In the late 1980s, if you didn’t want to buy your Isuzu Gemini as a Geo/Chevrolet Spectrum, you could get it as a genuine Isuzu. I-Marks are (and were) very rare, though we have seen an ’87 in this series), and so this one with gigantic ISUZU badging has some historical interest for the true connoisseur of cheapo 80s hatchbacks. (Read More…)
You could buy the Subaru BRAT in the United States until the 1987 model year (though removing the Chicken Tax-loophole jump seats— which made the BRAT a passenger car, legally speaking— meant that it got a lot more expensive in 1985). Thing is, Coloradans love BRATs, which means you can’t even find a total basket-case example for cheap here. What to do? Why, take a beater 4WD Leone aka GL hatchback and apply ingenuity! (Read More…)
This series has featured a few 1980s Audis in recent months, including a couple of unintended accelerators and this crypto-Audi VW Quantum Syncro wagon. But what about the Coupe GT, which had an interesting-looking Giugiaro design (we’ll forget that Giugiaro did the Hyundai Excel) and offered American car shoppers a German alternative to sporty front-wheel-drive Japanese coupes such as the Honda Prelude and (1986 and later) Toyota Celica? You don’t see many of these things in 21st-century America, but Coloradans love Audis— even the non-Quattro ones— and I knew a Coupe GT would show up at a Denver yard sooner or later. (Read More…)
Before there was the Geo Metro (a rebadged Suzuki Cultus, there was the Chevrolet Sprint (also a rebadged Suzuki Cultus). U.S. gas prices dropped below a buck per gallon during the middle 1980s, which had the effect of forcing the oil-income-dependent Soviet Union into bankruptcy even faster than predicted, with end-of-Cold-War results. On top of that, cheap gas prices meant that only the most tight-fisted of cheapskates felt that buying a tiny three-cylinder car built by a motorcycle company made any sense at all. Still, enough Sprints were sold that I see them in junkyards every now and then. (Read More…)
The MkII Scirocco never was considered as mainstream cool in North America as it was in Europe, but a fair number of the things still made it to these shores. Nowadays, of course, many months can go by between MkII Scirocco street sightings. In California junkyards, however, it’s still possible to find Sciroccos in high-turnover wrecking yards. Here’s one that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area a few weeks ago. (Read More…)
I find more Porsche 928s, Alfa Romeo Alfettas, Buick Reattas, and Datsun 810s than I do first-gen Hyundai Excels during my travels in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards, in spite of the 1985-89 Excel selling in tremendous quantities in the United States. You saw these things everywhere on the street until about 1992, at which point the import sections of American junkyards became choked with low-mile Excels that crapped out in not-worth-fixing fashion. I believe the first-gen Excel was the worst motor vehicle you could buy new in the United States in the 1980s, and maybe for the entire fourth quarter of the 20th Century. Yes, even worse than the Yugo. (Read More…)
Even after Chrysler debuted the company-saving K Platform in 1981, the older Simca-derived Omnirizon continued to be built in large quantities. Sightings of te Dodge Omni, Plymouth Horizon, and their many siblings and cousins are very rare today, but I still run across the occasional example in the wrecking yards. We saw this ’78 Horizon not long ago, plus this ’84 Turismo, and today we’ll take a look at an even later Omnirizon. (Read More…)
The Camry first appeared in North America for the 1983 model year and gathered sales momentum in a gradual manner. By 1986, Camrys were not uncommon, but it seemed as though you saw 20 Tauruses and 15 Accords for every example of Toyota’s front-drive sedan. It was the next generation of Camry (starting in 1988) that unleashed the armies of unkillable, bland Toyota midsize sedans that conquered the country. First-gen Camrys are still out there, but sightings are increasingly rare. Here’s one I spotted last week in a Denver junkyard. (Read More…)
After last week’s Time Machine Dilemma (in which you emerged from your time machine in 1973, on Auto Row and with enough cash to buy a new Ford LTD), I thought of doing a 1974 Oil Crisis Diminished Expectations Economy Car Time Machine Dilemma. However, the really challenging econobox-shopping decisions came a bit more than a decade later, when the Hyundai Excel and Yugo GV arrived in a marketplace full of Japanese subcompacts duking it out for supremacy and Detroit trying to stay relevant. Yes, 1986! So, you exit your time machine in front of the Chevrolet dealership with $5,645 in your pocket. That’s enough to buy a new Chevette at full list price (the out-the-door-price would almost certainly be lower, but we’ll go with MSRP for this exercise). Do you get the antiquated-but-simple rear-drive Chevy for your penny-pinching commuter… or something else? Let’s look at your choices. (Read More…)
Before I moved to Colorado from California, two years ago this June, I became accustomed to seeing Saab 900s in large quantities in every self-service junkyard I visited. The 900 was a big seller in California (as was the Volvo 240), and you’d always find a half-dozen or so at the bigger yards. The 900 is a much rarer beast in Colorado; I see the occasional lovingly preserved example on the street, but this is the only junked example I’ve seen in a few months. (Read More…)
You’d think that the Shelby-ized Dodges of the 1980s would be sought-after collector’s items nowadays… but you’d be wrong. The Omni GLH/GLHS had to be the best performance-per-dollar deal of any new car you could buy during the mid-to-late 1980s, but its humble Simca origins and disposable nature mean that surviving examples aren’t worth fixing up once they get in rough condition. (Read More…)
Over the last few weeks we’ve been to Botswana, Malta, Bangladesh and Venezuela. Well I have a surprise for you this week: we are going to the most exotic of places – to the eighties! We travel 25 years back in time, back to homely United States of America, and, you know, party like it’s 1986! You are welcome. That’s what friends are for.
Now, I know it is controversial to study the US in an article titled ‘Around The Globe’ but hey, I pride myself to be able to surprise you week after week so you can’t be mad at me for trying… The only thing is, 1986 might be a very bad year for you to remember and a bad idea for me to pick…. could be for any reason (don’t tell me) but it’s ok if so, there are 155 (truly exotic) countries to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is just great, so click away!
Back to 1986. This was a time when the Top 6 best-selling vehicles in the US and 8 of the Top 10 were all American… Livin’ in America, baby!
Chrysler spent a couple of decades selling Mitsubishis and Simcas with Dodge and Plymouth badges in North America, and the Mitsubishi Galant/Lancer-based Colt line went through the most twists and turns. At first, Plymouth-branded Colts were sold as Champs, but by the mid-1980s both the Dodge and Plymouth versions were called Colts. The difference? Damn if I can find one that goes deeper than emblems. (Read More…)
OK, not every car other than the BenzGay Mercedes-Benz W124 fell victim to thrown rods, busted suspensions, and the usual woes that knock LeMons cars out of races, but only 21 entries were still moving under their own power at the low point of late afternoon today. When the checkered flag waved at the end of the session, the BenzGay 300E sat atop a semi-comfortable four-lap cushion. (Read More…)