By on July 5, 2016

1971 Mercury Montego sedan in California Junkyard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

It’s not hard to find Detroit sedans of the early to mid 1970s in California self-service wrecking yards, and so I usually don’t photograph stuff like ’73 Olds 88s or ’76 Chrysler New Yorkers unless they’re in pretty decent condition. However, the 1970-71 Mercury Montego is special because these cars (and their Cyclone cousins) have the craziest snouts of just about any vehicle from Detroit during the second half of the 20th century, thus I felt compelled to photograph this very battered example. It also pleases me to make Lincoln-Mercury loyalist Sajeev Mehta taste his own bitter tears, so here we go! Read More >

By on June 29, 2016

1971 American Motors Gremlin in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Once American Motors was absorbed by Chrysler in 1987, after lingering on the ropes for a few years during a series of early-1980s bailouts by Renault (i.e., the French government), random strands of its Kenosha/Boulogne-Billancourt DNA appeared here and there in various Chrysler products over the following decades. You’ll still find plenty of examples of full-on AMC products in North American junkyards today, in the form of the XJ Cherokee and AMC Eagle (the case could be made that the Chrysler LH is an AMC design, via the Renault 21/25-based Eagle Premier), but full-strength AMC models from the company’s heyday of the George Romney era and into the early 1970s are very rare sights today.

Here’s a pre-Malaise Gremlin, in glorious brown, that I spotted in a Denver yard last week. Read More >

By on June 20, 2016

1999 Cadillac Eldorado ETC in California junkyard, LH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Cadillac built the tenth and final generation of the Eldorado for the 1992 through 2002 model years, and one of the trim levels had a maddeningly irritating acronym that could have come only from a large organization with many, many 14-hour airless meetings under soporifically humming fluorescent conference-room lights: ETC! Read More >

By on June 13, 2016

1990 Geo Storm in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Storm was the Geo-ized American-market version of the 1990-1993 Isuzu Gemini Coupe, and the GSi version was cheaper and more powerful than most of its sport-compact competition of the era. Most of them seemed to come in bright yellow paint, and most of them were crushed before they hit their tenth birthday. Still, some of them survived as long as any Civic Si or Sentra SE-R.

Here’s one that I found in a Denver-area self-service yard last year. Read More >

By on June 6, 2016

1985 Buick Riviera in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

In 1979, the Riviera moved onto the front-wheel-drive Toronado/Eldorado platform, continuing the tradition of rococo Riviera personal luxury coupes that started back in 1963. This version of the Riviera was built through the 1985 model year, so we’re looking at the very last year of the V8 Riviera in this weathered Denver car. Read More >

By on May 31, 2016

1986 Pontiac Fiero in California Junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Pontiac Fiero was a frequent junkyard sighting up until about a decade ago, but now they’re quite rare. So far in this series, we have seen this excessively yellow ’86, this ’88 Formula, and now today’s Iron Duke-powered ’86. Read More >

By on May 25, 2016

1988 Mitsubishi Precis in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Hyundai Excel had a Mitsubishi engine, and so some obscure tenet of badge engineering mandated a Mitsubishi-branded Excel so it might drive on the same roads as Plymouth-branded Mitsubishis.

This was the Mitsubishi Precis, a car that was so stunningly bad and such a poor seller that this one is the first and only example I have ever seen in all my years of crawling through wrecking yards.

That makes it one of the rarest cars … in the world. Read More >

By on May 23, 2016

1981 Toyota Corolla SR5 Coupe in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

These days, plenty of tuner kids want to get a E70 Corolla and turn it into a sick drift machine … but then reality sets in and they end up commuting to work in a 15-year-old Kia Rio instead. Meanwhile, the abandoned drift-project TE72 wagons become 24 Hours of LeMons cars, if they’re lucky, and the rusty SR-5s just get scrapped once something costing more than $19 breaks.

This ’81 Corolla two-door SR-5 liftback gave its all in the service of its owners, and now it awaits parts buyers in a Denver self-service yard. Read More >

By on May 20, 2016

1969 Chevrolet Van in Colorado Wrecking Yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For most of the 1960s, the forward-control, mid-engined small van, with the driver sitting atop the front axle and crowded against the door by an engine-containing box known as the “doghouse,” was quite popular in the United States. These things were bouncy, ill-handling, dangerous steel boxes, but they could haul absurd loads with their 1904-technology solid axles and leaf springs all the way around and were easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

Nearly all these vans were used up or crashed decades ago, but xillion-mile survivors still trickle into wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a rare long-wheelbase late-’60s ChevyVan that I spotted in Denver last week. Read More >

By on May 18, 2016

1988 Subaru Justy in California Wrecking Yard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

You can’t talk about the miserable econoboxes of the 1980s without talking about perhaps the most miserable of them all: the irresistibly cheap, irredeemably terrible, front-wheel-drive Subaru Justy (the all-wheel-drive Justy could be a lot of fun, of course).

You won’t see many of these cars today, but I was able to find this 28-year-old survivor in a Silicon Valley U-Wrench-It yard. Read More >

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