The old, rusted bones of an emptied-out hunk of metal can mean a number of things: it can introduce the sobering passage of time to a young person as they traipse through a field, bring memories back to an old-timer who bought his first new car for a measly three grand, or it can decorate a paintball field.
We’ve collected a long list of some incredible finds, from rusted out monsters to the bits and pieces of true performance sports cars. Some are true beauties to water the mouth, and some may have been left to rot for a reason.
From Race Track to Barnyard
The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona is one of the most famous racing cars ever – and one of the rarest. Dodge made a mere 503, and the below example spent plenty of time in an Alabama barn, filled with dirt, moss, and the most amazing centipedes this side of the Mississippi. It sports some sweet flames at the front to make it go even faster.
The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona sells up to six figures (It was the very first car to break 200 MPH in a NASCAR race), and this finely-aged example sold for about $90k.
A Bit of Buried Treasure
The Jaguar Mark 2 got its start in 1960, and you may have spotted it in the influential TV series 'Inspector Morse' – that car sold for one hundred thousand pounds, which equals a staggering $130,000. This example, however, languished under a pile of garbage and dust, and might have stayed that way if not for its classic grill and headlights.
How or why this piece of British car history ended up under a heap is a mystery. The Jaguar Mark 2 became famous because it allowed for better driver visibility, and became Jaguar's standard until the early seventies.
How About Something a Little Cheaper? And Uglier?
Unlike the previous cars, the Fiat Panda is not very attractive. It's said to run well, despite its almost entirely rectangular shape. But does any car deserve to be abandoned in the forest?
This “incredible” find even has a unique paint job, with some classic eighties coloring and designs and the word DANCE on both the back door and the side near the rear light. The Fiat Panda may have hardy engines, but metal still rusts, especially if it's left in the forest. Where it maybe belongs.
Another Jaguar, Another Big Sack of Money
On the extreme other side of the spectrum is the Jaguar XJ 200. You can get one for the economical price of only $200,000 (Or a hundred thousand Fiat Pandas), and then you'll be the proud owner of a car so fast it was in the Guinness Book of World Records.
It's a great way to go fast, but not much else! It has a woeful lack of trunk space, and good luck getting your groceries in the back seat. There's no back seat. Still, if you have an extra $200k sitting around, and a screaming desire to go 217.1 miles per hour, have we got a car for you!
Five Rusted Hunks in One
Package deal! A bunch of mid-century cars (good luck identifying them...one of them might be a Chevy?) and their hauler somehow all ended up stuck in the woods, for an unknown reason. A daring car heist gone wrong? A poorly-thought-out purchase? It's hard to say. But, what we can say is these cars have been hidden away for years and years.
From popped and rotting tires, to entire panels fallen off thanks to the decay, these old beasts may have become little more than footnotes on their page of car history, but at least they look better than Fiat Pandas.
It's Even Got a Hat That Looks Like a Bowler
You may at first think this model is one of the legendary Volkswagen Beetle, but get ready for a shock: It's actually an early 1950's Morris Minor, a quintessentially British car, complete, in this picture, with it's own bit of headgear; how charming.
You can tell the age thanks to the four doors, which ran from 1952-56. The soft blue color must have been a winner back in the day, since this model was found next to an almost identical car. What happened to the collector? We may never know.
More Brothers in Dust
From a dirty, broken down car port comes these two Vauxhalls (A British company), left to sit and grow old together. One is a hatchback design, and the other is part of the Magnum series. It's difficult to tell how old these cars are, but the color schemes seem closer to the seventies than today's colors and designs.
Plus, of course, the mounds of dust and decayed cement, the moss growing out of the car's cracks, and the weeds finding their places in the car's wheels. Who knows? Maybe these old pals will find their way back to the road again.
Soon it Will Belong to the Earth Again
At one point a classy and eye-popping Kharmann-Ghia Coupe, this big pile of rust managed to make it all the way to a junkyard, unlike most of the other examples on this list.
As parts have been lifted to go to other, still-working vehicles, this old pal has slowly become smaller and smaller, appearing to sink into the ground each time a part is scraped.
A Gleaming Alloy Air Car, Two Lanes Wide
It's too bad the Corvette design didn't last very long, since these sleek designs look like their ready to point straight up and shoot for the stars. Yet, the split-window design obstructed the driver's sight, so maybe it's for the best. Both of these cars have aged well past road-worthy, and the far car has been out in the sun so long it seems to have lost most of its color.
Still, these little red corvettes have a special style to them, and, at the very least, they look better than Fiat Pandas.
Nature and Technology in Tandem
Take a long look. A 1950s Chevy, stuck out in the middle of a field, right next to a tree? Is that why the car doesn't work anymore, the driver crashed into that one, single tree?
Look closer. The tree is, in fact, growing up through the engine, and the car predates the tree. A tree can grow this large in as little as ten years, depending on the tree, so there's been plenty of time to make this rusted hunk a permanent part of the nature. It's possible someone built the car around the tree, but we like to believe.
No Park for This Dino
The Ferrari Dino is the kind of car Steve McQueen would drive in an action-packed movie set in San Fran, but someone made the poor, poor decision to let this example of classic car cool rust away. Hearkening back to the sixties and seventies and marketed as an affordable sports car available to the public, the name of the car was actually the middle name of the Ferrari founder's son.
Sadly, this old car belongs in the stone age, as it has suffered extensive structural damage – bearing damage reminiscent of a hacksaw to the engine.
Another Abandoned Morris
Another mossy Morris shows up, but this one even more so than our previous entry. It's been completely overcome by the forest where it's been sitting for, one might guess, half a dozen decades. This time, it's a Morris MO Oxford, despite the camouflage, and it truly gives off the feel of a place one shouldn't want to go.
Mottled paint, a torn-off car door (which is then left leaning against the chassis), crawling moss, and more all combine for a scene in a classic slasher movie. Check your corners carefully, and stay out of basements.
Take Your Pick
Like a solemn graveyard for the fallen, this picture shows us endless car carcasses as mother nature decays the metal and reduces them all the same, tired rust color. Let's take a look, and see if we can pick out some true finds.
The white car in the picture's foreground is a white Porsche Coupe, a classic car for serious collectors, and past it, in a little brighter red, is a Zastava 750, a version of the Fiat 600, and the smallest car Zastava ever made. The rest of the cars could be almost anything – except for functional.
Still Ready to Escort the Queen
We see here a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190b, specifically a W121, buried in leaves against a wall. There are also a few bicycles, also buried in leaves and far rustier than this picture's subject. But you know what? The old girl doesn't really look too bad.
With a classy grill and headlight configuration, with enough work this model would still leave gaping drivers in their angry-eyebrow-headlight-cars in its wake. Some new body pieces, a can of paint, and an engine tune-up, and you've got a royal ride perfect for your next fun, classy night out.
It's Like a Giant Took it Apart and Put it Back Together
Headlights torn from their sockets like dangling eyes. Doors leaning against the chassis like fallen band posters. A veneer of rust from stem to stern – this 1967 Porsche 912's glory days are long gone. A monstrous hand could have reached down to crush it, and we could be seeing the same thing.
The 1967 Porsche 912 only had thirty-two thousand roll off the assembly line, and we've surely found the poorest example. It's nearly unrecognizable, and will almost certainly never see the road again.
The Truck of Jane Leadfoot
Make sure the kids aren't looking, because this truck is haunted. Don't you see the woman's face in the window of the leaning driver's side door? Haunted. The truck smashed into the tree at speed, we think, and is now the home to an unkind spirit. So sad about the photographer.
One of the unique things you may notice about this classic truck (make and model unknown) is the direction the driver's door opens. The inside has decayed due to both the elements and ectoplasm, but it's a popular style from the mid twentieth century.
Ford Pioneered the Green Car
Once an oh-so-attractive mustard yellow, and like so many other cars on this list, the Ford we see before us has turned a mossy green, stationed as it is in an abandoned building – perhaps a barn, perhaps an old home.
It's an old style of car – if you can name the model, you win a coveted Marvel no-prize – but doesn't look all that bad. The metal's corroded, the tires have rotted, and you'll need more than elbow grease to get it clean again, but we've definitely seen worse, both above and below.
Like a Row of Civil War Re-enactors
Lined up and ready to charge, this collection of sedans, coupes, and old-style pickups look like a personal collection gone to seed. They face down the line of their enemy, but the bugle call will never sound, and these cleaned-out frames will never charge.
Why are the cars like this? There are some copies, and the cars all have a similar style, so it's possible this is a lot-owned field where dealerships would dump their old styles. In short, it's another junkyard, but at least this one has some class. You could stroll the rows and relive history.
The Oldest Model Yet
The century-old radiator is off its kilter, the wheel wells have been bare for decades, and not a shard of glass remains. This ancient car may appear red, but it's impossible to tell what the original color was. Since many of the cars from this era – yes, an entire century ago – had black paint, it helps us know just how long this car has been abandoned.
The car's body has made the test of time, but certainly none of the soft tissues remain. If you try to turn the key, you just hear a dry, old cough.
But There's Always One Older
In a form of mild irony, the vehicle you see before yourself is a hearse. Make your own jokes now. Now that we're past that, let's take a look. You might be forgiven if you think you'd have to attach a few horses to the front, but this is a real engine motor vehicle, all the way back from 1919, and the fact it's still standing is somewhat astonishing.
It looks like it's carved out of wood, so rusted is the metal, and the wheels are wooden frames. Plenty of mortal forms took their last – maybe first – rides in this old girl.
Torn and Left in the Mountains
The back and top of this car are missing, and unlike other examples on this list, the pieces are nowhere to be found. Likely scavenged to help a pair of aliens get back to the stars.
This old station wagon has found its way to the mountains of New Mexico, and has had years or decades of sun and rain beating on it since then. However, it could be in worse form, and the elevation it was left at has kept the ground from swallowing it up. All things considered, it doesn't look too bad.
Built Tough Long Before Ford
It's a Citroën Traction Avant, the moss has grown over the original powder blue, but it's still ready to roll. Well, maybe. “Traction Avant” is French for “front traction,” meaning the car had front-wheel drive. Not all that special these days, but back in the 1930s, when this car may have originated, it really turned heads.
This car has a few other cool details as well: it was built with what was called a “monocoque” body, meaning the frame and panels were tough and thick, resistant to crashes, and even the elements have had a tough time taking it down.
The Night of the Living Muscle Cars
It rises from the dirt to stalk the streets! If you're a fan of Stephen King's 'Christine', you might like this dirty muscle car, a Pontiac GTO (the Motor Trend car of the year in 1968, if that means anything to you).
Stuck inside, practically buried in dirt, the man working in the picture appears to be a studious archaeologist, patiently digging out the bright red color, sleek design, and relatively un-damaged car from its half-grave with brush and pick. The dirt may have protected it from the elements somewhat, as rust damage is minimal.
More Muscle Cars
From 1967 all the way to 2002, the Pontiac Firebird has been a muscle mainstay for the car collector. The model we see here came out some time in the 1970s, and though covered in rust, the interior looks well-preserved. However, since it appears the car is in a junkyard, it's likely missing a few pieces, but how much of an engine do you really need?
Still, you can't deny it's got a good, classic look to it. Many a classic car fan is sure to enjoy the sight of this beauty.
Uncovered and Uncaring
The Chevrolet Camaro is sometimes referred to as a muscle car, but other times falls into the “pony car” category – an affordable, compact, sporty car. This car shares a lot of similarities to the Pontiac Firebird, like a chassis design (it was designed to look like a Coke bottle, which...okay, if you say so).
It remains in decent condition, but lacks a hood and windshield, and is probably being harvested for parts, since you can see a couple of other cars around it. There are probably some good pieces in there.
Fast as a Bullitt, old as McQueen Himself
Steve McQueen came up a little while ago, and now we come to the car he made famous. Or maybe it's the other way around?
The Dodge Charger 400 RT took McQueen through the streets of San Francisco as the private detective chases a Ford Mustang GT, so why is it sitting and collecting all that dust? It's possibly been decades since this car last shot out a plume of smoke as the squealing tires, if the manila-colored patina can attest. What color do you think is under there? Looks like blue.
It's Not So Gran Any More
You may know the Gran Torino from the famous Clint Eastwood movie, but there's an older version, as we can see here. Torino is a city in Italy, known to be the Detroit – the Car Capital – of the European country. This example is from the first generation, and was inspired by the Mustang.
So far, all the damage to this car is the paint. It looks like it can be saved, if someone is ready and willing to take a classic car under their wing and get to work quickly.
Good Looks Never Fade
The Pontiac Trans Am makes sure you know what a good style is. Whether you want to remember or not. From the multi-colored bird design on the hood, to the long, sleek, muscle car chassis, to the buried headlights which were ABSOLUTELY a pain to replace the bulbs, nobody can deny it's a cool car.
Why it's still on the side of the road after all this time is a mystery, but it's clear the driver tore open the front passenger tire, and decided he didn't want to pay too much for towing.
From Buick to Bust
The Buick is a huge car, so it gained the style of an expensive, luxury car, but it's also a steady, dependable car. Likely the frame or chassis of this car fell apart long before the engine did. But, as we've so often seen, cars don't last, even one as mighty as the Buick
Once a symbol of class for the wealthy, this hunk of metal is now reduced to sitting in the junkyard with the other old rides, and maybe for indie rock album covers.
This is no Magic School Bus. Or maybe a wrong, wrong kind of magic. How did this huge hulk of yellow metal end up in the forest? How old is it? Why haven't a band of crime-solving squirrels turned it into a home base? It's possible that has actually happened.
It's sunken into the ground now, and the metal has rusted through in a couple of places, so don't expect to go on any field trips in this vehicle. There are probably a couple of things you can find hidden inside, but, and we have to emphasize this, they aren't magic.
Filthy, yet Fancy
The grimy cover on this 1938 Bugatti 57C belies what might be the most expensive car to appear on this list. While the specimen you see below might not be in the best condition, a member of Ralph Lauren's collection recently sold for upwards of forty million dollars! Of course, that car was in perfect condition, while this one definitely needs some work.
Decades left alone do the unstoppable work of time, so this model will take some work to get to the high price of the Lauren car, but it still doesn't look too bad.
A Bunch of Hungover Vehicles
The rounded body of this Cadillac tell us it came from the middle of the twentieth century, and it looked relatively well-built – it even has a unique mix of rust and paint on the roof that appears almost purple.
All that aside, we're more interested in what's going on in the background. We have a boat tilted up, like it's about to take a sweet jump, and an overturned truck that looks like it's going to wake up, right itself, and wonder where its underpants went. I'd watch a “Hangover” version of Cars. Pixar, get on that.
Don't Get In It. Don't Even Go Near It
You know those faded white vans you sometimes see, drivin' around, no windows, some rusty mess on the outside? Totally, one hundred percent blank? This is their grandfather; do not go near it.
This is how Stephen King books start. With this picture. It's the first thirty pages, which means it's only one percent of the story, but it still gets everything started, and you better hope you aren't the one to go near it first, because you'll be walking along, humming a popular sixties song, and then bam, you're dead, eaten by a van.
The Joshua Car
Inside Joshua Tree National Park in California – famous for its namesake agave trees – you can also find one of the oldest cars around. Another No-Prize if you guess this car's origin, since little of the original chassis remains, and the interior has decayed down to almost nothing. It's a complete skeleton, but the fact it's still standing is somewhat impressive.
It's likely a hundred years old, and unlikely to hit the roads again, but that smooth Cali air has preserved it well, all things considered. We advise you to have your tetanus shots before touching it.
It Was a Hot Item, Back In The Day
Get out the marshmallows. Not only does it look like this car was the subject of a bright, hot blaze, the paint job is remarkably fire-themed, if the orange top is any indication. Or, it's rust maybe, but let us believe.
The interior is totally gone, the wheels are bare rims, and there are scorch and smoke marks all over the bent and twisted metal, so we can safely assume, one way or the other, this car felt the heat. Might just be best to leave it to the copse where it's resting.
Not a Bad Deal When You Think About It
For the measly price of five-hundred bones, this classic car can be yours! Sure, it needs a little bit of work, but the pieces are there. Except for the tires. And the paint. And a couple of doors. Probably a bunch of engine work too. But that windshield! Oh, it needs headlights also.
You might also need to put in airbags and seat belts and things like those. And seats, now that we look at it. But, with just that little bit of work, you'll be ready to...drive it out of Hawaii?
The Swamp Thing's Favorite Ride
It's sinking into the muck of this dense swamp, so this car denies identification. Which is kind of a shame, since it's such a cool model, from what we can see. The moss, creeper vines, bushes, and trees are taking this vehicle down, one way or the other.
Artist Alicia Ruis decided to go about photographing cars like this one, so far from where they should be – the road, or a collectors garage, or an enthusiast's shop. Nothing lasts forever, but this hardy vehicle is giving it her all.
No! Get it away! Come back to us, Fiat Panda, all is forgiven! Who thought this was a good idea? One, or several, of the residents of São Paulo, who should've known better than to dismantle a beautiful car and paint doodles on it with a sharpie!
Then again, it looks like they're at least using the space to grow some plants, so, silver lining?
What Stories She Must Have to Tell
This model could have ferried Bonnie and Clyde from one deadly hit to the next, it could have been a bootlegger's car, or it could just have seen a couple get married, get a few children, and see those children grow into adults, from the back seat to the front.
Looking over a cliff in an austere pine forest, this old model appears to be looking back on a life well-lived, well-driven. Much time has passed – the designs and looks of the car are rarer than rare on the roads these days.
Nothing Lasts Forever
This car, as a mound of shadowed roots and branches swallows it, is from the above-mentioned artist, Alicia Ruis. It's twisted and askew, bent as the forces of nature continually grow, mangling it.
While still intact for the most part, driving it is a pipe dream with no end, so may as well leave it where it sits.