Junkyard Gems: 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta and 1971 Fiat 850 Spider
It’s 1971. You’re a young professional with a starter home in the suburbs, a beautiful wife, two kids, and a dog. Of course, you also have a station wagon; a 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 Fiesta. It’s not the newest car on the block, but it was an unbeatable deal.
You’re quickly moving up the corporate ladder, so you decide you’ve rightfully earned a fun little convertible to commute in. $2,200 and change gets you into a brand-new Fiat 850 Spider. It’s no powerhouse, but it’s considerably more affordable than an Alfa Romeo Spider and it’s pretty good on gas, to boot.
It’s also tiny; The Italian roadster looks like a Matchbox car next to 4,600 pounds of burly, V8-powered Detroit iron. Your next-door neighbor jokes the 850 could fit in the Super 88’s trunk by simply folding down the rear seats, and she’s probably right.
For those of us who weren’t around 50 years ago, a junkyard in the heart of the Rockies has recreated the picture-perfect American driveway of the 1970s. It’s a mind-blowing reminder of just how small Fiats used to be, and just how massive American wagons once were.
While the 850 was green when it set sail for the United States, the Oldsmobile is still wearing its original two-tone paint job – or what’s left of it. It must have been quite a looker when it was new, and every single slat on the lane-wide grille was as shiny as the finest silverware in the White House.
Today, both cars are worse for the wear. There’s rust on virtually every body panel, the glass is either broken or missing, and the upholstery is as dry as washed-up seaweed on a hot summer day. There’s no obvious accident damage, and both cars are relatively complete, so it’s not too far-fetched to assume they were brought to the yard as beaters that were lingering at the bottom of their depreciation curve.