The Cleanest Rusted-Out Ford

When a dealership decides that a trade-in isn’t worth selling, it often goes into a wholesale auction where other dealers buy them. Often these cars are older, high mileage, rusted out, or just not worth fixing to sell at a dealership with higher standards. Once in a while there’s something in the wholesale line that catches the eye of a mechanic, and that happened a couple weeks ago.

I was pulling into the parking lot to start the day and saw this 1994 Ford Explorer. I have a soft spot for vehicles from the early 90’s or older, so this was right in there for me. Even though I didn’t need a third vehicle, this looked too good to pass up if it wasn’t too expensive.

I couldn’t believe how clean it was. I know that we usually vacuum them out before putting them in the wholesale line, but the carpet and seats were so clean it was like it had never even seen dirt.

The only visible body rust was a spot on the tailgate, and the bumpers. Most cars that spend their lives in New York have a lot more rust than this after 27 years. It’s not from not being driven, either, because it had somewhere around 175,000 miles on it.

I had noticed that it had been undercoated, which can be a good thing, but sometimes it can actually make it worse by holding water against the frame even more. Unfortunately, that was the case with this. As I took a quick look underneath, I saw that one of the rear spring frame tabs had a rust hole right through it. That, plus a possible bad transmission, meant that it was not a good vehicle to buy. If I’d had a good frame to put the body on, it would’ve created a pristine vehicle, but it’s only really worth parts or scrap now.

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