The Truth About Cars » Down On The Junkyard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Down On The Junkyard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/down-on-the-junkyard/ Last Rides Premium Selects: You Goin’ Nowhere http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/last-rides-premium-selects-goin-nowhere/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/last-rides-premium-selects-goin-nowhere/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105953 Today’s morbidly interesting victim is a friggin’ Yugo. If you know where this is going, I think there’s little else I could possibly say to encourage you to click the jump. My taste in cars strays wildly from that of most everyone. For me, exotics sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. If a car […]

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Today’s morbidly interesting victim is a friggin’ Yugo. If you know where this is going, I think there’s little else I could possibly say to encourage you to click the jump.

My taste in cars strays wildly from that of most everyone. For me, exotics sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. If a car is bad enough, I will probably relish the idea of re-engineering it so its road-worthiness is actually somewhat plausible, not to mention more…uhh…thrilling.

See, you have the guy in the Ferrari owning something exclusive due to his bank account. I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have is a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people who take cars too seriously. Sitting way on the other end of this spectrum is the famously terrible Yugo, also exclusive, but for different reasons.

Maybe now you can perhaps understand my delight when I stumbled upon our subject car… and my sadness.

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This wasn’t just any commoner-spec GV though, but a genuine GVL. From what I gather, the difference consisted of a fake basketball court glued to the dash and a special sticker on the air cleaner — you know, to show off when you have your hood open. The elemental-level modifications to the tin have been underway for some time, courtesy of Morton Salt the air.

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I climbed inside, and pretended to make sportbike sounds while admiring the peculiar placement of the village sticker collection. I then became trapped inside the Yugo.

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Coolly, I determined that the dried grease of the door lock mechanism must be overwhelmed by a sharp blow to the lock rocker switch. Only then did the Yugoslavian import release me from its not-just-metaphorical grip.

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I found this section of intact shipping plastic and the car’s low mileage remarkable. However, there was no hard evidence to be found that could be used to forge a tall tale of the Yugo’s final days of ownership. That is, until I found this picture of our protagonist at the helm of this very machine, taken back in August of last year.

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How did I get this image, you ask? A magician never reveals his secrets. License plate frames are one of those things that seem to rarely stay with a car when it changes hands. This one matches the weathered dealer sticker on the car from long-extinct Ruby Chevrolet. I’m pretty sure what we’re looking at here is cradle-to-grave, daily-driven Yugo ownership. I’m getting extreme tightwad vibes here.


 

Tomasz was an eccentric hero.

Tomasz chewed the last bite of Mrs. T’s pierogi, finding even more shredded bits of plastic. He spit them out onto the plate, and continued chewing. It disturbed him somewhat, but he thought, “Mama would be furious, but food is not to be wasted.”

He relaxed in the second-hand chair, and looked up at the flag of his mother country that was pinned to the wall of his one bedroom flat. The flag sagged in the middle, and the top half of the heraldic crest was covered in a light tinge of dust. Eurovision blared out of the small-tube television sitting on the TV cart next to the table.

After swallowing that last mouthful, Tomasz walked into the bathroom for a piss. He zipped up and admired the poster on the wall of a European prize fighter in a ready stance. Tomasz raised his fists as if squaring off with the man, and threw a few light blows to the air.

It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and he was now ready to face the work day.

The 55 year old exited the apartment into the thick air of Summit, IL. Stench from human waste, left to dry out in the sun in large vats, filled his nostrils and mixed with the nearby corn sweetener and asphalt plants. An orange and purple jetliner blasted overhead in a climb-out. The cacophony of truck parks, hissing gas valves, a rail yard, and a major interstate combined into a roaring din of industry.

Tomasz found the Yugo in the usual spot in the parking lot, squatting over its oil stain. He took the time today to perform some routine maintenance on his automobile. After all, he would tell others that this is why “There are no more Yugo left, because Americans are lazy and irresponsible,” and that given a little routine attention (like replacing the carburetor right after buying the car), this frugal machine will run forever. Tomasz added the missing quart of engine oil with his special blend of bottom shelf 10W-30, STP motor honey, and DEXRON in equal parts. The addition of transmission oil was a trick he learned long ago to boost gas mileage. He walked around, kicking the tires to insure they were still inflated to the self-imposed spec of 40 psi. “The high pressure is key for the excellent fuel burn,” he told himself, as was a clean air filter element. He would have liked to replace this vapor-soaked piece with a genuine Yugo part as specified, but those were in short supply. Instead, Tomasz resorted to throwing it to the ground repeatedly to shake off any dust. On a nice day like today, he might give the Yugo a bath with dishwashing liquid. However, thanks to the rust penetrating enough to stain the door cards, those days were long gone. Finally, he unsnapped the distributor cap, and inspected inside. “Hrrmmm.”

At Advance Auto Parts, the familiar sound of the little bucket droned, and then puttered outside. One counter person said to the other, “Hey, wait till you get a load of this guy. He drives a Yugo.” Tomasz walked up to the counter with the young man eagerly awaiting to serve him.

“I need a rotor bug.”

The employee asked with bated breath, as if confirming the unbelievable, “For…what kind of car?”

Tomasz replied, “1989 Yugo Gee Vee El.”

The young man peered into the monitor with stunned disbelief.

QTY DC 763: [34]

QTY ON HAND: [1]

Tomasz paid his $13 in cash and left with his new part. One of the employees watched out the window as the Yugo fired up and sputtered out onto Harlem Avenue. He then whipped his head around to face his fellow man, exclaiming, “Holy shit!”

The Yugo’s split muffler bleated past the GM Electromotive plant like a sheep in the Bosnian countryside. Tomasz employed 4th gear at 38 mph for fuel conservation. The plucky automobile responded by vibrating like a paint shaker. Then, he turned on the radio…in his mind, and hummed a favorite tune.

“Żadnego już nie powiesz jutro
OOOooooooohhhhh Ooooooooooohhh
 nie powiesz jutro
Żadnego z nich nie będziesz jutro czuć”

Tomasz turned on his signal for East Avenue — not just to indicate a left turn, but to supply power to the fuel and temperature gauges. As he always had, Tomasz watched as they gradually powered up. The temp was in the normal range, and the fuel gauge indicated half a tank remaining. The needles pulsed slightly with the indicator in unison. (Yes, this is really a thing they do). Tomasz eased the GVL carefully through the turn so as not to slosh fuel out of the tank from the rotten filler neck. The Yugo finished its five-mile commute at the end of the frontage road, and it gasped out a “putt-putt-putt-putt-pitter-putt” before being shut down.

Tomasz checked his Casio. He was right on time to begin another eighteen-hour shift.

Tomasz clocked in, and took his place in the end booth on the northbound side. He then hung his yellow placard in the window.

Illinois Tollway Plaza 37

Your toll collector: Tomasz Kuszczak

The veteran collector of twenty years seniority was as good at his job as you would expect. He warmed up with the building traffic that would form an onslaught of vehicles within minutes. His lane always flowed the fastest. Monies flew through his blue, condom-clad fingertips. An hour in, and his hands already had the tinge of silver and schmutz.

“Hello, how are you?” a man asked, handing Tomasz yet another $20 bill. He ignored the friendly gesture entirely, as it was nothing more than a burden of .014 seconds. Just fractions of seconds that would build exponentially until it deprived the field of motorists sprawled out behind this rig. Tomasz craned his neck out, counting the axles on the man’s trailer, and responded, “Dollar twenty.” Then the money flowed. In this rush hour, he had two “This is bullshit” type comments for taking what the motorists thought were excessive, and one for taking what they thought was too little yet imposing the inconvenience.

It was getting late. The flow through his flashing booth turned into a trickle. The clientele appeared to turn more weary, drunk, and belligerent. Some cackling teens in a beat-up Saturn slapped a pile of filthy pennies in front of him in an attempt to stick it to The Man.

Tomasz responded, “Oh! It’s just like Christmas!”, and slowly counted each penny.

“Twenty-five, twenty-six…”, the Saturn crept forward out of his periphery, “…twenty-nine, thirty-STOP!!” The startled teen mashed the brakes.

“…thirty-three…”

It was 3 a.m. when the murdered-out Dodge Ram stopped at his window. The angry man asked “Is this really your job?” Tomasz was unaffected, and handed him his change. The man in the truck shook his head, snorted, and throttled out into the night. Tomasz just grinned. This was really his job. He was quite content here at Plaza 37 on I-294, right next door to the sewage treatment plant. As the temps rose hotter, that sucker would pump out its rich funk, and the seasonal hires would duck out. He could get all the hours he wanted here. On track to clear $90,000 in 2015 with full benefits. He wished Mr. Ram all the best, watching his one tail light disappear around the bend.

“Break time!”

After handling most of the morning rush, Tomasz punched his time card and left the chaos for his tinny sled. As he prodded the gas pedal to warm the engine so it wouldn’t stall, he dreamed of being back at his place, handling some light chores before hitting the sack. The Yugo avoided the frenetic danger of LaGrange Road and I-55, cutting its way back along old Route 66. Tomasz waited in the right lane for 55th Street. His indicator flashed, and he checked his gauges again. Then, something peculiar happened. The clicking slowed to a stop. Tomasz was puzzled by this, and clicked the signal lever off and then back on. There was a buzz, and that’s when the smoke rolled out of all the dash vents. Tomasz whipped off his seat belts, and bolted out the door.

“Kurwaaaa mac!!”

He waited for a short time for the smoke to dissipate before nervously getting back into the idling Yugo and limping home.

In the weeks that followed, Tomasz tried in vain to get his Yugo’s lighting circuit working again. There was a brief eureka moment when he discovered the burnt-out fuse, but its replacement only resulted in even more smoke. The boys at Advance Auto Parts sadly could not help with finding “the wires” in their computer either. He began skipping all the shifts at work that required a nighttime commute. He could have a professional take a look at it, but realized his machine required specialized foreign auto technicians. Those were expensive. Tomasz came to the conclusion that purchasing this car in 1989 for $4,600 after rustproofing had a pretty good final ROI. He opened the hatch and examined the rust hole in the strut tower again. This area looked important. He sighed, closed the hatch and said, “You’re not costing me any money.”

The GVL left the apartments and puttered across the street to Pick-N-Pull. Tomasz parked his car for the last time. He perused the cars for sale with wonder. He didn’t know that the junkyard sold cars, and they were cheap!

“This Neon here. This good car?”

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Last Rides Premium Selects: Subhuman Kia Sedona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/last-rides-premium-selects-subhuman-kia-sedona/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/last-rides-premium-selects-subhuman-kia-sedona/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 20:45:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1038193 Sometimes I feel that many are not aware how my little tales hidden in the comments of Murilee’s Junkyard Finds are developed.  It’s all in the evidence, the details.  “I can’t comprehend how you are able to do so as quickly as you do.”, star commenter Dead Weight writes. With the right feature-rich victim, a […]

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Sometimes I feel that many are not aware how my little tales hidden in the comments of Murilee’s Junkyard Finds are developed.  It’s all in the evidence, the details.  “I can’t comprehend how you are able to do so as quickly as you do.”, star commenter Dead Weight writes. With the right feature-rich victim, a story writes itself in my mind with a typical gestation of 40-90 minutes. Conversely, I can’t just pop on every auction sanitized Volvo.  The story would be false, wrong, instead of just fiction.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are the head-scratching  “gems” and the rare “unicorns”.  I run into these every so often,  I’m going to start featuring them now, and you’re gonna need to wash your face afterwards.

The setting for the final solution of this dead 2005 minivan is in one of my favorite haunts. This junkyard sits across from where Joliet Jake was once picked up by his brother Elwood in a certain Dodge Monaco. The import section is inside the shabby remains of a former rail car plant from an era when America used to build things instead of just take them apart expediently. On this day, with the cascading meltwater through the roof, it resembled the beautiful vision of hell from the film What Dreams May Come.

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But back to the minivan…

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The jammed sliding door and improvised windows insure that the occupants will be the wind, know the air.

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One peek into the open porthole, and I knew I had found a gem. I wasn’t about to reach in for the all-telling artifact that is that newspaper. Fortunately, Google filled in the blanks.

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The dash appears to be rubbed down with a toner cartridge. Who willingly drove entered this van? A gaggle of chimney sweeps?  C.H.U.D.s?

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“Maybe it sludged itself to death. Let’s check the-OHHHHHH.”

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The sight of the “Cornjerker” sticker had me at a loss for words.

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Kids…rode in this?

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Now I understand.

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Darell was running out of gas.

The sound of the alarm on Darell’s cell phone chirped him awake. He rubbed his eyes, and slipped out of bed to face the work night. As he pulled up his hunting fatigues, a voice moaned from under the covers. “Make sure you fill up my van on the way back.” He grunted in acknowledgement. He walked into the living room, finding Tommy engaged in yet another death match with a bluetooth headset in his ear. “If you’re gonna be up all night again, you should come help me deliver papers.”  Tommy’s fingers were still fervently working the Xbox controller. He dispensed his adversary with a melee attack, and said “No thanks.” Darell went to the fridge for his nightly stock of energy drinks. “Did you take one of my Monsters?” There was no response.  He considered yanking the power cord from the Xbox before realizing  his leverage to get a willing laborer. He would need it. Those damn Sunday papers were heavy. “I’ll let you shoot it.”

Darell and the boy walked out into the warm August night. They passed the wreckage of the ’94 Caravan, the broken ’98 Explorer Sport, and the broken  ’99 Explorer on their way to the Kia minivan. Upon opening the door, they were greeted with the warm plume of 50 unkempt movie theaters, the result of spilled Monster and a variety of trash broiling in the sun all day.  It smelled little worse than the house, and the aftermath of the neighboring farmer’s honeywagon however, so it was barely perceptible to the two.  “Welcome to the office.”, said Darell, starting the van. The oil lamp stayed illuminated for a short time as the engine assumed a steady idle. Tommy hadn’t been in the family hauler for over a month. In reaction, he said, “What the hell happened to this thing?”

Insects pelted the windshield like rays of light in the black backdrop of Route 9 at one in the morning. The air conditioner pulled down the cabin temperature while dispensing a different aroma of funk.  Darell switched it off, and turned it to vent. The air perspired. “Why did you turn it off?”, Tommy asked. “It wastes too much gas.” was the reply. Darell knew that the small button could easily turn his income into a loss. The boy powered his window down for relief. “No! Don’t!”, shouted Darell. It was too late. The air pressure surged, and with a “Boof”, the rear side plexiglass was gone. Darell’s firm foot pulsated up and down with the brake pedal.  He retrieved the plastic window, now missing a large portion, from the roadside. He tried to reapply it to the van anyway in the glow of the hazards, but the duct tape was fouled with dried grass and dirt. “Look at this thing. Arrrgggh…it’s trashed!” Tommy couldn’t quite get a read yet on his mother’s newest boyfriend. His response was to simply get back in the Kia.

The squeaking side door and tire noise that were present at the beginning of the trip were now joined by a horrendous buffeting oscillation. “Where the hell are we going anyway?”, Tommy yelled over the din. “Champaign.”, Darell replied. Tommy was stunned. “What?! That’s like an hour away! How much do you get paid to do this?” Darell dodged the question by trying to get the pirated AC/DC to spin, only to get a “DISC READ ERROR”. “Now what the hell is wrong with this?”, he exclaimed. Tommy ejected the highly acclaimed Vin Diesel film and handed it to him.  “Those damn kids were playing around in here again, the rubber bands were all over, and…just where was the AC/DC?”, Darell ranted to himself before bouncing the DVD off the center console.

As they sped south on Route 49, Darell noticed Tommy eyeballing the Mossberg 500 on the floor in the back. “Go ahead, and grab it, but watch out where you point it. Here let me see it.”  Darnell chambered a round as he steered with his knee then, insuring the safety was on, handed it over to the boy. “Try to get that sign. Don’t shoot the fuckin’ car.” The boy squeezed the weapon, but nothing happened.  “You got the safety on.”, noted Darell.  The boy would be ready next time.  “My god! It’s comin’ right for us!”, Darell joked. The boy kicked back in the seat as buckshot riddled the aluminum marker. Then they both laughed. “Don’t tell your mom.” The boy then seemed puzzled. “I think the mirror just fell off.”, he noted. “Well that’s just fantastic.”, Darell muttered, spitting sunflower seed chaff all over the floor. Things were looking rough. He was already working on his second can of Monster.

Tommy was enthralled with the sight of university life. The kegger they passed had reached the stage of a police action. Drunk kids clutching red Solo cups scattered as officers approached. “You’ll see some shit out here late at night that you wouldn’t believe.”, he told the boy. “Perhaps you’ll go here to learn someday like these kids. Watch out for the venerial.”, Darell laughed. Several drunk youths approached the van as it came to a stop, and tried the jammed handle. “Hey mom, can we get a riiide?”, they slurred. Darell spirited away from them, adding “…and that’s how your back windows get broke.”

“Looks like we’re just on time.”, Darell said, noting the other paper carriers buckling their suspensions with The News-Gazette. They were drenched in sweat themselves after loading 500lbs of paper. Darell unlatched the middle seat, and threw it forward haphazardly to make space. “Time to make that money.”, he said with humor, taking a noisy “slurrrrp” of Monster. “I’m gonna need you back here.”, Darell ordered, “There’s some plastic bags, and rubber bands behind my seat. Start wrapping. And don’t waste any of them, they cost me a lot of money.” Tommy looked at the map pocket on the back of the driver’s seat, permanently stretched well into it’s third trimester. “Wait. They make you pay for this stuff?”, the boy asked. Instead of answering, Darell filled his mouth with more sunflower seeds. He swished them around, and started chittering them like a rodent. The seeds were,  no doubt, Monster flavored at this point. After spitting the husks all over the floor, he washed it down with the dregs from the black can, then hurled it out onto East University Avenue to help make the rest of the world as horrible as his immediate reality.

Tommy’s hands were blackened by the papers. He stacked them on the center console for Darell to maddeningly whip out the window. “We’re supposed to put them on the driveway close to the house, but they can suck one.”, he said with a grunt. The boy admired how his throws were so robotically precise, that the paper was always oriented the same, regardless of how far it was thrown. He also wondered just how in the hell Darell knew which houses had a subscription. Their paths crossed with a loaded down Outback, also driving on the wrong side of the street, dispensing papers. Both vehicles dimmed their lights out of courtesy. “Okay, this next street is yours. Think you can get both sides at once?”, Darell chuckled, with a mouthful of seeds. Tommy grabbed a handful of this snack of paper flinging champions for himself. He soon became dubious of the mouthful of matter though, allowing a turd of chewed up seeds to tumble out onto the rear floor with a “Bleh”. Tommy opened the slider, and Darell turned up the radio.

The ultimate in vanity
Exploiting their supremacy
I can’t believe the things you say
I can’t believe
I can’t believe the price you pay!

“Yep, yep, yep”, Darell would say, swerving back and forth in the street, ordering another paper to be tossed to the driveway in a disorderly manner. Tommy was actually really getting into it. Although, he was getting a bit tired. He tied a discarded T-shirt to the headrest of the loose bench as a handhold to help steady his aim out the window. Darell suddenly stopped the van in front of a house. He dismounted, and hand carried a newspaper to the front door, carefully setting it inside the screen door.  Getting back in the Kia, he informed the boy, “That one is a real bitch. Every time she complains, I get charged $1.50.” He pulled the shifter into drive, and then changed his mind, placing it back into park. “I’m gonna teach you a little lesson in life.” Darell got out, looked around nervously, and then collected a porcelain garden gnome from the front yard. “This is what you get when you fuck with people.”, he said, tossing the gnome on the passenger seat.

The guys were spent and out of words as the van buffeted it’s way back to Hoopeston with , thankfully only a few dozen more papers. Just outside Rankin, Illinois, their lathered steed did something to wake them right up. The Kia would go no farther. It’s engine died, and the minivan somewhat silently coasted to a stop on the gravel shoulder. Darell laughed and twisted the key. The only result was a “Clunk, Clunk” as the starter gear engaged the thoroughly locked up flywheel. Darell looked at a cheat sheet on the dash, and dialed a number, shielding his watery eyes from the boy’s sight. Making $150 a month wasn’t respectable, but it was something. Now that something was gone, not to mention he had spent another vehicle in the process.  The man in the Outback would come to the rescue. The rest of the papers would be delivered by 7AM…for a price.

The stranded men leaned against the dead Sedona lit by the moon. The tall corn and loose duct tape rustled in the breeze, too warm to offer any respite. Darell spit some husks onto the ground in a daze. Tommy kicked rocks, and remarked about almost getting broadsided by the drunk kid in a white Grand Am back in Champaign. Then he said, “It’s actually kinda fun delivering the paper, Dare.” Darell laughed, and said, “Don’t you ever let me hear you talk that way about my job again.” “Dare.”, Darell thought. It’s what the boy’s mother called him, almost affectionately. It was also almost like saying “Dad”. He reached into the van for the gnome, and the shotgun. After placing the grinning ornament at the edge of the cornfield, he walked back and handed Tommy the Mossberg. “One shot left.” Tommy exhaled, squeezing the trigger, and sending the cherub to oblivion with much satisfaction.

The tow truck driver winded his way back past the dead Ford Explorers as directed with the Sedona, taking away more of Darell’s income. It was set in place next to the hay field, complete with an open bag of sunflower seeds for various animals to enjoy. It would wait for a time when “a little extra cash” was much needed.

“Yep, motor’s locked up. Piece of shit. Good thing you weren’t out driving with the kids when it happened.”, said Darell in a manner to elude that he had performed some good deed.

“I don’t believe this. You killed my fucking van, you asshole.”

 

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Junkyard Find: 1977 MGB http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/905449/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/905449/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905449 The steady march of MGBs into American self-service wrecking yard continues, with another black-bumper Malaise Era example today. In this series prior to today, we’ve seen this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’79, and this ’79 with Toyota 20R power, and now we’ve got this ’77 with very-much-of-its-time custom paint. I found this car […]

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11 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe steady march of MGBs into American self-service wrecking yard continues, with another black-bumper Malaise Era example today. In this series prior to today, we’ve seen this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’79, and this ’79 with Toyota 20R power, and now we’ve got this ’77 with very-much-of-its-time custom paint. I found this car in a California wrecking yard, so of course it’s not rusty at all.
10 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe MG octagon is gone, but the custom green border remains.
03 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis paint job reminds me of the custom ’80 RX-7 Junkyard Find. Perhaps they were painted in the same shop.
07 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo few horsepower from the 1977 pushrod 1800. No need to discuss numbers here. Hey, look, the nearly unobtainium smog air-pump is still there.
01 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI purchased this car’s clock for my collection, and it works!
12 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinVery nice MGBs are worth OK money these days, but rough ones are worth bupkis.

01 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1977 MGB Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Ford LTD Four-Door Hardtop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1969-ford-ltd-four-door-hardtop/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1969-ford-ltd-four-door-hardtop/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417721 You don’t see a lot of intact 60s Detroit cars in the junkyards of Denver, where I now live. When I return to my old haunts in the San Francisco Bay Area, as I did last month, I find that a steady trickle of these old survivors still flows into the self-serve yards. Here’s a […]

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You don’t see a lot of intact 60s Detroit cars in the junkyards of Denver, where I now live. When I return to my old haunts in the San Francisco Bay Area, as I did last month, I find that a steady trickle of these old survivors still flows into the self-serve yards. Here’s a big Ford I found in Oakland.
The sight of this car gave me some weird childhood flashbacks, because my grandfather had a black LTD hardtop just like this one when I was a little kid. I remember being awed by the grandfatherly luxury of the thing as a four-year-old. The vast interior, the quiet ride. When I grow up, I thought, I’ll have one of these!
Of course, the fact that these things had all become hopeless 13-year-old hoopties by the time I got my driver’s license sort of soured me on my ’69 LTD dreams, especially since one of my scurvier high-school friends drove one with a coat hanger for a radio antenna and a bunch of Fang stickers all over the interior.
Of course, I also thought the Porsche 914 was a seriously cool car when I was a little kid, particularly the ones with the big P O R S C H E decals on the sides. At least the LTD has all these great pieces of Detroit style all over the place.
Like, for example, the hideaway headlights. Yes, I know, these things never worked once the car got past about five years of age, but you still have to admire them.
The vacuum-operated mechanism for the headlights is big, cheap, and clunky. The whole setup probably added 50 pounds to the car’s weight, but anyone who objected to that probably also thought that the F-105 was too heavy. In other words, communists. Bad people.
In 1969, the LTD was the top trim level for the full-sized Ford, and the four-door hardtop listed for $3,261. Compare that to the $2,632 price tag on the six-cylinder base ’69 Custom two-door. This car’s curb weight was listed at 3,840 pounds… or 90 pounds more than the 2012 V6 Mustang. The 302 Windsor was the standard engine for the ’69 LTD, but this one appears to have received a Malaise 400M swap at some point along its long journey… which has now come to an end.

DOTJ-69_LTD-22 DOTJ-69_LTD-01 DOTJ-69_LTD-02 DOTJ-69_LTD-03 DOTJ-69_LTD-04 DOTJ-69_LTD-05 DOTJ-69_LTD-06 DOTJ-69_LTD-07 DOTJ-69_LTD-08 DOTJ-69_LTD-09 DOTJ-69_LTD-10 DOTJ-69_LTD-11 DOTJ-69_LTD-12 DOTJ-69_LTD-13 DOTJ-69_LTD-14 DOTJ-69_LTD-15 DOTJ-69_LTD-16 DOTJ-69_LTD-17 DOTJ-69_LTD-18 DOTJ-69_LTD-19 DOTJ-69_LTD-20 DOTJ-69_LTD-21

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Plymouth Colt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/junkyard-find-1986-plymouth-colt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/junkyard-find-1986-plymouth-colt/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406236 Chrysler spent a couple of decades selling Mitsubishis and Simcas with Dodge and Plymouth badges in North America, and the Mitsubishi Galant/Lancer-based Colt line went through the most twists and turns. At first, Plymouth-branded Colts were sold as Champs, but by the mid-1980s both the Dodge and Plymouth versions were called Colts. The difference? Damn […]

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Chrysler spent a couple of decades selling Mitsubishis and Simcas with Dodge and Plymouth badges in North America, and the Mitsubishi Galant/Lancer-based Colt line went through the most twists and turns. At first, Plymouth-branded Colts were sold as Champs, but by the mid-1980s both the Dodge and Plymouth versions were called Colts. The difference? Damn if I can find one that goes deeper than emblems.

Imported for Plymouth! This generation of Colt has become quite rare on the street, though they seemed as common as Corollas and Civics when new.

While Japanese econoboxes of the 1980s were mostly pretty miserable machines, I do sometimes miss their weird, vaguely science-fiction-ish interiors. And remember when cars had interior space not completely used up by cockpit-style consoles and cup holders?

This is the bread-and-butter, non-turbo, non-Twin-Stick Colt, complete with 4G15 Orion engine. The Colt of this era wasn’t much known for reliability, but it was cheap and sipped gas. The entry-level Colt E two-door hatch listed at $5,372, or about 300 bucks cheaper than a new Chevette. The ’86 Subaru STD (yes, there was a car called the STD) could be purchased for $4,989, and the bottom-of-the-barrel ’86 Excel went for $4,995. The Colt was a far superior vehicle to the Chevette, STD, and Excel, and so was a pretty good deal at the time (though the much better Civic two-door hatch was just a C-note more expensive).

And now almost all of them are gone. I’d like to think that a few Colts of this vintage will stay with us, though I’m certainly not willing to rescue one myself.

DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-16 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-01 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-02 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-03 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-04 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-05 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-06 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-07 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-08 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-09 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-10 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-12 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-13 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-14 DOTJ-86PlymouthColt-15

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Renault Alliance: Still On the Scrapheap of History http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/renault-alliance-still-on-the-scrapheap-of-history/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/renault-alliance-still-on-the-scrapheap-of-history/#comments Fri, 17 Dec 2010 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=377523 While the US government was saving Chrysler with the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979, American Motors had to go to the French government for its bailout. The debut of the AMC-Renault Alliance (essentially a Kenosha-ized Renault 9) in 1983 so impressed the writers at Motor Trend that they gave it the Car Of […]

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While the US government was saving Chrysler with the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979, American Motors had to go to the French government for its bailout.

The debut of the AMC-Renault Alliance (essentially a Kenosha-ized Renault 9) in 1983 so impressed the writers at Motor Trend that they gave it the Car Of The Year award that year. 17 minutes later, everyone realized that the Alliance combined the very worst aspects of French build quality and Wisconsin marketing savvy, with predictable sales results. Still, enough Alliances limped out of the showrooms that we can still see them in junkyards every so often. Here’s one I spotted in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks back; looks like it was still in pretty good shape when its last owner finally gave up.
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Opel GTs Take Shortcut From Project Car Purgatory To Junkyard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/opel-gts-take-shortcut-from-project-car-purgatory-to-junkyard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/opel-gts-take-shortcut-from-project-car-purgatory-to-junkyard/#comments Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=377065 The life cycle of your typical Opel GT appears to have gone like this: 8 years on the street, 30 years up on blocks in the back yard, then a quick stop in the wrecking yard before getting crushed. I haven’t seen a GT on the street for years, but they’re quite common in The […]

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The life cycle of your typical Opel GT appears to have gone like this: 8 years on the street, 30 years up on blocks in the back yard, then a quick stop in the wrecking yard before getting crushed. I haven’t seen a GT on the street for years, but they’re quite common in The Crusher’s waiting room. Here’s a pair of GTs I spotted at a Denver self-service yard.

Seen by European GM fans as the “European Corvette,” (the Manta being the Camaro’s European cousin), the Opel GT had plenty of style, a very un-Corvette-like solid rear axle, and an even more un-Corvette-like 1900cc four-cylinder engine. Those manually-operated flip-around headlights were pretty cool, though!

As a former Manta victim, I admit to having something of an anti-Opel bias. But still, I think it’s sad that all the remaining GTs are being rounded up and destroyed. Let’s enjoy the original “You’re Too Fat For This Car, Old Man” German Opel GT ad, shall we?

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Trio of Doomed Fords Destined To Become Geely Hysouls, Universe Keeps Expanding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/trio-of-doomed-fords-destined-to-become-geely-hysouls-universe-keeps-expanding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/trio-of-doomed-fords-destined-to-become-geely-hysouls-universe-keeps-expanding/#comments Wed, 08 Dec 2010 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=376148 After being away from the quick-turnover self-service junkyards of Northern California (where Guangzhou-bound container ships full of crushed vehicles leave the Port of Oakland every day) for a few months, I decided to check out one of the biggest when visiting from Denver last week. I found a ’62 Comet, a ’65 Fairlane, and a […]

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After being away from the quick-turnover self-service junkyards of Northern California (where Guangzhou-bound container ships full of crushed vehicles leave the Port of Oakland every day) for a few months, I decided to check out one of the biggest when visiting from Denver last week. I found a ’62 Comet, a ’65 Fairlane, and a ’72 Mustang huddled together in The Crusher’s waiting room.

I’ve always preferred the Comet to the Falcon, and not just because Charles Bukowski drove a ’62 Comet. The first-gen Falcon was built in Argentina until 1991, but early Comets— even six-cylinder sedans like this one— are quite rare. In a couple of weeks, the number of ’62s will be reduced by one, because Schnitzer Steel will be mashing this battered-but-not-particularly-rusty example into a cube and shipping it off to China.

As I contemplated the demise of the Comet, I saw the snout of another vintage FoMoCo product peeking out from the endless line of Tauruses and Tracers. Is that an early-70s Mustang?

Why, yes, it is! About 125,000 ’72 Mustangs were built, which makes it rarer than the ’62 Comet and much rarer than its mid-1960s predecessors. Still, a higher percentage of these cars survives today, plus many of the components on this one have been harvested to keep living examples on the road, so I’m still more bummed about the Comet sedan.

Holy crap! Whoever did the bodywork on this car must have bought Bondo by the 55-gallon drum.

Is it possible that there’s a third old Ford nearby?

This 1965 Ford Fairlane coupe, complete with V8 and Cruise-O-Matic transmission, looks like it was in fairly decent shape… before someone decided to take an orbital sander to the paint. How? Why?

One rainy Bay Area winter is all it took to complete the damage. Next stop, Chinese steel factory!

DOTJ-Ford_Trifecta DOTJ-62CometBeige-01 DOTJ-62CometBeige-02 DOTJ-62CometBeige-03 DOTJ-62CometBeige-04 DOTJ-62CometBeige-05 DOTJ-62CometBeige-06 DOTJ-62CometBeige-07 DOTJ-62CometBeige-08 DOTJ-62CometBeige-09 DOTJ-62CometBeige-10 DOTJ-62CometBeige-11 DOTJ-62CometBeige-12 DOTJ-62CometBeige-13 DOTJ-62CometBeige-14 DOTJ-62CometBeige-15 DOTJ-62CometBeige-16 DOTJ-62CometBeige-17 DOTJ-62CometBeige-18 DOTJ-62CometBeige-19 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-14 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-01 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-02 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-03 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-04 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-05 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-06 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-07 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-08 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-09 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-10 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-11 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-12 DOTJ-62FairlaneWhite-13 DOTJ-72StangWhite-12 DOTJ-72StangWhite-01 DOTJ-72StangWhite-02 DOTJ-72StangWhite-03 DOTJ-72StangWhite-04 DOTJ-72StangWhite-05 DOTJ-72StangWhite-06 DOTJ-72StangWhite-07 DOTJ-72StangWhite-08 DOTJ-72StangWhite-09 DOTJ-72StangWhite-10 DOTJ-72StangWhite-11 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Chevette Scooter, T1000 Outlive Every 1st-Gen Hyundai Excel In the World http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/chevette-scooter-t1000-outlive-every-1st-gen-hyundai-excel-in-the-world/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/chevette-scooter-t1000-outlive-every-1st-gen-hyundai-excel-in-the-world/#comments Fri, 03 Dec 2010 19:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=375561 So we now know that GM’s failure to create a decent subcompact during the, oh, forty years in which doing so would have saved the company from certain ruin… well, do we really need to get into that rant right now? No, we’ll save that rant until we feel like combining it with the one […]

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So we now know that GM’s failure to create a decent subcompact during the, oh, forty years in which doing so would have saved the company from certain ruin… well, do we really need to get into that rant right now?

No, we’ll save that rant until we feel like combining it with the one about GM’s failure to build a minivan that anybody wanted to buy, or the one about GM’s inability to stop the small-block Chevrolet from leaking oil like crazy for its first three decades of production. For now, let’s just contemplate the meaning of these two Late Malaise Era junkyard finds, which I spotted during a visit to a San Francisco Bay Area self-service junkyard earlier in the week.

Actually, this 1985 T1000— which became the Pontiac 1000 for the 1984 model year— is a post-Malaise Era car, by my standards (as the originator of the term “Malaise Era,” I have the right to define it: the 1973 through 1983 model years). Somehow, this makes it even more depressing. After building variations on the Chevette theme all over the world for nearly 10 years, GM could build the obsolete-when-introduced T Platform cars for nickels and dimes, and did so.

The ’82 Chevette Scooter was a genuinely miserable machine, though its simplicity and cheap price tag made it seem like a pretty decent investment next to, say, the Vega/Monza. How did these two cars evade The Crusher for 25 and 28 years, respectively? Have they become—dare I say it— collectible?

DOTJ-85T1000-01 DOTJ-85T1000-02 DOTJ-85T1000-03 DOTJ-85T1000-04 DOTJ-85T1000-05 DOTJ-85T1000-06 DOTJ-85T1000-07 DOTJ-85T1000-08 DOTJ-85T1000-09 DOTJ-85T1000-10 DOTJ-85T1000-11 DOTJ-85T1000-12 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-01 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-02 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-03 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-04 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-05 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-06 DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-07 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Scooter DOTJ-ChevetteScooter-09 Chevette_T1000-1280px Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Sometimes We Pay The Price For Looking Cool http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/sometimes-we-pay-the-price-for-looking-cool/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/sometimes-we-pay-the-price-for-looking-cool/#comments Thu, 02 Dec 2010 02:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=375248 Now that my ’66 Dodge A100 runs and drives, I’m contemplating what sort of stance it’s going to have once I install the new wheels. Certified Rambler-racin’ madman and Denver chop-n-channel artist Cadillac Bob suggests that I jack up the front end for that solid-axle gasser look, and he’s probably onto something. However, a cool […]

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Now that my ’66 Dodge A100 runs and drives, I’m contemplating what sort of stance it’s going to have once I install the new wheels. Certified Rambler-racin’ madman and Denver chop-n-channel artist Cadillac Bob suggests that I jack up the front end for that solid-axle gasser look, and he’s probably onto something. However, a cool stance sometimes leads to unpleasant sheet-metal-versus-concrete interactions.

Whether you’re jacking the rear of your ’68 Cyclone about four feet in the air in order to fit the fattest Mickey Thompson tires you can find (as I did to my daily driver at age 18) or installing 24s on your Caprice (as the previous owner of this rollover-victim Caprice I spotted in a NorCal junkyard this morning did), you’re ditching a lot of engineering man-hours dedicated to making your machine handle at least somewhat predictably. Worth it?

After seeing this bonked donk, which no doubt wrecked due to bizarre handling characteristics caused by its monster wheels, I’m reevaluating the idea of the gasser-ized A100; the handling of that van is squirrelly enough at factory ride height, the single-circuit four-wheel-drum brakes are pretty scary, and let’s not even discuss the zero crush space between driver and concrete abutment.

Crashed Caprice donk Crashed Caprice donk Crashed Caprice donk

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Burned Dodge Truck Makes Us Sad http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/burned-dodge-truck-makes-us-sad/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/burned-dodge-truck-makes-us-sad/#comments Sat, 27 Nov 2010 19:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=374595 After the Fourmile Canyon Fire in September, charred vehicle carcasses began showing up in quantity in Denver wrecking yards. Completely burned-to-hell-and-gone vehicles don’t seem to offer any usable components for junkyard shoppers, but they still show up. This mid-60s Dodge pickup showed up at the self-service yard near my house about a week after the […]

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After the Fourmile Canyon Fire in September, charred vehicle carcasses began showing up in quantity in Denver wrecking yards. Completely burned-to-hell-and-gone vehicles don’t seem to offer any usable components for junkyard shoppers, but they still show up.

This mid-60s Dodge pickup showed up at the self-service yard near my house about a week after the fire. I’m betting that exactly zero of its parts will live on in surviving Dardges, but at least it makes a nice subject for artsy photographs.
Burned Dodge truck in Denver junkyard, photo by Phil Greden Burned Dodge Truck Patina, photograph by Phil Greden

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1967 Volkswagen Squareback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/1967-volkswagen-squareback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/1967-volkswagen-squareback/#comments Thu, 25 Nov 2010 18:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=374375 What kind of world is this, where nearly rust-free Squarebacks— and that’s not a combination of words you hear often— survive for more than 40 years and then get eaten by the same crusher that consumes ’91 Hyundai Excels? The original owner of this Volks paid his or her Village of Winfield vehicle tax, and […]

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What kind of world is this, where nearly rust-free Squarebacks— and that’s not a combination of words you hear often— survive for more than 40 years and then get eaten by the same crusher that consumes ’91 Hyundai Excels?

The original owner of this Volks paid his or her Village of Winfield vehicle tax, and the sticker survived all these years. A little research suggests that Winfield is in Illinois, although there is a little town named Winfield 50 miles or so to the east of this Denver junkyard.

The engine and many engine accessories are still waiting for extraction. Let’s hope that someone rescues these parts before The Crusher calls for this car.

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Why Isn’t This a Chateau Brougham? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/why-isnt-this-a-chateau-brougham/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/why-isnt-this-a-chateau-brougham/#comments Thu, 25 Nov 2010 14:30:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=374351 Back when two major self-service junkyard chains were locked in throat-slicing competition for the Northern California market, Thanksgiving Day always featured the sacred Junkyard Half Price Day Sale. Alas, Pick Your Part has pulled up stakes— which means that Pick-N-Pull has spurious “15% off all door panels” sales instead of the real deal— but in […]

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Back when two major self-service junkyard chains were locked in throat-slicing competition for the Northern California market, Thanksgiving Day always featured the sacred Junkyard Half Price Day Sale. Alas, Pick Your Part has pulled up stakes— which means that Pick-N-Pull has spurious “15% off all door panels” sales instead of the real deal— but in honor of the memory of Half Price Day we bring you some junkyard goodness from Denver.

Here’s a Malaise Era Ford Econoline Chateau, which hauled six-generation extended families in bouncy, trucky comfort many years before the ’92 Chateau Club Wagon won Motor Trend‘s Truck Of The Year award. Just the sound of the name seems so vanlike: Chateau!

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