The Truth About Cars » 1973 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 02 Aug 2014 16:04:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 1973 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com If The Big Lebowski Were Filmed Today, What Car Would The Dude Drive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773897 Before the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released […]

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Big_Lebowski_Torino_Crash-550pxBefore the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released in 1998 and was set in late 1990 or early 1991 (a period during which I was also in Southern California and living a fairly Dude-ish lifestyle myself). The choice of a ’73 Gran Torino by the Coen Brothers makes some interesting statements for those who obsess about movie cars, and Monday is always the best day to discuss such things.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Impound-550pxLooking at 1990/1991 from the perspective of 1998, you’ve got a nasty recession being observed via dot-com boom-tinted glasses, the first one-sided ass-kicking dished out by the US military since Vietnam from the point of view of an ascendant hyperpower, and so forth. At the same time, the latter years of the 1990s saw cars that could knock of 200,000 miles becoming commonplace, with carburetors and mechanical ignition systems dead as global Marxism-Leninism. With all that in mind, The Dude’s car had to be something from the Malaise Era, for symbolic location along the Malaise-Gulf War-Hyperpower continuum as well as for the fact that unemployable Los Angeles loadies could be expected to drive 18-year-old midsize sedans.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Brochure-550pxSo the question here is: What would be this car’s equivalent today? If you’re just going by straight model years, a 2014 movie set in 2006 with the protagonist driving an 18-year-old midsize Ford sedan would give us a 1988 Taurus… and it’s easy to picture the 2006 Dude clanking along in a hooptified first-gen Taurus.
10 - 1986 Hyundai Excel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' GredenHowever, the runup in global commodities prices in the second half of the first decade of the century meant that larger cars were worth a fair amount at the scrapper, which means that even the ugliest Taurus floated a bit above the very bottom of the car-value barrel. That’s why I think that The Dude of 2006 would drive an early Hyundai Excel. What do you think?

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Buick Riviera http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1973-buick-riviera/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1973-buick-riviera/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2013 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=580337 Just about everybody likes the “Boat-Tail” Riviera, and you’d think that would make even battered examples valuable enough to avoid the cold jaws of The Crusher. Think again! This car is very rough, with a lot of three-dimensional patina, but it doesn’t seem to have much super-cancerous rust. When the 1973 oil crisis hit, the […]

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07 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinJust about everybody likes the “Boat-Tail” Riviera, and you’d think that would make even battered examples valuable enough to avoid the cold jaws of The Crusher. Think again!
06 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinThis car is very rough, with a lot of three-dimensional patina, but it doesn’t seem to have much super-cancerous rust.
17 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinWhen the 1973 oil crisis hit, the value of these big fuel-sucking personal luxury coupes plummeted. That meant that a lot of these cars descended into beater status during the middle and later parts of the 1970s.
11 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinThis car clearly spent many years sitting outdoors in Colorado, so the interior is pretty much toast.
12 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinStill, you can see remnants of the luxury that once was.
14 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinSomebody got the intake, but there’s still most of a super-torquey Buick 455 here.
15 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinLook, Buick Rally wheels!
10 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinLooks like the traditional GM rear-window rust was repaired at some point, with copious quantities of Bondo used to smooth things out.
22 - 1973 Buick Riviera Down On the Junkyard - Picture by Murilee MartinThis glass must be getting hard to find these days.

There it is— America’s dream car!

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1973-mercedes-benz-220/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1973-mercedes-benz-220/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=515273 Most of the time, I don’t photograph junkyard-dwelling Mercedes-Benzes unless they’re coupes, SLs, or really old, but today’s W115 sedan was just so complete that I had to shoot it. A car like this just isn’t worth enough to warrant restoration, especially when the interior smells like a genetically-engineered mildew experiment gone terribly awry (it […]

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09 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost of the time, I don’t photograph junkyard-dwelling Mercedes-Benzes unless they’re coupes, SLs, or really old, but today’s W115 sedan was just so complete that I had to shoot it.
02 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA car like this just isn’t worth enough to warrant restoration, especially when the interior smells like a genetically-engineered mildew experiment gone terribly awry (it takes a serious strain of mildew to thrive in Denver’s single-digit humidity).
16 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s not very rusty, although the wheelwells probably have a bit of an oxidation party going on.
05 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith just 103 horses from the 2.2-liter four-cylinder, this fairly substantial car wasn’t going to be quick.
06 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEspecially once the York air conditioning kicked in.
08 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, these cars were built when Mercedes-Benz obliterated all comers in the build-quality competition, and they deserve our respect.

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Picked Clean: If You Want 240Z Parts, You Need To Work Fast! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/picked-clean-if-you-want-240z-parts-you-need-to-work-fast/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/picked-clean-if-you-want-240z-parts-you-need-to-work-fast/#comments Thu, 04 Apr 2013 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483451 When an ordinary car— say, a ’94 Camry— shows up in a high-turnover self-service junkyard, most of its parts will still be present when it goes to the scrapper. However, when a seldom-seen-in-junkyards vehicle with an avid following— say, a ’71 Toyota Land Cruiser— appears on the yard, it gets eaten like a roadkill raccoon […]

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When an ordinary car— say, a ’94 Camry— shows up in a high-turnover self-service junkyard, most of its parts will still be present when it goes to the scrapper. However, when a seldom-seen-in-junkyards vehicle with an avid following— say, a ’71 Toyota Land Cruiser— appears on the yard, it gets eaten like a roadkill raccoon in vulture country. When I saw this complete and rust-free 1973 Datsun 240Z at my local self-serve yard a few weeks ago, I knew it hadn’t been exposed to parts shoppers for long. Sure enough, look at it now!
It’s good to see that many of the parts from this car will live on in other Zs.
Poor flat-top Hitachi SU carburetors. Nobody wants them. Likewise, L24 engines of unknown condition.
Nearly all the glass and most of the removable-without-metal-cutting bodywork got yanked. A bonus with shooting photos in this junkyard is that the Rocky Mountains appear in the background in many of my shots.
Still a few things left, but this car will be a totally bare shell when it gets eaten by The Crusher, a month from now.

01 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Datsun 240Z Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 BMW 2002 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-1973-bmw-2002-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-1973-bmw-2002-2/#comments Wed, 20 Mar 2013 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481774 For some reason, BMW 2002s are easier to find in self-service wrecking yards (in Colorado and California, anyway) than are 320is. Most of the Crusher-bound 2002s I see are pretty well picked over— probably before they ever got to the junkyard— and so I don’t photograph them. However, a round-taillight 2002 with automatic transmission is […]

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For some reason, BMW 2002s are easier to find in self-service wrecking yards (in Colorado and California, anyway) than are 320is. Most of the Crusher-bound 2002s I see are pretty well picked over— probably before they ever got to the junkyard— and so I don’t photograph them. However, a round-taillight 2002 with automatic transmission is something you don’t see every day.
I spotted another ’73 2002 with slushbox at this very same yard, about a year ago; that one was more complete than today’s junkyard find, but there’s a certain “abandoned project car” similarity to them.
It makes me sad when I see an old car with the instrument cluster totally destroyed by a junkyard customer, all the parts scattered around the car’s interior and nothing purchased.
Automatic transmission and air conditioning! This unit has an aftermarket or dealer-installed look about it.
Not much of this engine is left. Still, there are some usable parts remaining on this car.

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Datsun 240Z http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-1973-datsun-240z/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-1973-datsun-240z/#comments Sat, 09 Mar 2013 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480612 I see endless Z31 300ZXs in junkyards, and I usually don’t pay much attention to them (unless we’re talking about a rare 50th Anniversary Edition with BodySonic butt-vibrating seat speakers with super-futuristic digital dash, of course). Even 280Zs and 280ZXs are plentiful in self-service wrecking yards, so I don’t photograph many of them. However, an […]

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I see endless Z31 300ZXs in junkyards, and I usually don’t pay much attention to them (unless we’re talking about a rare 50th Anniversary Edition with BodySonic butt-vibrating seat speakers with super-futuristic digital dash, of course). Even 280Zs and 280ZXs are plentiful in self-service wrecking yards, so I don’t photograph many of them. However, an optioned-to-the-hilt 240Z, complete with automatic transmission, sunroof, and Malaise Era brown paint is worth shooting, so here we go!
I think this is the first 240Z I’ve ever seen with an automatic transmission, though this became a fairly common option in the 280Z and especially in the 280ZX.
I considered grabbing these Hitachi SUs, just as I bought the Weber DGV I found on this 22R-powered MGB a few months ago, but these are the not-so-desirable “flat-top Hitachis” and in the end I figured they wouldn’t be worth selling or trading.
Speaking of nightmare Hitachi-ized British smog carbs, what was the last year for a factory manual choke in a US-market car? Or is this just a light that comes on when an electric choke is engaged?
I was also tempted to buy this ignition switch with vintage Nissan Z key, but then decided to leave it for a lucky Z-owning junkyard shopper.
This car is very solid and— at least when I saw it a few weeks ago— nearly complete. By this time, I’m sure it has been picked over thoroughly by now.
Such an optimistic speedometer!


Comparisons between fully race-modified cars and their street counterparts are always suspect, but this ad does a good job of selling the 240Z.

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1973-fiat-124-sport-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1973-fiat-124-sport-spider/#comments Mon, 28 Jan 2013 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475473 Where do all these junkyard Fiat 124 Sport Spiders come from? You don’t see them on the street, you don’t see them half-covered by tarps and raccoon nests in driveways, and you don’t even see many of them at Italian car shows. And yet I’ve been seeing these cheaper-than-an-Alfa-Spider Italian sports cars at wrecking yards, […]

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Where do all these junkyard Fiat 124 Sport Spiders come from? You don’t see them on the street, you don’t see them half-covered by tarps and raccoon nests in driveways, and you don’t even see many of them at Italian car shows. And yet I’ve been seeing these cheaper-than-an-Alfa-Spider Italian sports cars at wrecking yards, at about the same rate, since I started visiting U-Pull-It in Oakland in the early 1980s. Here’s the latest example, a little green devil I spotted at U-Pull-&-Pay Denver last month.
Just in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80, and we might as well add the 124′s little brother, this ’71 850 Sport Spider.
I’d like to show you photos of the Twin Cam engine that may or may not still live under the hood of this car (who knows, maybe someone with a sense of humor has swapped in a BMC B engine), but the hood release was stuck and I didn’t feel like freezing my fingers futzing with it for more than a few seconds.
The warning lights in these cars are junkyard gold— high-quality chrome and real glass lenses. I’ve used them in such projects as the Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox, the scratchbuilt instrument panel in my ’65 Impala project, and other projects. I didn’t grab these, because I’ve already got a lifetime supply in my parts stash.
What I’ve learned from all these 124 Sport Spiders that I’ve seen about to get crushed over the years is that one of these cars would make an excellent Ill-Advised Engine Swap Project. Hmmmm… it seems there’s a shop building swap bellhousings to bolt the 3-liter V6 out of an Alfa Romeo 164 to a non-transaxle, rear-wheel-drive Alfa transmission. If we listen to the Alfa Mafia, that engine makes 270 horses with mild (i.e., terrifyingly expensive) intake and exhaust modifications. Or, if you want to be boring (and not go broke), there’s always the Miata drivetrain donor.


This ad is for the ’80, but it’s pretty much the same car as today’s find, only with more smog control and uglier bumpers.

01 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Fiat 124 Sport Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Plymouth Valiant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1973-plymouth-valiant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1973-plymouth-valiant/#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474379 Chrysler A-bodies are much like VW Type 1 Beetles when it comes to junkyard populations— they’ve been showing up in self-serve junkyards in a steady stream for more than 30 years, and you can usually find one or two in the larger yards. Like old Beetles, I don’t photograph most of the ones I see […]

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Chrysler A-bodies are much like VW Type 1 Beetles when it comes to junkyard populations— they’ve been showing up in self-serve junkyards in a steady stream for more than 30 years, and you can usually find one or two in the larger yards. Like old Beetles, I don’t photograph most of the ones I see (though we have seen this ’68 Valiant Signet sedan, this ’64 Valiant wagon, and this ’66 Dart sedan in this series so far). The make-your-neighbors-hate-you band stickers on the decklid of this one caught my eye during a recent trip to my favorite Denver-area yard, and so I broke out the camera.
This generation of Valiant/Dart sedan was once among the most common motor vehicles on American roads, which made it a natural choice for Dennis Weaver’s car in the 1971 film Duel. You still saw quite a few of them around, well into the 1990s, but at some point the beater-Valiant demographic switched over to beater Corollas.
You could get the ’73 Valiant sedan with a 318-cubic-inch V8, or even the 340, but almost every A-body sedan shopper went for the good old quadrillion-mile Slant Six engine. Come to think of it, there were no bad engine choices for this car.
Slant Six A-bodies with air conditioning were rare indeed, and someone had already grabbed the AC compressor by the time I found this car.
I don’t bother getting 5-digit odometer shots, especially when you can’t tell an 80,000-mile car from a 480,000-mile one.

In honor of the musical tastes of this car’s last owner, let’s hear one of my favorite Melvins songs.

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1973 Dodge D-100 Adventurer Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/1973-dodge-d-100-adventurer-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/1973-dodge-d-100-adventurer-pickup/#comments Fri, 27 Jul 2012 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454388 Dodge’s D-Series trucks of the 1970s are still on the roads in large numbers, since there’s always someone who needs a simple work truck and doesn’t care if that truck is 10 or 40 years old. Still, you can always find another sturdy (if thirsty) Detroit pickup if something expensive breaks, so this Adventurer is […]

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Dodge’s D-Series trucks of the 1970s are still on the roads in large numbers, since there’s always someone who needs a simple work truck and doesn’t care if that truck is 10 or 40 years old. Still, you can always find another sturdy (if thirsty) Detroit pickup if something expensive breaks, so this Adventurer is now Crusher-bound.
The Adventurer trim package got you some comfort and appearance upgrades, though shoppers for 2012 trucks would find this machine intolerably primitive.
Here’s the one-speaker sound system.
This vinyl bench seat was impervious to spills from any component of a typical fast-food meal, tall cans of Schlitz, and other substances likely to be found in a Dodge pickup cab.
Chances are that this 318 or 360 still has some miles left in it. Most do.

25 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1973 Dodge Adventurer Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercury Montego MX Brougham http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-mercury-montego-mx-brougham/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-mercury-montego-mx-brougham/#comments Sat, 21 Jul 2012 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453366 We’re on a 1973 roll here in Junkyard Find land, with a ’73 Luxury LeMans yesterday and a ’73 Super Beetle the day before, so I’m going to keep it going with another car from the year everything went to hell. The Montego was the blinged-out, gingerbread-encrusted sibling of the Ford Torino during this era, […]

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We’re on a 1973 roll here in Junkyard Find land, with a ’73 Luxury LeMans yesterday and a ’73 Super Beetle the day before, so I’m going to keep it going with another car from the year everything went to hell. The Montego was the blinged-out, gingerbread-encrusted sibling of the Ford Torino during this era, so it made sense that Mercury would sell a Brougham edition.
As can be seen from this car’s surroundings, I shot these photos at the Brain Melting Colorado Yard.
This car was locked, so I couldn’t open the hood and take a look at the engine. This car could be purchased with a 92-horsepower 250 L6, a 137-horsepower 302 V8, and an assortment of 351C, 400M, and 429 V8s with distressingly low power ratings and OPEC-gratifying thirst.
Still, I think these things are cool. I’m sure Sajeev agrees.

09 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Mercury Montego Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Pontiac Luxury LeMans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-pontiac-luxury-lemans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-pontiac-luxury-lemans/#comments Fri, 20 Jul 2012 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453339 We’ll follow up yesterday’s ’73 VW Super Beetle Junkyard Find with another car from the same year. The Super Beetle listed at $2,499 and the Luxury LeMans four-door hardtop at $3,344… but now they are just so many tons of scrap metal. The LeMans and its GM A-body siblings got a lot bigger in 1973, […]

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We’ll follow up yesterday’s ’73 VW Super Beetle Junkyard Find with another car from the same year. The Super Beetle listed at $2,499 and the Luxury LeMans four-door hardtop at $3,344… but now they are just so many tons of scrap metal.
The LeMans and its GM A-body siblings got a lot bigger in 1973, and— thanks to Malaise Era legislation under the watch of noted eco-socialist Richard Nixon— cleaner at the tailpipe… at the cost of engine power.
This Pontiac 350 was rated at 150 net horsepower, versus 250 for the 350 in 1971. Some of this was just the difference between gross and net horsepower, and some was the result of a big drop in oxides-of-nitrogen-producing engine compression.
Still, these were nice discount-luxury machines in their day, even with fewer horses under the hood. Unfortunately, certain events late in 1973 really trashed the resale value of cars like this one.
Even in the 5% humidity of Great Plains Colorado, GM cars of this era still manage to rust around the rear window.
If you’re bothered by the confusing climate-control interfaces in modern cars, check out this vent-control lever.
The same goes for this one-speaker “sound system.”

Billy Preston would have sounded just fine on this radio— who cares about those embargoing Arabs when you’ve got music like this on every station?

For free junkyard wallpaper images in all the popular computer monitor resolutions, check out the wallpaper downloads at the headquarters of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

17 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 Pontiac LeMans Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-super-beetle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-super-beetle/#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453306 I see many air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yards these days. In fact, I have always seen many VW Type 1s in self-service wrecking yards, going back to my first junkyard adventures in early-80s Oakland. Like any car freak who came of age in that era, I’ve owned some old Beetles, and I can say […]

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I see many air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yards these days. In fact, I have always seen many VW Type 1s in self-service wrecking yards, going back to my first junkyard adventures in early-80s Oakland. Like any car freak who came of age in that era, I’ve owned some old Beetles, and I can say from experience that there was nothing super about the Super Beetle. In fact, it’s possible that this ’73 is the Super Beetle that I sold in 1983.
I got my bright yellow Super Beetle for free after one of my mom’s coworkers got it stuck between a couple of concrete traffic barriers while driving drunk in Berkeley, tearing off the front fenders and losing her driver’s license in the process. I’d always assumed that the McPherson strut front suspension on the Super Beetle would transform the handling from scary to just bad, but in fact there wasn’t much improvement over the old torsion-bar setup (other than increased cargo space under the hood). I put junkyard fenders on it and drove it a bit, but ended up selling it for $250 to a couple of drunken sailors from the USS Coral Sea.
This car used to be yellow, too, but since my Super Beetle ended up shot full of holes and on fire in an irrigation ditch near Benicia (according to the cops who found it and called me to come deal with “my” car, the Drunken Sailors not having bothered to register the car in their names) I’m guessing this is a different yellow ’73.
This one has all the standard bolt-on upgrades that readers of Hot VWs Magazine, circa 1982, would have installed 30 years back: nerf bars, crankshaft degree wheel, Bosch 009 distributor, and so on.
It’s impressive that so many of these cars have hung on for 30 to 50 years before getting scrapped, and I’ll need to start shooting more of them in junkyards. The air-cooled Beetle was built for 65 years, which makes it the all-time production-run champion… but the Hindustan Motors Ambassador will pass it in 2020 (unless you count the 1948 Morris Oxford instead of the ’54 as the same car as the Amby, in which case it will pass the Beetle next year).

24 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Time Machine Dilemma: It’s 1973 and You Have Enough Cash For a New LTD. What Do You Buy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/time-machine-dilemma-its-1973-and-you-have-enough-cash-for-a-new-ltd-what-do-you-buy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/time-machine-dilemma-its-1973-and-you-have-enough-cash-for-a-new-ltd-what-do-you-buy/#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2012 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441706 The discussion of yesterday’s Junkyard Find, a 1973 Ford LTD, got a bit heated at times. Some felt that the ’73 LTD was an abomination too horrific to contemplate, while others (including most who had actually driven one back in the day) opined that it was a pretty comfy pseudo-luxo-chariot and no worse than its […]

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The discussion of yesterday’s Junkyard Find, a 1973 Ford LTD, got a bit heated at times. Some felt that the ’73 LTD was an abomination too horrific to contemplate, while others (including most who had actually driven one back in the day) opined that it was a pretty comfy pseudo-luxo-chariot and no worse than its contemporary rivals. Both sides have valid points, which got me to thinking about what I would do if a time machine were to drop me off at Auto Row in 1973 with the money to buy a new LTD (assuming I was required to spend the money on a new car, instead of giving it to my 7-year-old 1973 self with instructions to buy Microsoft stock a few years hence). Would I get the LTD… or something else? If something else, what?
So, the list price of a 1973 Ford LTD four-door hardtop sedan was $3,833, equivalent to about $19,800 in 2012 dollars. Consulting my stack of Standard Catalogs, I’ve come up with a few choices in the same price range; those of you with your own sources for 1973 car prices should refer to them now.
After a lot of agonizing, I’ve narrowed my choices down to two. One would be a ’73 Plymouth Scamp, equipped with the optional 240-horse 340-cubic-inch V8, four-speed transmission, and limited-slip rear axle with the craziest gear ratio available at my friendly Plymouth dealership. The base V8 Scamp was $3,000, and the drivetrain options would have pushed that price up to around $3,400. With the remaining 433 bucks, I would be torn between blowing it all on a loud aftermarket 8-track stereo and a bunch of Black Sabbath tapes and blowing it all on the usual street-racer-style intake/cam/carb/headers engine upgrades.
My other choice would involve a trip down the street to the Datsun dealership, where I’d be tempted by the incredible $2,306 price tag on the ’73 Datsun 510. With $1,533 left in my pocket, I’d be able to take the 96-horsepower L18 engine and add Webers, a big cam, etc., then throw some fat sway bars and stiffer spring at the suspension … and still have enough left over for the aforementioned 8-track and Sabbath tapes.
So, here are some more 1973 cars with list prices below (or not much above) the LTD’s $3,833. Sorry, the cheapest BMW 2002 was $4,498 and the Alfa Berlina was $4,437.
AMC Javelin AMX: $3,191
Audi 100 Coupe: $3,695
Buick Luxus Hardtop Coupe: $3,718
Chevrolet Camaro Z/28: $3,470
Chevrolet Impala Custom Coupe: $3,836
Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau: $3,806
Dodge Challenger with 340: $3,192
Dodge Charger Special Edition: $3,375
Dodge Polara Hardtop Coupe: $3,752
Fiat 124 Sport Coupe: $3,674
Ford Maverick Grabber: $2,541
Ford Mustang Mach 1: $3,088
Honda Civic Hatchback: $2,250
Mazda RX-2 Coupe: $3,495
Mercury (Ford) Capri V6: $3,261
Mercury Cougar XR-7: $3,679
Mercury Montego MX Wagon: $3,417
MGB: $3,925
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Coupe: $3,323
Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon: $3,788
Opel Manta: $2,850
Plymouth ‘Cuda: $3,120
Plymouth Duster 340: $2,822
Plymouth Fury III Hardtop Coupe: $3,883
Plymouth Satellite Sebring: $3,109
Pontiac Catalina Hardtop Coupe: $3,869
Pontiac Firebird Formula: $3,276
Pontiac LeMans GTO: $3,494
Triumph TR6: $3,275
Saab 99L: $3,845

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Ford LTD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1973-ford-ltd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1973-ford-ltd/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441583 Every time I see a junked Ford LTD of this era, I recall my early-childhood memories of my grandfather’s ’69 LTD hardtop. My parents had a ’67 Ford Custom and a ’49 Cadillac sedan at the time, and I thought Grandpa’s super-clean LTD was the most luxurious transportation imaginable. Nowadays, of course, most big Fords […]

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Every time I see a junked Ford LTD of this era, I recall my early-childhood memories of my grandfather’s ’69 LTD hardtop. My parents had a ’67 Ford Custom and a ’49 Cadillac sedan at the time, and I thought Grandpa’s super-clean LTD was the most luxurious transportation imaginable. Nowadays, of course, most big Fords of the 1965-75 period that one encounters are total hoopties… but even a junked Early Malaise Era LTD still retains a bit of its original class.

You know, the ’73 LTD really was a better deal than the ’73 Jaguar XJ6!
Lowriders, hot-rodders, and ironic rockabilly hipsters don’t care for big Fords. They suck alarming quantities of gas, so it’s hard to justify one as a cheap beater. Mostly, these cars just get used up, then sit in a forgotten driveway for decades before getting crushed.
These cars were very comfortable, and held together reasonably well (as long as you didn’t mind electrical problems and lots of front-suspension looseness after 50,000 or so miles).
This one boasts the shockingly heavy but torque-centric 429 engine. Real-world highway fuel economy was probably just barely into the double digits, which became an issue not long after this car was sold.
Look, it’s one of the infamous Park-To-Reverse Settlement stickers!

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Junkyard Find: 1973 BMW 2002 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1973-bmw-2002/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1973-bmw-2002/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2012 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439262 Some of these Junkyard Find posts result in plaintive emails (usually several months after the car has been crushed) from car owners in far-off places: “I have been looking for parts for this car for years. I am in (the Netherlands, the Maldives, the Upper Peninsula, etc.). Please send me the contact information for this […]

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Some of these Junkyard Find posts result in plaintive emails (usually several months after the car has been crushed) from car owners in far-off places: “I have been looking for parts for this car for years. I am in (the Netherlands, the Maldives, the Upper Peninsula, etc.). Please send me the contact information for this junkyard so that I can have them ship me the (impossible-to-find parts).” The record-holder is this 1981 Chrysler LeBaron, which has resulted in at least a dozen emails from obsessive Malaise LeBaron restorers. I suspect this car is going to be another example of this phenomenon. So, if you found this post on Google and it’s later than, say, June 2012, this BMW has been melted down in a Chinese steel factory!
2002s really aren’t all that rare in self-service wrecking yards, since thrashed ones aren’t particularly valuable and hopeless project cars eventually get sold for scrap after a couple of decades in the back yard. I see a half-dozen Crusher-bound 2002s in such yards every year. This one is a rare automatic-transmission car. Why would any 2002 shopper have selected the slushbox?
The Europeans weren’t ready for the early-70s US-market requirement for a Fasten Seat Belt light, so they had to add afterthought-style lights like this one. It got even worse in 1974.
This car doesn’t look rusty, but it would have cost plenty to make it nice. Since it’s tough to justify spending ten grand to make a $6,000 car, the price of scrap steel pushed this never-to-be-finished project onto the tow truck’s hook.

16 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 15 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1973 BMW 2002 Down on the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Toyota Corolla Deluxe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/junkyard-find-1973-toyota-corolla-deluxe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/junkyard-find-1973-toyota-corolla-deluxe/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2011 14:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422818 By the time this Junkyard Find ’78 Corolla was built, the Corolla was an institution in North America (at least in the western parts of the country). Not so with this ’73, built when Toyota was still a slightly oddball import marque and the fuel-economy penalty for a Valiant or Nova didn’t mean much to […]

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By the time this Junkyard Find ’78 Corolla was built, the Corolla was an institution in North America (at least in the western parts of the country). Not so with this ’73, built when Toyota was still a slightly oddball import marque and the fuel-economy penalty for a Valiant or Nova didn’t mean much to small-car buyers (this all changed because of certain events in October ’73).
The “Deluxe” badging on this car is funny, because it’s a spartan little beast even by early-1970s standards.
No air conditioning, but it does have an AM radio and a lighter.
And a really cool gas-filler door disguised as a vent on the C pillar.
This example, which I found in a Denver self-serve wrecking yard, has been just about completely used up. The odometer only goes up to five digits, so there’s no telling how many miles are on this car.
Judging by the amount of rodent poop and dirt in the car, this Corolla appears to have spent a decade or so sitting in a field.
This was the sensible cheap car of choice for my peers during my college years (mid-to-late 1980s), and so I’ve spent a lot of time in early Corollas. There’s not much fun about them in stock form, unless you count getting to your destination for pennies in gas as fun. Buyers looking for fun in a tiny Japanese econobox in 1973 went for the slightly less reliable but much nimbler Civic.

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Just Another Day In the Life of an MGB Owner http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/just-another-day-in-the-life-of-an-mgb-owner/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/just-another-day-in-the-life-of-an-mgb-owner/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2011 20:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416628 While scanning endless negatives and slides for the 1965 Impala Hell Project, I’ve run across a few images of other heaps from my past. I’m kicking myself now for letting dozens of now-interesting hoopties pass through my hands without getting any photographic record, but that’s how the pre-digital-photography era worked. My British Racing Green, chrome-bumper […]

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While scanning endless negatives and slides for the 1965 Impala Hell Project, I’ve run across a few images of other heaps from my past. I’m kicking myself now for letting dozens of now-interesting hoopties pass through my hands without getting any photographic record, but that’s how the pre-digital-photography era worked. My British Racing Green, chrome-bumper MGB-GT, however, served three years as my daily driver, and so it did get caught by a few photographs. Here’s a shot showing one of the many, many repairs this fine British Leyland product needed while serving as my primary means of transportation.
During a drive from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, the MG’s rear end started to make ominous whining noises. As all British car owners do, I pretended it wasn’t happening at first, but by about Kettleman City I couldn’t turn the radio up loud enough to drown out the increasingly loud howl. Maybe it’s just a cheap wheel bearing and not the diff, I thought, but no. Fortunately, I was able to limp the thing all the way to British Only Auto Wrecking in Oakland (where they had rear ends stacked ten deep, thanks to a vast oversupply of abandoned MGBs in the late 1980s) and then patched the car up until its next major failure (which almost certainly involved the electrical system). Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed the Austin-Healey 3000 in the background; this car belonged to my Jaguar-mechanic uncle, Dirty Duck, who was the person responsible for convincing me that British cars are superior machines.

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280C http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1973-mercedes-benz-280c/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1973-mercedes-benz-280c/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416566 Yesterday’s Junkyard Find was a completely used-up Detroit hooptie, of mild historical interest but not really deserving to be spared the steel jaws of The Crusher. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, is a different story: a solid, completely rust-free W114 Benz with a straight body and very nice interior. Did I mention that it’s a coupe? […]

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Yesterday’s Junkyard Find was a completely used-up Detroit hooptie, of mild historical interest but not really deserving to be spared the steel jaws of The Crusher. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, is a different story: a solid, completely rust-free W114 Benz with a straight body and very nice interior. Did I mention that it’s a coupe?
This is just how things are in California, where I found this staid-yet-slightly-sporty German. Just about every car in this Oakland self-service yard went through an auction process in which the minimum bid is— last time I checked— 200 bucks. That means that none of the cold-eyed car-wheeler-dealer types (nor the rose-colored-glasses-wearing car-hoarders) at this Mercedes-Benz’s auction felt willing to cough up two C-notes for the car.
These things were expensive— $9,994 list, at at time when $7,765 would get you a far plusher Cadillac Sixty Fleetwood and $8,475 could purchase a vastly sportier Jaguar XK-E V12 convertible— and they were expected to last forever. In this W114′s case, “forever” was 38 years.
My heart is pretty lump-of-coal-ish when it comes to seeing doomed cars in the junkyard, but this is one of the few that makes me shake my fist at the Car Gods and demand to know why? I may have to start shopping for W114 coupes, before the last one gets melted down to make Chinese bathroom-stall partitions.
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Junkyard Find: 1973 Buick Century Luxus Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1973-buick-century-luxus-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1973-buick-century-luxus-wagon/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416252 One of the weirder byproducts of Buick’s Malaise Era genetic mixing with distant GM cousin Opel was the Luxus trim level. You could get Luxus badging on a Manta, a Kadett, an Ascona… or a Buick Century wagon. If only Buick had thought to append “Brougham d’Elegance” to this thing’s name… well, another lost opportunity […]

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One of the weirder byproducts of Buick’s Malaise Era genetic mixing with distant GM cousin Opel was the Luxus trim level. You could get Luxus badging on a Manta, a Kadett, an Ascona… or a Buick Century wagon. If only Buick had thought to append “Brougham d’Elegance” to this thing’s name… well, another lost opportunity for The General.
I found this well-used example in a Los Angeles junkyard, and in this case— for once— I feel certain that no vintage-wagon aficionados are going to rend their garments and bewail the impending destruction of another piece of our national heritage. This wagon is a straight-up hooptie, right down to the space-saver spare tire (which you know saw speeds in excess of 90 MPH while bolted finger-tight to this 4,227-pound monster).
Luxus. Yes.
I can’t help thinking of Bill Owens’ incredible book Suburbia when I see wagons like this one. You know, a time when life was simple.
Even better than a Century Luxus would have been a Buick Opel Luxus with Isuzu power and a landau roof.

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Junkyard Find: 1973 International Harvester Scout II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/junkyard-find-1973-international-harvester-scout-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/junkyard-find-1973-international-harvester-scout-ii/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2011 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=415088 Scouts are still pretty commonplace in Colorado, for reasons too obvious to get into here, and that means that some of them are going to wear out and take that final tow-truck ride. This one is a bit rusty, but should have been good for a few more years of farm-equipment-style abuse. Is there any […]

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Scouts are still pretty commonplace in Colorado, for reasons too obvious to get into here, and that means that some of them are going to wear out and take that final tow-truck ride. This one is a bit rusty, but should have been good for a few more years of farm-equipment-style abuse.
Is there any vehicle better suited for a gold prospector? Other than a wagon towed by mules, that is.
It started life in Colorado, and it will end it here as well.

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Down On The 1993 Stockton Highway: Battle-Scarred 1973 Buick Electra 225 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-1993-stockton-highway-battle-scarred-1973-buick-electra-225/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-1993-stockton-highway-battle-scarred-1973-buick-electra-225/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2011 15:30:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=409222 While scanning endless strips of 35mm negatives for the Impala Hell Project series, I keep running across shots of random cars I thought were interesting at the time. This sort of photography led, 15 years later, to my Down On The Street series, and so I thought I’d share this set of grainy Tri-X photographs […]

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While scanning endless strips of 35mm negatives for the Impala Hell Project series, I keep running across shots of random cars I thought were interesting at the time. This sort of photography led, 15 years later, to my Down On The Street series, and so I thought I’d share this set of grainy Tri-X photographs of a Malaise Buick in California’s Central Valley, captured on a super-cheapo Ansco Pix Panorama camera.
For most of the later part of 1993, I had a job delivering tropical fish to aquarium stores throughout Northern California, either in a Mitsubishi Fuso box truck (top speed: 58 MPH!) or a beat-to-hell diesel Ford Econoline van. In addition to a boombox powered by alligator clips running to the truck’s fusebox, I always brought a camera along when I drove my route. These shots were taken from the Econoline, on I-5 near Stockton.
I remember thinking “In not too many years, all these battered Detroit luxury barges will be gone, so I should document the final years of this era” when I took these photographs. Sure enough, you rarely saw beater 5,000-pound Malaise dreamboats on the roads after about 1995, and they’re going to be all but extinct now that scrap steel is so valuable. This particular Electra probably never saw the 21st century.
It was 105 degrees out and the Buick’s windows were down, meaning the air conditioning (and probably more than half the power windows) was kaput. What would the equivalent car be today? A ’91 Roadmaster! Not quite as luxurious, thanks to its Caprice ancestry, and much less torque with a mere 305 or 350 cubic inches versus 455 for the Electra… but it’s still possible to enjoy a cheap 20-year-old Buick land yacht.

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Chevrolet Nova Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1973-chevrolet-nova-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1973-chevrolet-nova-hatchback/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402295 Remember the early Nova hatchbacks? They didn’t sell very well, probably because the hatch cost $150 more ($810 in 2011 dollars) than the Nova coupe with a traditional trunk. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, and I wouldn’t have noticed this one in my local self-service yard, had it not been for […]

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Remember the early Nova hatchbacks? They didn’t sell very well, probably because the hatch cost $150 more ($810 in 2011 dollars) than the Nova coupe with a traditional trunk. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, and I wouldn’t have noticed this one in my local self-service yard, had it not been for the sharp eyes of the Tetanus Neon LeMons team co-captains, visiting Denver from Houston and stopping at the junkyard on their way to the airport for some Neon throttle-body shopping.

This car, while reasonably rust-free, is probably too beat to have been worth restoring; while the Nova hatches of this era are rare, they aren’t worth enough to warrant pouring lots of money into a project car.

The 307 small-block-Chevy was the standard V8 available with the ’73 Nova, although there’s no telling how many engine swaps this car endured during its nearly four decades on the road.

This car was surrounded by a moat of icky, oily mud (Denver is in the grip of an unseasonably wet and humid July), so I wasn’t motivated to climb into (or under) the car and check for the presence of a Powerglide transmission. ’73 was the last year of the ol’ two-speed automatic in the Nova, which would make a Powerglide-equipped hatchback an interesting mix of 1950s transmission and 1980s body style.

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Now A Beetle Owner Has Something To Graduate To: 1973 Volkswagen 412 Road Test http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/now-a-beetle-owner-has-something-to-graduate-to-1973-volkswagen-412-road-test/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/now-a-beetle-owner-has-something-to-graduate-to-1973-volkswagen-412-road-test/#comments Wed, 09 Mar 2011 22:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=386778 Volkswagen might feel pretty confident now, but things seemed much scarier for the boys from Wolfsburg back in 1973; the company had milked just about every last drop from the air-cooled/rear-drive platform that had looked so futuristic when they ripped it off from Hans Ledwinka nearly four decades earlier and the verdict was still out […]

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Volkswagen might feel pretty confident now, but things seemed much scarier for the boys from Wolfsburg back in 1973; the company had milked just about every last drop from the air-cooled/rear-drive platform that had looked so futuristic when they ripped it off from Hans Ledwinka nearly four decades earlier and the verdict was still out on the new generation of water-cooled VWs. American car buyers could still buy the Type 4 in 1973, and so Car & Track felt compelled to review it.

It’s impossible to sugarcoat it: the Volkswagen 412 was a dismal failure in the North American marketplace. Zombie-movie-grade body rot problems, chronic overheating difficulties, engine power smogged down to 5 horsepower (well, OK, 76 HP), and scary handling all contributed to low sales, and we don’t even need to bring VW’s early Malaise Era Japanese competition in this discussion, do we? I’ve seen exactly one Type 4 on the street in the last few years, which makes this earnest review by C&T all the more interesting, as we contemplate Volkswagen’s future. Check out the 412′s behavior in the test track’s off-camber turn! Aiiieee!

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Mini or Electra? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/mini-or-electra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/mini-or-electra/#comments Sat, 29 Jan 2011 15:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=382169 I snapped this shot of an Austin Mini (technically a Morris 850) and a Buick Electra 225 parked side-by-side in an Alameda, California parking lot before I left the West Coast, and every time I look at it I wonder: would I rather have an early Mini or a Malaise Era Electra? I can’t decide! […]

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I snapped this shot of an Austin Mini (technically a Morris 850) and a Buick Electra 225 parked side-by-side in an Alameda, California parking lot before I left the West Coast, and every time I look at it I wonder: would I rather have an early Mini or a Malaise Era Electra? I can’t decide!
The Mini was one of the first Down On The Street honorees, and I believe the Electra pictured here has been featured in DOTS as well. So, what’s it gonna be, assuming the cars are similar condition? The beautifully simple machine that put the tranverse-engine/front-wheel-drive platform on the map, or the float-on-a-cloud, big V8-powered expanse of traditional Detroit Luxury Iron?

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