By on April 8, 2016

1983 Nissan Sentra in California Junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The first-generation Nissan Sentra first appeared on American roads in 1982, early in the very costly Datsun-to-Nissan rebranding process. The lightweight, fuel-efficient Sentra was a big sales hit, because drivers in the early 1980s (with vivid memories of the gas lines of a few years earlier) were willing to put up with double-digit horsepower and lots of NVH in a car that promised decent reliability and cheap point-A-to-point-B costs. Now, of course, nearly all of the early Sentras are gone, so this well-worn example in a San Francisco Bay Area yard gives us an interesting history lesson. Read More >

By on April 6, 2016

1969 Volkswagen Beetle in California junkyard, LH Front View - © 2016 Murilee Martin

The production run of the Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle, which was built using essentially the same design from 1938 through 2003, will never be surpassed; the runner-up Morris Oxford II/Hindustan Ambassador was made from 1954 through 2014, and we feel fairly sure that the Chinese Communist Party will put a stop to Chinese production of the first-gen Kia Pride/Ford Festiva long before it beats the Beetle in the year 2053.

I see quite a few Beetles during my junkyard travels, but rarely photograph them. This one, found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard, had enough of a story to tell that I felt compelled to document it. Read More >

By on April 4, 2016

1974 Toyota Land Cruiser in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Land Cruiser has been around since the Sengoku Period (OK, since 1951), and all varieties of this truck tend to have plenty of obsessively devoted single-interest fanatics here in Colorado. You’ll see the occasional FJ60 Land Cruiser in junkyards here, and I’ve even seen a well-stripped FJ40 in a Denver yard. Today’s well-thrashed Junkyard Find is the first example of an FJ55 Land Cruiser I’ve found. Read More >

By on April 1, 2016

00 - 1993 Jeep Cherokee in Colorado junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Examples of the XJ Jeep Cherokee are everywhere in Denver junkyards (nearly as numerous as late-1990s Subaru Outbacks, these days), and it takes a special one to make me deploy my camera. I thought the factory-installed orange tape stripes on this ’91 Cherokee Sport were interesting, and now today’s ’93 with innovative tree-branches-and-rattlecans camo job has made the cut. Read More >

By on March 30, 2016

1968 Volvo 144 in California junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

How is it that there are still sufficient Volvo 140s left, more than 40 years after production of the original Swedish brick ceased, that you’ll still find plenty of them in American wrecking yards? Not in the quantities you’ll find of their 240 descendants, of course, but anybody driving a 140 today should have no problem getting parts. Read More >

By on March 28, 2016

1986 Buick Regal Somerset in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Because General Motors felt that the world — or at least Michigan and maybe Wisconsin — needed a small, affordable personal luxury coupé with a digital instrument cluster, rackety pushrod four-cylinder engine, and a name that started life as the designation for an early-’80s Regal trim package, the 1985-87 Buick Somerset, sibling to the N-Body Pontiac Grand Am, was born. I have an unexplainable fascination with The General’s attempts to compete with high-end German sporty luxury in the 1980s and 1990s, so I was drawn to this California Somerset like a personal-injury attorney scenting an Accord driver with Takata airbag fragments embedded in his flesh. Read More >

By on March 26, 2016

1987 Dodge Raider in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The Dodge Raider was a transparently badge-engineered first-gen Mitsubishi Montero (known as the Pajero in much of the world), available in the United States for just the 1987-89 model years. The Montero wasn’t a big seller and its Raider sibling was a rare sight even in the late 1980s. I find the more obscure Chrysler-badged Mitsubishis fascinating, so I photograph every Raider I see in the junkyard.

We have seen a Ford product and a GM product in this series so far this week, so we’ll finish it up with a Chrysler(-badged) product. Read More >

By on March 23, 2016

1983 Oldsmobile Toronado in Arizona junkyard, LH front view- ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The Oldsmobile Toronado started out as a big sporty car, morphed into an Eldorado-styled full-on luxury boat, then spent its twilight years getting progressively smaller and less opulent. Every Toronado ever made had front-wheel-drive and two doors, and every one had at least some Eldorado DNA in its bloodstream.

Here’s a downsized-but-still-substantial third-generation Toronado I found at a self-service yard in Phoenix, while I was in Arizona to work at the Arizona D-Bags 24 Hours of LeMons. Read More >

By on March 21, 2016

1989 Mercury Sable in Colorado junkyard, front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The first-generation Mercury Sable, like its revolutionary Ford Taurus sibling, was a smash sales hit. Then, well, the plastic in those cool-looking “lightbar” grilles yellowed after a few years, sales of later Sables declined, and then the 1986-1991 Sables were just about all gone. I don’t see many first-gen Sables at U-Yank-It yards these days, though they were not uncommon just a few years ago.

Here is an appliance-white ’89 that I found in a Denver yard recently. Read More >

By on March 18, 2016

1980 Toyota Corona in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - © 2016 Murilee Martin

I have an extensive formative history with the 1965-70 (third-generation) Toyota Corona, and so I photograph them whenever I find them in junkyards. So far in this series, prior to today, we’ve seen this ’66 sedan, this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, and this ’70 coupe. Much harder to find in the United States is the 1979-83 Corona, which was replaced by the Camry in the U.S. market for the 1983 model year.

Here’s an extremely rare 1980 Corona liftback that I spotted in Denver last month. Read More >

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