For most of the 1980s and well into the 1990s, most cars made by Chrysler were members of the many-branched K-Car family tree. In the early years, the K was sold as an all-American economy car for the frugal, but Lee Iacocca had his eye on stealing some sales from European luxury marques. Perhaps a K made to look something like a Mercedes-Benz would do the job? (Read More…)
Car writers are expected to love wagons with manual transmissions, but most of my love is reserved for the likes of three-on-the-tree-equipped Ford Country Squires and maybe the occasional 4-speed Datsun F-10 Sportwagon. Still, when I run across a Junkyard Find as rare as a second-generation Camry wagon with five-speed, I photograph it.
Here’s one that I spotted last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)
The second-generation Nissan Pulsar NX (known as the Nissan EXA outside of North America) was a cheap, mildly sporty two-seater that never sold as well as the Honda CRX or even the Ford EXP. In this series, we’ve seen this Colorado ’87 and this California ’89, and now we have a rusty ’88 in the weeds at the edge of a Wisconsin yard. (Read More…)
The Hyundai Excel had a Mitsubishi engine, and so some obscure tenet of badge engineering mandated a Mitsubishi-branded Excel so it might drive on the same roads as Plymouth-branded Mitsubishis.
This was the Mitsubishi Precis, a car that was so stunningly bad and such a poor seller that this one is the first and only example I have ever seen in all my years of crawling through wrecking yards.
That makes it one of the rarest cars … in the world. (Read More…)
You can’t talk about the miserable econoboxes of the 1980s without talking about perhaps the most miserable of them all: the irresistibly cheap, irredeemably terrible, front-wheel-drive Subaru Justy (the all-wheel-drive Justy could be a lot of fun, of course).
You won’t see many of these cars today, but I was able to find this 28-year-old survivor in a Silicon Valley U-Wrench-It yard. (Read More…)
In the 1970s, the Audi 80 was sold in the United States as the Audi Fox. In the following decade, Volkswagen decided to sell the Brazilian-made Volkswagen Gol as a Volkswagen Fox in the United States, presumably using the Fox name because it was so good.
The Fox was cheap and disposable and most were crushed before the end of the 1990s, so this ’88 wagon is an unusual find these days. (Read More…)
The first-generation North American Ford Escort looked a lot like its European namesake, but was a very different machine under the skin. For the 1991 model year, the Escort moved to the same platform as the Mazda 323, so the late-’80s models are the last of the all-Ford American Escorts.
Here’s one that I spotted in a Northern California yard. (Read More…)
A few months ago, I lamented how Blue Oval enthusiasts never got the “good stuff” from Europe. When all we saw here was powered by pushrod-laden V-8 lumps, the “sophisticates” to our East could buy high-revving, twin-cam fours in light, sturdy, rally-and-race proven sedans.
I was wrong. For a few short years, Merkur set up shop in Mercury dealers, trying to sell Americans a Cologne version of performance. However, most recall Merkur as “the car with the funny name and the funny wing.”
Salt is a killer. Any time I travel south, I’m amazed when I see pristine, 30-year-old cars being used as daily transportation. Up here in the Great White North [Don’t you live in Ohio? —Mark], most everything built prior to Y2K has been perforated horrendously.
Considering this, I laugh anytime a distant friend asks me to check out a local car. Invariably, the car in question is more air than metal, and what remains is held loosely together by the sheer adhesion of the paint, duct tape, chewing gum and dreams.
For many years, I wandered junkyards in search of one of the rare Detroito-Italian cars of the late 1980s — the Cadillac Allanté and the Chrysler’s TC by Maserati. Finally, just this year, it happened: I found this 1989 Allanté in Southern California, then this TC by Maserati in Northern California, and now we’ve got this 1988 Allanté here in Denver. (Read More…)
The third-gen Chevy Caprice, made for the 1977 through 1990 model years, was the last of the traditional box Caprices. Those of us who came of driving age during the Late Malaise Era came to fear the rear-view-mirror sight of the grille of this car, the early Panther Ford LTD, and the Dodge Diplomat, due to their popularity among police departments in the 1980s. You don’t see many box Caprices these days, but enough were made that they appear in self-service wrecking yards now and then. Here’s a very governmental-looking example I saw in Denver a couple months ago. (Read More…)
I needed a car. Any car. My dad and I were limping my dying ’85 Nissan Maxima around town to multiple car dealers, looking for an appropriate replacement. I was 19, I think, and since I commuted thirty miles a day to college (when I went to class) I needed reliable, efficient transport.
A second-generation CRX, much like this one, caught my eye and we climbed in. One problem arose, however, as both my dad and I were well north of 300 pounds each, and the stock springs were sagging a bit. Oh, and the streets near the dealer had rough, rutted cobblestones. We were lucky to return with an intact exhaust, and I reluctantly moved on to a roomier Accord coupe.
Ah, the Pontiac Fiero. So much potential, but ultimately a disappointment for The General. I see the occasional Fiero during my wrecking-yard wandering, but it takes a special one to inspire me to shoot photos. This screaming yellow ’86 Fiero GT was one, and today’s final-year-of-production ’88 Fiero Formula is another. (Read More…)
For reasons that trolly shouters on both extremes of the American politico-socio-automotive spectrum know to be the truth, the exact same workers at the Fremont Assembly plant who couldn’t hammer together a decent-quality Buick Regal or GMC C/K— no matter how many Mickey’s Big Mouths they guzzled in some South Hayward parking lot before their shifts— suddenly became capable of building rebadged Corollas that were every bit as good as the ones made by their Japanese counterparts, once the plant became NUMMI (nowadays they build Teslas there). Of course, each of you knows that this is due to (insert damning indictment of those dupes who believe Wrong Things here) with a touch of (insert bilious tirade that sounds the alarm about Some Evil Conspiracy here), and to provide ammunition for your arguments I present this 1988 Chevrolet-badged AE82 Toyota Sprinter aka Corolla. (Read More…)
Members of the Chrysler L-body family, based on the Chrysler Europe/Rootes Group/Simca-derived “Omnirizon,” are not uncommon in American wrecking yards these days; why, we just saw this ’87 Dodge Shelby Charger a few weeks ago. However, the true Omnirizon— the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon— those are getting more and more rare as the 21st century grinds on. We’ve seen this first-year-of-production ’78 Horizon, this last-year-of-production ’90 Horizon, and a few in between, and now I’ve found this grimy-looking ’88 Omni in a frozen Denver yard. (Read More…)