By on January 3, 2014

10 -1978 Ford Fiesta Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Ford Fiesta story is an interesting one, with this car being a huge gamble for Ford’s global operations back in the 1970s. This car was intended for the European market from day one, but a fair number of Mk1 Fiestas were sold the United States for the 1978 through 1981 model years (eventually, the Mazda-designed/Kia-built Ford Festiva filled the US-market Ford lineup spot vacated by the Fiesta. These cars have been rare to the point of near-extinction for decades now, being disposable cheapo commuters and all, but they do show up from time to time in self-serve wrecking yards. I found this ’78 Fiesta Sport in Denver a couple years back, and last month I spotted today’s find in Northern California. Read More >

By on December 30, 2013

13 - 1980 Ford Fairmont Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Fairmont was the Fox platform-based cheap midsize Ford that replaced the Maverick, and nobody ever paid much attention to the Fairmont sedans. However, the sporty coupe version of the Fairmont— the Futura— had a certain style, much like Mercury Zephyr Coupe, and so I decided this ’80 was worth photographing when I spotted it in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard a few months ago. Read More >

By on December 27, 2013

04 - Volvo 440GLT Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDuring my recent trip to Iceland, I stopped by a few Reykjavik wrecking yards to see what kind of stuff those Norsemen send to The Crusher. We’ve seen this Lada Niva, and this Renault Megane, some Dodges, and now we’ve got a DAF-connected Volvo that was never sold in the United States. Read More >

By on December 20, 2013

11 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Dodge Tradesman cargo van of the 1970s was quite popular among customizers back in the days of 20% annual inflation and talk-box guitar solos, as we saw with this ’72 Tradesman Junkyard Find last year. In the very same San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard, here’s a Slant-6 Tradesman that doesn’t quite qualify as a custom van— not with just tinted glass and aftermarket wheels— but is still a nice time capsule. Read More >

By on December 19, 2013

15 - 1984 Chevrolet Chevette Diesel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDid you know that the Chevrolet Chevette was manufactured in the United States through the 1987 model year? It’s true! Serious fans of Chevette trivia also know that American car shoppers could buy a new Chevette with an Isuzu diesel engine; Chevette Diesel owners could eke out tremendous range in their oil-stinking, cramped, rear-drive econoboxes, and isn’t that really what car ownership was all about in the middle 1980s? I see the occasional Chevette in my travels (not to mention on the race track), but this California find is the first diesel Chevette in this series. Read More >

By on December 18, 2013

18 - 1977 Datsun 810 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Datsun 810 wagon was a fairly common sight on the streets of Northern California during the Middle and Late Malaise Eras, sort of the semi-sporty wagon choice for families who wanted a family hauler with a bit of 280Z in its genes. The Datsun 810 became the Datsun Maxima by the early 1980s and the Nissan Maxima by 1984, and all of the rear-drive members of this family have become rare finds these days. We’ve seen this ’82 Maxima and this ’78 810 wagon so far in this series; those two cars and today’s 810 were all shot during trips to California wrecking yards. I don’t know if they even existed outside of a 50-mile radius from San Francisco. Read More >

By on December 17, 2013

18 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo, out of the entire series of Junkyard Finds, which goes back three years and includes more than 600 posts, which vehicle has attracted the most readers? Strangely, it’s this 1987 Dodge Raider, which I shot in a Denver yard about a year ago. Why? Perhaps fans of the rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero are especially obsessed devoted, to a degree that the rest of us (I’m sure Raider/Montero/Pajero fans have a derisive nickname for us) will never understand. Anyway, here is exactly the second Raider I’ve seen in a wrecking yard since the start of this series; I found this little gold devil during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area last week. Read More >

By on December 16, 2013

05 - 1967 Plymouth Valiant Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe march of the Chrysler A-bodies into The Crusher’s jaws continues in Colorado; in this series prior to today, we’ve seen this ’75 Duster, this ’75 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’66 Dart, this ’73 Valiant, and this ’61 Valiant. Most of these cars’ contemporary competitors— Chevy Novas, Ford Falcons and Mavericks, AMC Gremlins— were crushed decades ago, but plenty of the old 318- and Slant 6-powered Chrysler commuters managed to hang on in everyday service for nearly half a century. This ’67 sedan still looks pretty solid, but these days only the Dart coupes are worth fixing up. Read More >

By on December 11, 2013

12 - 1989 Mazda 929 Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIn 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 >

By on December 5, 2013

16 - 1988 Dodge Colt Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWe 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 >

By on December 4, 2013

15 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinEven 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 >

By on December 3, 2013

01 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 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 >

By on December 2, 2013

14 - 1964 Oldsmobile 98 Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve done quite a few Olds 98 Junkyard Finds, but they’ve all been from the 1975-1995 era. Here’s a big Ninety-Eight from an earlier time. Read More >

By on November 27, 2013

07 - 1986 Nissan 200SX Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 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 >

By on November 26, 2013

01 - Lada Niva Down on the Reykjavik Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen 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 >

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