By on October 21, 2015

06 - 2009 Kia Rondo in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

It’s unusual, though not unheard-of, for sub-10-year-old cars to show up in the cheap self-service wrecking yards; most that do are from Detroit.

Or Korea.

I saw this ’07 Sedona covered with fingerpaint and hippie stickers in Wisconson a couple months ago, and now I’ve found this ’09 Kia Rondo in Colorado. The Rondo never made much of an impression in the United States and disappeared without a trace after the 2010 model year, so it’s of some interest as a forgotten car. Read More >

By on October 19, 2015

15 - 1984 Mitsubishi Starion Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Many of us laugh at the Starion now, but it was considered genuinely badass by me and my high-school peers back in 1983 or 1984. It looked fast and mean and had the magical-in-the-1980s word “TURBO” on every possible surface.

Of course, it was also a flaky, breakdown-prone money pit, but it took a few years for that to become clear to everyone. Still, Starions show up in self-service wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a battered ’84 that I saw in the San Francisco Bay Area a while back. Read More >

By on October 14, 2015

00 - 1984 Chevrolet Citation in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Ah, the General Motors X-body cars! Always good for some anecdotes from readers about rust-through on two-year-old cars, amazing quantities of warranty repairs, and Stuka-dive-style depreciation graphs. After the Citation, the Chevy Corsica seemed like a fine automobile.

So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this ’81 Citation, this frighteningly rusty ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, this ’82 Citation, this ’83 Citation, and this ’84 Omega, and (because I just can’t resist shooting these things when I see them, no doubt because I believe this ’84 X-body Pontiac to be rivaled only by this 1986 Plymouth Reliant wagon for the dubious prize of Worst Car I’ve Ever Driven), this late-production ’84 Citation II. Read More >

By on October 12, 2015

14 - 1960 Dodge Pickup in California junkyard - photo by Murilee MartinChrysler’s flathead (aka “L-head”) straight-six engine is one of the forgotten heroes of prewar and postwar Detroit, being produced from 1929 through some undefined year in the early 1970s (for stationary use, e.g., in generators and irrigation pumps). There was even a five-bank, 30-cylinder version made for tanks. It appears that it was possible to buy a new Dodge truck with the flathead six through the 1968 model year, though some say that Uncle Sam was the only buyer for the last few years of flathead Dodges. Most buyers opted for futuristic overhead-valve engines by the 1960s, anyway, but here’s a D-series pickup in a California wrecking yard that still has its L-head. Read More >

By on October 7, 2015

18 - 1983 Lincoln Continental in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

In 1982, the 7th-generation Lincoln Continental went to the Fox Platform, elbowing the Fox-based Lincoln Versailles aside. These cars didn’t hold their value so well, which meant that you won’t see many these days.

Here’s a reasonably solid example I saw at a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard two months ago. Read More >

By on October 5, 2015

09 - 1991 Ford Escort Pony in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

Back in the early 1990s, the elite members of the Detroit Big Three were trying hard to compete on price with dirt-cheap imported Misery Boxes such as the Subaru Justy, Hyundai Excel, and Toyota Tercel EZ. They came up with stripper versions of their low-end subcompacts (e.g., the Plymouth Sundance America), which few bought. Why buy an Escort Pony for $7,976 when you could have a zero-option ’91 Civic for $7,095, and still be driving the Civic (very slowly, and maybe on its third head gasket) today? This makes the Escort Pony a very rare Junkyard Find today, so I grabbed my camera when I saw this one at a Denver yard. Read More >

By on September 30, 2015

21- 1985 Dodge Lancer ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Chrysler hadn’t been making the K Platform for long before they branched it out into the bewildering K Family Tree that confuses everybody to this day. Iacocca’s Chrysler-saving (or demise-postponing, depending on your point of view) platform gave us both the worst car in human history and a Dodged-down version of the swanky LeBaron GTS. Here’s an example of the latter that I saw in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. Read More >

By on September 28, 2015


When I write these little features, I always follow a set of self-imposed rules:

Rule No. 1: The car is always the main character;

Rule No. 2: Avoid using the same personality profile as in a previous story;

Rule No. 3: Inject truth. Use real ownership experiences for each example, and plausible explanations for clues;

And, Rule No. 4: Avoid blanket, prepared or generic scenarios.

I’m going to bend that last one a little bit. I’ve found the right example to illustrate it.

Read More >

By on September 28, 2015

00 - 1999 Dodge Neon in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee MartinWhen Chrysler went all macho with tough car names, it was partly an attempt to expunge the marketing memory of the cute and happy ads for the Neon. The Neon was much better than its wretched Shadow/Sundance predecessor, but still enough of a disposo-car that junkyards teem with them today. Mostly I walk right by discarded Neons (unless I see something unusual, like an Expresso or an R/T), but this ’99 Neon Sport has aftermarket performance gear to match its stickers and that’s interesting enough for this series. Read More >

By on September 23, 2015

00 - 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

We saw a 1990 Cavalier Z24 just a few months ago, but lately I’ve developed a sick fascination with the allegedly high-performance versions of the very popular Chevrolet Cavalier. Maybe it’s the wretchedness of the breed in the 24 Hours of LeMons, or maybe it’s the vivid purple paint job. Whatever the reason, here’s another ’90 that I found in a Denver-area yard not long ago. Read More >

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  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Bark M., United States
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