Rust is cancer that destroys a vehicle. Regardless of recent advances in manufacturing and new developments in materials, rust remains one of the greatest enemies of a used car.
Most auto restorers dream of the ultimate “barn find:” discovering a car in a junkyard or abandoned in some remote forest, and lovingly restoring it to its original appearance and function. However, rust may be the single most significant factor preventing the dream from coming true. Rust damage is the most difficult and costly to repair. Sections of rust must be removed before repair panels can be made and installed.
Before any restoration of a rusty vehicle can begin several factors must be considered: Research and estimate the value of the restored vehicle, evaluate the car’s condition, make a parts list, and determine labor costs.
If the total of parts and labor exceeds the value of the restored classic car (not including sentimental value), it might be time to walk away.
Here are twenty rust buckets not worth restoring and shouldn't be touch with a ten-foot pole.
20 1966 Ford Mustang, What You See is What You Get
While this Mustang has minimal rust, it lacks the essential components: engine, gearbox, suspension, braking system, and front panels, among other things. Inside heavy moss is growing and covering up additional problems.
If the poor condition were not enough to discourage a potential buyer, the vehicle has no registration paperwork making it useful only as a source for parts.
19 Rusty Truck Wreck Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
There has been much debate among physicists regarding the effects of radioactivity on the environment after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. These discussions included the length of time objects remain radioactive (half-life) and the safety implications.
Even if the experts claimed this truck found in the forest in Pripyat was now free of any radiation, it is best left alone.
18 The Abandoned Moss Mobile
Nature has a way of breaking down human-made objects and returning them to their essential elements. For metal objects, rust is often the result, occurring when iron reacts with oxygen and water. Although steel is a durable structural material, when it rusts, it weakens to the point of total failure.
Nature is not only weakening the structure of this abandoned vehicle, but it will soon make it disappear entirely under a thick layer of moss.
17 A Tree Grows Through an Abandoned Truck
This abandoned truck has occupied the same place for so long trees have grown up through the floorboard and out the front windshield.
The vehicle should be considered “off limits” for any restoration plans simply because it is now part of the environment. It would be a shame to sacrifice trees to pull the truck out of its resting place in the forest.
16 1964 Pontiac Bonneville Station Wagon on the Beach
Winter storms uncovered this abandoned station wagon, most likely a 1964 Bonneville. The decayed condition makes it difficult to confirm the exact year.
Although unknown, the owner of this rust bucket may have veered off the coast highway one night and finding himself suck in the sand with a rising tide, elected to swim to shore. The neglected vehicle was quickly covered with sand, disappearing, and remained buried for years.
15 1940 Buick with Missing Engine
Discovered in an Arizona salvage yard, little remains of this 1940s era Buick that was cannibalized for parts well before the rust took over. Buick sold 278,748 units in 1940, making it the fourth best-selling car in the country.
No doubt the rust permeates the entire vehicle, and without a drive train, a restoration would be an expensive project.
14 Car Carrier with 4 Cars on the Trailer
Years ago, when the driver of this car carrier hauled four 60s era Ford vehicles to a dumping area in the woods, he decided to abandon the entire assembly.
While one or perhaps all four of the cars on the trailer of this carrier may be worth restoring, the truck itself is beyond repair. Even if it could be restored, the value of a refurbished car carrier would not justify the investment.
13 X Marks the Spot (or the Car)
Perhaps the owner of this junk yard felt it necessary to designate which vehicles in his/her collection were damaged and rusted beyond any hope for salvation by spray-panting a yellow X on the hood. One glance at this destroyed car is really all that is required. However, under all that twisted and deformed metal, there may be a salvageable part or two.
12 Flatbed Truck Abandoned in a Field
Although this truck displays an entirely rusted body, for the most part, it is intact and appears to be restorable. However, it is not a pickup truck but a flatbed. Although values for restored vintage trucks have gone up in recent years, flatbeds have lagged the more popular pickup trucks. This rusty version is best left out in the field.
11 A Luxury Car No More
A glamorous luxury car that perhaps, at one time, transported the rich and famous, this rusted remnant of years gone by may be more valuable as a tourist attraction than a resorted vehicle. It has no engine, and the rusted roof has weakened to the point of collapsing, and now rests where passengers once sat enjoying the scenery on a Sunday afternoon ride.
10 Abandoned Pickup in Manitoba
According to the Current Results, weather and science facts website, Winnipeg, Manitoba has the coldest winter weather of any major Canadian city. The city is located north of the Jet Stream and almost always under a cold air mass. The city averages over twenty inches of rain and over one hundred centimeters of snow annually.
Winnipeg and the rest of Manitoba are hard on vehicles, and its harsh weather is a recipe for rust and body deterioration. This truck is no exception.
9 1935 Ford Rust Bucket
The only things keeping this 1035 Ford from collapsing to the ground are the four cinder blocks under the frame. As a restoration project, this Ford shows more promise than many other rusted vehicles. All the body panels are present and the window glass in not broken. If the car still has the engine and drivetrain, it would be an option for the experienced auto restoration technician.
8 Ford Mustang GT with a Front Bench Seat
In 1961, Ford had a vision of a car with bucket seats that would seat four people, have a floor-mounted shifter, weigh less than 2500 pounds, and sell for less than $2500.00. The 1964 Mustang was the result. While most buyers opted for the bucket seats, some selected the front bench seat like the one in this rusted pony car.
Although the bench seat makes it a bit rarer, the body rust damage makes a much less desirable as a restoration project.
7 WWII Jeep Worth Saving?
WWII Jeeps did not come with doors, so the apparent missing parts on this abandoned vehicle never existed. However, there are plenty of other pieces, either missing or rusted beyond repair.
The rear axle and differential have been tossed into the back behind where the seats were once located, perhaps because there is no suspension or frame left to attach them.
6 1965 VW Kombi Bus Rescue
The 1965 VW Transporter Kombi was a forerunner to the modern-day SUVs and crossovers. The true utility vehicle served as an active family hauler or a multi-purpose work vehicle.
This one was left in the woods for over 40 years after spending time as a little girl’s shiny blue playhouse and later as a storage facility for discarded lawn mower parts and heaps of aluminum cans.
5 Volkswagen Beetle Graveyard
Not a single rusty vehicle in this Volkswagen Beetle graveyard has enough structural integrity and operating parts to warrant a restoration. However, a combination of several vehicles might yield enough pieces to assemble a functioning beetle.
One headlight in the center car has a lens intact. Maybe there are more parts beneath the rusted exterior.
4 Moss Covered C2 Corvette
Except for the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rondine, a rare steel prototype that was commissioned by the Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina, all Corvette bodies have been made of fiberglass or composite material. Fiberglass is an attractive substance because it is lightweight, and it does not rust.
Although this C2 moss-covered Corvette has no body rust, it has damage to the fiberglass, and its metal parts have rusted (as shown on the car’s rims).
3 Abandoned 1962 Jaguar Series 1 Fixed head Coupe
This rust-ravaged Jaguar E-Type spent nearly 20 years deteriorating in a shed. Even in its current disastrous state, the highly desirable early version (number 282) 3.8-liter manual model has value.
However, Classic Car Auctions rated its condition at 2 out of 135, making it a restoration nightmare; only for the patient restorer with ample funds.
2 Buried 1961 Porsche 356
This 1961 “bathtub” Porsche 356 was parked in a backyard in 1976 giving it over 40 years to deteriorate. Partially buried, contact with dirt, and moisture has no doubt rendered the underside of this sports car a mess. Holes from rust are evident on the body indicating more severe hidden issues. However, the headlights are not broken, and the radio and gauges remain.
1 Rusty 1973 Camaro LT Race Car?
One experienced auto restorer suggested this Camaro with a 350 V8 engine could be salvaged, just “…strip the interior, add a roll cage, sort the motor and brakes, fix any rust, throw some cheap paint on it and take it racing.”
However, two issues prevent the vehicle from salvage in such a manner: The car lacks a manual transmission and the rust is most likely is much deeper that it appears.
Sources: abandonedcarsandtrucks.com, mycarquest.com, thecollectorsworkshop.com, liveabout.com