Forgotten '76 Chrysler Town & Country Gets First Wash After More Than Three Decades

Rescuing a classic vehicle that has been hibernating for decades isn't the simplest of tasks. The few classic car prospectors who move ahead to restore these finds must have an extra heart to console their disappointments.
1976 Chrysler Town & Country 13 photos
Photo: YouTube Screenshot/Budget Buildz
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There's a common reason these classic cars are left to rot – repairing them will probably cost more than they are worth. But this common belief fails to factor in – old is gold, and if you've recently checked the listings on sites like Bring a Trailer, classic cars are the most sought-after automobiles.

Michael Wagner, the host behind the YouTube channel Budget Buildz, is a mechanic and vintage car prospector who's all about restoring abandoned classics on a budget.

He recently stumbled upon an abandoned 1976 Chrysler Town & Country that's been sitting since 1991 – that's a full-fledged 32-year-old adult. As you'd expect with such a unit, getting it running was the least of his worries. The biggest threat to such a revival is the extent of rotting parts.

Chrysler's Town & Country nameplate is mainly associated with the minivan produced between 1989 and 2016. Unbeknownst to most, the Town & Country model predates the popular 1990s Chrysler minivan.

It was available as luxury station wagon, four door-sedan, and coupe after WWII

1976 Chrysler Town & Country
Photo: YouTube Screenshot/Budget Buildz
The all-American station wagon was produced by Chrysler from 1940 to 1942 and again after WWII between 1945 and 1988 (as a luxury station wagon, four-door sedan, and coupe) before the minivan craze took over the United States of America, giving birth to the Chrysler Town & Country Minivan.

It was pretty popular during its era. As you'd imagine, the three-row station wagon could sit up to nine people at once – making it the perfect family car for road trips.

Fortunately, Michael's 1976 Chrysler Town & Country wasn't a complete goner. Still, he had to replace the ECM (Electric Control Module) and the crusty carburetor. He also had to use an auxiliary fuel system because 32 years of sitting in the elements would damage any vehicle's plumbing.

7.2-liter V8 engine under the hood

1976 Chrysler Town & Country
Photo: YouTube Screenshot/Budget Buildz
Under the hood, it had a chunky 440 cubic-inch 7.2-liter RB V8 paired with a 3-speed A-727 automatic transmission channeling power to the rear wheels. The setup was good for 200 hp (203 ps) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque.

After a bit of fiddling here and there, it fired up and blew rust through the single-exhaust factory muffler showing optimum vitals. The only problem was its brakes were shot.

"Just a few seconds ago, when we first started it, that was dry as a bone. But we now have really, really good flow, great oil pressure as we saw our ohm meter sat there at 0 ohms and popped up to about 18.3, and it was rising and dropping. Looked pretty good," Michael exclaimed in a previous video after firing up the classic wagon for the first time.

In his most recent video, Michael and his team did what any rational restorer would do after successfully firing a vehicle sitting for a little over three decades. They gave it a much-needed bath.

Took two days to peel off the wood grain shade

1976 Chrysler Town & Country
Photo: YouTube Screenshot/Budget Buildz
But before that, he had to fix the faulty braking system. He was confident the master cylinder was defective and had a replacement handy.

Thankfully, the 1976 Chrysler Town & Country brake rotors and calipers were in good shape. All he did was throw in some brake pads and push in some fluid in the hoses. He also serviced the front bearing and the rear drum brakes.

You probably noticed the two-tone classic station wagon had some of its woodgrain side shade peeling off. The original color was blue. He spent the next two days slowly peeling off the wood grain shade for an all-around neutral shade.

"This is going to be a bit of a monster. What I have done for now is scribed very lightly up underneath. And we are peeling off through to trim because so many of these clips keep breaking. I don't have new ones, and I want to be able to get them off for now. When we get new clips, we'll pull all the trim off and finish the little edges," Michael revealed.

This classic wagon still needs a lot of love

1976 Chrysler Town & Country
Photo: YouTube Screenshot/Budget Buildz
Despite how bad it looked during the rescue, the tailgate was the only rusted section of this 1976 Chrysler Town & Country. Fortunately, the rear window motor was still functional, and they somehow squeezed it open and got the mechanism working.

"This thing is a man. I feel like the king of the road in this thing. The brakes feel great, man. This thing is nice. Not nice, but like driving-wise. I mean, it's just such a boat. Ohh, this is awesome," Michael said after his first drive in the 1976 Chrysler Town & Country down the road.

It seems like Michael is going for a complete restoration of this beauty. There's still a lot to do, but the next step is getting all the electricals running right and scavenging for the missing trim pieces locally. He also needs a new alternator and a fresh set of wheels.

We recommend watching the video below for insight into reviving old abandoned cars. Classic car prospectors will learn a lot from this rescue video.

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About the author: Humphrey Bwayo
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Humphrey is a car enthusiast whose love and passion for automobiles extended into collecting, writing, driving, and working on cars. He got his passion for cars from his Dad, who spent thousands of hours working on his old junky 1970 E20 Toyota Corolla. Years later, he would end up doing the same with a series of lemons he’s owned throughout his adult life.
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