Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cars in Yards: 1973 Gran Torino Sport

“I put blocks under it to keep it off the ground,” said the man with the yellow 1973 Ford Gran Torino Sport parked deep in his yard.  Robert Champion’s lawn has been home to his brother’s Gran Torino for more than a decade.  This relic from the muscle car meltdown years deserved a closer look. It appeared to be in much better shape from the road.

Champion’s brother, Bobby, bought the nearly new Gran Torino in 1974.  He sold his tired 1967 Chevelle SS to a family member for a few hundred dollars and started driving the fastback Ford.  It is still equipped with Ford’s last production year of the 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V8 engine and 2-barrel carburetor.  Bobby drove the Ford for the better part of two decades before  mechanical issues forced him to park it.  “Bobby’s been saying for several years that he plans to fix it up someday,” said Champion, “but I don’t know if he will ever get around to it.” 

The Gran Torino Sport will remain in Robert’s yard until his brother or the elements claim it.  So far, the bright yellow fastback is losing its battle with Mother Nature.  Old yeller, as I call it, has been a landmark for residents that get turned around in Mr. Champion’s Pinson, Alabama neighborhood.  Like it or not, old cars tend to disappear when you least expect it.  This landmark vehicle will eventually be claimed for a restoration , parts or scrapped out.  See another example here of another ‘Car in Yards’ that vanished not long after I documented its existence.

Love thy neighbor
Let this be a lesson to neighbors who view old cars wilting on the lawn next door as an eyesore.  It’s brotherly love, people!  Any good brother or sister would gladly provide storage space for an older vehicle that holds nostalgic memories for their loved ones.  One day you may be lucky enough to have a ‘project’ in your yard.

Send your car stories and photos to Junkyardlife here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cars in Yards: Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Did you see that! I slowed the van down to look back. A Volkswagen Karmann Ghia abandoned on an island of weeds. This lawn ornament sat a dozen feet from a busy highway in Montevallo, Alabama. I wanted to turn around and get a photo. Cars in yards tend to disappear when you least expect it. My wife said we could take a picture when we drove back home. We, make that my wife, took the photo on our way home. My love for all things automotive continues.
Many times I 've wished I had my camera or had time to stop and check out a cool automobile. Cars or trucks sitting in the weeds attract my attention immediately for two reasons. Number one, they are likely older vehicles and, two, their owner may be ready to part with them for a bargain price. The second reason makes my wife cringe any time I slow down to look at an old car. On this occasion she knows I'm at my limit of automobiles and I'm no threat to go knock on the door at this house. She is very supportive of my automotive hobby, but knows I can go overboard. I admit that we currently own too many cars. Between the two of us we have three kids and seven cars. Our oldest child is 7 -- eight years removed from a drivers permit. Ridiculous, I know. But think of it as recycling.
Do you have a hunger for similar roadside attractions? Send your car photos to Junkyardlife.
How many of you have more cars than people at your house? Share your car collection with us, send photos to Junkyardlife

Friday, December 4, 2009

1936 Cord a roadside rarity

What do you do when you drive-by a rough-looking but rare car? You take a photo of it like Michael K. Joachim did. Joachim of Pelham, Alabama spotted this 1936 Cord 810 Westchester at an automotive repair shop in Roswell, Georgia recently. Joachim knew this was a rare car at first glance. "I've never seen one of these outside of a museum," he noted. Joachim found out that the car does run and drive and belongs to a customer at the repair shop.

Cords competed for the American luxury car dollar with Duesenberg and Auburn. Cord built four door sedans along with two and four door convertible phaeton models. All Cords featured front-wheel-drive and V8 engines. Their hide-away headlights are operated by small chrome hand cranks on each side of the dash. Door hinges are mounted inside the doorjambs instead of externally. These features made for a sleek, advanced vehicle in 1936. According to Hemmings Motor News about 3,000 Cords were built in 1936 and 1937 and it is estimated that about 1,800 survive. A 1936 Cord 810 Westchester Sedan sold new for $1,995, and today is worth between $25,000-$60,000 according to Hemmings.

Send your photos and stories here for junkyardlife glory.

1936 Cord facts
  • Unit body construction with a front subframe
  • First American car with horn ring on steering wheel 
  • Hidden headlamps
  • All-steel roof on sedans (no fabric insert)
  • No running boards (deemed old fashioned)
  • Gordon Buehrig designed the Cord 810 and 812 models. He also designed  the Deusenberg Model J and the 1935 Auburn 851 boattail Speedster

Comment below or send your photos and stories to