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 >

By on March 16, 2016

1982 Toyota Starlet in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Starlet was sold in the United States for the 1981 through 1984 model years, though not in large numbers. It was rock-and-stick simple, had rear-wheel drive and an unkillable pushrod engine, and it got a (claimed) 54 highway mpg. But it was tiny and cramped even by Miserable Econobox standards and had to compete with the Corolla Tercel on the very same showroom floors. Since the Tercel was cheaper, roomier, more powerful (everything is relative!), and generally more modern, American Starlets were rare to start with. They have become even more rare today, as generations of wild-eyed engine-swappers tripled Starlet horsepower and stuffed the handful of remaining examples (that didn’t succumb to rust) into concrete abutments and dragstrip K-barriers.

Here’s a Colorado ’82 that is as close to being completely used up as any vehicle I have ever seen in a wrecking yard. Read More >

By on March 14, 2016

1979 Ford Granada RH front view in California junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

I took my first driver’s test, in 1982, in a loathsome ex-rental-car 1979 Ford Granada sedan, a car that made my beige 1969 Toyota Corona sedan seem both fun to drive and cool by comparison. Since that time, it makes me happy each time I see a pre-Fox Platform Granada (or its Mercury sibling, the Monarch) in the junkyard. Where it belongs. Read More >

By on March 11, 2016

1974 Chevrolet El Camino in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Chevrolet El Camino reached its largest size in the 1973-1977 fourth-generation version, while engine power decreased at about the same rate as its bumper size increased. Still, these cartrucks are somewhat sought-after today, more so than the later, smaller G-body-based ones.

Since you won’t see many of these vehicles in self-service wrecking yards, I thought this California example was worth including in this series. Read More >

By on March 9, 2016

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, front 3/4 view, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The greatest Oldsmobile song of all time is Public Enemy’s 1987 masterpiece, “You’re Gonna Get Yours” (from all the many great Oldsmobile songs out there), but just what kind of Olds 98 was it that Chuck D used to get all those suckers to the side? I say it was the 1977-1984 tenth-generation 98, and here’s an example of a luxurious ’79 Regency Coupe, complete with landau roof and plenty of fake wood trim inside. Read More >

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