Tag: 1990s

By on May 15, 2017

1993 Plymouth Voyager in Colorado wrecking yard , LH front view, © 2017 Murilee Martin

The original K-platform-based Chrysler minivans, built for the 1984 through 1995 model years, sold like mad, helped kill the station wagon, and forced the competition to get serious about selling minivans in the United States. Buyers could get the 1984-95 four-cylinder Caravan, Voyager, or Town & Country with a five-speed manual transmission, though few did.

Here’s the first second-generation Chrysler minivan I have ever found in a wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

1990 Mitsubishi Sigma in Colorado junkyard, RH front view- ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The fifth-generation Mitsubishi Galant came in a funky “pillared hardtop” configuration for the United States market in the 1988 through 1990 model years. Few bought them and almost none survived into the current century, making a Sigma one of the rarest of Junkyard Finds. Five years ago, I found this ’89 in a California yard, and now I have discovered this ’90 in Denver. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

1990 Land Rover Range Rover in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Denver drivers love their luxury SUVs, and European luxury vehicles tend to depreciate in a hurry. This means plenty of Land Rovers show up in the area’s big self-service wrecking yards. While this is good news for the several Coloradans who might be interested in finding a Rover V8 to drop into a homegrown MGB-GT V8, I don’t pay much attention to these trucks. IHC Scouts, sure, and maybe the occasional Jeep Cherokee get into this series, but I have walked right by hundreds of discarded British status-boxes and not paid much attention.

A Range Rover with 266,666 miles on the clock, though, is another story. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2017

1984 Volkswagen GTI

Earlier this week, our Matthew Guy inquired about your favorite automotive “oops” moment — a time when it all went wrong for a manufacturer’s model or idea. Today, we’re going to flip it around, switch it up, and reverse it.

There are times when everything comes together at the right place and time in the automotive world. Whether by complete accident or cunning planning (often years in advance), a manufacturer hits an idea out of the park. It might be a single model in a new style, a superb entry into a crowded marketplace, or something that fills a void hitherto left empty in the lives of hungry consumers. No case of schadenfreude here — just success, dollars, happy children, puppies, and smiling regulators and accountants.

So which tale of automotive success is your favorite? While the GTI shown above is interesting and is credited with creating the new hot hatch segment, it’s not my pick today.

(Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

Ford Bronco

Sometimes, we’ll reach into the past and find a model that pegs our Ace of Base meter. Not all base vehicles from the pages of history were appalling dumpster fires of mediocrity. Most were, but not all. Here’s a good example.

During Ford’s Monday morning press conference at NAIAS in Detroit, it was finally confirmed that the Bronco nameplate will be returning in 2020. This news made our Managing Ed giddy with delight, enamored as he is with all things Bronco, and seemed to be a fitting announcement for what will likely be the last automotive product announcement in Joe Louis Arena (which is scheduled for demolition later this year).

Dispensing with fripperies like information on drivetrains, styling, and actual details, Ford left a lot to the imagination of Bronco fans. My mind immediately wandered to the fifth-generation Bronco, which bucked its way off dealer lots from the 1992 to 1996 model years.

(Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

1996 BMW 328i E36 in California junkyard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Internet Car Experts have spent the last decade explaining to the rest of us how every example of the BMW E30 3 Series, no matter how decrepit, is worth at least a couple of grand. This claim is even more ridiculous than most of the bad information with which ICEs clog comments sections and forum threads, and I still see plenty of solid-looking E30s at U-Wrench-It-type wrecking yards.

However, the quantity of discarded E30s has declined a bit in the last few years (from a half-dozen per big California yard to two or three), and the E36 has become the reigning King of the Junkyard 3 Series.

Here’s one of six E36s that I spotted at a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard a few weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on October 17, 2016

1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

There was a time when many American buyers of family sedans — particularly European family sedans — ordered their cars with manual transmissions and didn’t think such a choice was a big deal or weird in any way.

Those days are gone, forever, but a trip to your local U-Wrench-It yard is likely to turn up something like this 22-year-old B4 Passat, complete with VR6 engine and five-speed manual transmission. We’ve had trucks for our last four Junkyard Finds, so it’s time for a car! (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

1995 Dodge Dakota in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The plenitude of vehicles based on the Chrysler K Platform helped the company bounce back from its humiliating 1979 near-bankruptcy and government bailout, and the modern overhead-cam four-cylinder engine Chrysler developed for the K was a big part of that success. We think of that 2.2/2.5 as a transverse-front-wheel-drive-only engine, but Chrysler made a longitudinal version for the rear-wheel-drive Dakota pickup.

Here’s a very rare 2.5/5-speed example I saw in a Denver-area yard recently. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

1996 Isuzu Oasis in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

One of the best things about haunting high-inventory-turnover self-service junkyards is finding really rare vehicles. Sometimes those ultra-rare machines are ancient European cars nobody remembers, sometimes they are commonplace cars with options nobody ordered, and sometimes they are obscure imported minivans that disappeared without a trace.

Today’s Junkyard Find is the third type, with a bewildering badge-engineering subplot that made sense to about a half-dozen suits in Japan. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2016

1996 Nissan Maxima GXE in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Maxima has been with us since the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima, which became the Datsun Maxima, then the Datsun Maxima by Nissan, and finally the Nissan Maxima.

Starting out as a Z-car-based sporty sedan, it grew into an electronic-gadget-packed luxury sedan, then became bigger, more powerful, and less crazy with each successive generation until we arrived at the current competent-but-not-particularly-exciting Maxima.

The fifth-generation Maxima, made for the 1994 through 1999 model years, seems to be the last for which the manual-transmission option was selected by a significant minority of buyers; you could get one after 1999, but I never see anything but automatics in my junkyard travels.

Here’s a mean-looking ’96 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2016

00 - 1990 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I have photographed and wrote about interesting (to me) junkyard cars for nearly a decade, and so far I have not photographed a single one of the hundreds of discarded BMW E30s I have found in my travels. In fact, I just shot my first E30 the other day (a 325e with automatic, don’t get too excited), but first I must share a car I find far more interesting: an N-Body Grand Am with gray cloth interior and Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2016

1994 Audi 90S in California Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The folks at Audi got really confusing with their American-market car names for a couple of decades and I have given up trying to sort out from memory, say, when the 5000 became the 100 or the 200 or whatever the hell it became in the chaos following the Unintended Acceleration Debacle. The Audi 80 was sold in the USA as a 4000 or something — it’s all a blur — but then Audi badged it as an 80, except for the sedans, which were 90s, I think.

Anyway, this California ’94 sedan has 90 S badges and it’s a fairly interesting car. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2016

1991 Infiniti M30 in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

When Nissan decided to push some chips into the serious North American luxury-car-market game, they didn’t have the resources to do what Toyota did and build an all-new machine from scratch. Instead, they turned the President luxury sedan into the Q45 and the Leopard sport coupe into the M30. Infiniti sold the M30 for just a few years before being replaced by the J30 for the 1993 model year. It’s been nearly forgotten today.

Here’s a very rare ’91 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2016

1994 BMW 530i in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Because BMWs of the last quarter-century tend to be complex machines, intolerant of owners who flake on maintenance and expensive to fix once all those deferred problems result in a major failure, American self-service junkyards are full of Bavarian machinery. I see dozens of discarded E30s, E28s, and E36s every year, and hundreds of scrapped 7 Series cars. I’m not sufficiently interested to raise my camera and document their demise most of the time. However, an E34 5 Series with V8 and manual transmission isn’t something you see every day in the junkyard.

Here’s a ’94 that I shot in a yard in California’s Central Valley last week. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2016

1999 Cadillac Eldorado ETC in California junkyard, LH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Cadillac built the tenth and final generation of the Eldorado for the 1992 through 2002 model years, and one of the trim levels had a maddeningly irritating acronym that could have come only from a large organization with many, many 14-hour airless meetings under soporifically humming fluorescent conference-room lights: ETC! (Read More…)

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