Posts By: Murilee Martin

By on July 1, 2015

08 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Ah, the Malaise Era! Engines making one horsepower per three cubic inches. Broughams, Landaus, and molded-in fake stitching on petroleum-distillate Simu-Vinyl™ upholstery. And, of course, a pseudo-pickup based on the Ford Thunderbird platform. 1977-79 Rancheros still show up in California wrecking yards now and then, and that’s where I saw this green-on-green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’79 last fall. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2015

QOTD-Uncoolest_Teenage_Car

I just took my chopped, Carson-top-equipped, heavily-customized 1969 Toyota Corona coupe to a local car show and won a trophy without even washing the thing. All but the most tradition-bound angry old coots think the Kustom Korona is pretty cool, but that got me thinking about the reason I’d spent so many years wanting a cool Corona: my very first car was a 1969 Toyota Corona sedan. A beige Corona sedan, which cost 50 bucks at the corner gas station and had a clattery pushrod four-banger at a time when my peers and I lusted after Detroit muscle cars with tunnel-rammed V8s with Centerline wheels. This was pretty much the uncoolest car possible for a 16-year-old to drive in the East Bay in 1982.

So what’s the 2015 equivalent to that hooptiefied, unidentifiable, squat little Japanese sedan? (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2015

02- 1993 Chevrolet Lumina Euro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

By the 1980s, Japanese carmakers had established themselves as making the most reliable vehicles in the minds of plenty of American car shoppers. Meanwhile, the Europeans had conquered much of the sporty/sophisticated market by that time. General Motors responded by stamping out millions of plastic badges with the magical letters “E-U-R-O” molded in (as well as by doing stuff like putting pushrod front-drive V8s in bodies flown over from Italy). You could get a Chevy Celebrity Eurosport, and— a few years later— a Chevy Lumina Euro. I’ve been overlooking these cars in junkyards for many years, but now I realize that they have a certain historical significance. Here’s one I spotted in Denver. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2015

23- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

We’ve seen plenty of frontwheeldrive Colts in this series, but (prior to today) the only example of the rear-wheel drive Dodge-badged Mitsubishi Colt Galant we’d seen was this lichen-covered ’72 wagon. On a recent trip to California, I spotted this coastal-rusty example of tape-striped Malaise Mitsubishi glory. (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2015

QOTD-RalphNader

It’s Monday, so let’s start it off by ignoring the demands of your cruel overseers in The Man’s salt mines and turning to a subject that’s sure to get all automotive enthusiasts riled up: Ralph Nader! (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2015

10- 1993 Nissan NX1600 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The Nissan NX was never much of a big seller in the United States, and only the first-cousin-of-the-Sentra-SE-R NX2000 gets any attention from potential diamond-in-the-rough rescuers today. That means that you won’t see many of these cars in the wrecking yards, so I decided to photograph this purple-duct-tape-customized example in a Denver yard a couple months back. (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2015

06 - 1976 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I see many Corolla-based, NUMMI-built Novas in my junkyard travels, but the earlier rear-wheel-drive X-body Nova has become a fairly rare sight in self-service wrecking yards during the last decade or so. Other than a handful of factory-performance versions, 1970s Novas were disposable, cheap transportation appliances, and so the ones that haven’t been crushed by now tend to be nicely restored and/or drag racers. Still, I find a few; we’ve seen this ’77 two-door, this rare ’73 hatchback, this ’79 Oldsmobile Omega (one of GM’s many adventures in X-body badge engineering), and this ’78 Cadillac Seville Elegante (one of GM’s many adventures in Cadillac brand dilution) so far, and now we’ve got this ’76 in California. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2015

20150309_144512

I’ve lived in urban areas for most of my life. When you do that, your street-parked vehicles will get hit. You walk up to the car and the fender is mashed in or the bumper is bent… and there’s no note left by the perpetrator. In my experience — and I’d say that in my 34 years of driving, I’ve had parked cars hit and damaged enough to notice (some of my cars hid damage very well) at least 25 times. Not once has anyone ever left a note taking responsibility for the damage. I hear that this note-leaving phenomenon has been known to happen, but such a thing falls into the urban-legend category for me. How about you? (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2015

24 - 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

So many rusty Junkyard Finds lately! We had the Krusty Kressida earlier this week, and then a whole week of corroded Coloradans before that. Now we’re returning to San Francisco, where cars parked close to the ocean dissolve in strange top-down fashion thanks to the constant salt spray and chilly fog. I found this once-luxurious Fleetwood sedan in a Bay Area yard a few weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2015

40 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida. (Read More…)

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