By on April 16, 2014

09 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen Nissan, not wanting to be left behind by Toyota, introduced the Infiniti marque in 1989, they needed a sporty coupe to sell alongside the mighty Q45 luxury sedan. No problem, just add some bling to the JDM Nissan Leopard, move the steering wheel to the left side, and you’ve got an instant Lexus SC300 competitor for the American market! Sadly for Nissan, few bought the M30 (though its J30 successor sold pretty well), and M30 junkyard finds are quite rare today. Here’s one that survived the Cash For Clunkers Japanese Luxpocalypse but then succumbed to depreciation five years later. Read More >

By on April 15, 2014

08 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnly 6,622 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupes were built during the Italo-Swedish machine’s 1978-1981 production run, and I’ve found two of them in California self-serve wrecking yards during the last year. We saw this silver ’79 (actually, all ’78 and ’79 262Cs were painted in Mystic Silver) last summer, and now there’s today’s find: a gold ’80. These cars were weird-looking and something of a puzzling marketing move by Volvo, but you’d think that their rarity would give them sufficient value to keep the survivors out of The Crusher‘s jaws. Nope! Read More >

By on April 14, 2014

04 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor the entire time I’ve been on this planet, Chrysler A-bodies have been a constant presence in American wrecking yards, and they’re still quite easy to find today, 33 years after the last Valiant Charger rolled off the assembly line in Australia. I don’t photograph every Dart and Valiant that I see in junkyards, but this series has included this ’61 Valiant, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and today we’ll admire a non-rusty California Dart two-door that I saw back in December. Read More >

By on April 10, 2014

21 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was once a time when you could buy street vehicles made by a farm equipment manufacturer, and IHC products still show up in self-service wrecking yards today. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’70 Scout, this ’71 Travelall, this ’71 Scout, this ’72 1010 pickup, this ’73 Scout, and this ’74 Scout. The crew-cab Travelette is a machine you won’t see every day, so I shot this ’62 that I spotted in a Northern California wrecking yard. Read More >

By on April 9, 2014

10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white two-tone paint job! Read More >

By on April 8, 2014

12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of such an EV at a junkyard; we saw a junked EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro EV conversion last year, and now a different Denver yard has given us this ’88 Sprint “Electric Sport.” Read More >

By on April 2, 2014

23 - 1976 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last Continental we saw in this series was of the iconic 1961-69 generation designed by Elwood Engel. Its successor was built for the 1970-79 model years, and these cars lost the suicide doors and Lincoln-specific engines but gained even more angular styling. The Town Car option package was aimed at the real high rollers of the Malaise Era, and I’ve found a very solid, refrigerator-white example (photographed at a Northern California self-serve yard last week) that’s sure to make Sajeev Mehta weep bitter, brand-loyal tears. Read More >

By on April 1, 2014

12 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing just about all the Mercedes-Benz W114s I find in self-service wrecking yards have in common is that they arrived at the yard in restorable condition. Little or no rust, interiors somewhat intact, mechanical parts mostly there. In this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, and this ’74 280C, and I’ve passed over dozens of ordinary W114 and W115 sedans in the last half-dozen years of junkyard prowling. What we’re seeing here is a combination of extreme longevity coupled with a rapid plummeting of value (in the eyes of those who covet these cars) once the cosmetic wear and tear build up. A 41-year-old Plymouth Satellite or Chevrolet Chevelle coupe in rust-free, reasonably complete shape would be worth a couple of grand and thus safe from that final tow-truck ride to the junkyard. The W114 coupe? Here’s another one, now resting in a California yard. Read More >

By on March 31, 2014

10 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, this car isn’t this kind of Fox, though it is a sibling of the first Volkswagen Passat aka Dasher. The Fox was the name given to the Audi 80 for the United States market, and we can all be forgiven for not knowing this (as very few were sold). This completely used-up, not-so-quick brown Fox jumped over the lazy junkyard dog after a life spent almost entirely in the East Bay, and now it rests in a self-service wrecking yard about two miles from its owner’s longtime place of employment. Read More >

By on March 28, 2014

04 - 1963 Fiat 1100D Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOld Fiats aren’t uncommon in American self-serve wrecking yards these days, but the ones you find are almost always Sport Spiders— we’ve seen this ’71, this ’71 850, this ’73, this ’75, this terrifyingly rusty ’76, this ’78, and this ’80 so far in this series— but a Fiat 1100? This is a first for me. Read More >

By on March 28, 2014

baycress14
To preface, this intrusion into the thunder dome that is Murilee’s arena isn’t going to be a regular occurrence. If you’ve ever seen him once-over a suspect entrant at a Lemons race, you know he is master of his domain. I’m not just any geek off the street myself though when it comes to the junkyard. I’ve seen my share of rare iron, intriguing clues of the final ride, and ill-advised repairs that command attention. However, there are special times when I walk through these hallowed grounds and see something that makes me come to a halt as quickly as an Iron Duke stripping it‘s plastic timing gear. This was such an occasion.

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By on March 27, 2014

05 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf all the GM J-bodies sold in America, the Olds Firenza may be the rarest. In 1984, most Oldsmobile wagon shoppers wanted a stately rear-wheel-drive behemoth with a V8 engine, not some newfangled small wagon with a little communist-inspired four-cylinder engine driving the wrong wheels. Thus, Firenza wagons are rarer today than early AC Cobras. Here’s one that I found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard last weekend, while I was in town for the fifth annual Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons. Read More >

By on March 19, 2014

13 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember the Daihatsu Rocky? No? That’s OK, several vehicles of this type sank without a trace during the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., the Dodge Raider), and Daihatsu itself fled the United States in 1992. I see Daihatsu Charades in self-serve wrecking yards about every six months these days— including this ’89 and this ’90— and I don’t bother photographing most of them. A Rocky, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that this is the first Rocky I’ve seen anywhere in at least five years. How many are left on the street in North America? Hundreds? Dozens? Read More >

By on March 18, 2014

03 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAs I always mention when writing about the the Toyota Corona, my first car was a beige ’69 four-door. Examples of the first generation of the Corona sold in the United States remain defiantly uncollectible for the most part (though a few do get restored and/or customized here and there), which means that beat-up ones wash ashore at self-service wrecking yards when they no longer serve as cheap transportation. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, this ’70 coupe, and this bonus Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. Today’s find is the result of an archeological expedition into an old backup hard drive dating from early 2007, so this California Corona was shredded and put on a container ship in the Port of Oakland about seven years back. Read More >

By on March 12, 2014

20 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Toyota Cressida is now at its moment of peak junkyard availability, with most examples finally getting to the point at which repairs just aren’t justified by the car’s value. The Cressida was an extremely well-built car by 1980s standards, and a pretty good car even through our jaded 21st-century eyes (which view vehicles that get scrapped before 200,000 miles as suspiciously crappy and/or abused). We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in the Junkyard Find Series so far, but today’s Cressida is the first wagon. Read More >

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