by Don Kincl
No worries! It will buff out!
Congratulations! You have just used the #1 of cliche “humouristic” sayings.
High on that list would also be the one for British cars – “Lucas, king of darkness” with all its subsidiaries (the british like their beer luke warm because Lucas made the fridges, that is not an oil spot but the car is marking his territory, cans of smoke to replace smoke lost through Lucas wiring, etc).
Sorry, maybe it is the depressing time of the year that is getting to me.
Must have been wonderful to have these free pick and pull cars on the streets.
Stolen n stripped? . Car was only 6-4 years old at the time .
That car is more than 4-6 years old, Mark. 6 years old at a bare minimum.
What’s left of it was a ’75 to ’78 LTD, making it 6 to 9 years old.
I remember seeing the carcass of what used to be a Rabbit 2-dr on the Cross Bronx Expressway in the early 80s and marveling “how did they get everything out on such a busy highway?”
Impressive and sad.
I left the NYC area around 1986, but I recall this being a common sight throughout the 70s and into the 80s. It happened to Pop’s ’83 Z28 Camaro. The car was found completely stripped. My suspicion was that someone with a base Camaro stripped it in order to “upgrade” their car to a Z28. I was completely shocked that the insurance company paid to fix it.
That photo brings back memories. It was around that time that I developed somewhat of a morbid fascination with impoverished urban neighborhoods.
Because I lived near Philadelphia PA and Camden NJ, there were a few to explore within bicycling distance.
I was interested in the buildings back then, and the idea that places in the US could resemble images of war-torn Beirut that were in the news.
Consumed with curiosity and blinded to the potential danger by my youthful perception of invincibility, I explored many neighborhoods to gawk at buildings that appeared to be burned or bombed. I invariably encountered vehicles that reminded me of the one in the photo. Some were merely stripped, while others had apparently been subjected to acts of violence.
I traveled light and usually kept moving, so didn’t carry a camera. In retrospect, I wish I had taken pictures of the things I saw as a way to capture that time. Fortunately, I think that those neighborhoods are not so derelict anymore.
Been to Philadelphia lately? Some neighborhoods have revived (one in particular has had an influx of Asian immigrants move in over the past dozen years) while others have succumbed (or are in the process) to the inevitable consequences of personal dereliction and uncontrolled use of recreational pharmaceuticals.
I moved away in 1990, have only visited the more touristy areas with my family in recent years. We even went to Camden a few years ago, and the parts we saw were much better than back in the day. Back in my youth, it seemed that Camden was worse than Philadelphia. I got pretty lost on a bike ride through there and it was one of the few times I felt scared.
This picture brought back memories. It was around that time that I developed a fascination with urban decay, fueled by the images of war-torn Beirut that were then in the news. Because I lived within bicycling distance of Philadelphia PA and Camden NJ, there was much to see.
Though I was primarily interested in the decrepit buildings, some of which appeared to have been bombed or burned, the vehicles also caught my eye. Some were merely stripped, and others seemed to have been subjected to violence. They littered the streets in some areas, and I wondered why they were allowed to remain there, and whether their owners knew what had happened to them.
Because I traveled light and kept moving, I did not carry a camera. In retrospect, I wish I had some photos to remind me of the scenes I witnessed. Fortunately, those neighborhoods have largely improved since then.
I salute you for your courage in cycling through such neighborhoods. I had clients in parts of Philly, Camden and Trenton that I didn’t even want to DRIVE through in a car.
It wasn’t necessarily a wise choice, but I was in my 20s and thought that nothing bad could happen to me.
Had the same feelings/experience, but in Newark NJ in the late ’70s. In a car, not a bike. (Dad: “Roll up your windows–lock your doors!”) Springfield Ave., block after block, looked like this:
I just couldn’t believe it!
Now it’s all vacant prairie land interspersed with undistinguished, modern developments. It’ll never be re-built the same again . . .
Looks alot like what I saw when I drove through Gary, IN, a couple of years ago. Block after block of boarded up, or abandoned stores.
This is what Springfield Avenue looked like. This photo was taken during the 1967 riots, but by the time I first saw it at age 11, not much had changed. There were a few stores still hanging on, interspersed with endless rows of empty, darkened storefronts with mangled security gates gaping onto the cracked sidewalks; old signage from the ’20s to the ’70s of little mom-n-pop businesses, many of which had vacated long ago; the fallen elegance of Victorian architecture based on European designs; evidence of previous fires and random destruction everywhere. All of this was so shocking to little 5th grade me.
As you got closer to the center of the city, the drama increased, accompanied by a growing sense of fear. It was a descent into Hell, but such a fascinating one! It’s all gone now . . . and I miss it! With the buildings leveled, any hope of restoring the neighborhood’s Victorian quaintness (as has been done in other cities) is lost.
I grew up in Philadelphia and this image immediately brought me back to the 1980s there, where such sights were common.
There were certain spots, I remember, that seemed to be common dumping grounds for stolen cars to be stripped, and they were often on major roads. I’d see a car appear, and then over the next week, see more and more parts stripped off of it. On newer cars (presumably with more valuable parts), sometimes only a shell would be left after a week or so. On older cars, the object seemed more like just destruction than an systematic removal of parts. Not that there’s much of a difference, when it’s stolen property to begin with.
I lived in Birmingham AL for a few years, saw similar sights along the major highways. There are (or were) no vehicle insurance requirements, and no emissions inspections, and some pretty beaten cars prowled the streets. Every so often one would appear on the side of the road, where it grew lighter by the day as the nocturnal vultures picked away at its remaining good parts. After a week or so it would go away, presumably carted off to the junkyard by the authorities.
The vandals actually shattered the useless little pillar windows, that’s just salt in the wound!
Are you sure that they were shattered and not removed for resale?
Zoom in close, you can see the edges of the broken out quarter glass. This doesn’t look like enterprising criminal work, just vandalism of what was probably a stolen/abandoned car. The interior looks complete, and many of the parts that appear missing are just spread elsewhere and are possibly out of frame, why leave all of that to take that obscure pane of glass?
Plus its clearly a rustbucket, it may have naturally fallen into a dilapidated state as big 70s landbarges tended to in the 80s so some pieces like the missing trim may not have been there to begin with.
Wanted: ’75/’78 LTD driver’s door window frame. Will pay top $ for the right piece.
For me, the disappearance of stripped cars from (most) of the NYC landscape is one of the signs of the “new” New York City of the last 20 years. Cleaner, safer, and generally crime-free, but also oddly lacking in character compared to the New York that many of us knew and loved in the last 2 or 3 decades of the previous century.
Back then, stripped cars such as the one pictured could be found in quantity across 5 boroughs. I recall the ones that lined the access roads near Ft. Washington Park, right at the Manhattan base of the GW Bridge. If you lived in the City, and depended on street parking, you ran a high chance of having your car wind up stripped – and eventually torched after all the useful parts were taken. And heaven forbid that it was ever found…you really didn’t want that thing back.
Yes, the underpasses to the GWB were particularly good for hulkspotting. I recall my SU 1.0’s uncle stopped to fix a flat approaching the HH Parkway. As he jacked up the car and went to the trunk to get the wheel out, he came around the side to find someone had popped the hood.
“Don’t worry man; all I want is the battery; you can have the rest.”
Back in the 1980’s I worked for a company that had it’s U.S. headquarters in Mineola, N.Y. (Long Island).
On a trip to the home office in 1985 a friend there asked if I was interested in seeing the Bronx.
As we drove along the expressway I was stunned at the destruction. Mile after mile of apartment buildings reduced to piles of brick/rubble. Burned cars every mile or so.
I couldn’t believe this was possible in America.
Later that year, the movie “Wolfen” was on HBO. Filmed in 1981 it captured the look of the area.
I recall that. Now while I was born in the Bronx that was 1953 and we moved out of New York to New Jersey three years later. However, my grandparents lived in Parkchester all the way up to 1984 when my father moved them out to the west coast due to age.
My last trip to New York was in 1980 and I remember going across the GWB and driving along I-95 (I believe) seeing all those burned out tall brick tenement buildings just like the one my grandparents lived in. Imagine their horror when I told them that the next day I was going to walk from the Empire State building all the way down to Battery Park in a crisscross pattern shooting pictures and I did.
Makes me wonder where this photo took place and if it now cost $1 million to own a home there now.
Funny how it looks like ths restoration of my 67 LeSabre so far after 10 years of work.
But it runs.
My brothers and I have junked a number of cars over the years. Sometimes they were reluctantly just towed away after we were able to assure the yard that most everything was there. Last time, about 15 years ago, I think I got $300. Depends on not only the price of scrap, but the yard situation. Recall junking an Opel Manta Deluxe which was my parts car for a Rallye that I had at about that time that had a number of parts missing and I had to talk the guy into taking it. Cars would get abandoned when scrap prices are low. This Ford looks to be one of those. Have also seen plenty of chopped up late model cars on my way into NYC on the train in The Bronx and Queens at about the same time. These would be stripped to the bone with structural pieces neatly cut out as well. Looks like kids did the job in your photo.
Putting all else aside, I feel sad when I see pictures like this. I can’t help thinking that once upon a time someone showed up at the dealership and plunked their hard earned cash down. The excitement of owning a new car, the stories to be told, somebody’s pride and joy. And now (well then, actually) nothing but a rusted hulk of useless metal.
I feel that, in a way, those that buy and make roadworthy older cars of little historical value are doing a great service. They keep that spark alive in what some may consider useless junk, but at the same time, giving others the chance to see from where we came. And best of all, perhaps, invoking a smile and a warm memory of days gone by.
I have to believe, or would like to believe, that this car had been abandoned (stolen?). The neighbourhood doesn’t look like a bad place, there are lots of fine cars in the parking lot next door, but the absence of any other cars this poor Ford is in suggests an abandoned or closed parking lot.
It’s depressing to see this happen to a car, these days there are lots of ways to get rid of an unwanted car through donation, etc. I hope this Ford’s demise was at least due in part to a major failure of an on board system.
Looks like southern Queens or Canarsie. A lot of stolen cars ended up there on the no-man’s-land between Brooklyn and Queens, stripped and torched – including two of ours, a ’81 Olds Custom Cruiser and a ’82 Chrysler Fifth Avenue that Mom got to replace the Olds. As a kid, I used to pull emblems off of abandoned cars on the way to school in the mornings. I still have that collection, a shoebox full. And when I got to school, there was often another stripped car right in the school parking lot. Car thieves and all kinds of shady characters loved school grounds after hours, because there was nobody around until morning to stop whatever they were doing. I distinctly remember at least one stripped Cadillac set on fire in the school parking lot by kids looking for some action after school. First the thieves got what they wanted, then the vandals moved in. Many kids had keychains made of Cadillac or Mercedes hood ornaments courtesy of Midnight Auto Supply. The “good” old days. New York was SCARY then, but like most who lived through it, I miss that grittiness today.
I rescued an abandoned xk150 from the side of a parkway in NYC, circa 1968. The understood rule was after two days, it was fair game. I pushed it into my garage at the sacrifice of the front bumper of my mga.
I remember stories of youngsters employed to stirp cars who had the ability to drop an automatic transmission (tranny) in fifteen minutes. Repair personnel could not do that! This dereliction is not something that I miss. It is a national disgrace. Rob Webb makes a lot of sense regarding fixing up old not so cherished vehicles because they do represent the life as it was in an era. I also never liked what happened to the apartment buildings in The Bronx. Let us place the blame:
1. There was no building code to make apartment buildings desirable to inhabit. Thus, no balconies where one could get a breath of purportedly fresh air.
2. Rent Control – placed on apartment buildings during WWII as part of an effort to stabilize rents. However, after the war, NYC continued this practice and still does. Thus, costs of operating apartment buildings rose but the City did not allow landlords enough of a rent increase to cover the building. When it cost too much to maintain the building, it burned!
3. In Manhattan below 96th Street, Rent Control was balanced by frequent moves form apartments. Once a tenant left the apartment, the Rent Control was off. Landlords upgraded the apartments as they emptied and charged market appropriate rents. The Bronx did not have this benefit because people moved from The Bronx as soon as they could afford a home in the suburbs. Indeed, there are areas of The Bronx that have private homes, which differ from the “bombed out” buildings described by our members.
4. Comedy (unless you are the landlord): I know a lady whose parents married in 1931 and moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Third Avenue and Thirtieth Street. The lady of whom I speak was born in 1933. She still lives in that apartment! Can you imagine her rent? Prime location where such an apartment would rent for $4,000.00 a month and she is perhaps paying $900.00 a month with all the allowable increases.
I’m from western PA and as a youth, visited NYC in the late 60s. While trekking around Times Square, spied a stripped out Coupe de Ville of then current vintage. Upon querying a NYPD officer of how such a valuable car would fall to such a fate and who was responsible for its disposition, he replied briefly in a rehearsed script, “That’s sanitation.”
Back in the early 80s NYC , scrap value was non existent and junk yards only paid for late model wrecks. Sometimes they even charged you to pick up your dead car. Many people just removed their plates and left the car where it died. People who needed parts would scavenge off of them until the sanitation dept took them away.
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