The Truth About Cars » 1980s http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 01 Aug 2014 21:12:49 +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 » 1980s http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877490 One thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland […]

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04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland self-serve yard.
03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was just a few years before the Infiniti brand hit these shores, and the Maxima (like the Toyota Cressida) was seeming less luxurious compared to the competition as the decade of the 1980s wore on.
12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI found an excellent addition to my collection of heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers in this car.
10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe paint is faded, but the interior isn’t so bad.

A powerful rebuttal to the notion of compromise.

As always, the US got the most boring commercials for Japanese cars.

WHOOOOOOSH! Super Sonic Suspension!

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-mercury-grand-marquis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-mercury-grand-marquis/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875617 Here’s another Junkyard Find that deserves the Sajeev’s Bitter Tears label. It qualifies for the Brown Car Appreciation Society, it’s an early Panther, and it’s a top-trim-level Grand Marquis (owners of which looked down their noses at lowly Marquis Brougham owners). Let’s explore this exquisite example of Late Malaise Era crypto-luxury, shall we? These cars […]

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09 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s another Junkyard Find that deserves the Sajeev’s Bitter Tears label. It qualifies for the Brown Car Appreciation Society, it’s an early Panther, and it’s a top-trim-level Grand Marquis (owners of which looked down their noses at lowly Marquis Brougham owners). Let’s explore this exquisite example of Late Malaise Era crypto-luxury, shall we?
13 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were the same under the skin as the LTD and Continental, and they weren’t bad drivers (by the standards of the time).
07 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights! Trivia question: what was the last year for factory-installed opera lights on an American car? I’m guessing this feature made it well into the 21st century.
06 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one’s a little rough, though it’s a completely rust-free California car.
17 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo much trim. So much vinyl.
14 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see a lot of police-organization and AAA-related stickers on these cars, which is not surprising given the elderly demographic that preferred them.
03 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSteering-wheel cruise-control buttons showed a lot of faith in Ford’s ability to make a clockspring and/or sliding electrical contacts work.
10 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord (and Chrysler) loved these fake vents in the early 1980s. Why?

Created by science!

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Ford Escort GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1988-ford-escort-gt-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1988-ford-escort-gt-2/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872602 Most of the Escort GTs you see these days are the Mazda-based cars that came out starting in the 1991 model year. The first-gen North American Escort, loosely based on its European counterpart, was built from 1981 through 1990, and examples are becoming very rare in wrecking yards. We saw this first-half-of-1988 Escort GT last […]

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04 - 1988 Ford Escort GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost of the Escort GTs you see these days are the Mazda-based cars that came out starting in the 1991 model year. The first-gen North American Escort, loosely based on its European counterpart, was built from 1981 through 1990, and examples are becoming very rare in wrecking yards. We saw this first-half-of-1988 Escort GT last month, and now I’ve found this “1988.5″ model in a Southern California yard.
02 - 1988 Ford Escort GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou could get a 5.0 “HO” V8 in the Mustang and Continental Mark VII, and so Ford just had to label the 1.9 CVH engine as an HO as well. 110 horsepower out of this engine, which was two more than the ’88 Honda Civic Si had.
09 - 1988 Ford Escort GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI am experiencing an 80s flashback, looking at these tape graphics. Makes me want to loot an S&L.
10 - 1988 Ford Escort GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot much left of the interior. This might have been an interior-parts donor for a nicer GT.
14 - 1988 Ford Escort GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe rear wing, which did a fine job of trapping a couple of decades’ worth of dirt, won’t be going to The Crusher with the rest of the car.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-scirocco/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-scirocco/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871498 These days, most of the older water-cooled VWs you see in American pull-yer-part wrecking yards are Golf Cabrios and the occasional ancient Malaisewagen. I see a second-gen Scirocco every now and then (the first-gens have long since disappeared from the junkyard ecosystem), and today’s Junkyard Find caught my attention with its distinctively early-80s paint color. […]

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07 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese days, most of the older water-cooled VWs you see in American pull-yer-part wrecking yards are Golf Cabrios and the occasional ancient Malaisewagen. I see a second-gen Scirocco every now and then (the first-gens have long since disappeared from the junkyard ecosystem), and today’s Junkyard Find caught my attention with its distinctively early-80s paint color.
12 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Robert ArmstrongWhen I see a Scirocco of this era, I always think of it as the car that genius cartoonist Robert Armstrong gave his lovable-dirtbag Mickey Rat character when The Man brainwashed him into becoming a solid citizen; a very yuppie machine in its time.
10 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMechanically speaking, the Scirocco didn’t differ much from the Golf. 74 horsepower in 1982 for US-market Sciroccos (which were more fun to drive than that figure suggests).
01 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars aren’t worth much in rough condition, so once one falls into the hands of a city tow-yard or an insurance auction, the junkyard is the likeliest next stop.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Somerset http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1986-buick-somerset/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1986-buick-somerset/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=864818 Ahhh, the Buick Somerset! One of my favorite obscure General Motors cars of the 1980s, right up there with the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo and Buick Reatta. The Somerset started out in 1985 as the Somerset Regal, but then GM’s marketers must have become as confused as an octogenarian Buick shopper confronted in the showroom by […]

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18 - 1986 Buick Somerset Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAhhh, the Buick Somerset! One of my favorite obscure General Motors cars of the 1980s, right up there with the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo and Buick Reatta. The Somerset started out in 1985 as the Somerset Regal, but then GM’s marketers must have become as confused as an octogenarian Buick shopper confronted in the showroom by this little coupe with thrashy four-banger and science-fiction radio pod, changing the name to just plain Somerset for 1986. Not easy to find, the Somerset, so I was happy to spot this one last winter in a Denver self-service yard.
06 - 1986 Buick Somerset Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomerset buyers got this cool digital dash, which might have appealed to Japanese octogenarians but didn’t resonate so well with American ones who grew up with a more traditional sort of Buick coupe. No, I didn’t buy this cluster to add to my collection— I already have a Somerset digital cluster, pulled from another car that I found the week before photographing this one.
03 - 1986 Buick Somerset Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWant to upgrade to an aftermarket radio in your Somerset? Not with this setup in place, you won’t!
04 - 1986 Buick Somerset Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNobody has ever been able to explain what GM was thinking when they came up with this idea.
13 - 1986 Buick Somerset Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnder the hood, the good old Iron Duke, the least luxurious engine available to General Motors at the time. The 3.0 liter Buick V6 was optional for the ’86 Somerset.
17 - 1986 Buick Somerset Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one ran when crashed.

Give me the look. Give me the feel. Give me the magic. Give me the wheel.

Where better really matters.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-alfa-romeo-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-alfa-romeo-spider/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856321 Prices for (non-164) Alfa Romeos have been getting somewhat crazy in recent years, but it’s still possible to get a restorable 1970s or 1980s Spider for non-insane bucks. The proof of this is that rougher examples still show up now and then at the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. In this series so far, we’ve […]

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13 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPrices for (non-164) Alfa Romeos have been getting somewhat crazy in recent years, but it’s still possible to get a restorable 1970s or 1980s Spider for non-insane bucks. The proof of this is that rougher examples still show up now and then at the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’74, this ’78, and now today’s ’81.
01 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is ugly, but it doesn’t show the atomic-testing-grade obliteration that Colorado convertibles get when left outside for years with no top.
07 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAlfa Spiders love to rust, even in single-digit-humidity Colorado.
06 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot worth restoring, but a good parts car.
11 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIts final parking place is next to a Mazda RX-7.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Camry LE Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-camry-limited-edition-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-camry-limited-edition-liftback/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856145 We don’t normally put the words “Camry” and “rare” together in the same sentence, but this series is all about finding rare-but-not-valuable oddities (e.g., one of the very last GM J-body. When it comes to rare Camrys, there’s the seldom-seen-in-the-wild Camry All-Trac and the nearly-as-rare Camry Liftback, and I’d found exactly one example of each […]

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09 - 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe don’t normally put the words “Camry” and “rare” together in the same sentence, but this series is all about finding rare-but-not-valuable oddities (e.g., one of the very last GM J-body. When it comes to rare Camrys, there’s the seldom-seen-in-the-wild Camry All-Trac and the nearly-as-rare Camry Liftback, and I’d found exactly one example of each in wrecking yards prior to today’s find. Yes, here’s another first-gen Camry liftback, this time dressed in whatever Toyota called this strange metallic purplish-brown hue.
01 - 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBefore car companies got into the whole brevity thing and started slapping plain old LE badges on slightly-upscale trim levels, Toyota added these attractive Limited Edition gold badges on Camry trunklids.
05 - 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin228,126 miles was very good for a car built 30 years ago.
07 - 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior isn’t bad and— this being a California car— there’s no rust. Why is this Camry in the junkyard? Perhaps the engine or transmission crapped out, or maybe the car got towed away for too many parking tickets.
10 - 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 91-horsepower 1S-L engine was enough for 1984, and for 1984 buyers of Toyota sedans.
06 - 1984 Toyota Camry Liftback Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir conditioning!

The lack of the macho-ness we expect in 1980s JDM car ads is disappointing here, but this is a Camry.

I’m sure the automobile industry longs for the days of fuel-economy testing that gave the early Camry a 44 mpg highway rating. At 47 mph with a tailwind, maybe.

Room for a rock group… or a group of rocks!

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Colt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1981-dodge-colt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1981-dodge-colt/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854209 By the final years of the Malaise Era, Chrysler had their econobox needs covered on the one hand by much-modified rebadged Simcas, and on the other by not-at-all-modified rebadged Mitsubishis. These cars were no worse than their Ford and GM competitors (which isn’t saying much), but the inherent cheapness of the 4th-gen Mitsubishi-built Colt meant […]

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08 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy the final years of the Malaise Era, Chrysler had their econobox needs covered on the one hand by much-modified rebadged Simcas, and on the other by not-at-all-modified rebadged Mitsubishis. These cars were no worse than their Ford and GM competitors (which isn’t saying much), but the inherent cheapness of the 4th-gen Mitsubishi-built Colt meant that most of them weren’t worth fixing after about 1992, and these cars are rare indeed nowadays. In this series, we’d seen just one example of this generation of Colt/Mirage/Champ prior to today’s find.
05 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one was parked illegally in Hayward, California, and the owner couldn’t or wouldn’t rescue it before the tow-truck man came to take it on its last ride.
09 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy any sort of 21st-century standards, these cars sucked. They were noisy, rattly, slow, and broke down a lot. However, we are now living in the Golden Age of Miserable Little Econoboxes, where even the diminished-expectations Versa and Spark are perfectly pleasant transportation applicances, and so it just isn’t fair to apply 21st-century standards to the ’81 Colt.
01 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust imagine you’re listening to Debbie Harry “rap” about Fab Five Freddy on the AM radio and getting 40 mpg in the grim years after the Ayatollah jacked up gas prices and this car makes more sense.
11 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot much attempt was made to obscure the Japanese origins of this car, though the same could not be said of the French origins of the Omni/Horizon.

Perhaps Chrysler should have gone with the Japan-market ads for this car.

Imported for Dodge!

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Subaru XT GL http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1987-subaru-xt-gl/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1987-subaru-xt-gl/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=844169 The Subaru XT is a car you won’t see often in most parts of the country, but Denver junkyards have tremendous quantities of old Subarus and so I see them on a regular basis here. So far, this series has had this ’85 XT Turbo, this ’91 XT, this ’91 XT6, and now today’s ’87 […]

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10 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The Subaru XT is a car you won’t see often in most parts of the country, but Denver junkyards have tremendous quantities of old Subarus and so I see them on a regular basis here. So far, this series has had this ’85 XT Turbo, this ’91 XT, this ’91 XT6, and now today’s ’87 XT.

I shot a bit of video of the tilt wheel/instrument cluster in action. Since I have developed an unhealthy obsession with 1980s Japanese digital instrument clusters, I bought the one out of the ’85 XT Turbo. Today’s XT had the regular analog cluster, so I left it in the car.
01 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you like 1980s design, this car is full of good examples. I was in college in 1987, and I remember thinking very clearly at the time that nobody will ever be capable of feeling nostalgia for this era. Now that Tears For Fears plays in supermarkets and Members Only jackets are making a comeback, I have been proved wrong about that embarrassing decade once again.
20 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMulti Point FI!
18 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were full of weird little touches like these door-latch cover panels. Sure, more stuff to go wrong (and with 1980s Subarus, much did go wrong), but it was still cool stuff.
09 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis example is the ordinary front-wheel-drive version.
16 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeday I will be unable to resist the lure of the Alcyone, and I will buy a nice XT Turbo or XT6.

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1985-cadillac-eldorado-biarritz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1985-cadillac-eldorado-biarritz/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843121 The Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was made for the 1976 through 1991 model years, but the real Biarritz existed only through 1985. Today’s Junkyard Find is a final-year example of the proper, stainless-steel-roof-equipped Biarritz. This car is best-known as the Ace Rothstein‘s exploding Cadillac in the opening sequence of the film Casino. The Eldorado Biarritz was […]

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11 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was made for the 1976 through 1991 model years, but the real Biarritz existed only through 1985. Today’s Junkyard Find is a final-year example of the proper, stainless-steel-roof-equipped Biarritz.

This car is best-known as the Ace Rothstein‘s exploding Cadillac in the opening sequence of the film Casino.
02 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Eldorado Biarritz was a very expensive machine in its day. How much? $35,500 in 1985, which is close to 80 grand in inflation-adjusted 2014 dollars. For that kind of cash, Ace Rothstein could have had, say, a new BMW 735i ($36,680), a Mercedes-Benz 300CD ($33,750), or even a Porsche 911 Cabriolet ($36,450). But hey, check out that stainless-steel roof panel!
12 - 24 Hours of LeMons Arse Freeze-a-Palooza 2012 WinnersIn my role as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, I hectored teams about the need for an Eldorado Biarritz race car until one team finally put together the “Ace Rothstein Special” ’84, complete with the appropriate suits.
13 - 24 Hours of LeMons Arse Freeze-a-Palooza 2012 WinnersNow that’s a race car!
16 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is pretty well used up, but you can still see flashes of the casino-manager-grade luxury here and there.
07 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe chain-based front-wheel-drive system developed for the original Toronado back in 1966 was still being used in 1985.
03 - 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights, landau roof, and all.

The car that dreams are made of.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Honda Prelude http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1982-honda-prelude-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1982-honda-prelude-2/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842658 The first-gen Honda Prelude didn’t sell particularly well in the United States, being very small and not particularly quick for a sporty car, but it had Accord reliability and some examples managed to survive on the street for decades. In this series, we’ve seen this ’81 and this ’82— both silver cars with red interiors— […]

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11 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first-gen Honda Prelude didn’t sell particularly well in the United States, being very small and not particularly quick for a sporty car, but it had Accord reliability and some examples managed to survive on the street for decades. In this series, we’ve seen this ’81 and this ’82— both silver cars with red interiors— and today we’ve got another ’82… in silver, with red interior.
07 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBelieve it or not, this vacuum-hose tangle got even more complex as the early 1980s became the middle 1980s. This is the relatively simple non-CVCC, 49-state version.
05 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, these engines worked pretty well. Once rigorous emissions checks became standard in many states, though, it became a nightmare to get these cars to pass.
01 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWas any other color interior even available on the early Prelude?

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-liftback/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830849 It has become a Corolla Junkyard Find week, with this ’78 Corolla wagon on Monday and this skateboarder-enhanced ’98 Corolla LE sedan yesterday, so I’m going to keep the streak going with today’s find: a Late Malaise Era (yes, I invented the term) E-72 Corolla liftback, which I found late last year in Northern California. […]

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11 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has become a Corolla Junkyard Find week, with this ’78 Corolla wagon on Monday and this skateboarder-enhanced ’98 Corolla LE sedan yesterday, so I’m going to keep the streak going with today’s find: a Late Malaise Era (yes, I invented the term) E-72 Corolla liftback, which I found late last year in Northern California.
12 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou can tell when a junkyard car wasn’t towed away for unpaid tickets, because it will still have the keys. This was probably a trade-in at a sketchy used-car lot.
08 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust in California, but Malaise Era Toyotas find a way. This car might have lived by the beach in San Francisco for a while, though not long enough to look like this terrifyingly salty ’84 Space Van.
01 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior doesn’t look too bad here.
02 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 69,000 miles? That suggests a blown head gasket followed by 20 years of storage in a driveway.
03 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 3T-C engine made just 70 horses, but they were reliable horses.

Come on!

The early 1980s were the pinnacle of the “Oh, what a feeling!” era for Toyota ads.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Citation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-citation-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-citation-2/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820114 The Chevy Citation (and X-body Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick siblings) was built in large quantities during its 1980-1985 run, but disappeared from American streets fairly quickly; by the middle 1990s, an X-body in running condition was a rare sight. Still, I run across them in junkyards now and then. In this series, we’ve seen this […]

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19 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chevy Citation (and X-body Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick siblings) was built in large quantities during its 1980-1985 run, but disappeared from American streets fairly quickly; by the middle 1990s, an X-body in running condition was a rare sight. Still, I run across them in junkyards now and then. In this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, and this ’83 Citation, and I’ve declined to photograph many more. I spotted today’s find in a Northern California wrecking yard back in March, and it’s a loaded hatchback with V6, automatic, and refrigerator-white paint.
17 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Citation’s real and perceived quality issues did plenty of damage to GM’s reputation, helping to push ever more car shoppers into the nearest Toyota or Datsun showroom.
01 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe replacement for the Nova had to be a light front-wheel-drive car, due to CAFE standards coupled with the need to compete with the spacious-inside Accord, and at first the Citation seemed to get the job done.
10 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has the created-for-the-X-body 60-degree V6 engine instead of the base Iron Duke. The descendents of this engine family are still with us today, now making over 300 horsepower.
04 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Citation’s interior was roomier than the rear-wheel-drive Nova, and the car got much better fuel economy. Unfortunately, it held together more like a Fiat than like the kind of car Chevy shoppers had come to expect.

Ever heard of the superhero Single Person?

The weird superhero theme continued with Perfect Couple.

The first Chevy of the 80s!

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1980-volkswagen-dasher-diesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1980-volkswagen-dasher-diesel/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=817145 The original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door […]

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24 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door diesel Dasher.
02 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car was slow even by generous 1980 standards, but diesel fuel economy must have made diesel VW buyers feel smart. I took my driver-training classes in a Rabbit Diesel, and I’m pretty sure the top speed of that car was about 52 mph.
13 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car appears to have been driven down from Alaska, judging from the body rust, moss growing on the trim, and these parking stickers.
14 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is packed with damp Alaska Airlines aircraft shop manuals, probably a couple hundred pounds of them.
15 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m sure I could have picked up a Boeing manual for cheap or even free, but I decided that I’d be able to live without it.
09 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWas it still running when it got scrapped? Who can say?
16 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s hard to use up a car this thoroughly.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Pontiac Fiero http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1986-pontiac-fiero/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1986-pontiac-fiero/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812058 The Fiero was something of a disappointment for GM, to put it mildly, but enough of them were sold that I still see the occasional example in fast-turnover wrecking yards. For some reason, I haven’t photographed any junkyard Fieros for this series before today (though I have photographed an incredibly detailed full-back Fiero tattoo, and […]

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07 - 1986 Pontiac Fiero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Fiero was something of a disappointment for GM, to put it mildly, but enough of them were sold that I still see the occasional example in fast-turnover wrecking yards. For some reason, I haven’t photographed any junkyard Fieros for this series before today (though I have photographed an incredibly detailed full-back Fiero tattoo, and Sajeev has written about this 3.8-swapped Fierrari), but this extremely yellow ’86 in Northern California caught my eye a few months back.
08 - 1986 Pontiac Fiero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m pretty sure these door decals weren’t factory-installed.
03 - 1986 Pontiac Fiero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLikewise, the yellow instrument-cluster bezels.
06 - 1986 Pontiac Fiero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis yard was nice enough to put carpets under all the cars, but then someone knocked this Fiero off its jackstands.

In the alternative-universe scenario put forward by GM’s marketers, Fieros driven by attractive young women were so numerous that hitchhikers could afford to wait for a Fiero GT, or at least one with a V6.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Chevette http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-chevette/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-chevette/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=811250 You know how people say there aren’t any truly bad cars sold in the US any more, with a sort of wistfulness that we’ve lost the benefits of an era when men were men and miles spent in miserable crapwagons strengthened your character? Every time I see a Chevette in a wrecking yard— which happens […]

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11 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know how people say there aren’t any truly bad cars sold in the US any more, with a sort of wistfulness that we’ve lost the benefits of an era when men were men and miles spent in miserable crapwagons strengthened your character? Every time I see a Chevette in a wrecking yard— which happens more often than you might think, given the checks-all-the-boxes awfulness of these heaps— I’m reminded of how great today’s lowliest econoboxes are compared to the stuff you might buy during the darkest night of the Malaise Era. I’m a member of the generation whose first cars were mostly dredged from the cheapest-possible-used-car cesspool that contained such horrors as the Pinto, early Colt, and Vega, and— even against that backdrop of automotive suckiness— the Chevette stood out as the booby prize, the car that your crazy aunt gave you when she upgraded to a new Renault Alliance and you couldn’t afford the $150 to buy a Maverick with a rod knock. About the best that could be said about the Chevette was that it was cheap and simple, without much to go wrong, and so there’s still a pool of the things to provide fresh examples for your local U-Wrench-It. Here’s one that I saw in California a few months back.
05 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy selling cars based on the T Platform all over the world, GM probably got its development costs on the Chevette paid back by about 1976. After that, the Chevette was easy money.
04 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI don’t photograph every Chevette I see in junkyards, but even so we’ve had this bunch of diesel Chevettes, this ’84 diesel, this ’77, this ’80, this fully-optioned ’79, this ’82 Scooter, and this Pontiac 1000 Chevette clone in this series so far.
06 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 1.6 liter SOHC Isuzu engine in this car made 64 horsepower and gave the Chevette pretty good fuel economy for the time.

Just 12.8% financing for this car, and it came with fold-down seats!

The ads for this car were way more fun in Brazil, what with the porn music and post-Chevette cigarette.

01 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagovan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-honda-civic-4wd-wagovan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-honda-civic-4wd-wagovan/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=810810 Before Subaru finally nailed down the sales-clinching formula for a car that had four-wheel-drive but didn’t seem too truck-like, all the major Japanese car manufacturers took at shot at building little sedans and wagons with power going to all the wheels. Since I live in Colorado, I get to see examples of each of those […]

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17 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBefore Subaru finally nailed down the sales-clinching formula for a car that had four-wheel-drive but didn’t seem too truck-like, all the major Japanese car manufacturers took at shot at building little sedans and wagons with power going to all the wheels. Since I live in Colorado, I get to see examples of each of those 1980s efforts, most of which didn’t result in much showroom action but are still pretty interesting today. In this series, we’ve seen a Camry All-Trac, quite a few Corolla All-Tracs, lots of Tercel 4WD wagons, countless elderly Subarus, and so on. The Honda Shuttle aka Civic Wagovan shows up in Denver wrecking yards as well, and I don’t bother to photograph most of them. This late Wagovan with the futuristic “Real-Time” four-wheel-drive system, however, is a rare find even in Colorado.
26 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinReal-Time 4WD didn’t require the driver to throw a lever or push a button when snow or mud threatened, and thus you didn’t have to worry about leaving the car in four-wheel-drive on dry asphalt and tearing up the tires (or worse). Of course, there was a fuel-economy penalty for using a center differential and driving all four wheels all the time, but Subaru proved that this doesn’t hurt sales.
22 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere are emblems boasting of this technology all over the car.
03 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ’88 4WD Wagovan also got a super-low (I assume that’s what the “SL” stands for) first-gear, which was probably great for climbing steep driveways and busting CV joints.
12 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnder the hood, the pretty-potent-for-1988 106-horse D16A6.
02 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNearly 180,000 miles. No rust on the body, interior not too bad, so my guess is that a blown head gasket doomed this car.

I couldn’t find any Japanese-market ads with the screeching tires and macho voiceovers that the Civic Shuttle deserved.


At least they still appreciate the 4WD Wagovan in Sweden.

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1980-volvo-262c-bertone-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1980-volvo-262c-bertone-coupe/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=796986 Only 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 […]

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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!
02 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAssembled in Italy!
06 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 262C-specific glass and trim pieces have been pulled, and there’s plenty of typical Northern California upper-body rust in places where weatherstripping failure can let water in. The lower body panels are good and solid.
05 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume that some project 262C will benefit from these parts.
07 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf I owned one of these cars, I’d ditch the unreliable Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 and replace it with a good old B230 (or something more interesting). In the case of this car, though, someone has grabbed the PRV.
13 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill a few pieces worth taking left on this car. Let’s hope they get pulled before the car gets crushed.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788522 Now 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 […]

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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.”
06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sprint aka Cultus wasn’t a bad choice for an electric vehicle, being lightweight and cheap.
01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinElectric motors are worth money, either as working motors or as sources of valuable scrap copper, so the one in this car is long gone.
18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe remnants of the battery tray may be seen in the rear cargo area.
17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone grabbed the no-doubt-modified instrument cluster, too.
07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBonus points to anyone who can track down the company that built the Electric Sport Sprint!

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1984-oldsmobile-firenza-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1984-oldsmobile-firenza-wagon/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=781729 Of 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. […]

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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.
02 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the 2.0 liter version of the GM 122 pushrod engine. The 122 was a little less thrashy and rattly than the Iron Duke, but it also made less power. This LQ5 put out 86 horsepower, which was pretty miserable even by 1984 standards.
23 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHowever, at least this car had genuine electronic fuel injection. And not-so-genuine “wood paneling.”
19 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBrown-and-tan velour bucket seats.
03 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last owner of this car must have had glaucoma or some other illness that requires the completely legitimate application of medical cannabis. If Mr. ex-Firenza Driver lived in my state, of course, he could just throw away the medical card, ride his Lambretta to the local dispensary, and buy some shatter hash.
20 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI must assume that this pin was applied when the car still had That New GM Velour Smell.
25 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSay what you will about the early J-bodies, but at least this one outlived most of its Japanese peers.

01 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Super Piston Slap: Poorvette Fever! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/super-piston-slap-poorvette-fever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/super-piston-slap-poorvette-fever/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:12:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=775097 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, […]

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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.

Now this ain’t no secret, as Murilee Martin already mentioned how the Poorvette shoulda been buried under penalty laps. But wasn’t.  Why?

  1. The team: historically they‘ve been nice to everyone, pre C4 Corvette ownership.  Sometimes that goes a long way in determining penalty laps, or lack thereof.
  2. The Poorvette’s somewhat believable story: being an earlier C4 (Tuned Port Injection) body with an LT-1/6-speed swap gone wrong (supposedly), then sold for cheap-ish and parted out to fit in LeMons rules.***
  3. Track record:  American V8 iron has rarely endured in LeMony races, much less possessing the fuel economy to match with the infrequent pit stops of more efficient metal. #notwinning
  4. Margin for error: you are guaranteed to enjoy passing every lily livered furrin’ car in your wedge-tastic Vette, to the point that euphoria nets you a black flag. Then serious repercussions (that often come with zero-penalty laps) in the judging area…resulting in no chance of winning.
  5. Not winning is a big “win” for everyone: the fanbois have grist for their mill, the haters do their thang, and LeMons tells another insane story.

Clearly this is a win-win for everyone. Especially you, oh cheaty race team.

Photo courtesy: (http://www.murileemartin.com)

And how did the Poorvette do? It led the pack, getting everyone all hot and bothered.  But then the stock fuel tank/pump had starvation issues in the corners, which was the icing on the cake after the power steering failed the day before in testing.  No matter how fast you’re going, those Z06-style wheels are too wide to ever make a lack of power steering acceptable. Even still, the Poorvette probably also set one of the fastest lap times, which totally means nothing in an endurance race.

Hare, meet the Tortoise…son!

But still, the Poorvette’s maiden voyage netted a respectable 6th place on a weekend lacking Corvette friendly weather.  Not bad considering how many Porsche 944s need far more work to accomplish similar results.  Perhaps one day we will see C4s give those Porkers the drubbing they got back in the 1980s. If so, don’t expect Judge Phil to be generous with C4s again. Ever.

No matter, the Poorvette’s crew even earned a Judge’s Choice Award, which proves once more: we need more C4s in LeMons!  Well not exactly.

Perhaps more “taboo” cars that aren’t of the E30 or retired Spec-Miata variety. Like more Porsche 928s, rear-wheel drive Maximas souped up with Z-car parts, more cheaty compact trucks (cough, RANGER, cough) and more GM sedans easily modified to DOMINATE in the slower classes: C and B.   And let’s not forget more super-durable CVPI Panthers, too.

So there you have it: good stuff happens in LeMons when you play your cards right. Thank the Poorvette for proving that.

*** Considering the early C4s utter domination in SCCA back in the day, and their still impressive autocross performances today, the Poorvette crew would do just as well in LeMons with the stock aluminum headed L98 and a close ratio 4+3 gearbox. Their LT-1 swap and wide ratio T-56 gearbox did very little for me. This is an endurance race, not a drag race!

 

 

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-toyota-cressida-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-toyota-cressida-wagon/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770506 The 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 […]

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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.
07 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one had 234,392 miles on the clock when it finally took that last tow-truck ride.
17 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI shot this in Northern California in January, and this temporary registration expired in August. That means the car was probably still legal when it got towed away for parking tickets and its fines not paid (most likely) or sold for scrap.
08 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo rust. None at all. Fans of old Japanese cars in rusty areas, you’d better come west and rescue some stuff like this.
12 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe same DOHC 5M-GE engine that Supras got. In fact, the whole car is full of Supra drivetrain and suspension hardware.
01 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWorth restoring or converting into a drift car? Not in California!

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Dodge Aries K http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-dodge-aries-k/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-dodge-aries-k/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=764217 The 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 […]

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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.
18 - 1986 Dodge Aries Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see, this is the car that provided the hood for the “Lee Iacocca, Comintern Agent” mural that went on the Plymouth Reliant wagon judged to be the Worst Car In 24 Hours of LeMons History.
20131122_121205This hood now lives somewhere in California, having been removed from the Reliant by Iacocca zealots.
12 - 1986 Dodge Aries Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car was in pretty good shape for a 28-year-old sedan that depreciated to scrap value by about age 10: no rust, interior not bad.
05 - 1986 Dodge Aries Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinLots of options, including air conditioning and AM/FM radio.
04 - 1986 Dodge Aries Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinQuality engineered.
Don’t forget to visit the Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™!

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The 1980s: When Worse Was Better http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-1980s-when-worse-is-better/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-1980s-when-worse-is-better/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 21:06:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=764417 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 […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

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.

For those of you who are too young to remember, the ‘80s was the greatest decade ever. Beginning with the official death of Disco on July 12, 1979 and ending only with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind on September 21, 1991 it was a decade that lasted almost 13 years. That’s astounding! Moreover, blah blah blah, Reagan, blah blah blah, MTV, blah blah blah cellphones the size of bricks instead of the size of a suitcase. Yeah, it was great. We had some things and we did some stuff but the best part was the cars.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In the Top Gear episode, our trio of aging heroes set out to prove that the small, sporty cars of their (our) youth were better than the youth oriented small cars of today. To support their claims, they are each given a small sum of money and are told to bring back an aging hot hatch. Because it’s Britain, the only car I could actually recognize was Jeremy Clarkson’s VW Golf GTI, but all three seemed to be small, “sporty” and, compared to today’s cars, terribly lacking in options or sophistication. They then put these cars through a series of “tests” in that special way that only Top Gear UK can manage and the results are a lot of fun. If you get BBC America, I highly suggest tuning in and watching the fun for yourself.

The episode put me in an introspective sort of mood. I lived through the entirety of the 1980s, actually beginning my first year of high school in the fall of 1979, but I was not a creature of the ‘80s. My tastes ran towards ‘60s muscle cars, ‘70s hard rock and that special sort of Pacific Northwest fashion sense that Nirvana made a grungy part of the ‘90s. Still, by the end of the ‘80s, with the arrival of my own Tuuuuurbo Dodge I had adapted enough that I at least (sort of) fit in.

Photo By T Kreutzer

It turns out that, like our Top Gear hosts, I miss those days and I find myself spending a good deal of time looking back at the cars of that era. I have this nascent idea of bothering poor unsuspecting people on Craigslist by posing as a buyer for their old car and then writing articles about my test driving experience, but of course, I have a problem in that, first, I’m not very good at telling lies and, second, cars of that era are a might thin on the ground in the Western New York region. Perhaps I will try this ploy once I relocate to less salty climates but for now I am stuck living in my own memories.

Compared to modern performance cars, the cars of the 1980s are pitiful pieces of machinery. The turbo Dodge I recall so fondly had a peaky turbo, suffered from massive amounts of torque steer, and blew a head gasket at just 90K miles, but it was light, flickable and, punched way above its weight. The 200SX Turbo I lionized at the beginning of my tenure here at TTAC was much better composed than my Shadow and was a speedy little thing but it turns out that it had just 120 horsepower – that’s actually 2 horsepower less than dowdiest little car Nissan makes today, the Cube. I could find other examples too, I am sure, but there is no point in beating a dead horse there is only one right answer to the question at hand. Today’s cars are far, far better in every way.

But the right answer is, I think, wrong. What we had then may have been technically worse, but it was also so much better. In that same way that a modern jet fighter can outperform a P51 Mustang the new cars have it all over the old ones, but ask any pilot which bird he wants to strap himself into and the vast majority will choose the old one. So it is with cars. I might lose a contest of seed and handling, but at least I’ll go down fighting with a smile on my face. And that’s what it’s really all about anyhow.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Chrysler Laser XE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1985-chrysler-laser-xe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1985-chrysler-laser-xe/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=752617 The 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 […]

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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.
05 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, I’ve grabbed this Laser’s digital dash and hooked it up to power, and in the meantime I’ve grabbed a few more Detroit digital instrument clusters from junkyards.
04 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinCheck out the cool fader/balance joystick control. Less cool is the fact that Chrysler used this exact rig well into the 1990s.
03 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Laser XE came with all manner of computerized gadgetry, plus it talked! Unlike the earlier Nissan Maxima, this setup was all-digital.

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