Rare Cars Decaying Outside in Downtown Columbus


UPDATE 9-19-2011:They're gone, see my update here.

A while back, bprosperi on twitter posted about a bunch of old cars sitting out in a pay to park lot near downtown Columbus. These were old collectables, luxury cars, just sitting in the open and had been there forever. In fact, you can see them on Google Street View.

Finding a bunch of cars rusting away quietly in a field or behind a country house is not unusual, it happens all the time. Some car guy buys 'em up, thinking he'll get around to restoring them some day, or just because he likes having them. The unusual thing here is that these cars are in a commercial parking lot in a business district right on the fringe of downtown Columbus, a mere two blocks from Huntington Park, the Columbus Clippers' new ballpark.

This summer I've been down to Huntington Park a few times and stopped by to check these cars out.

Looking at them in person, they appear not to move and to simply have been abandoned. Abandoned cars on pay to park lot don't last long, however. Closer inspection reveals that they all, save one, have current Ohio license plates with current year stickers. The other one has blue California plates. Furthermore, the street view image shows the cars in a different order meaning that at least some of them do move.

So, this is a collection of run of the mill old luxury cars, right? Hardly. What I found was an odd selection of rare high end Mercedes book ended by classic and rare American iron.

1961 Imperial Lebaron 1961 Imperial Lebaron

At one end is this 1961 Imperial. And not just any Imperial, the formal rear window means this is a $6,428 (in 1961) Imperial Lebaron, one of 1,026 built according to the Imperial Club site. While rough around the edges, it appears surprisingly solid and complete for a car stored outside in an urban area. I'm hoping the hood being ajar (it's closed on Street View) means it's getting some attention from its owner, not from vandals.

1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V 1956 Lincoln Capri

Just down from the Imperial is this white 1960 Continental Mark V and a black 1956 Lincoln Capri. Both appear complete, but the the Capri seems the more solid of the two.

1967 Cadillac De Ville

At the other end is this rather sad looking 1967 Cadillac De Ville Convertible. It looks to be rather rusty, but it also appears to be the only American in running order here. The Street View image shows it in a different spot, so it's been mobile recently. Still, a lot of work needed here.

Mercedes Mercedes 6.9

In between (mostly) are 7 big late 70's Mercedes sedans and one 280 CE coupe. But get this - among the sedans, one is a 450 SEL and four of them wear 6.9 badges on their rumps. The 6.9 was Mercedes high-performance big sedan in the late 70s and was a rare bird with only 1,816 brought to North America between 1977 and 1980 according to Wikipedia. One of the others is a 280 SE, not sure about the last one.

So many questions: Who owns these cars? What are they doing here? What is their fate? Will they continue to rust and rot away, or will these rare and magnificent examples of big German and American transportation someday get the attention they deserve? I hope that they do.

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It happens to tractors too though I would suspect those cars could be worth more than many different kinds of old tractors.

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