In the late 1980s, otherwise known as the Before Lexus LS Era, American car shoppers didn’t have many choices for big Japanese luxury sedans. You had the Toyota Cressida, the Nissan Maxima, and that was pretty much it (nitpickers might add the Mitsubishi Diamante to this list, since it was possible to buy one in late 1989; the same could be said of the Lexus LS, of course). Or was it? Oh yes, there was also the Mazda 929, a car that never made much of an impact in North America. I owned an ’88 929 for a fairly brief period about ten years ago (I made a complicated four-cornered car deal that resulted in the 929 and a Volvo 244 being added to my fleet) and I thought it was a very good car. Since that time, I’ve kept my eyes open for 929s, finding about zero on the street and this ’91 in the junkyard so far. On a trip to Northern California yesterday, I spotted today’s ’89. Read More >
Category: Down On The Junkyard
We see the occasional Colt hatchback in this series— say, this ’84 Plymouth Colt Turbo or this ’88 Dodge Colt hatchback— but the Colt sedan is stop-the-presses rare by Junkyard Find standards. Chrysler called this car the Premier, and it’s full of unusual-for-a-badge-engineered-econobox options. Read More >
Even though Denver wrecking yards are always full of old trucks, the Dodge Ramcharger isn’t quite as common as its GM, Ford, and Jeep rivals. In fact, this Royal SE ’83 Ramcharger is the only example we’ve seen in this series, prior to today’s find. This tan Dodge is every bit as Malaise-y as the yellow ’76 Wagoneer we saw last month, so let’s look at these photos and imagine what it was like driving a 9 MPG truck during a period of high inflation and steep gas prices. Read More >
The Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph for this series; I’ll shoot a rare Neon R/T, but that’s about it. Still, something about the dot-com-boom optimism of the Expresso trim level catches my attention, so I paused to document this ’96 in its final parking spot. Read More >
The 240SX version of the Nissan Silvia has become something of a cult car among drifter types in the United States, but the earlier (1984-88) 200SX version seems to have disappeared from both the streets and the public consciousness. Still, I see the occasional 200SX in wrecking yards these days, and I spotted this red ’86 in a Denver yard last week. Read More >
When I went to Iceland to abuse some Subarus, I managed to visit a couple of Reykjavik junkyards and poke around a bit. In addition to the weird-to-American-eyes French cars and puzzling quantities of 1990s Chrysler products, I found this VAZ-2121 aka Lada Niva 3-door wedged nose-to-tail with a green Megane. Read More >
One thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area self-serve yard than you’ll see Corollas or Civics. You’ll also find lots of more recent Legacies and Imprezas, not to mention XTs, BRATs, SVXs, and even the occasional Justy 4WD. 1970s Subarus, however, are getting pretty rare here; in this series, we’ve seen just this ’79 Leone wagon and this ’79 GL sedan so far. Today, we add this very-much-of-its-time ’78 wagon. Read More >
Paraphrasing the Drive-By Truckers; I grew up in the south back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
The dinosaurs of were the boats you see in Murlee’s amazing contributions. But at the time, the “cool” ones fit into one of three narrow categories; Camaro, Firebird or Mustang. V8s and solid rear axles enabled them to spin the tires. Our $3.37 per hour minimum wage jobs did not enable us to replace them.
Fortunately the market had a solution; retreads. Bald tires with a new tread pattern effectively glued over the top. You don’t see them very often now, but at one time, they made up 20% of the tire market.
The BMW E24 6-series is one of those cars with a vast, uncrossable gulf between the values assigned to it by Internet Car Experts and those assigned by Hardbitten Burned-By-Real-World-Purchases Car Experts. The Internet Car Expert has seen an ’87 635CSi in nice shape with an asking price of $25,000 on Craigslist, and therefore he knows that even a rough one is worth ten grand, minimum. The Hardbitten Burned-By-Real-World-Purchases Car Expert once paid $2,500 for a fairly solid E24, put $1,500 of parts into it, and sold it for $2,750. The junkyard doesn’t lie, and I see E24s in cheap self-service yards all the time, so often that I don’t photograph most of them. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, has just enough of that Late Malaise Era appeal, with its overtones of imminent Able-Archer 83-triggered nuclear annihilation (plus a manual transmission), that I decided to shoot it. Read More >
By far the most numerous British sports car in junkyards these days— and, in fact, for the last few decades— is the MGB. We’ve seen many of these cars in this series, but today’s find is just the second Junkyard Find Spitfire, after this ’75. The Spitfire had a long production run, 19 years total, but Spitfires just weren’t anywhere near as sturdy as their MGB cousins and most of the non-perfect examples got crushed long ago. Still, every so often a forgotten project gets evicted from a garage or back yard, and that’s probably what this happened to this battered ’65 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard last month. Read More >
Last week, Subaru shipped me directly from the Chubba Cheddar Enduro 24 Hours of LeMons at Road America to Iceland, so that I could follow hallowed LeMons tradition and destroy a press car in dramatic fashion. I failed to kill any XV Crosstrek Hybrids, but I did get the opportunity to break away from the Subaru minders and get to do what I really love about traveling: visit exotic foreign wrecking yards! Iceland has a bizarre and unpredictable mix of vehicles on its roads, with the types of car and truck imports varying from month to month based on some inscrutable combination of momentary cheapness and currency-rate numbers, and you’ll see a wide selection of Asian, European, and Detroit machinery in the chilly junkyards of Reykjavik. Ladas next to Ssangyongs next to Dodges! Jason Kavanaugh of Edmunds (more importantly, of the legendary LeMons team, Eyesore Racing) spotted this much-sliced car and suggested that it would make a good Mystery Car for a future Junkyard Find, and he’s right! Read More >
Plenty of front-wheel-drive Cutlasses go to The Crusher without being photographed for this series, but here’s one with an interesting customization job that attracted my attention. Why didn’t GM ever make a wagon with a red-glass option? Read More >
Since Willys/Kaiser/Jeep/AMC/Chrysler built the Wagoneer from Biblical times until ten minutes ago (actually 1963 through 1991), and I live in Jeep-centric Colorado, I see these things just about every time I visit a wrecking yard. Mostly, I don’t photograph them (unless I see an unusually late example, such as this ’89, or one resplendent in purple paint and tape stripes, like this ’81), but today’s Junkyard Find— spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard a few weeks ago— was just so incredibly Malaise-y that I felt compelled to document it in its final parking space. Read More >
While the US government decided Chrysler was too big to fail and bailed out the company with loan guarantees in 1979, American Motors was judged just the right size to fail and had to get bailed out by the French government. This led right to the weird history of the Renault Alliance, which included a Wisconsin-ized Renault 11 hatchback called the Encore. The Encore wasn’t a huge seller in North America and the car tended to deteriorate quickly under American conditions, so today’s Junkyard Find is a rare one. Read More >