The heartwarming tale of strangers rescuing a Datsun wagon from the desert

There is a B310 Datsun Wagon that has been baking in a remote corner of the Mojave desert for over 20 years. The car was abandoned there when the owner died in a freak accident, but now, in a heartwarming tale of gearhead camaraderie, complete strangers are driving hours into the desert to try to recover the car and deliver it cross-country to the owner’s children. 

The story comes from David Tracy of Jalopnik, who is a member of the Wrenching Network, a Facebook group of mechanics. That’s where Michael Blackburn first posted about the Datsun wagon owned by his biological father, whom Michael hadn’t seen since childhood. Michael now lives in Wisconsin, and his sister Lalani lives in Pennsylvania, but the siblings plan to restore the car as a memorial to their late father. So far, they’ve been thwarted by their physical distance from the Datsun’s location.

Michael himself, as well as some members of the Facebook group attempted to drive several hours off road into the Arizona desert to reach the car, but were unsuccessful. The terrain was harsh, and there was no cell service for miles. It was member Austin Toy, who had serendipitously rented a brand new 2018 Nissan Titan, that may have been the first human to reach the car in two decades. The paint got totally wrecked during the process, but he made it to the car.

The windows were gone, some panels were dented and anything that wasn’t metal was likely toast, but the car was otherwise complete. The remoteness helped with preservation, as most abandoned cars in the desert tend to become targets for shooters or vandals. Now, thanks to these intrepid strangers, the recovery process has begun.

The full story is more detailed and heart-wrenching (no pun intended) than we could ever describe in a few short paragraphs. It’s definitely worth a read. It’s truly beautiful to see such an effort come together. Plus, once it’s restored Michael will have a really cool car and a tribute to his father. For those who want to contribute, there’s also a GoFundMe page for the Datsun rescue.

Images: Austin Toy

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8 Responses to The heartwarming tale of strangers rescuing a Datsun wagon from the desert

  1. cesariojpn says:

    The Southwest desert is littered with junk autos, mining equipment, abandoned buildings, and even habitable cabins. It’s surprising that random hunters or hikers hasn’t fucked up the car past what Mother Nature has done.

    Here are a few examples from the “Explore With Us” YT Channel:

  2. Eric P says:

    Great job, but how did the original owner manage to get out there if a brand new Titan has a hard time getting over there?

    • MikeRL411 says:

      He didn’t, he was dead ! Search and rescue found the body, police decided the retrieval was too hard so abandoned the Datsun. Click “worth a read” above for the whole story!!

    • Geoff says:

      Eh, a lot can change in 20 years.

    • Nick says:

      There was a planned development out there called “Mead-o-rama” and his dad had purchased a rent to own plot of land. The roads had been grated and leveled, but 20 years of desert rain and flash floods take their toll.

  3. Howsrd says:

    Eow! Such an amazing story…

  4. Spock says:

    They either need to buy a parts car…IE this one:

    OR, just make their lives easier and make it a “dad’s car” clone. Hey, Jay Leno did it with his Ford Galaxie…why not? If they’re actually going to try to restore the original car piece by piece, the desert extraction is gonna seem like the easy part!

    They need to be logical with their next steps.

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