We’ve all seen them – old abandoned cars parked in place to die in a field somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, left to the elements, forgotten by their owners after years of faithful service or, more likely, given up on by semi-talented home mechanics as they eventually cost more to keep running than they were worth alive.
Sometimes we catch glimpses of them out the corner of an eye as we fly by on an Interstate. Sometimes we see them in slow-motion as we cruise through a small town. Once in a while we decide to pull off and go check ‘em out.
Our friend, journalist and photographer Mike Magda, checked these out.
“I’d heard about them from some friends who were shooting pictures of old ghost towns,” Magda said. “Three Falcons just sitting there.”
“There” was the ghost town of Owanka, South Dakota. Magda lives in Rapid City, SD, about 30 miles west of the cars. So when he was returning from a wildlife shoot in Badlands National Park, he decided to make a detour and see the Falcons for himself.
Deck lid’s still there!
Owanka was settled in the late 1880s, but fell fairly quickly on hard times. At its peak it had maybe 200 people, a newspaper (The Owanka Bee), a school, two churches, two cafes and a five-story grain elevator. The town ran out of water in the ‘20s, then the railroad which had been its lifeblood, and which brought water to the town, stopped bringing it and then moved its depot agent out of town. This was after the bank was robbed – possibly an inside job – and a scandal in the local school drove more people away. A murder in the town in 1940 further divided the remaining residents and by now there is supposed to be just one family left, according to local historian Connie J. Mickelson.
It was into all this history that our man Magda drove last week, seeking Falcons. He found them, as well as a couple trucks.
“Those three Falcons just killed me,” he said.
He guesses they are between 1960 and 1962 model years. The first-gen Ford Falcon debuted in 1960 and went through to 1963. They were sold in the millions, with unibody construction holding a 144-cubic inch straight six that powered the rear wheels through a three-in-the-tree manual. You could get a new one for less than $2000 back in the day.
But that was 57 years ago. And now here they sit, their histories forgotten, like Owanka itself. One of them suffers the indignity of a tree growing through the empty engine bay. We suggested to Magda that we could fix one up and drag race it. He suggested the two-door red coupe, “It would look good with a 427 SOHC motor running A/Gas!”
But who are we kidding? Unless… Who’s in?