or oil pan breach, the HEV/PHEV system continues to propel the vehicle allowing the customer to continue to drive the vehicle. As the customer continues to drive after a block breach, oil and/or fuel vapor continues to be expelled and accumulates near ignition sources, primarily expected to be the exhaust system. Identification of Any Warning that can Occur :Engine failure is expected to produce loud noises (example: metal-to-metal clank) audible to the vehicle’s occupants. An engine failure will also result in a reduction in engine torque. In Owner Letters mailed to customers, Ford will advise customers to safely park and shut off the engine as promptly as possible upon hearing unexpected engine noises, after experiencing an unexpected torque reduction, or if smoke is observed emanating from the engine compartment."
  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”