River Finds?! Mustang, RX7 And More Recovered

After a tip from a former get-away driver, the experts at Adventures with Purpose explored the depths of the Tualatin River near Portland, Oregon in search of sunken vehicles. The boat ramp here, like many around the world, makes disposing of a vehicle relatively easy, or so I’ve heard. This 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 wears aftermarket wheels, probably from the ’80s. Being filled almost completely with sediment, the Mustang challenged man and machine on its way to the surface. Six or more vehicles remain, including what might be a Chevrolet Chevelle and several pickup trucks.

This Mazda RX-7 proved easier to extract than the silt-laden Mustang. Of the more than 750,000 cars stolen in the U.S. in 2018, only 59% were recovered. Not all of the rest were driven into rivers and lakes, but some were! An underwater grave quickly erases evidence of crimes. This recovery crew took time to check for human remains before casually yoking these potential crime scenes from the deep.

The remains of this Chevrolet Silverado 4×4 pickup truck fared worse than the others, barely holding together on the way out. In addition to hardened criminals, average citizens sometimes make their vehicles “disappear” and report them as stolen to collect the insurance money.

Another shot of the RX7 shows it weathered its time in Davey Jones’ Locker better than some. Perhaps it’s a more recent addition to this watery collection. Stay tuned for more details as more items from this stash of sunken treasure find their way to the surface! Have you heard any good stories about intentionally-discarded vehicles?

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  1. Paolo

    Now we’re talking! This is sure to revive interest in recovering “The Norseman” from the “Andrea Doria”.

    Like 9
    • Robert May

      I love that whole story. What an outrageously gorgeous car.

      Like 2
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Well there’s a couple of insurance claims solved….

    Like 4
  3. John M.

    I’ve seen these guys on YouTube before. They recover cars and trucks from the waterways of Western Oregon on their own time and don’t charge a penny to clean up the environment. A buddy of theirs who own a towing company hauls the wrecks away for free.

    They even found a late model Chevy pickup with the body of the owner still inside not long ago who was missing for months. Finding him brought closure for his family. Hats off to them.

    Like 50
  4. sir mike

    Where I live we have an old stone quarry that flooded out decades ago.Supposed to be a few cars and possibly bodies in it.But it’s private property and no one can gain access to it and the local police don’t really care.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      When I was a kid in S. Wisconsin, we’d ride our bikes to a quarry that filled with water in a town called Lannon, known for it’s Lannon Stone. Story goes, they went home one night after blasting, came in the next morning to find a lake. All the equipment was rumored to still be down there. Another story, county crews tore out a bridge for replacement. After diverting the water, they found an early 60’s Rambler. Details are sketchy.

      Like 3
      • John H

        There was (actually still is, now owned by a college) a flooded limestone quarry just outside of the town where I grew up in central PA. That one also flooded overnight in the early 1960s with all of the trucks and heavy equipment sitting in place, just as the crews left it the afternoon before. That quarry was a popular swimming hole in the late 60s and early 70s before it was fenced off.

        Like 3
  5. egads

    How are they ” cleaning up the environment “. Anything that would hurt, ie oils, gas, coolant, leaked out of the rust holes many many moons ago. Typical tree huggers. They are just playing in the water.

    Like 10
    • Cal

      I disagree. Things like grease, can stay in one place for decades, they and other solvents slowly dissolving into the waterway. I also applaud these men.

      Like 43
      • egads

        How big are the holes in oil pan, fuel tank- wait, what oil pan and fuel tank,they’re memories.

        Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      With Cal on this.
      Fuel likely gone, but engine oil, trans and differential fluids, brake fluid and even coolant might be around for quite a while unless there was damage to containment systems.
      I’ve seen these guys’ videos before, and I think it is an admirable undertaking, in addition to being a bit of fun. Sometimes it is a major relief to whose who suffered a loss. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJQjVy_d2CE

      Like 22
      • Paolo

        If you look at some of their other videos you will see oil and other fluid leaking during recovery efforts of some very old vehicles. You can also credit them for making an effort to contain and cleanup oil when it spills.

        Like 9
    • KEEB

      After hurricane related floods in Houston I can assure you that submerged cars will lose motor,trans,axle and steering oils and fuel out through vents and breathers as the heavier water displaces it relatively quickly. Been there done that.

      Like 4
    • Eric B

      Unfortunately, for some reason some people get bent out of shape at the thought of someone wanting a clean environment. Like that’s such an odd thing, the thing that we LIVE in. Every inch of that car will slowly break down and be released into the water. From bits of paint, foam, plastics, fluids as the metal they’re encased in breaks down- everything from shock absorbers to the oil pan. And then all of that gets carried into the food chain. I love cars, but people suck.

      Like 4
  6. Nick P

    I recently read a story about an original 427 cobra that was stolen and dumped in the Erie Canal in my area in the late 60’s. It was recovered about a year later, a guy bought it for scrap, took about 40 years to restore it and now its absolutely gorgeous. He apparently lives in the next town over from me. He also was my brother’s automotive teacher at the local community college in the mid 90’s. Small world. Look it up in Hemmings from about 5 years ago.

    Like 5
    • Ron L.

      We are from upstate NY, and dumping cars in the Erie Canal is pretty common, both stolen and for insurance money. They find them every fall when the canal is drained, so I assume most are in better shape than that mustang.

      Like 1
  7. normadesmond

    This is hysterical.

  8. TimM

    Really interesting story and giving closure to a family for a missing loved one is commendable!!! Just food for thought I heard on the radio yesterday that the air we are breathing is 20% cleaner this month due to the stay at home order!! The one good thing about the coronavirus!!!

    Like 11
  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    There’s nothing wrong with doing something nice for the planet. To my knowledge, there isn’t another one we can go to once this one is ruined.

    Like 25
  10. Dave

    Here in Pittsburgh, they’re still looking for a B-25 Mitchell that went into the Monongahela River many years ago. Google it, it’s the stuff of legend.

    Like 2
    • Shiv

      Worked with old guy in 70’s veteran of ww 2 said he was coming up other side of river late that night from on a date & heard it & seen it when it hit water & he pulled in trees & watched them get it out fast in like 3-4 hrs before day break put in barges in like 3or 4 pieces & take away from area Quickly!

      Like 2
  11. John b

    Help me out here- i dont understand the davey jones locker reference on the rx-7?

    Like 1
    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi John b. A sea-faring reference that I stretched for this inland watery grave. Thanks for asking! “Davy Jones’ Locker is an idiom for the bottom of the sea: the state of death among drowned sailors and shipwrecks.[2] It is used as a euphemism for drowning or shipwrecks in which the sailors’ and ships’ remains are consigned to the depths of the ocean (to be sent to Davy Jones’ Locker)” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Jones%27_Locker\

      Like 7
    • half cab

      Old cliche when you sink in the ocean.

      Like 3
  12. Bob McK Member

    Nice to get the trash out of the water…

    Like 3
  13. half cab

    In 1988 or 89? Mississippi river got really low and boy the vehicles that were pulled out was unreal! Fellow I knew got a couple 70s vetts and an old dude that worked with my mom at the time got a call from someone (officials) saying they found his ’66 mustang….really he said it was stolen in like ’67.

    Like 4
  14. Philip

    So now we have a new category of vehicles found, Water Finds.

    Like 7
  15. John S.

    When the Creature from the Black Lagoon comes home and finds his car collection gone… he’s gonna be hacked!!

    Like 7
  16. Morley

    Which will be restored first, a burnt out charger or a rusted drowned mustang.??
    Can we not get some realistic cars and trucks on this site

    Like 1
    • Ian C

      I expect over half of the listings are “realistic” projects. They are the listings where the same people complaining about rusty projects are complaining about the price on non-rusty projects. Go figure?

      Like 7
    • Blueovaldude

      Stupid reply

      Like 1
  17. Graham Line

    Have launched many recreational group kayak trips from that ramp. It’s always nice to not hit things.

    Like 2
  18. Roseland Pete

    But what are the “original miles?”

    Like 1
    • Ian C

      That would be 20,000 “actual” leagues, sir.

      Like 7
      • Roseland Pete

        That’s good to know. :)

  19. Mountainwoodie

    When I was in high school there was an old quarry outside of Princeton New Jersey. In the spring we would sneak over there to go swimming. At the bottom of the quarry there was a late sixties Pontiac, so relatively new at the tIme. In my mind’s eye it was a GTO. but I can’t really remember. lol. It was nose down and stayed that way and I dont know how. I got the willies every time I dove off a boulder into the quarry as there were days the water was so clear you could see it as you stood up on the boulder. Great times to be young and sneaky!

    Like 1
  20. Sandra shanahan

    Ran when parked.

    Like 2
    • half cab

      Sad but true in this case!

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