By on May 20, 2014

15 - 1966 Mercedes-Benz 230 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mercedes-Benz W110 makes a good endurance racer, and plenty of examples are still on the street. I see a few of these tailfin-equipped cars in wrecking yards, but most of them are so picked over and/or obliterated by 500,000 miles of hard use that I don’t bother photographing them. Here’s one that’s still pretty complete, spotted in a Denver yard last week. Read More >

By on May 19, 2014

11 - 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhile Fiat 124 Sport Spiders are commonplace in junkyards, the Alfa Romeo Spider has remained sufficiently valuable that few examples make it to the kind of self-service, high-inventory-turnover wrecking yards I frequent for this series. We’ve seen this ’74 and that’s it prior to today (though I have passed by a few junked Alfa Spiders that were picked clean before I got there). The Alfa Spider was more expensive than the Fiat Spider when new— in 1978, the Alfa listed at $9,195 (about the same as a new ’78 BMW 320i), while the Fiat cost a mere $6,495 (just a bit more than a Volkswagen Scirocco)— and American Alfa Romeo fanatics have always been more maniacally obsessed than Fiat fanatics. Here’s an unrusted, not-yet-completely-stripped ’78 that I found in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple months back. Read More >

By on May 15, 2014

03 - 2000 Pontiac Grand Am GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe final iteration of the Grand Am, which was built for the 1999 through 2005 model years, had all the looked-bad-after-five-years plastic cladding that made 1990s GM cars so forgettable and RAM AIR! GM cars of this vintage are still so commonplace in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards that it takes something special for me to break out the camera for such a car; in this series so far, we’ve seen this supercharged Grand Prix GTP, this Beretta Z26, this Cavalier Z24, and this Pontiac Sunfire, and now it’s the Grand Am’s turn. Read More >

By on May 14, 2014

19 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chevy Citation (and X-body Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick siblings) was built in large quantities during its 1980-1985 run, but disappeared from American streets fairly quickly; by the middle 1990s, an X-body in running condition was a rare sight. Still, I run across them in junkyards now and then. In this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, and this ’83 Citation, and I’ve declined to photograph many more. I spotted today’s find in a Northern California wrecking yard back in March, and it’s a loaded hatchback with V6, automatic, and refrigerator-white paint. Read More >

By on May 9, 2014

24 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door diesel Dasher. Read More >

By on May 8, 2014

10 - 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe value of a Mercedes-Benz R107/C107 goes down to a hair’s-breadth over scrap price once it becomes non-perfect, and so it’s no surprise that these things have been quite common in American self-serve wrecking yards for the last couple of decades. We’ve seen this ’80 450SL, this ’74 450SL, and this ’78 450SLC so far in this series, and here’s a ’77 450SLC that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area last year. Such luxury, such status! It almost makes me want to pick up a cheap SLC for myself. Read More >

By on May 7, 2014

01 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Ford Festiva aka Kia Pride aka Mazda 121 spent much of the last decade being a fairly common sight in American self-serve wrecking yards, but lately I’ve been seeing many fewer examples of this little gas-sipper. You can buy this car new in Iran, where it is badged as the Saipa 132, and some outlaw factory is probably still building the things in China. We’ve seen this ’90 Festiva in this series, and now I’ve found a decal-enhanced example of the final model year of the US-market Festiva (the next generation Pride was called the Aspire in the United States) in a Denver yard. Read More >

By on April 30, 2014

07 - 1986 Pontiac Fiero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Fiero was something of a disappointment for GM, to put it mildly, but enough of them were sold that I still see the occasional example in fast-turnover wrecking yards. For some reason, I haven’t photographed any junkyard Fieros for this series before today (though I have photographed an incredibly detailed full-back Fiero tattoo, and Sajeev has written about this 3.8-swapped Fierrari), but this extremely yellow ’86 in Northern California caught my eye a few months back. Read More >

By on April 29, 2014

11 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know how people say there aren’t any truly bad cars sold in the US any more, with a sort of wistfulness that we’ve lost the benefits of an era when men were men and miles spent in miserable crapwagons strengthened your character? Every time I see a Chevette in a wrecking yard— which happens more often than you might think, given the checks-all-the-boxes awfulness of these heaps— I’m reminded of how great today’s lowliest econoboxes are compared to the stuff you might buy during the darkest night of the Malaise Era. I’m a member of the generation whose first cars were mostly dredged from the cheapest-possible-used-car cesspool that contained such horrors as the Pinto, early Colt, and Vega, and— even against that backdrop of automotive suckiness— the Chevette stood out as the booby prize, the car that your crazy aunt gave you when she upgraded to a new Renault Alliance and you couldn’t afford the $150 to buy a Maverick with a rod knock. About the best that could be said about the Chevette was that it was cheap and simple, without much to go wrong, and so there’s still a pool of the things to provide fresh examples for your local U-Wrench-It. Here’s one that I saw in California a few months back. Read More >

By on April 28, 2014

17 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBefore Subaru finally nailed down the sales-clinching formula for a car that had four-wheel-drive but didn’t seem too truck-like, all the major Japanese car manufacturers took at shot at building little sedans and wagons with power going to all the wheels. Since I live in Colorado, I get to see examples of each of those 1980s efforts, most of which didn’t result in much showroom action but are still pretty interesting today. In this series, we’ve seen a Camry All-Trac, quite a few Corolla All-Tracs, lots of Tercel 4WD wagons, countless elderly Subarus, and so on. The Honda Shuttle aka Civic Wagovan shows up in Denver wrecking yards as well, and I don’t bother to photograph most of them. This late Wagovan with the futuristic “Real-Time” four-wheel-drive system, however, is a rare find even in Colorado. Read More >

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