Ford updated its full-sized cars for 1969, stretching the wheelbase a couple of inches and adding a completely new snout. Production of this generation of big Fords continued through 1978, with well over a half-million sold just for 1969, so these cars were everywhere on American roads well into the 1990s. Here's one of the sportiest models you could buy in that first year, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard last month.
For most of the 1960s, the forward-control, mid-engined small van, with the driver sitting atop the front axle and crowded against the door by an engine-containing box known as the “doghouse,” was quite popular in the United States. These things were bouncy, ill-handling, dangerous steel boxes, but they could haul absurd loads with their 1904-technology solid axles and leaf springs all the way around and were easy to maneuver in tight spaces.
Nearly all these vans were used up or crashed decades ago, but xillion-mile survivors still trickle into wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a rare long-wheelbase late-’60s ChevyVan that I spotted in Denver last week.
The production run of the Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle, which was built using essentially the same design from 1938 through 2003, will never be surpassed; the runner-up Morris Oxford II/Hindustan Ambassador was made from 1954 through 2014, and we feel fairly sure that the Chinese Communist Party will put a stop to Chinese production of the first-gen Kia Pride/Ford Festiva long before it beats the Beetle in the year 2053.
I see quite a few Beetles during my junkyard travels, but rarely photograph them. This one, found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard, had enough of a story to tell that I felt compelled to document it.
As I always mention when writing about the the Toyota Corona, my first car was a beige ’69 four-door. Examples of the first generation of the Corona sold in the United States remain defiantly uncollectible for the most part (though a few do get restored and/or customized here and there), which means that beat-up ones wash ashore at self-service wrecking yards when they no longer serve as cheap transportation. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, this ’70 coupe, and this bonus Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. Today’s find is the result of an archeological expedition into an old backup hard drive dating from early 2007, so this California Corona was shredded and put on a container ship in the Port of Oakland about seven years back.
Like Dizzy Gillespie’s cheeks playing trumpet vs. at rest, cars are bigger in every direction compared to their predecessors. Perhaps you’ve seen a 1980s Honda Accord in front of the latest platform. Or perhaps an old/new Chevy Silverado. But what about a copiously large Cadillac, like the one made (somewhat) famous in a Moby music video?
What happens when you put that machine, an unrivaled King of The 1970s, against a pair of modern land barges? You already know, but go ahead and click to see anyway.
By this time, everyone knows I have a soft spot for the 1965-70 full-sized Chevrolet, and there was a time when every self-service wrecking yard I visited had at least a dozen of these things in stock. Now a year of more can pass between sightings. Here’s a rather weathered but reasonably non-rusty ’69 I spotted in a Denver yard last week.
Strangely, the Opel GT is one of the more common 1960s German Junkyard Finds. I find many more Type 1 Beetles, of course, and the Mercedes-Benz W110 shows up fairly regularly, but I’ll see several Crusher-bound GTs every year. Here’s a two-tone Brown GT I spotted in California a couple of weeks back.
I see more Volvo Amazons in junkyards (and on the street) than I do 140s, probably because the Amazon was built for 15 years versus the 140’s eight. Both cars got the pushrod version of Volvo’s sturdy— in fact, tractor-grade sturdy— B engine and were unusually safe for their times. Both were typically bought by owners who planned on keeping the cars for many decades. Still, there comes a day when a 43-year-old station wagon just isn’t worth maintaining. Here’s a ’69 wagon I found at a junkyard near my house.
Yesterday, I shared a Toyota Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. I like the Corona for personal reasons, but if the Time Machine took me back to ’69 and I didn’t have a lot to spend (or even if I did have a lot to spend), the Datsun 510 would be one of my top choices. Wouldn’t you know, there’s an ad for the 510 in the very same issue!
A generous 24 Hours of LeMons racer gave me a copy of the February 1969 issue of Playboy as a gift last weekend, and it’s even more of a time capsule than most publications of its era. The only cars advertised in the issue are the Ford Mustang (Mach 1 and Shelby), Volkswagen Beetle, Datsun 510 (labeled as the “/2”), and the Toyota Corona. Since my very first car was a ’69 Corona, I felt compelled to share this ad.
TTAC commentator Kenzter writes:
I recently picked up a 1969 Cadillac Sedan Deville. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime deals you only hear about, like my uncles cousins sister is selling her deceased husbands garage queen for pennies on the dollar deal.
My problem is, the Automatic Climate Control (a $550 option!) does not work. The only settings that trigger any response are FOG and ICE. Even then, I can only hear the blower motor and just barely feel air from the floor vents. Where to begin the troubleshooting?
GM made immense quantities of full-sized Chevrolets in 1969. How many? According to the Standard Catalog, the total production of ’69 Biscaynes, Bel Airs, Impalas, and Caprices was 1,168,300 cars. Well into the early 1980s, these things were as commonplace on American streets as mid-2000s Camrys are today. Given that nobody with the money to restore a ’69 big Chevy is going to waste time on a non-hardtop four-door (what with the large quantities of restorable coupes and convertibles still extant) we can assume that the few remaining sedans will be flushed out by $250/ton scrap-steel prices and crushed during the next few years.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- MaintenanceCosts So there is no Sonata trim without some type of Theta engine.It seems like they've been doing a bit better when attached to a hybrid system, so that's probably the one to get, but they're going to have to go several years without further engine troubles before I'd trust a H/K ICE product again.
- Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
- Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
- Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
- John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..