Monday, March 16, 2015

1967 Oldsmobile F-85 survivor reveals a two-tone Cutlass on the cheap

Scott Johnson hauled his latest find to Junkyard Life headquarters in Alabama.

Olds it! Right there! Our Junkyard Life Brother and resident Oldsmobile parts source, Scott Johnson, has scored once again. Scott showed up at Junkyard Life’s world headquarters with an awesome barn find – (almost) fresh from the barn. 
  I couldn’t stop looking at this fabulous example of Oldsmobile history and American car culture. This car just fit right in! A 1967 Oldsmobile F-85! This one is a 4-door sedan, also known to enthusiast as a “Town Sedan” due to having the loved and hated post dividing the windows. 
  F-85 was the designation for the base model, plain Jane, point-A-to-point-B, Oldsmobile in 1967. Living in the entry level spectrum with lower-priced models such as the Chevelle 300, Chevrolet Biscayne, Ford Falcon Futura and Dodge Dart. The F-85 was the best value Olds in the line-up. However, Oldsmobile wasn’t known for building basic cars. This F-85 STILL had options! Lets take a look at Scott’s F-85.

Original AM push-button radio sits in the dash of the 1967 F-85 Olds.
Push button AM radio and a really cool “F-85” emblem. Cool!

Burgundy with a white roof and painted drip rails
Two-tone roof and painted drip rails. Expensive and cheap on the same roof?

Options, options, options
  Immediately, we noticed the two-tone paint. An eye-relaxing, maroon and white combo. Very cool and I imagine that as attractive as it looks now, back in late June of 1967, it was simply irresistible on the showroom. Some lucky customer walked into Miley Olds in Sheffield, Alabama and thought the same thing. Paint codes N-C come back to the correct, as it sits, Burgundy Mist and Provincial White. But keep looking! 
  This car also has air conditioning and power steering. I halfway expected it to have power brakes (it did not), although the brakes would have been drums and not disc. So, can you imagine paying for those options and yet, no carpet? It's true, most F-85 models did not even have carpet, just a utilitarian black mat for those who wore shoes in the 1960s. The Oldsmobile does have bench seats, front and rear, that are in great shape. The original AM radio lives in one of the most perfect dash boards we have ever seen.

2-barrel carburetor sits atop the engine.
330 cubes of Olds Rocket power – even saddled with a 2-barrel carburetor the V8 pumped out 250 horses.

Power hungry
  This buyer did not settle for the six cylinder in this economy model. They checked one more box, scoring the 330 C.I.D V-8, making a very respectable 250 hp, even with a miserly 2-barrel carburetor. It even had the famous Olds Jetaway automatic 2-speed transmission. Drag racers love those now.
  Really, it doesn’t matter how this Olds was optioned. We would have loved it anyway. This Rocket is in great shape
overall with no rust showing. We love it. 
  Great find, Scott!

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Pristine, original seat covers inside the 1967 Olds.
Rip-free seats in otherwise great shape. I don’t know if that is the original material but someone knows! Tell me what you think.

Olds F-85 emblem spells out “Eighty Five” on each fender.

Rear view of Olds on trailer.
Rear bumper damaged in a prior towing incident. Fail!

Original dealer emblem from Miley Buick-Olds in Sheffield, Alabama mounted on the 1967 Olds F-85.

Still inside glove box
1967 Oldsmobile owner’s manual still tucked inside the glove box.

Original documentation in truck of 1967 Olds F-85
Oldsmobile trunk or treasure trunk? Look what we found! Yes, that is the original “Protect-O-Plate” warranty card and owners manual. Think we could get GM to change the oil? I really embrace these kind of finds.

1967 F-85 with a beefy 12-bolt rearend.
Also, note the 12-bolt rear end. Maybe not the best one, but a great conversation piece.

Scott Johnson is an Olds super fan. Read about his 1970 Olds 442.

Big, red and rust-free. This muscle car era Olds will make a comeback.

If this backseat could talk what would it say?

Black rubber floormats instead of carpet
Do you ever notice that 4-door’s interiors hold up better than the 2-door models?

Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
Send emails to Jody at or Ron at


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Junkyard Adventures: 1973 Pontiac Grand Am

Project 1973 Pontiac lands in Alabama.

Getting there is half the fun.
Junkyard Life guys – hearts of gamblers with none of the instincts. That’s us!
An ongoing obsession with 1973 Pontiacs is taking place at Junkyard Life. We have never seen a green 1973 Grand Am. So, having one became mandatory. We obtained possibly the coolest of Colonnades... a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am. In a rare color called "Golden Olive."
  A little background on "Olive," as we have named her. She is a shapely 1973 Pontiac Grand Am in mostly original condition. Her drive train operates nicely, though she does have a dead leg rear end. A NACA hood (added by us, soon after purchase), and several other tasty Grand Am things like a rear sway bar and reclining "horse collar" seats will earn her a permanent parking spot in the Junkyard Life stable.
Smoke show
  Olive has a bit of a smoking problem from her 400 engine, fed by a 2-barrel carburetor, but we are convincing her to quit. We have big engine plans in the near future... More, more, more! She has the finned hubcaps that Pontiac purest hold so dear. The GM A-body drives great, stops true, and feels tighter than a 42-year-old car should. But was Olive up for a trip to T.S.U.S.F. (Top Secret Undisclosed Storage Facility)? Dare we? The rain had no intention of letting up and we needed to put the car inside, right? Okay, lets go.  

Shotgun seat for a junkyard adventure in a 1973 Pontiac.
Keith Lively takes the shotgun seat in the ’73 Grand Am adventure. Miss Olive needs a nose job but the NACA hood addition was a must.

Ride along
  We called a Junkyard Life brother, or two, to ride along (and "push” if needed). What could go wrong? For added safety, we decided to follow along in an even older car! Somehow, Junkyard Life brother, Keith Lively fell for this malarkey and rode shotgun.  

The ‘Golden Olive’ green 1973 Pontiac Grand Am heads toward the Junkyard Life storage facility.
I wish we could say that was tire smoke. That 35 MPH limit won't be a problem.

>>This was Keith’s version of the event: 

How a Car Guy spent his weekend
  I received a call from the staff over at Junkyard Life asking if I wanted to go with them to take a barn find 1973 Pontiac Grand Am to their “Top Secret Undisclosed Storage Facility.”  
  Yes, you guessed it, I met up with the guys and, wow... What a car, and what an adventure, and what was I thinking?
  A normal person would have just put it on a trailer and made the trip. Not these guys. After some debating, it was decided to see if the Grand Am would run and make the trip under its own power. I was voted co-pilot on this adventure mission.  

Proving that a mothballed 1973 Grand Am is road worthy in the rain.
This picture was taken as a door decided it was not going stay shut. We thought Keith was making a break for it.

  We get the car started and (kinda) running. The old 400-V8 might have six working cylinders, and none of the dash worked. Also, no defroster during what was going to be a heavy rain and an hour-long drive with little-to-no window seals.  
  Believe it or not, the trip started out OK. After 20 minutes of driving in heavy rain, we had to pull into a gas station. YES, WE HAD to DRAIN THE FLOORS THAT WERE FULL OF WATER to keep our feet from going under. 
  Was this the Junkyard Life aquarium? (editor’s note: This may be the first time the word "aquarium" has been used in a Junkyard Life story. Thanks, Keith!)  
Visibility was limited during the rainy drive in the 1973 Pontiac.
Keith wasn't kidding about the fog.

Lost Power, can’t see a thing
  Thirty-five minutes into the drive and the Grand Am lost what little power it had, so over into the emergency lane we go. After a few minutes it came back to life and we were moving again.
  Tail pipes billowing smoke and exhaust fumes starting to buildup inside the Grand Am. The windows are rolled down (yes, still raining) and I can't see a thing. My driver assures me we are getting close to the Top Secret Undisclosed Storage Facility, which sounds to me a bit like the Bat Cave.  By now, I'm thinking we just might make it. 

Fuel leak!
  With only 10 minutes left until we reached our destination, we had to go up a hill. That is when we found out the car must have a bad gas leak, because we are running out of gas when we go uphill. So, with two guys rocking the car back-and-forth, trying to get it to pick up enough fuel to make the last hill, we make it to the top. Victory is ours! 
  The chase rig, a green 1972 Vista Cruiser Wagon, loaded with tools, is hard to see through the smoke. We pull up to what looks like the longest building ever built. The door opens and with what little headlights we have left, I was not able to see the end on the building. We drive down the main lane to the rear of the building and see rows of really cool, old Hot Rods waiting to be rebuilt and brought back to life.

Leaning, gunning and sliding sideways in a 1973 Pontiac.
Pilot, Anthony Powell, and co-pilot, Keith Lively test the limits of the new Firestone tires on the Grand Am. New rubber rocks!

1973 Pontiac Grand Am is smoking heavily and idling outside undisclosed storage facility.
We made it! Keith wasn't kidding about the smoke either. We shall drop something roller-cammed in this one soon – stay tuned!

Trip summary  
  The ’73 Grand Am had no working electrical, except the engine. No defrost, and every window leaked heavily. The engine kept trying to die, and we had to stop and drain the water from the floors to keep our feet somewhat dry, but we made it. Overall, it was a fun trip with a bunch of great friends. I can’t wait to rescue the next barn find and start the next Junkyard Life adventure.

Ron Kidd & Keith Lively
— Junkyard Life

Fuel filler is below bumper and behind tag on 1973 Pontiac Grand Am and Grand Prix,
One-year-only 1973 Grand Am trunk lid. Tag/fuel filler door moves above bumper in 1974.

Strato bucket seats recline and offer lumbar adjustment in 1973 Pontiac Grand Am.
  Pontiac designers continued to offer the buying public beautiful, mid-sized cars even with the government said not to. Bless ‘em. Those reclining Strato bucket seats are a 1973 Grand Am feature. Pontiac Grand Prix and the Trans Am/Formula offered the same seats but without the recline or lumbar support feature.  

Full compliment of gauges standard on 1973 Pontiac Grand Am
Miss Olive has a complex nervous (wiring) system. Previous owner added several toggles on the console, more accessory switches on the dash, air horns, and an apparent alarm system under the hood.

Trunk and tail lights taper to a point on the 1973 Pontiac Grand Am.
42-year-old, Miss Olive, shows off her curves.

Sweeping, sculpted lines of 1973 Pontiac Grand Am mark the end of an era in automotive design.
First generation Grand Ams (1973-1975) were GM’s new breed of luxury, performance, and handling, built to compete with European corner carvers.

Front nose is missing on the 1973 Pontiac Grand Am in Golden Olive paint. New soft Endura nose is needed.
Miss Olive deserves proper cosmetic dentistry and the best rhinoplasty available. A fiberglass version of the soft Endura nose may do the trick.

Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  

Send emails to Jody at or Ron at

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reader’s Rides: Trio of 1976 Buick Free Spirit Indy Pace Cars rescued for restoration

Flock of Free Spirits. Len L'Heureux has gathered a trio of 1976 Buick Free Spirit Pace Cars at his shop in Canada. Len, no stranger to automotive restorations, located the rare (only 1,290 built), pace car replicas and negotiated their purchase.
  Despite their junky, as-found appearance, two are driveable. I was also surprised to learn that two of the slab-sided, silver Buicks were bought from original owners who had squirreled them away for decades. 

Attention-getting graphics on one of GM’s popular A-Body Colonnade beauties were not a recipe for success, but these overlooked, limited-production Buicks should soon skyrocket in value.

Fly again?
  Plans to restore the lone, t-top-equipped Free Spirit are underway. Once the restoration is complete, Len plans to sell the Free Spirit wearing the best graphics. He hopes to recoup some of the t-top Buick’s restoration costs by selling off the hard top swan. The ugly duckling of the bunch will likely be stripped of Free Spirit-specific parts. Those unobtainable, crown jewel items will be needed for Len’s parts stash or retirement fund. 
  Try finding a 1976 Buick Free Spirit aluminum roof halo or deck lid spoiler. I hate to say it, but I will. Len’s collection may be worth more, sold in pieces and parts. Let’s hope these three Buicks hit the road again.

  We will keep you posted on Len’s progress but if you get a wild hair and want to buy Len’s collection, he may consider leaving the Buick business. You can reach him at:

Jody Potter  
— Junkyard Life

The interior 1976 Buick Free Spirit Pace Car replica features bucket seats, console shift, tilt, A/C, and Rallye steering wheel.

Free Spirit spotter’s guide: Aluminum accent strip tops the squared roof.

Rare flock of three 1976 Buick Century Free Spirit Pace cars.

Only the best Colonnade-era Buicks featured a stunning, sweeping console.

Len L'Heureux plans to sell this Free Spirit replica, which has the best decals.

Len’s favorite t-top-equipped 1976 Buick Free Spirit is flanked by two hard top models.

A red Buick Rallye steering wheel frames the pace car’s gauges.

The Buick’s silver paint has dulled to a shade of grey that is often mistaken as primer. Spotter’s Guide tip: Pace car replica striping makes the lengthy hood look longer.

Cloth or vinyl interiors were option on 1976 Buick Free Spirit replicas. I’ve seen black cloth in person, see that previous Free Spirit find here.

1976 Free Spirits featured reddish-orange painted wheels.

1976 Free Spirit Buicks spotter’s guide: Blacked-out tail panels.

Read more 1976 Buick awesomeness!

Do you know where a classic or muscle car is parked in the weeds, send photos and an address. We’re on the way!?  Send emails to