For over 8 years now I pass an enclave of homes that seem house a tribe of car people. Now this isn’t the pool and 3 car garage neighbor, in fact some have only car ports and some have nothing. I pass these homes at least once a day. Hardly a day or two go by without seeing a rolling classic or muscle project turn down the one of the 4 streets leading into the neighborhood.
I can list most of the cars that live there. To name a few there is the 1969 VW bug, often under cover, one home that has a 1984 Corvette Crossfire and a 1969 Nova and there is the 1970ish Camaro…wait for it…..wait…..mounted on a monster truck frame rig, a Monte Carlo (late 1970’s), a 1965 Mustang and a 1988 Fox body too.
However, there are 3 cars that make my drive. Knowing they are there gets the day started on an even keel, everything in its place. The work day can be (read as “usually is”) filled with chaos but it ends with these 3 cars everything is as it should be. Now two of them I’ve actually seen on the road and one of those at the drag strip. In order of appearance first thing in the morning 1970 Mustang Grande, 1970 Charger and a 1967 GTO. The Charger normally sits in the car port and often has the hood up and or is practically dismantled. The GTO was up on blocks in the backyard for nearly a year and has recently had shoes put on it was under the car port out front ( a good sign, I’m assuming).
This isn't "the" 1970 Mustang Grande.
The Mustang has never moved, in all these years not an inch. It sits next to the side of the house, inside the chain link fence, in full sun. Rust on the sides and the vinyl roof baked hard on the roof. The prickly pear cactus which started out as a mere 2 foot high cluster has grown to over 5 feet tall, nearly obscuring the car from the west side view. A couple of years ago a ladder was added next to the car and weeds have grown up to nearly covering it.
Since I love Mustangs, I always wondered about its story, what engine it had under the hood and what would happen if I stopped and offered to purchase it. (Of course that would be a tough sell at home.) And I kept reminding myself that I need to at least stop and take some photos for my abandon/project car writings.
Last week I was driving home and in reverse order from the morning drive, there was the ’69 GTO, ’70 Charger and a empty yard where the Grande has sat for years. It seemed the entire landscape had changed. Was that the correct yard? Did I just mistake the next guy’s house for that one? Was I on the right street? Those thoughts crossed my mind briefly. There was a lot of traffic and turning around to go back and look wasn’t going to happen, after the day I had.
I didn’t have to make a mental note to check tomorrow morning, it was part of my routine, I’d notice for sure it if wasn’t there on the trip into work. Sure enough as a reached what would be my first sign that the day was starting out with all the pieces in place, I saw exactly what I thought I saw the day before. The ladder was gone, the weeds and prickly pear cactus was gone and where the Mustang sat was a bare spot on the ground and against the side of the house. The 1970 Mustang Grande was gone.
This car wasn’t even mine but I have regrets, I should have taken a picture, I should have stopped and got its story and found out what was under the hood. It’s clearly too late for a picture. Did it find a new home? Was it going to be treated to spa like off frame restoration? Did it meet the crusher?
I wonder if they would mind a car crazy guy stopping by and asking about a car that isn’t there any longer? Does the readership want to know?
Thanks for reading.
From a reader:
I used to pass a 1970 base model Barracuda everyday on the way to work in the late 1980s in San Jose, Calif for years. It was a basic 318 auto, shift on the column with base vinyl bucket seats, white with no stripes, or trim, or spoilers. Just a basic Barracuda, but all orignal, and all complete. It needed mostly TLC, paint, and some interior work. It sat in the driveway with two flat tires for years. i finally one Friday night on the way home from work stopped and knocked on the door. The original owner was glad to show me the car and talk about his fond memories of the car. I ended up stopping by three, or four times over the year. We would talk MOPARs and bench race a little bit now and then.
Then one day I saw the house was for sale, so I stopped to ask. The Barracuda owner told me his mother had passed away (the homeowner), and the Barracuda was FOR SALE. I had to contain my excitement and proceed with the details. (I had just sold my 68 Charger for a huge profit, which I regret to this day, but that is another story for another day).
So, the owner pulls out this “Gold Book of Collector Car Values”; You have to remember, this is pre-Internet times; all cars prices came from some sort of ‘book’. He proudly shows me that the ‘high’ market value of the ‘Cuda/Challenger is $39,000. I say; “YES, that is for pristine, all original Hemi cars. This is a base Barracuda with a 318 that needs $3,000 work of work.”. We talk back and forth for two hours, and I finally throw out a $3,500 offer to break the ice (remember, this is 1989). The guy tells me to screw myself, and goes back into his house.
I left a few notes on the car for the next two months waiting to reconnect by phone, but he never called. The house sold, and I never saw that Barracuda again.
Thanks for letting me tell one of my many “one that got away” stories. Lets do lunch soon!
Take care, Bill