Posts By: Murilee Martin

By on October 17, 2014

13 - 1993 Ford Taurus SHO Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinWhile the Ford Taurus has been the most numerous vehicle in American self-service wrecking yards for at least 15 years, most of the time they are the background against which the more interesting cars stand out. Only the SHO version seems worthy of inclusion in this series, and until today we’ve seen just just this ’96 Taurus SHO with V8. These cars have been very affordable for quite some time, but there remains enough of an enthusiast base to keep most of the survivors on the road. Here’s one that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area back in August. (Read More…)

By on October 16, 2014

19 - 1979 Plymouth Champ Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe tales of the many flavors of rebadged Chrysler Europe and Mitsubishi products sold as Plymouths and Dodges remain perennially fascinating for me, what with all the Chryslerized Simcas and Hillmans and so forth, and one example of this breed that appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth is the Plymouth Champ. The Champ was a fourth-generation Mitsubishi Mirage, a gas-sipping front-driver that received Colt nameplates for the Dodge side of the showroom floor, and I found one a few days ago at a Denver-area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2014

12 - 1981 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis being Colorado, I see quite a few Volkswagen Vanagons on the street and in local wrecking yards. Mostly I ignore them for this series, because their local popularity means examples that show up at a Denver self-service yard get stripped immediately and aren’t very interesting photographic subjects. So far, we’ve seen just this exquisitely stereotype-reinforcing Steal Your Face Edition ’83, and that’s it prior to today’s find. An ordinary Vanagon with most of the parts gone, I’m not shooting it. A Vanagon Syncro (which I believe to be the most unwise money-pit available on four wheels or a Westfalia Camper, on the other hand, I’m always willing to photograph those rare birds. Here’s a squalid ’81 Westy that I found at a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2014

15 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI’ve just driven a couple of modern electric cars, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S, and they’re real cars. Actually, the i-MiEV is a perfectly serviceable short-distance commuter and the Model S is the best street car I’ve ever driven, but I was ready to hate both of them a lot, because all my previous experience with EVs had involved growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s and hearing a lot of eat-yer-vegetables talk from earnest green types about how electric cars are good for you, when in fact those cars sucked stringwart-covered pangolin nodules. Then, of course, there are all the flake-O electric conversions from the 1980-2000 era that I’ve seen, a fair number of which appear in self-service wrecking yards as long-abandoned EV conversions are towed out of back yards and driveways. In this series, we’ve seen this EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro and this 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport, and there have been others too stripped to be worth photographing. Today we’re going to look at a California-based Ford Ranger that still has just about all its electric running gear. (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2014

07 - 1985 Mazda GLC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen the Mazda Familia first came to North America, it had rear-wheel-drive, its chassis was very similar to that of an RX-7, and it was called the GLC, for “great little car.” By 1981, the GLC had switched to front-wheel-drive, and later in the decade it became known as the 323. In this series, we’ve seen this ’80 hatch, this ultra-rare ’81 sedan, this ’83 sedan, this ’84 hatchback, and now today’s interestingly decorated ’84. We’ve also seen what’s probably the most original GLC in the country, courtesy of Mazda HQ in California. (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2014

01 - 1964 Simca 1000 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDuring my recent trip to Sweden, I took in a Folkrace, saw many old American cars on the street, visited a farm full of restored classic Chryslers, and, of course, went to the junkyard. We’ve seen this 1966 Toyota Crown station wagon and this 1963 Ford Taunus 17M at Bloms Bilskrot in Söråker, and now here’s a very rusty example of a car that was popular in Europe but never made much of an impression in North America: the Simca 1000. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2014

12 - 1968 Saab 96 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI see plenty of Saab 900s in self-service wrecking yards these days, but Saabs older than that have all but disappeared from the U-Wrench-It ecosystem. I did see a truly ancient Saab 92 at a yard over the summer, but that was in the heart of Saab’s homeland. So, it came as a big surprise to spot this Saab 96 three weeks ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2014

10 - 1986 Peugeot 505 S Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time when Peugeots— mostly 504s but the occasional 404 as well— were quite common in American self-service junkyards. Back in the early 1990s, when I owned a free 504, you could count on finding junkyard parts at every good-sized U-Wrench-It in Northern California, and as recently as the late 2000s I found the occasional 504 and even this 404. Nowadays, though, all you’re going to see is 505s and 405s, from the final years of Peugeot’s North American presence, and they’re sufficiently rare that we’ve seen just this 405 in this series prior to today. However, a few 505s managed to soldier on for a couple decades after Peugeot fled back across the Atlantic (or at least managed to survive in storage for that time), and I found this ’86 in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard earlier this year. (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2014

18 - 1978 Cadillac Seville Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinAs Aaron Severson explains in great detail in his excellent Ate Up With Motor piece, the 1976-1979 Cadillac Seville (which was essentially a Chevy Nova under the skin), accelerated the long decline of the Cadillac Division that continued with the Cavalier-based Cimarron and didn’t really turn around until Cadillac started building trucks for rappers and warlords in the 1990s. Having driven a $50 1976 Nova many thousands of miles, I can assume that ’78 Seville ownership was very similar, though with a plusher interior and (slightly) more engine power. Here’s a brown-on-gold-on-brown-on-yellow-on-ochre-on-umber-on-brown-on-beige-on-copper example that I spotted a few weeks ago in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2014

QOTD-WorstCarOf1982
Last weekend, while I was helping to run the seventh annual 24 Hours of LeMons Fall South race, I got into a debate with LeMons Chief Perp Jay Lamm over which team should get the accomplished-the-most-with-the-worst-car trophy, the Index of Effluency. The 1982 Renault Fuego Turbo of Interceptor Motorsports, which made its debut at that race, managed to turn 19 laps during two days of racing (the winner did 377 laps) and finished 105th out of 110 entries. My opinion was that the Fuego Turbo was the worst car sold in the United States in 1982 and thus Interceptor Motorsports deserved Index of Effluency recognition for their achievement, but the Chief Perp felt that plenty of Detroit-built cars from the Malaise Era were even worse. In the end, we gave the prize to a 1979 Wagon Queen Family Truckster (which finished in P73), but I still think that you’d be hard-pressed to find any 1982 model-year car that approaches the Renault Fuego Turbo for across-the-board terribleness. (Read More…)

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