By on February 22, 2016

1971 Volvo 144 Sedan front 3/4 in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Volvo 140 was the first of the beloved brick-shaped Swedes. It was built for the 1967 through 1975 model years, and it served as the basis for the legendary 240. I owned one, briefly, and found it was a very competent machine for its era. These cars are not worth big money today, unless they’re in excellent cosmetic shape, so the ones that stay on the street tend to do so because their owners can keep them running for cheap. Read More >

By on February 19, 2016

2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx rear three-quarter in California junkyard, Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Malibu Maxx was a funny looking, crypto-station-wagon version of the 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu (which was itself based on the Opel Vectra C). It sold poorly and is now largely forgotten, which makes it exactly the kind of junkyard car I like to find.

Yes, obscure sales flops in the junkyard have stories to tell! Read More >

By on February 17, 2016

1989 Plymouth Horizon America Rear 3/4 in California junkyard, Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon (collectively known as the Omnirizon) was based on a Simca design originally intended for European use and was Chrysler’s first American built, front-wheel drive, economy car. The Omnirizon was cheap, got the job done, and sold very well, staying in the American marketplace from 1978 through to 1990 with few major changes.

We’ve seen an early Horizon and now I’ve spotted this late one in a California self-service yard. Read More >

By on February 16, 2016

15 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Station Wagon in California Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Everyone loves station wagons, right?

We saw three junkyard station wagons last week (a 1980 Toyota Corolla, a 1982 AMC Eagle, and a 1984 Ford Escort), and now we’re going deeper into the Malaise Wagon Era with this San Francisco Bay Area Dodge Aspen Read More >

By on February 12, 2016

08 - 1980 Toyota Corolla wagon in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The fourth-generation Corolla was a gigantic sales success in California, but you won’t see many of these TE72 wagons even in rust-free regions these days; nearly all of them were driven into the ground and replaced by RAV4s or Priuses a decade or two back.

Since we had wagon Junkyard Finds on Monday and Wednesday, let’s make this a Junkyard Wagon Week with this third one! Read More >

By on February 10, 2016

00 - 1982 AMC Eagle wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

I live in Colorado, where the AMC Eagle sold as well in the 1980s as the Subaru Outback does now, and so I see the all-wheel-drive versions of the American Motors Concord and Spirit everywhere here. This means they show up in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards like clockwork, and I photograph them when they do (and I walk right by most air-cooled Beetles, which I know is wrong).

So far, I have documented the demise of this ’79 wagon, this ’80 coupe, this white-with-plaid-interior ’80 wagon, this GM Iron Duke-powered ’81 SX/4, this ’82 hatchback, this ’83 SX/4 Sport, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 “woodie” wagon, and this ’85 wagon. Now we’ve got this gloriously brown-and-tan-and-beige-and-brown example of Malaise Era proto-crossover Kenosha goodness. Read More >

By on February 8, 2016

00 - 1984 Ford Escort wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The first North American Ford Escort went on sale for the 1981 model year; it was related to its Mark III Escort European counterpart but was more of a cousin than a sibling. It wasn’t a great car, but was such an improvement over its miserable Pinto predecessor that it flew off the showroom floors in great quantities. These cars were cheap and disposable, so nearly all of them disappeared during the 1990s.

I see quite a few of the Mazda 323/Kia Sephia-related second-gen Escorts in junkyards these days, but a genuine, early Escort wagon is nearly as rare as a numbers-matching Geo Prizm GSi today. Here’s a solid-looking ’84 wagon that I shot in Denver earlier this winter. Read More >

By on February 5, 2016

17 - 1986 Hyundai Excel in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

I can’t think of any vehicle manufacturer whose products improved as much and as quickly as Hyundai’s did between the ghastly first-gen Excel and the very nice Hyundais of, say, the current century.

The only new US-market car that was cheaper than the first Excel was the Yugo GV (which was, arguably, the better car), and in all my years of junkyard crawling I have never seen any vehicle that got discarded in larger quantities before reaching ten years of age (in fact, lots of Excels appeared at U-Wrench-It before their fifth birthdays).

This means that 1985-89 Excels are exceedingly rare in junkyards today, so I always photograph them when I find them. So far in this series, we have seen this ’86, this ’87, this ’88, and now today’s depressingly un-loaded ’87, which is as far advanced from today’s nice Hyundais as is a cargo-cult wicker plane from a Boeing 787. Read More >

By on February 3, 2016

00 - 1970 Ford Econoline van in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The Ford Econoline went from having a forward-control/mid-engine layout to sporting a stubby hood with the engine moved a bit forward for the 1968 through 1974 model years. Every time I see one of these vans in a wrecking yard, it has been so thoroughly used up that I feel compelled to break out my camera; so far in this series we have seen this ’70 cargo van, this ’70 passenger van, this STD-laden ’71 custom, and this extraordinarily biohazardous-looking ’72 camper (plus there’s this grainy black-and-white Econoline photo I shot in 1991, this full-on Southern California custom found in northern Sweden, and this time-capsule Denver customized ’74).

Today, we have this beat-to-hell-and-beyond California passenger-van-turned-work-truck. Read More >

By on February 2, 2016

01 - 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

While it was possible to buy a new W-body late-1980s/early-1990s Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, or Grand Prix with a five-speed manual transmission, almost nobody did so. These cars have become pretty rare by now, so the chances of finding a five-speed Grand Prix in the junkyard are about the same as finding a five-speed BMW 7-Series; it’s possible, but not likely.

Here’s an ’89 coupe I found in a Denver yard last week. Read More >

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