Everyone loves discovering abandoned human-made creations: run-down parks, factories, stadiums, train stations, and gas stations can be both beautiful and frightening. Old abandoned houses inspire the imagination and beg the questions: what was the house like when it was new, and who lived there?
Rusty abandoned cars stimulate the imagination as well, but cars have so much more potential for storytelling. They are mobile and not only provoke the question, who was the owner, but also where has the car been? Old abandoned cars remind us of historical events. A 1947 Ford pickup truck might bring back memories (for those of us who are old enough) of life after World War II and the optimism everyone shared about the future.
A vintage relic might remind us of our childhood. A 1957 Ford Thunderbird may take us back to a senior prom, or a 1964 Ford Falcon may remind us of a weekend road trip with a bunch of college friends. The world is littered with cars and trucks that have been left untouched for years and there's something unsettling about a sad, half-buried car with a true history that may never be told.
The motives for abandonment can include some with unsavory circumstances, but without a witness to confirm, these stories are left to the imagination. However, no matter if the car’s history is revealed or hidden, old rusty abandoned vehicles make excellent subjects for photographic art. Here are 25 photos of Ford cars and trucks that were sadly left behind but were brought back to life with some stunning photography.
This Ford pickup iss not the only abandoned property in Cisco Landing, Utah. Decaying structures, rusting wreckage, and plenty of old vehicles are left deserted in this ghost town in the middle of nowhere. Once a bustling community, Cisco served as a water-refilling station for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Travelers going west stopped to grab a bite to eat and fill up with cheap gas. However, in the 1950s trains no longer stopped there and in the 70s the I-70, built several miles away from Cisco, eliminated passing highway travelers. The town’s residents moved out by the early-80s, but one woman settled there to make a life and “take care of the property.” The lone resident, Eileen Muza often insists that Cisco is not a ghost town. She says: "I live here."HOTCARS VIDEO OF THE DAY
At first glance, this appears to be just a picture of two abandoned trucks parked so close together they are touching, or maybe close enough that a single line of marching ants could pass between them. Indeed, the last driver of the truck on the left would not have been able to exit through his door. A closer look yields more information. The three trucks in view appear to be abandoned in order from right to left. No doubt, the older blue truck on the right (year unknown) was left first followed by the middle truck (1976) and last, the truck on the left (1972). Both the tow trucks featured a front push bumper made by the same company but in a different form to fit the front end.
Trash Dogs (not the rock music group) is a nonprofit charitable organization funded through the Forest Service dedicated to salvage and recovery in the woods near Gold Beach, Oregon. Dump fees, mileage, and supplies are funded via the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, Title II grant. On a recent outing, extending four miles on Kimball Hill, east of Gold Beach, volunteers recovered 3.5 to 4 tons of steel, plumbing supplies, aluminum, roofing materials, bicycles, tires, batteries, appliances, domestic garbage, and more. However, the highlight of the day was a Ford pickup truck that had been dumped illegally. Access to the abandoned truck required a half day of work clearing the brush from a one-quarter mile of steep spur road before loading on a flat-bed tow truck.
There are at least five pickup truck behaviors that indicate a severe problem exists with the chassis. For some issues, repairs can correct the problem, for others, it means it is time to buy a new pickup. The most common symptoms: the truck bends to one side, the truck doesn't turn well when cornering, a creaking sound comes from the frame, the load leans to one side or moves in transit, and cargo containers, trays, and locks won't attach to the deck. This rusty Ford F-100 pickup sits abandoned and forgotten on a narrow side street in the Port Tampa area of Tampa, Florida, and appears to have suffered from all the symptoms. The chassis looks like it has snapped into two pieces.
The Ford half-ton pickups manufactured from 1942 to 1947 were considered more rugged than their predecessors, and they offered excellent performance. Minor exterior changes included a redesign of the front clip along more contemporary lines, and the distinctive waterfall grill replacing the prow-shaped type. The 1942-1947 Ford half-ton pickups were built on a ladder-type chassis with four cross-members providing greater strength. Henry Ford's archaic transverse-spring suspension was replaced with semi-elliptic leaf springs at each corner, employing hydraulic, double-acting shock absorbers. The basic body was revived after World War II, but changes were few through 1947. Although the vegetation is taking over this abandoned truck, the robust frame and leaf springs are still visible. The front windshield and single wiper are intact. A second wiper blade was an option in 1947.
Every day for several years, Doug Garrison, a photographer from Pennsylvania, passed this 1939/40 Ford panel truck abandoned by the roadside near his home. He stopped one day to take a closer look and noticed some other intriguing remains set back in the woods behind the truck. After gaining permission from the landowner, he set out to investigate, camera in hand. Doug found a decaying old stone building with several service bay for vehicles. A mechanic's garage, perhaps? Next to the building sat a 1950s-vintage GMC 660 heavy-duty truck and an REO dump truck from the 1930s. Both trucks have been taken over by trees and vines, probably beyond salvaging. However, the Ford panel truck shows some promise as a potential rebuild.
A photographer spotted this truck on a road near his home in Zebulon, North Carolina. He wrote, “This truck reminded me of my Dad, a man who loves old cars and trucks. As a child we always had some antique car or truck in our yard, waiting for my Dad’s attention. He always was a hard worker, and his hobbies would be abandoned like the vehicles in light of him working hard for our family. I cannot help but feel nostalgic when I see an abandoned truck or car in a yard. It reminds me of my childhood climbing into them and the way they smelled like an old garage.”
The 1951 Ford F100 featured a "Million Dollar Cab," so called because it cost $1 million to design and tool. Higher, wider, and better fitted than the previous year’s model, Ford advertised it as the pickup with "Living-Room" comfort. Cleaner and classier styling characterized the pickup, and it was offered with both six-cylinder and V8 engines. The 1951 Ford pickup was also manufactured with a new front end. The smiling horizontal-bar grille and inboard headlamps were replaced by a single-bar grille holding three massive "teeth." Along with a wraparound front bumper, the effect was a more aggressive frontal appearance. This one with its rusted exterior looks like it’s growling!
When Ford viewed the Chevrolet Corvette at Motorama display at the New York Auto Show in 1953, it inspired the company to develop a competitor. The Corvette had been designed as a sports car in the fashion of European sports car of the era. However, the design Ford engineers developed in response, the Thunderbird, focused more on comfort than performance. The first generation, produced for the 1955 to 1957 model years, was a two-seat convertible, the first two-seat Ford since 1938. While lightweight for its era and fitted with a standard V8 engine, the Thunderbird was renowned for luxury more than speed and was never a direct rival to either the Corvette or European sports cars. This rusted and abandoned Thunderbird has the removable hardtop with porthole, characteristic of all 1955 through 57 models.
While the Falcon introduced in 1960 expanded the Ford lineup to include smaller cars, it may be more important in automobile history for its contribution to the first Mustang. Starting as an economy car, Ford began to add some performance features in 1963. The 260-cubic-inch V8 engine was available to the Mercury Comet and Ford Falcon lineups. The early “1964½” Ford Mustang also offered the 260-cubic-inch engine, but it was later replaced by the 289. This rusting Falcon demonstrates the effects of harsh New York winters on car bodies, but the front windshield has no cracks. It even looks clean.
On a road trip to an upholstery shop, a muscle car enthusiast discovered this 1967 Lime Gold Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 fastback, rusting and abandoned. It's a scene sad enough to make a grown man (or woman) cry. Shelby built the first GT500 in 1967. It has become a classic muscle car powered by a robust 428-cubic-inch V8 that that produced 355 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. At a weight of 3,370 pounds, the GT500 ran a 15-second flat quarter mile at 95 mph and accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Those were impressive numbers for that era. There were only 2,048 GT 500s made in 1967, and one of them is this abandoned vehicle with a plant growing out of the hood.
The Ford Motor Company produced the Model T from October 1, 1908, to May 26, 1927. Generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the Model T made open-road travel available to the typical middle-class American. Part of the affordability was attributed to Ford's efficient fabrication, utilizing assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting. Many of the Model Ts were painted black. Ford told his management team in 1909, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." The policy was implemented from 1914 to 1926 for cost-saving reasons. However, in 1926 and 1927, available colors included brown, green, maroon, light blue, and, of course, black. There is no way of knowing the original color of this Model T. For now, it is rust-colored.
The running boards on this 1930 Model T are in good condition, the missing front bumper allows a clear view of the front transverse leaf spring, and the front windshield glass is intact. The car was discovered in a barn on a junkyard property. The single man who owned the land started his car business scrapping old cars and parts in 1973. He grew his inventory to several hundred vehicles by the 1980s, many them classic cars from 1950s-80s. As the owner grew older, his interest in the business waned. When he passed away in 2011, he had no family to claim the land and property. His house and the car lot sat abandoned until vandals burned down the house in 2016.
This Model T tanker appears to have been abandoned after being backed up to the water tower, ready to load. The headlight glass lenses are intact, and the lights look like they might still function. All the visible tires are not only flat, but the rubber shows signs of decay. The tanker is in Nelson, Nevada, a ghost town located a bit off the beaten path not too far from Boulder City. The town’s landscape is littered with old cars and artifacts of ages past. Abandoned for years, the relics have been left to fend for themselves against the harsh elements of the desert. Some buildings have been maintained and partially restored to give the impression of a sudden disappearance by the previous inhabitants.
This Ford Edsel was sadly left behind, or perhaps the owner was sad he bought the car in the first place. The Edsel brand is perhaps the most spectacular and legendary failure in the automotive age. It wasn’t only the cumbersome appearance and funky horse collar grille that doomed the Edsel, it was several other factors, as well. The car was overhyped during an epic advertising campaign, while it was just another chrome-laden land yacht introduced when the public’s car buying tastes were changing. It was indistinguishable from a Ford or Mercury lacking brand identity, and its styling failed even to be considered “interesting.” The Edsel lasted for only three years, from 1957 until 1959.
While firetrucks are generally very well maintained, this old 1948 Ford F-6 Firetruck has apparently been neglected, showing rust all over the body. However, much of the firefighting equipment is still there including two hoses, a rotating red light on top of the cab, and water pump. The truck sits near a garage just off U.S. Route 52 in SW Ohio. Rust has blurred the name of the fire department and city written on the door, but the word “Ohio” can barely be read. The Ford F-6 came with a 239-cubic-inch V8 that produced 100 horsepower at 3,800 rpm. It was enough power to run the water pump mounted on the front bumper. The F-6 came standard with a four-speed transmission.
When a car ceases to function as designed, has decayed to the point of no return, and is no longer worth spending the money to restore, creativity becomes helpful. This XA Ford Falcon abandoned next to a dirt road was ideally positioned for a dirt bike jump. An earthen ramp created on both sides of the vehicle by simply piling up the dirt to the top edge of the Falcon bed provides a challenge and some excitement for some young aspiring “Evel Knievel” types. Some of the dirt bike aspirants no doubt failed to clear the XA’s bed, as is evidenced by the battered left fender falling off the car. No worries, as Evel Knievel said, "They say I have broken every bone in my body. Not true. But I have broken 35 bones.”
A rolling stone gathers no moss is an ancient proverb commonly attributed to Publilius Syrus, who explained, “People who are always moving, with no roots in one place or another, avoid responsibilities and cares.” Apparently, the proverb applies to cars, as well. This Ford Bronco has not moved in some time and clearly has no more responsibilities, like transporting its owner on a weekend off-roading adventure. The last one didn’t end well. The forest flora is piling up on this SUV, reaching the wheel hubs. A few more seasons and the falling autumn leaves or the creeping ferns will bury this Bronco and hide the vehicle and moss forever.
The Ford Starliner was the semi-fastback, two-door hardtop version of the full-size Galaxie line of full-size Fords manufactured in 1960 and 1961. The styling, thin roof pillars, and reduced drag aerodynamics characterized the luxury car that symbolized 1960s jet-age design. While the base engine in 1960 and 1961 was the out-of-date 292-cubic-inch Y-block V8, an optional 352-cubic-inch engine was available. In 1961, Ford offered three versions of the new Thunderbird 390-cubic-inch engine, with the top line producing 375 horsepower. Ford built 68,641 Starliners in 1960 but declining sales in the following year doomed the car and only 29,669 were built in 1961.
The Ford Fairlane sold between 1955 and 1970 got its name from Henry Ford's estate, Fair Lane, near Dearborn, Michigan. In 1957, it was the bestselling car in America, outselling arch-rival Chevrolet for the first time since 1935. This 1957 Ford Fairlane Coupe was discovered in Megargel, Texas. The car featured an engine hood that was hinged in the front. The hood has been removed, but the hinges remain. The car is also equipped with white wall tires, typical of that era. Although the interior is not visible, no doubt it has no seat belts. Mandatory seat belt laws did not go into effect until 1968. A survey of 1957 Ford owners inPopular Mechanics, March 1957, showed only 6.2% of owners ordered seat belts.What You Should Know About Lewis Hamilton’s 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorJeffrey Harper(136 Articles Published)
Jeff has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering. He has a passion for automobiles and has written hundreds of published articles on every facet of the automobile industry. He has written articles on a variety of subjects including travel destinations, sleep disorders, electrical equipment, heat exchangers, and construction. Jeff has also written a book about a two-year experience as a volunteer living in Italy. His favorite pastimes include travel, reading, golf, tennis, and surfing.