Every neighborhood has a story of some abandoned lot somewhere full of late 60’s to early 70’s American muscle cars, just waiting to be discovered, or they’ve heard of a warehouse stocked with Italian sports cars ready to be restored. That’s not really the case with my neighborhood’s abandoned lot. Its inventory is much humbler but I believe it’s equally as interesting. The “collection” is as follows:
- Ninth gen Ford F-150 XLT
- First gen Ford Windstar GL
- First gen Honda Odyssey LX
- Sixth gen Honda Civic LX
- 1968 Plymouth Barracuda
- 1930’s Plymouth sedan hot rod
While the Barracuda and the Plymouth are moderately exciting, it’s hardly a spectacular list of cars. Aside from maybe the Barracuda, every car is almost disposable. Even ‘30s hot rods are not hard to find. No one usually decides to keep a Ford Windstar around. It’s the mediocrity of the list that sets it apart from other “barn find” collections of cars. While it may seem contradictory, the cars are ordinary enough to be interesting. It’s rare to see fairly regular cars left for nature on an abandoned piece of property in rural Maryland.
The story behind the cars is unfortunately a sad one and some names have been changed to protect the property owner’s privacy. For the sake of the story, Mary and George, the property owners, are long gone. George unfortunately died while mowing the lawn in the early 2000’s and Mary packed her small herd of tiny dogs into her Kia Sportage and left town. As of this writing, Mary still owns the property.
After Mary left, the property fell into disrepair and a family of raccoons has taken residence in their place. They are surly and big.
Sitting high on a mound of dirt and aftermarket Crager wheels is the crown jewel of this collection of automotive normality: a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda in electric blue. This fish-inspired car was delivered on the back of a truck around 2002 and was supposed to be George’s project, as it did not have an engine or transmission.
After his untimely death, the Barracuda was left to sit and sink into the ground. My dad had a 1968 Barracuda and made a few offers on the car, but Mary would not budge on selling and it’s still sitting and waiting for someone to drop an engine in it and race.
The Plymouth hot rod is a mystery to me, as it has been under a tarp for a few decades. I do know that it has a bumper sticker with the words “Little Darlin’” on the back and quite possibly a Chevy small-block 350, from what I’ve heard. George was a hot rodder sometime during the 1970s and this was one of his prized possessions. There have been several offers on the Plymouth but Mary refuses to sell.
The last of George’s cars is a ninth-generation Ford F-150 XLT. This was George’s daily driver and he really took care of it. Almost 15 years after he died, the truck still looks to be in very good shape. It is backed into the woods that circle the property. It looks like it’s trying to actively fade out of existence. I actually contacted Mary once about the truck and made her a reasonable offer. She made it clear that the F-150 was going nowhere.
Mary’s first car on the lot is a first gen Ford Windstar. The Windstar is tucked next to a shed and is currently being claimed by nature. To me, it looks like the local plant life really wants a mediocre minivan and it isn’t taking “no” for an answer. This is likely the only car that will leave the property anytime soon as a bunch of vines and a small tree have taken residence in the cabin. They can have it, as far as I am concerned. I doubt Mary will protest.
Next is Mary’s daughter’s car. It is the normal car: a sixth generation Honda Civic LX. The Civic is one of the sadder cars on the property, given Honda’s bullet-proof reputation. It likely had a lot of life left in it before it was dropped off in automotive purgatory. This is another car I offered Mary money for, but she did not relent. Perhaps a raccoon family will take residence. I’ve always heard that they like economy Japanese sedans.
The “newest” addition to the lot is a first generation Honda Odyssey. This was Mary’s personal car for most of the time I remember seeing her. The van sits right in the middle of what used to be the driveway and is filled with all manner of soda cans and trash. The Odyssey was named after Homer’s Odyssey, the story where Odysseus returns from fighting and faces whirlpools, a Cyclops, and all manner of trials before coming home. The only trials this Odyssey contains are a surly snake and the possibility of tetanus.
That’s the inventory of this time capsule of regular-ness. While I hope that Mary will one day relinquish control of some of the vehicles on the property, it’s very interesting to see normal cars sitting on someone’s collection. It’s sad that they will sit and slowly be claimed by whatever animal monarchy currently resides on the property but at least something is using these cars everyday (even if it’s just a mean raccoon).