The Truth About Cars » 1981 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +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 » 1981 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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 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: 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 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: 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1981-dodge-aries-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1981-dodge-aries-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=735681 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!
13 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars depreciated just as fast as all the other Detroit front-drivers of the 1980s, which means that only relatively trouble-free ones managed to survive 33 years on the street. One expensive problem after about 1989, good-bye!
12 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Hemi 2.6 was really the good old Mitsubishi Astron 4G54 engine, which made 114 not-so-bad-for-1981 horses. Sadly, Chrysler never used any Simca-derived engines in the K family.
07 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis wagon has plenty of options, including air conditioning and futuristic digital chronometer.
05 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs the street price of a battered Aries-K approached scrap-value levels, the socioeconomic status of the average K-car owner also dropped.
03 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, you can see hints of former luxury in the much-used faded-mint-green vinyl interior.

As you can see here, the ’81 K-cars were sold on price, period.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Datsun 510 Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1981-datsun-510-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1981-datsun-510-liftback/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693889 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.
07 -1981 Datsun 510 Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the 1952cc Z20 engine, which was sort of a halfway evolutionary step between the good old L engines and the modern-ish KA engines. 88 horsepower, and it says a lot about 1981 that this wasn’t too bad for the era.
03 -1981 Datsun 510 Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, this car is a cruel parody of the Gr-r-r-rooovy 510 of a decade earlier.
15 -1981 Datsun 510 Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, a very rare Junkyard Find.
Nobody loves a good race more than Datsun!
The slightly earlier version, sold as a Nissan Stanza in Japan, was full of romance.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Jeep Wagoneer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1981-jeep-wagoneer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1981-jeep-wagoneer/#comments Sun, 23 Jun 2013 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493042 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!
11 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGas prices doubled again? Emission-control regulations got your big-displacement V8 making 130 horses? Add more tape stripes!
06 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m not even going to look up the power figures for this AMC 360 V8, because they would just get us all depressed.
01 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis could be a genuine Wagoneer Brougham, but the distinguishing Broughamic features are no longer present.
13 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnder Chrysler, these trucks were built into the 1990s, stretching from JFK’s presidency to the dawn of the World Wide Web.
04 - 1981 Jeep Wagoneer Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinShielded by THE PROTECTOR!

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Adventures In Marketing: The Cocainiest Car Ad of All Time! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/adventures-in-marketing-the-cocainiest-car-ad-of-all-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/adventures-in-marketing-the-cocainiest-car-ad-of-all-time/#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2012 14:30:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450612 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.

Right down to the sanitized cover of the Donna Summer song and the 80-pound Mustang owner, it’s all here. Hot stuff, baby!

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1981-toyota-corolla-tercel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1981-toyota-corolla-tercel/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443563 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.
The engine is mounted longitudinally, which meant that it was easy for Toyota to make a four-wheel-drive version in the generation following this one.
The differential is in a separate housing below the engine, which makes the center of gravity higher than it would be in a transverse front-driver. It also means you can do a transmission swap in about 30 minutes (sadly, replacing the clutch is a real hassle).
This car managed 155,512 miles before taking its last tow-truck ride, which works out to about 5,000 miles per year.
It may have sat idle for decades, however; this baseball card for a player who was with the Mariners for just the ’85 season was sitting on the back seat.
I also found this early-to-mid-70s Fisher-Price “Little People” Girl in the car. There’s something sad about an old toy destined to be crushed with a car, shipped to China, and burned during the steel-melting process.
Here’s an innovative aftermarket security system for the trunk.

OK, let’s watch some ads for this car! Here’s a puzzling Tarzan-themed commercial.

And here’s a very Late Malaise Era ad. The sound is bad, but you get the idea.

26 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 01 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 02 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 03 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 04 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 05 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 06 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 07 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 08 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 09 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 10 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 11 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 12 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 13 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 14 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 15 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 16 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 17 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 18 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 19 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 20 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 21 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 22 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 23 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 24 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden 25 - 1981 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corolla Tercel' Greden ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1981 Toyota Corolla Liftback Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1981-toyota-corolla-liftback-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1981-toyota-corolla-liftback-coupe/#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2012 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441680 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.
Yes, Rust Belt residents, these cars are still fairly easy to find in California; they were better-built than earlier Corollas (which were only reliable when compared to the abysmal quality of most other cars of the era) and they retained their value long enough— say, well into the mid-1990s— to be worth fixing when something did break.
It’s always interesting to see factory AM/FM radios in cars of this period, because any kind of radio was an expensive option back then.
This car was pretty well used up by the time it got junked; other than a catastrophic mechanical failure, a hooptie-fied interior is the main thing that buys a Malaise Corolla that fatal ride to the junkyard.
The good old 3T-C engine, made for the California market back when there were “California” and “49-state” versions of many cars. Smog-friendly low compression kept this engine’s output down at 70 horses. It wouldn’t be many years after this car that California Corollas came with a 112-horsepower 4AGE engine, though.


I couldn’t find a Liftback-specific ’81 Corolla ad, so let’s watch this Australian Corolla-lineup ad instead.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Honda Prelude http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1981-honda-prelude/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1981-honda-prelude/#comments Sat, 14 Apr 2012 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439469 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.
The first-gen Prelude was smaller and much slower than the versions that followed later in the 1980s; the ’81 came with the same 72-horsepower engine as the Accord. Since the Prelude weighed just 2,130 pounds, 72 horses wasn’t as cement-mixer-slow as you might expect… but you had to plan ahead when attempting to pass on a two-lane blacktop road.
One of the best things about 80s Japanese cars was the unapologetically 1890-French-cathouse-grade red interiors you could get. This car had plenty of goofy style, something that seems to have been banished from the entire Honda line by about 1994.
I was tempted to buy this clock, but I passed because I didn’t have any means of testing it. I’ve learned that 99 and several more nines percent of mechanical-digital car clocks, even Japanese ones, don’t work.

10 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1981 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1981-pontiac-bonneville-brougham/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/junkyard-find-1981-pontiac-bonneville-brougham/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439381 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.
I’m not sure what luxury touches the Brougham option package got Bonneville buyers in 1981. Maybe just the Brougham emblems.
Perhaps the diamond-tucked velour upholstery was a Brougham-only option for ’81. Make sure your prom date doesn’t ralph up her Boone’s Farm on these impossible-to-clean seats!
I recall the Bonneville being a very smooth-riding, comfortable car. Quite underpowered with its 301-cubic-inch V8, and the electrical stuff started failing right away, but pretty decent by the low standards of the Middle Malaise Era.

22 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 15 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 16 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 17 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 18 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 19 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 21 - 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1981 Toyota Celica Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1981-toyota-celica-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1981-toyota-celica-liftback/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 00:30:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430110 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!
In fact, these two Celicas are parked side-by-side as they await The Crusher’s jaws. Next stop: the Port of Oakland, where the ground-up remains of these cars will be put on container ships heading to China.
The ’81 was the last of the second-gen Celicas, and the big difference between the ’80 and the ’81 was the upgrade to the 2.4-liter 22R under the hood, a 200cc increase in displacement over the 20R.
These cars weren’t exactly high-performance machines, but they held together pretty well and they came with some nice— for the era— crypto-luxury touches. Check out the herringbone upholstery!
This period was the era of the split between California-emissions-legal cars and “49-state” cars; we’re looking at a car that probably spent its life in California.
The junkyard had this Celica in their “runners” section for a while, but nobody wanted it. Another rust-free pseudo-classic about to get crushed— it happens every day on the West Coast!

12 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1981 Toyota Celica Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: Iron Duked 1981 AMC Eagle SX/4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/junkyard-find-iron-duked-1981-amc-eagle-sx4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/junkyard-find-iron-duked-1981-amc-eagle-sx4/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410681 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.
The pushrod Iron Duke was standard equipment on ’81 Eagles, and it clattered out a noisy, rough 82 horsepower. The optional 258-cubic-inch six-cylinder made 110 horsepower and orders of magnitude more torque, but was much thirstier than the four. That’s the Malaise Era for you!
The SX/4 was marketed as a sporty car, but AMC couldn’t really pull off that marketing trick with its $4.98 advertising budget. Buyers of these cars got them so they could drive through the snow and mud, period.
This one has been picked over pretty well, which is always less distressing than the sight of a complete, solid Eagle fixin’ to get crushed. Its parts will live on.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chevrolet Citation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1981-chevrolet-citation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1981-chevrolet-citation/#comments Thu, 14 Jul 2011 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402619
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.

Can you feel the optimism?

Bob Lutz, in his recent book, goes on a lengthy tirade about GM’s frantic rush into front-wheel-drive during the Malaise Era, making the case that a bunch of tree-huggers put a gun to The General’s head and forced him to build half-baked front-wheel-drive designs. Maybe so, but was the Iron Duke (and the later 60-degree pushrod V6 family) the best that the company that (barely 20 years before) R&D’d their way to the groundbreaking small-block Chevy V8 could do?

The Citation did fit as many passengers as the old Nova and got much better fuel economy, and it wasn’t unpleasant to drive (when it was running). It would probably be remembered fondly today, if not for the terrible reliability and build-quality record.
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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chrysler LeBaron http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1981-chrysler-lebaron/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1981-chrysler-lebaron/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2011 13:10:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=401638
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.

GM and Ford were also cashing out the prestige capital they’d built up in their luxury marques during the Malaise Era, so Chrysler wasn’t alone in this process. And the Diplomat was a perfectly competent and solid machine, well suited to both commuting and police duty. But… luxury and Slant Six don’t mix. Chrysler would have been better off making this the top Diplomat trim level and selling the car as a Diplomat Brougham d’Class or something.

Then there’s the painfully fake wood dash trim and gumball-machine-trinket-quality glovebox emblems staring the passenger in the face as he or she attempts to feel true Chrysler exclusivity.
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Junkyard Find: 1981 Mazda GLC Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/junkyard-find-1981-mazda-glc-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/junkyard-find-1981-mazda-glc-sedan/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2011 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=401069
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.

Mazda tried to play up the “driving excitement” angle of the GLC with this ad, in an attempt to differentiate the car from all the other sub-ton econoboxes of the era. With 68 horsepower under the hood, however, GLC drivers were wise to avoid hills.

1981 was the first year for front-wheel-drive in the GLC.

Imagine car shopping in 1981 in Great Falls, Montana: Mazdas, Dodges, and Fiats in the same dealership! Would you take a Strada, a GLC, or an Omni?

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El Diablo Went Down To Georgia: The 1981 VAM Rally AMX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/el-diablo-went-down-to-georgia-the-1981-vam-rally-amx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/el-diablo-went-down-to-georgia-the-1981-vam-rally-amx/#comments Thu, 03 Mar 2011 18:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=385927
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.

You still see a fair number of VAM-built AMCs in Mexico these days, as I discovered during a visit to Nayarit last year. Sadly, Renault ended up taking over VAM and shutting down the operation in the late 1980s, which is why you don’t see ’03 Javelins.

Yes, it’s a pair of VAM Rally AMXs terrorizing a once-peaceful Mexican village, while Satan saws at his fiddle and chickens flee in terror!

Let’s compare that excellent piece of marketing to what Los Norteamericanos got in their ads for the Spirit: a tedious comparison to the Chevette, a machine that can hardly be called an automobile.

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