Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cars in Yards: 1970 Olds F-85 Sport Coupe

So you think you have seen it all before? You think that Cutlass in that backyard out in the country is just another standard issue, run-of-the-mill Oldsmobile? Think again, newbie. I must say, I myself am somewhat guilty. When I saw this '70 Cutlass in a backyard, I may have actually thought something along those lines. Especially, after Jody, Anthony and I met a guy in the Deep South who had about thirty 1968-1972 Cutlass parts cars. We thought we had seen every variety of Cutlass S, W-30, W-31, and 442 that there could be. Then I found this.

This cheapo F-85 boasts a three-speed manual, 8-track and AM-radio.

1970 Olds F-85 Post Sedan surprise
What? I wasn’t aware that Olds even made an F-85 that year. But they did. See? A post. It’s right there. I would venture to say that most Cutlass S or 442s that I have seen were two-door hard tops. I seem to be having trouble coming up with a production numbers. I did learn a great deal about the F-85 option. It was the bottom of the line base model. This was the entry level Cutlass, although the car doesn’t proclaim to be a Cutlass anywhere on it. Also noteworthy is the contradiction of the economically-friendly idea of an affordable base model and this actual car. I’m sure most of these were super cheap as far as new cars in 1970. After all, 1970 was the peak of Detroit’s on-going horsepower war. So, with that in mind, look what I found among the secret stash of 30 Cutlass parts/project cars.

This cheapo F-85 boasts a three-speed manual, 8-track and AM-radio.
Thrift Shift
Dig, if you will, the picture above… a manual transmission! I just about fell over myself with excitement, then I realized it was a manual 3-speed and not my fantasy 4-gear. I also learned that the W-31, 4-speed F-85 is the Holy Grail of base-model following. That’s not what this car is, but keep looking. There is the sporty two spoke steering wheel. Not what I would expect in an F-85 (but what do I know? I thought they stopped making the F-85 in 1967). Notice the “F-85” emblem on the dash? Way cool! Let’s look closer.

I wanna rock without a clock
So, the original buyer of this F-85 wouldn’t spring for an automatic transmission (the 3-speed was standard). Or did he???? Look closely at the steering column which appears to be original judging by its color. Is that the remains of an automatic stalk? Did someone add a straight shift transmission at some point in the car’s life? If so, why a 3-speed and not one of the much cooler 4-speeds out at the time? The pedals appear to be factory issue. As long as we are thinking along those lines of reasoning, did you notice this “base model” F-85 has factory air conditioning? I bet that wasn’t free. I also notice an O.E.M. factory 8-track tape player, but just an AM radio. Actually, that musical combo wasn’t so unusual for the time, but let’s keep in mind that this is, or supposed to be a price friendly car. No clock, just a block off plate in its spot, but factory air and tape player? This guy did have his priorities straight.

The 442/Cutlass S hood appears to be from a donor car.

F-85 hood delete?
This '70 Sport Coupe's hood is not original to the car. That’s the kind of thing you pay extra for on your Cutlass S, SX or your 442 Holiday Coupe. Not base model Jane here. But it’s a valuable piece of Oldsmobile history that looks great on the car. I am really digging the post on this baby! Who has that?

Cheap but classy
Leave it to the Olds Division to produce such a classy looking emblem for their base model car. That looks expensive. This picture detects a lighter green over what appears to be a darker original green. Perhaps code 48? Another visit is in order to learn more about this odd car. Less is more sometimes.

Dream build ideas
We are Oldsmobile addicts over here at Junkyard Life. So what would we do if we got our hands on this? How about the factory dark green with mostly dark green interior? Add in a rich coffee color carpet to spice the recipe a bit. Retain the factory bench seat and curved shifter, only it would be connected to a 6-speed 455 combo. Rolling on a set of dark green 15-inch SS3 Rally wheels and red line tires. I would also lose the block off plate on the dash in favor of a reproduction Tic-Toc Tach.

So don’t be guilty of the crime of "Early Cutlass Dismissal" without all the facts. You might be passing up something interesting, and dare I say elusive, with low production figures or unlikely remaining example odds? Yes. You may. So don’t take that chance, check them all out. Acquire them when possible, restore and preserve. And most important… send us pictures!

— Ron Kidd,

Know of a junkyard we need to visit or want to send us photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to Ron at or Jody at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Car hunting season begins: Dig into the woods for classic, abandoned cars – 1933 Ford, 1951 Victoria

Classic Fords don't grow on trees, however, you may be able to find some rusting automotive diamonds buried deep in the woods this fall. Cooler temperatures and falling leaves signal the beginning of car hunting season for adventurous gear heads who keep hiking boots beside their toolbox. I recently stumbled upon two iconic Fords, a 1933 Model B and a 1951 Victoria, during a trek through north Alabama.  

A 239-c.i. flathead V-8 powered this 1951 Victoria with Ford's first automatic transmission – the three-speed Ford-O-Matic. 

Flathead, overdrive and free?
  Who would believe me if I said the "owner" tried to give me these cars? My junkyardlife cohorts and I made a beeline for the nearest home to get the low-down on the stash of 
abandoned Fords and flathead parts. A manufactured home sat on top of a hill above the wooded "holler" that was home to the Fords. 
  The woman who answered the door and made it clear that we could "just haul 'em off for free." Is this really happening?

The 1951 Victoria was Ford's first two-door hardtop.

Hold on boss
We were giddy and diagramming strategies in our heads on how we could get the cars up the hill, through the trees and out of the woods. 
  Grab a winch! Lets get the trailer! Who can be here on Saturday? 
  All great questions to ask when free classic cars are hanging in the balance. There was one more question that had to be asked. A question that doomed us all.
  "Ma'am, do you own those cars?" 
  "Well, I rent the place," said the woman on the porch. "The cars have always been here."
  We shifted our feet in slow motion and hung our heads in defeat. We faced the reality of meeting the unhappy, absentee property owner who could have us arrested if we went along with this "deal."

A Magic Air heater box sit under the dash of this 1951 Ford Victoria.

Lessons learned
  We walked away empty-handed but learned some valuable lessons. 
  • Get the whole story. Ask the important questions.
  • Get a "Bill of Sale." 
  • Hiking in the woods can lead to unbelievable classic car finds.
  • Do not trespass. You may get into some hairy situations. Ask me how I know.

Stay tuned
  More to come on the 1933 Ford two-door sedan in the top photo. The Model B was a former round track car and it is loaded with parts inside the shell. I spotted at least one Flathead V-8 nearby too. 

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  Send emails to

Ford's post-war redesign in 1949, including the 1951 Victoria, was a dramatic change from the fat-fendered '48 and older models.

This mostly complete and original '51 Vicky reveals green upholstery hiding under the recovered red bench seat.

A few layers of paint cling to the door jamb of the '51 Ford Victoria.

The '51 Victoria displays 48,000 miles on the odometer.

"Shoebox" was first used to describe the redesigned 1949-1951 Fords. Chevy guys also call the '55-'57 "shoeboxes."

1951 Victoria's were adorned with loads of stainless trim.

The new 1951 Victoria featured a three-piece rear window.

You can find more old cars in the woods during the cold, winter months.

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  Send emails to