Tag: 1981

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 January 7, 2014

09 -1981 Datsun 510 Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSo there’s the “real” Datsun 510, which was sold from the 1968 through 1973 model years and is the one everyone means when they talk about the now-incredibly-valuable BMW 2002 competitor… and then there’s the A10 Nissan Violet, which was sold in the United States with 510 badging from 1977 through 1981. These cars are extremely rare, but I found one in Oakland in 2012 and now I’ve found another in Denver. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2013

09 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Jeep Wagoneer was made for about 180 years (OK, actually just 28 years), going through three corporate owners during that period. This is only our second Wagoneer Junkyard Find (after this late-in-the-game ’89), though I walk past many more every time I hit my favorite Denver wrecking yard. This ’81 grabbed my attention with its super-Malaise-y purple paint, so here we go! (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2012

Right before AIDS and Reagan ruined the party, the early 1980s were a time of meaningless random sex, 20% inflation, sub-100-horsepower midsize sedans, Quaaludes, and— most of all— mountains of white powder (in imagination, not in the reality of the ’81 recession). This ad for the 1981 Ford Mustang captures the spirit of its time. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2012

No, the first-gen Tercel wasn’t related to the Corolla, but the marketing suits at Toyota USA hoped that some of the Corolla’s reputation for reliability would rub off on their smaller, cheaper, front-drive subcompact. It worked, mostly because the Tercel really was as bulletproof as the Corolla. It was also noisier, slower, and less comfortable, but painful memories of the Iranian Revolution-fueled 1979-80 oil crisis made the not-so-thirsty 83-horsepower Tercel very popular in North America. Most entry-level subcompacts don’t survive 31 years on the street, Toyota or not, and so this example I sighted in a Denver self-service junkyard is a rare find. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2012

After 15 years of sales in the United States, the Corolla had become as familiar to Americans as the Nova or Dart. By 1981, Toyota had confused matters by badging the unrelated Tercel as the “Corolla Tercel,” but the actual Corolla was still selling well. With the gas lines of the 1979 energy crisis— by some measures more painful that its 1973 precursor— still fresh in car shoppers’ memories, the stingy Corolla made a lot of sense. The Corolla was getting sportier-looking as the 1980s dawned, too; compare this car to the smaller and frumpier Corollas of just five years earlier. Here’s a nice example of the Celica-influenced fourth-gen Corolla liftback, spotted last month in a California self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on April 14, 2012

Remember how small the early Preludes were? It had been quite some time since I last saw one of these cars, so I was a bit startled by the diminutive dimensions of this example in a California self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2012

Here’s a Junkyard Find that really takes me back. My dad bought a Bonneville new in 1979, and it seemed like a very nice car when I was 13 years old. A few years later, I borrowed the Bonneville to take my date to the high-school prom (in spite of this being the early 1980s, I did not wear a robin’s-egg-blue tuxedo, though now I wish I had), and I felt classier than Frank Sinatra in a brand-new ’61 Imperial. A few years after that, I was given the now-quite-worn-out Bonneville to make the drive between the San Francisco Bay Area and my new home in Southern California… and it crapped out every 100 yards while trying to climb the Grapevine. So, mixed feelings when I saw this very similar ’81 Bonneville Brougham in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2012

We saw a fairly solid junked ’80 Celica coupe yesterday, and a good example of its liftback sibling was located in the same California self-service wrecking yard. It’s like a history lesson in Sporty Malaise Era Commuter Cars With Truck Engines! (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2011

I find a lot of AMC Eagles in Denver, both in and out of the junkyards, but almost all of them are wagons. During a recent junkyard visit, I spotted the first Spirit-based Eagle I’ve seen in a long time. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2011


When GM finally decided to muster its vast resources and engineering talent and build a front-wheel-drive compact car… well, things didn’t go so well. The sclerotic GM bureaucracy described a few years earlier by John DeLorean in On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors produced a car that looked like a fat Chevette, got its power— if that’s the word for it— from the rough-as-a-crab’s-backside Iron Duke pushrod four, and suffered from very public reliability problems from day one. GM sold quite a few Citations, but the “First Chevy of the 80s” is a rare find indeed today. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver yard a few days ago. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2011


Chrysler has used the LeBaron name on and off since the 1930s, and the prestige level of the LeBaron badge has been on a gradual downward spiral all along. Some may disagree with that assessment, however, depending on whether they judge the transition from the M (Dodge Diplomat) platform to the K platform in 1982 to have been a step up or a step down. I think the presence of a Slant Six under the hood disqualifies any vehicle from claiming luxury status, and that’s what we’ve got here. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2011


The Mazda GLC, aka Familia aka 323 was once a fairly common sight on American roads, but just about all of the GLCs were hatchbacks. Here’s a rare sedan that was able to hang on for 30 years before being discarded. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2011


Sales of the Gremlin-based AMC Spirit in the United States were pretty dismal, but perhaps that was just the result of the suits in Kenosha choosing the wrong ad agency. Let’s head south of the border to see how VAM, which built certain AMC models under license for the Mexican market, pitched the ’81 Rally AMX. (Read More…)

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