Tag: 1980s

By on April 15, 2014

08 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnly 6,622 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupes were built during the Italo-Swedish machine’s 1978-1981 production run, and I’ve found two of them in California self-serve wrecking yards during the last year. We saw this silver ’79 (actually, all ’78 and ’79 262Cs were painted in Mystic Silver) last summer, and now there’s today’s find: a gold ’80. These cars were weird-looking and something of a puzzling marketing move by Volvo, but you’d think that their rarity would give them sufficient value to keep the survivors out of The Crusher‘s jaws. Nope! (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2014

12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of such an EV at a junkyard; we saw a junked EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro EV conversion last year, and now a different Denver yard has given us this ’88 Sprint “Electric Sport.” (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2014

05 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf all the GM J-bodies sold in America, the Olds Firenza may be the rarest. In 1984, most Oldsmobile wagon shoppers wanted a stately rear-wheel-drive behemoth with a V8 engine, not some newfangled small wagon with a little communist-inspired four-cylinder engine driving the wrong wheels. Thus, Firenza wagons are rarer today than early AC Cobras. Here’s one that I found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard last weekend, while I was in town for the fifth annual Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2014

Aside from “real racers” who insist The 24 Hours of LeMons is a joke, everyone else understands this series’ willingness to embrace engineering and artistic creativity, providing somewhat-wholesome entertainment and—best of all– giving away a metric ton of track time for little cash.  As a member of the LeMons Supreme Court in their Texas races, well, bias from judicial bribes and heartless praise bestowed upon me aside…

…here’s a dirty little secret: you can go LeMons racing in any fully depreciated machine with ZERO PENALTY LAPS, no matter how awesome the vehicle was when new. Provided you bend (not break) the rules with your whip.  And give everyone a good reason to love/hate you.  The Poorvette is proof positive. (Read More…)

By on March 12, 2014

20 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Toyota Cressida is now at its moment of peak junkyard availability, with most examples finally getting to the point at which repairs just aren’t justified by the car’s value. The Cressida was an extremely well-built car by 1980s standards, and a pretty good car even through our jaded 21st-century eyes (which view vehicles that get scrapped before 200,000 miles as suspiciously crappy and/or abused). We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in the Junkyard Find Series so far, but today’s Cressida is the first wagon. (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2014

15 - 1986 Dodge Aries Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe quantities of true Chrysler K-Cars in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards have been declining a bit in recent years, though I still see enough of them that I choose only the most interesting to photograph for this series. So far we’ve seen this “Hemi 2.6″ ’81 Dodge Aries wagon, this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon, and today I’m adding a gold Aries sedan that has special significance for me. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2014
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With the wife and kids out of the house on Sunday I finally had a little private time. Naturally, I did what a lot of men do when they find themselves home alone – I caught up on the current season of Top Gear. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the world’s most popular television program. On the one hand I am generally unimpressed with lengthy reviews of million dollar hyper cars or high end luxury cars, the seats of which my ass will never grace, but I do enjoy the challenges and the occasional look back at cars of the past. Naturally, I was quite taken by this season’s premiere episode, a modern day test of the hot hatches of the 1980s. (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2014

19 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chrysler Laser was the futuristic K-car-based answer to all those science-fiction Japanese cars of the middle 1980s. We’ve seen some of the Dodge counterparts to this car in this series, including this ’92 IROC R/T, this ’90, this ’88, and this ’87 Shelby Turbo Z. Since I’ve been collecting Japanese 1980s digital dashes, I just couldn’t resist adding a Detroit 1980s digital dash to my collection, in the slipperiest of slippery slopes. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2014

03 - Taqueria Painting - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne of the things I miss most about living in the San Francisco Bay Area— OK, maybe the thing I miss the most— is the proper Mission-style burrito. Here in Denver, the Midwestern-influenced salty/bland flavors, brown rice, and incorrect shape of the Chipotle-style burrito dominates, and so whenever I head back to Northern California to shoot some junkyard cars, I try to hit the taqueria that got me hooked on Mission-style Burritos in the first place: Ramiro & Sons Taqueria in my hometown of Alameda, California. Inside this place (whose burritos, good as they are, don’t quite measure up to what you’ll get in the actual Mission District about five miles due east and on the other side of the Bay; this place is my personal favorite), you’ll find a painting on the wall that’s been hanging there since 1984, and that painting depicts a yellow two-door hardtop of some sort parked in front. For 30 years now, I’ve puzzled over that painting, trying to figure out what kind of car I’m seeing. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2014

01 - 1984 Chevrolet Corvette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know how there was no 1983 Corvette, and then the C4 finally came out in 1984, and it had this terrible twin-throttle-body fuel-injection system? Of course you do. Anyway, C4 Corvettes are worth enough these days that they’re not common sights in self-service wrecking yards, and those that I do find have been picked pretty clean.. Shops that specialize in Corvettes intercept most basket-case examples before they get to these yards, but I found four C4s all together at a Southern California yard last month. Let’s check out a well-stripped example of the first of the good-handling Corvettes. (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2014

22 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chrysler K platform spun off many K-based descendents, but genuine, pure Ks have been fairly rare in this series. We’ve seen this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon so far, though I’ve passed over many dozens more. Still, when I see a first-year Aries wagon in this weird chalky gray-green color and it has a “Hemi 2.6″ engine, I break out the camera! (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2014

15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith so many old Subarus in Denver wrecking yards, I do run across the occasional BRAT. We’ve seen this ’79 and this very rare Sawzall Edition ’86 so far in this series, and today we’ll be looking at a well-used ’82 that still has the very rare lawsuit-inducing jumpseats in the back. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2014

11 - 1985 Porsche 928 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSouthern California really is the Promised Land of cool Junkyard Finds, and sometimes you’ll find a car that was used in a film or TV shoot before getting scrapped. Such appears to be the case with this puzzling camo-and-Boeing-emblems-wrapped 928. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2014

08 - 1984 Buick Century Olympic Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, GM was a major sponsor of US Olympic athletes at the 1984 Summer Olympics (which were boycotted by most of the Warsaw Pact as payback for Jimmy Carter and friends boycotting the ’80 Olympics over Part XXIV in the War In Afghanistan), which meant that you could buy an Olympic Edition Buick Century that year. I moved to Southern California while the ’84 Olympics were going on, but all I remember about them was my friend who made the national news by drunk-driving over tens of thousands of orange cones set up for the bicycle-road-race event in Orange County (delaying the start of the event and earning five years of weekend orange-vest-freeway-cleanup duty)… and the sight of all these Olympic Centuries being driven around by low-level employees of the Games. Here’s one that managed to stay on the street for nearly 30 years, before washing up in an Oakland self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2014
Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

The decision is in, and my long awaited overseas assignment has been postponed for another year. I still have a move in my future, however, but it won’t be outside the border it will be the heartland – Leavenworth, KS. After looking at the alternatives, I’ve decided that this is the best opportunity I was presented with. It’s a chance to work with some folks I might not have otherwise worked with and, while I am there, maybe I’ll even learn a few things. The added bonus is that the move gets me out of the rust belt and back into a place where old cars are a lot more common.

Since the 300M went to a new home a little less than a year ago I’ve had an empty place in my heart to match the one in my driveway. The family mini-van and my Pontiac Torrent are both wonderful, competent daily drivers, but they aren’t really what I think of as “fun.” There’s never a hint of drama with either of them, they just do their jobs every day without complaint and, while I admire and rely upon their stolidity, I miss having something to play with. The time has come to rectify that. (Read More…)

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