Junkyard Find: 1975 Ford Maverick
The Maverick (and its Mercury sibling, the Comet) was once one of the most numerous cars on American roads. From a period extending from 1970 through about the middle 1980s, the Maverick was everywhere, much as the Taurus is today. It was a cheap, simple machine, based on the same outdated but sturdy and well-understood-by-mechanics chassis design that Ford used beneath Falcons, Mustangs, Granadas, you name it, going back to the early 1960s. The Maverick is just about extinct now, other than a few kept alive by collectors; these days, I might see one every year or so at self-service junkyards. That makes this one (spotted at a yard in Northern California last week) a special Junkyard Find.
Junkyard Find, Part II: 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega
After seeing today’s Junkyard Find ’75 Vega, the members of the Vega Jihad are doubtless pounding out 10,000-word screeds about The Greatest Car Ever Made (never underestimate the suspension of disbelief required to be a member of the Vega Jihad), and I’m sure that the Cosworth Vega will be mentioned numerous times during said screeds. That’s why it’s fortunate that I have a bonus Junkyard Find today, a genuine, one-of-3,508-made junked Cosworth Vega, which TTAC reader and historically accurate 80s minitruck road racer Jesse Cortez found and photographed at a Northern California wrecking yard.
Junkyard Find: 1975 Chevrolet Vega
The first-gen Hyundai Excel is extremely rare junkyard find, with most Excels having been crushed before they hit ten years old. The story of the Chevy Vega is similar, though most Vegas survived a bit longer than Excels did. I hadn’t seen a Vega in a junkyard for at least a decade (not counting Pontiac-badged Vega wagons) when I found this reasonably solid example at a California self-service yard a couple weeks back.
Junkyard Find: 1975 Plymouth Duster
During the same trip to a Los Angeles (actually Santa Fe Springs) wrecking yard that produced photographs of this junked ’89 Buick Reatta, I spotted this used-up ’75 Duster. These things were once among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads, and it seemed that most of them were this shade of green.
Junkyard Find: East Bay Gig-Rig Malaise El Camino
When a truck or truckish vehicle gets close to the end of its usable lifespan, the last owner— if this vehicle happens to be in an urban area full of scroungy underemployed dudes with a 15:1 effects-pedal/guitar ratio— will often be a Band You Never Heard Of. When I was an affiliate of such a band in early-80s Oakland, we had a GMC Value Van with Chevy 396 power. The fate of such vehicles is always the same: a year or two of abuse, spilled beer on the carpets, and tire theft while parked in alleys behind dive bars… and then the head gasket blows or a control arm breaks and the tow-truck takes it for its final ride.
Junkyard Find: 1975 Triumph Spitfire
A less-than-perfect Spitfire, like the MGB, typically spends a decade or three as a get-around-to-it-someday project car under a tarp in the driveway… and then it’s off to the junkyard when reality finally sinks in. I haven’t seen a beater Spitfire for at least a decade now, so this is one of many smoked out of its hiding place by high scrap-steel prices.
Junkyard Find: 1975 MGB
As the former owner of a daily-driver MGB (plus some other British Leyland steel that still causes me Prince of Darkness PTSD), junked MGBs always catch my eye. The strange thing is that you still see plenty of Bs on their final stop before The Crusher, more than 30 years after the last one clattered off the assembly line. Here’s one that I found in Denver, parked a few rows over from the ’71 Fiat 850.
Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: When Oldsmobile Was Top Of The Class
Over the last few weeks we have visited Panama, Colombia, China and Indonesia. But really, I know the post you liked most was when I went back in time to explore America in 1986. Come on, you know it’s true.
Which is why I have more time travel for you this week: let’s go back to 1975, a time when the average house cost $39,000, the average new car $4,250, both inflation and unemployment rates hit 9.2% and a gallon of gas cost an outrageous 44 cents…but most importantly it was the year Jaws was released.
If the idea of going back to these depressing times is not what you need today, that’s ok. I have prepared 160 countries for you to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is worth the browse, so click away!
“It’s a good feeling to have an Olds around you” the ad said, and a lot of Americans agreed…
And the Real Winner Is…
Some 24 Hours of LeMons fans get all excited about the team that turns the most laps at a race, but the real cognoscenti know that the Index of Effluency (the prize given to the team that accomplishes a great racing feat with a car that never belonged anywhere near a race track) is the pinnacle. Only the most legendary LeMons heroes manage to win the Index of Effluency more than once, and now South Carolina’s Tunachuckers have driven their two-ton Ford to that achievement.
Malaise Heavyweights Do Battle: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 Versus 1975 Ford LTD Landau
Of all the cars at the ‘Shine Country Classic, none inspired more speculation than the ’75 LTD of the Tunachuckers and ’79 W116 of NSF Racing. So many questions! Would either car be ready for the green flag on Saturday morning? Which one would be quicker around a road course? Could an ungodly complicated Teutonic flagship even make one lap on a race track after 32 years and a 99.97% value depreciation? Could Grandma’s long-abandoned big Ford roar into life and survive on the race track with little more than a cage installation and a hasty tune-up? Each team had joined the elite of LeMons veterans, with one Index of Effluency win apiece, so expectations [s]of horrible failure[/s] were high.
Doomed Value Van Triggers Bad 80s Roadie Flashbacks
Some of you may be more familiar with this friend of the catering and drinking-water industries in its Chevrolet Step-Van guise, but I’ve always preferred GMC’s name: Value Van! I ran across this fairly complete example in my local self-service wrecking yard, quite close to the Simu-Wood™ LeBaron Town & Country wagon. Me and the Value Van, we have a history!
Wankel + Automatic = Ideal Truck Drivetrain?
You’d think that the zilch-o-torque characteristics of a Wankel engine wouldn’t be so great for hauling heavy loads, and you’d be right! Adding an automatic transmission to the mix, as is the case with this ’75 Mazda pickup, no doubt made for some interesting driving experiences when hauling, say, a dozen sacks of concrete mix in the back.
Curbside Classic: 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
You’d think that all the Malaise Era Montes would have been crushed 15 years ago, but you still see the occasional survivor chugging around these days. I spotted this battered-but-solid example in a Denver park a few months back.
When 86 Horsepower Was More Than Enough For a Sports Car!
OK, we’ll admit that the ’75 Fiat 124 Spider was ridiculously underpowered with just 86 horsepower out of its Twin Cam engine, but compare that to the 62.5 horsepower of the ’75 MGB, a car so miserable that its manufacturer couldn’t afford to round the power figure down a half-horse.
Curbside Classic: 1975 Toyota Hilux Pickup
After a deep immersion in cheap, plastic (un)fantastic Toyota electronic gas pedal assemblies, we need to swing the friction arm pendulum way far the other direction; right into a cast iron Hilux pickup. The only electronics in these would be a handful of transistors in the radio, if it even had one. If there had to be a vehicle to keep running indefinitely, I couldn’t think of a better choice. And I’m obviously not the only one: there are dozens of these on the roads hereabouts, being used daily by thrifty gardeners, carpenters, handy-men, and just homeowners wanting a weekend dump-run truck. There’s no question in my mind; if I wasn’t so tall and didn’t like a big bed, I’d be driving one of these instead of my old F-100.