Back in the early 1990s, the elite members of the Detroit Big Three were trying hard to compete on price with dirt-cheap imported Misery Boxes such as the Subaru Justy, Hyundai Excel, and Toyota Tercel EZ. They came up with stripper versions of their low-end subcompacts (e.g., the Plymouth Sundance America), which few bought. Why buy an Escort Pony for $7,976 when you could have a zero-option ’91 Civic for $7,095, and still be driving the Civic (very slowly, and maybe on its third head gasket) today? This makes the Escort Pony a very rare Junkyard Find today, so I grabbed my camera when I saw this one at a Denver yard. (Read More…)
When Chrysler went all macho with tough car names, it was partly an attempt to expunge the marketing memory of the cute and happy ads for the Neon. The Neon was much better than its wretched Shadow/Sundance predecessor, but still enough of a disposo-car that junkyards teem with them today. Mostly I walk right by discarded Neons (unless I see something unusual, like an Expresso or an R/T), but this ’99 Neon Sport has aftermarket performance gear to match its stickers and that’s interesting enough for this series. (Read More…)
We saw a 1990 Cavalier Z24 just a few months ago, but lately I’ve developed a sick fascination with the allegedly high-performance versions of the very popular Chevrolet Cavalier. Maybe it’s the wretchedness of the breed in the 24 Hours of LeMons, or maybe it’s the vivid purple paint job. Whatever the reason, here’s another ’90 that I found in a Denver-area yard not long ago. (Read More…)
Like art cars, vehicles that have been turned into team-color-painted, sticker-bedecked sports-team fanmobiles tend to spend their lives just one minor mechanical problem away from that final tow-truck ride. This “whale” Caprice was, we can assume, the life of the tailgate party at freezing-ass Candlestick Park and maybe that new stadium that’s nowhere near San Francisco. (Read More…)
The 1970 Buick Gran Sport 455 was one of the most ridiculously overpowered, tire-frying machines of the Golden Age of Muscle Cars, and GM also slapped GS badging on some fairly muscular — or at least muscular-looking — Wildcats and Rivieras back then. Fast forward a decade or so, and you had W-body (think Lumina) third-gen Buick Regals with Gran Sport option packages.
Here’s one that I shot in Denver while scouting for the All You Can Carry For $59.99 Junkyard Sale last month. (Read More…)
1993 wasn’t a great year for the station wagon in the American marketplace; the final Volvo 245 came out that year, minivans and SUVs were kicking hell out of wagon sales as families decided that each child required a thousand pounds and/or 150 cubic feet of gear for any trip, and nobody seemed aware that wagon versions of everything from the Sable to the Camry were available for sale.
It’s easy to forget that the not-so-hot-selling Diamante had an even slower-selling wagon version back then, but I was reminded by the sight of this one in a Northern California wrecking yard. (Read More…)
I see so many stunningly depreciated German luxury cars in pretty nice condition at the cheap self-service wrecking yards that they don’t register in my consciousness much more than your typical Sebring or Sephia. These days, though, I’m making an effort to notice such cars, since it seems that many of you thought this big V12-powered BMW was interesting.
I was headed over to the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay last week, in search of some bits for my ’41 Plymouth project, and I resolved to find and photograph a high-end Audi. Sure enough, here’s this clean A8, not as new as I’d like, but still an excellent example of what happens to such cars soon after they get into the hands of their third or fourth owners. (Read More…)
Three years ago, after becoming obsessed with 1990s Japanese luxury cars and, failing to find a non-thrashed Infiniti Q45 (or even a nice J30), I bought a very clean 1997 Lexus LS400 Coach Edition. It’s still my daily driver and still in great shape, but you always have a need for a few bits and pieces when you drive an older car. The early LS400s are extraordinarily common in low price, self-service wrecking yards these days, but the UCF20 1995-1997 LS is still worth enough that it’s a rare sight at U-Wrench-It.
Last winter, I finally found one in a Denver yard, and it has stories to tell. (Read More…)
When you spend as much time in fast-turnover self-service wrecking yards as I do, you get this lesson over and over: Nothing depreciates like high-end German luxury cars. Once the interior gets a little rough, or the cutting-edge elaborate electrical system gets a bit confused, or the next generation of engine makes an additional 50 horses… well, your big A8 or 7-series or S-class passes through a sequence of increasingly budget-challenged owners, and then there’s another $700 repair needed, and here comes the tow-truck to take it to U-Wrench-It. Mostly I don’t pay much attention to these cars, because the yards are paved with German luxury, but the numbers of discarded V12 E32s peaked about 5 years ago and they’re getting harder to find now. Here’s one that I saw yesterday in a Denver-area yard. (Read More…)
By the 1980s, Japanese carmakers had established themselves as making the most reliable vehicles in the minds of plenty of American car shoppers. Meanwhile, the Europeans had conquered much of the sporty/sophisticated market by that time. General Motors responded by stamping out millions of plastic badges with the magical letters “E-U-R-O” molded in (as well as by doing stuff like putting pushrod front-drive V8s in bodies flown over from Italy). You could get a Chevy Celebrity Eurosport, and— a few years later— a Chevy Lumina Euro. I’ve been overlooking these cars in junkyards for many years, but now I realize that they have a certain historical significance. Here’s one I spotted in Denver. (Read More…)