The Truth About Cars » 1990s http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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 » 1990s http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943265 GM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— […]

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05 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinGM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— so far we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this ’92 LSi convertible, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro— and I think a happy yellow LSi convertible is more interesting than your ordinary Geozuki.
11 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe demographic group in California (where I photographed this car) most likely to drive a 24-year-old Geo also happens to overlap with groups most likely to buy Deadline fashions. Here in Colorado, you’d be more likely to see Grenade Gloves stickers on such a car.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis style of automotive tape graphics peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, though Chrysler kept going with them well into the late 1990s.
08 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

We’ve all seen the US-market Metro ads by now, so let’s go to the car’s homeland. Can any of you Japanese speakers tell us what’s happening here?

Such a happy little car!

There was a Cultus Esteem.

In Canada, it was the Pontiac Firefly.

In Australia, it was the Holden Barina.

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Isuzu Amigo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1994-isuzu-amigo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1994-isuzu-amigo/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937594 Remember the Isuzu Amigo? A descendant of the platform that gave us the Chevy Luv pickup, the Amigo was the cuddly three-door version of the much more popular Isuzu Rodeo. Rodeos are still fairly easy to find here in Colorado, but the Amigo is another story. Here’s a last-year-of sales ’94 I found in a […]

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09 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember the Isuzu Amigo? A descendant of the platform that gave us the Chevy Luv pickup, the Amigo was the cuddly three-door version of the much more popular Isuzu Rodeo. Rodeos are still fairly easy to find here in Colorado, but the Amigo is another story. Here’s a last-year-of sales ’94 I found in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks ago.
03 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis spare has been used up real good!
05 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis vehicle shows all the signs of having been beaten to death by wastoid snowboarders, a common fate for small all-wheel-drive machinery in these parts.
06 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin2.6 liters of screaming Isuzu power.
08 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNote the shiny paint and outside rear-view mirror held on by duct tape, indicators that this truck went downhill fast once it got into the hands of its final owners.


Like most members of the Isuzu/Vauxhall/Opel Co-Prosperity Sphere, the first-generation Opel MU was available with a bewildering variety of marques and badges. This truck could be purchased as a Chevrolet, a Holden, a Vauxhall, or a Honda, as well as numerous flavors of Isuzu. Here’s a German ad for the ’94 Opel Frontera.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Toyota Cressida http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1990-toyota-cressida/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1990-toyota-cressida/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934274 The Toyota Cressida was very reliable (partly because first owners tended to be the types who did regular maintenance) and held its value well, so it took until about a decade ago for them to start showing up in cheap self-service wrecking yards in large quantities. We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this […]

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13 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Toyota Cressida was very reliable (partly because first owners tended to be the types who did regular maintenance) and held its value well, so it took until about a decade ago for them to start showing up in cheap self-service wrecking yards in large quantities. We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this ’86 wagon, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in this series so far (plus some bonus Michael Bay Edition Tokyo Taxis, courtesy of Crabspirits), and these proto-Lexus big Toyotas just keep rolling into America’s wrecking yards. Here’s a 160,819 refrigerator-white ’90 that showed up in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard without a speck of rust.

05 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMechanically speaking, this car was a close cousin of the Supra, and it had the same 190-horse 7M-GE straight-six under the hood.

11 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear-wheel-drive, of course.

01 - 1990 Toyota Cressida Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty well used up, which doomed this car to the junkyard when it got some parking tickets and/or a mechanical problem that cost more than $150 to fix.


Here’s a very long promotional video for this car. It’s worth skipping forward a few minutes to the part where the potential Cressida driver encounters a “STEEP GRADE NEXT 1,000 MILES” road sign.


In Australia, it was pronounced “Cress-SEE-duh” and was all about quietness on primitive dirt roads.


In the motherland, this car was known as the Mark II, and it got triumphant music in its ads and an optional supercharger under the hood.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Ford Taurus SHO http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1993-ford-taurus-sho/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1993-ford-taurus-sho/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931626 While the Ford Taurus has been the most numerous vehicle in American self-service wrecking yards for at least 15 years, most of the time they are the background against which the more interesting cars stand out. Only the SHO version seems worthy of inclusion in this series, and until today we’ve seen just just this […]

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13 - 1993 Ford Taurus SHO Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinWhile the Ford Taurus has been the most numerous vehicle in American self-service wrecking yards for at least 15 years, most of the time they are the background against which the more interesting cars stand out. Only the SHO version seems worthy of inclusion in this series, and until today we’ve seen just just this ’96 Taurus SHO with V8. These cars have been very affordable for quite some time, but there remains enough of an enthusiast base to keep most of the survivors on the road. Here’s one that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area back in August.
LTXS10-NickShots-336We see quite a few Taurus SHOs in 24 Hours of LeMons racing (in fact, Sajeev Mehta reviewed one for us a while back), and they’re both very quick and very fragile. Transmissions, engines, brakes, suspension— you name it, the Taurus SHO can break it in spectacular fashion.
09 - 1993 Ford Taurus SHO Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe heart of the first- and second-gen Taurus SHO is the frantic Yamaha-designed V6 engine. This one was good for 220 horsepower, which sure doesn’t seem like much these days.
04 - 1993 Ford Taurus SHO Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis one even has the manual transmission.
18 - 1993 Ford Taurus SHO Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin20 years from now, when the few remaining ’93 SHOs are worth big currency units, someone will find this post and marvel at the idea of a rust-free California car like this going to The Crusher. Reminds me of the very solid ’70 Buick GS I saw in the Oakland U-Pull, circa 1983.

Another reason why the Taurus is the best selling car in America, again.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Subaru Legacy AWD Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1997-subaru-legacy-awd-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1997-subaru-legacy-awd-sedan/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899666 Living in Denver, I see tremendous quantities of old Subarus in local wrecking yards. Subarus after about 1985 don’t make it into this series (unless they’re XTs or SVXs or 4WD Justys), but the Legacy 4WD sedan is quite rare even by Denver standards so I made an exception for this car. This one has […]

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07 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLiving in Denver, I see tremendous quantities of old Subarus in local wrecking yards. Subarus after about 1985 don’t make it into this series (unless they’re XTs or SVXs or 4WD Justys), but the Legacy 4WD sedan is quite rare even by Denver standards so I made an exception for this car.
13 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has a key, which means it probably came from an insurance company auction rather than a city tow yard.
02 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust barely over 100,000 miles on the clock.
15 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy 1997, all Legacies sold in the United States had all-wheel-drive, but this was still special enough to warrant these “AWD” badges.
12 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy this point, the Outback wagon (still bearing Legacy badging) was so much more popular than the Legacy sedan in the United States that most of us forgot that you could even get this thing in a three-box car shape.
04 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese engines remain legendary (get it?) for blowing head gaskets.
14 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in Denver, crushed in Denver.

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Junkyard Find: 1991 Geo Storm GSi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1991-geo-storm-gsi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1991-geo-storm-gsi/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852577 The Storm, a rebadged second-gen Isuzu Impulse sold by GM’s short-lived Geo division, was with us for just the 1990 through 1993 model years and didn’t leave much of an impression. I see the occasional Storm in wrecking yards these days, but it takes a factory-hot-rod GSi version to get me to reach for my […]

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03 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Storm, a rebadged second-gen Isuzu Impulse sold by GM’s short-lived Geo division, was with us for just the 1990 through 1993 model years and didn’t leave much of an impression. I see the occasional Storm in wrecking yards these days, but it takes a factory-hot-rod GSi version to get me to reach for my camera. We saw this ’90 Storm GSi in a Colorado yard a couple years back, and now I’ve found another in Northern California.

Let’s watch some Storm ads!

The 16-valve performance force from Geo.

The GSi was quite a bit quicker than the ’87 CRX, but depreciation of cars bearing the doomed Geo marque probably meant that this ambitious young paralegal would have been better off sticking with the Honda.

In Canada, you could buy this car as an Asüna Sunfire.
15 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith 130 horsepower, the Storm GSi offered one of the best bang-for-buck deals of its time. I think I’d still have bought the Sentra SE-R, though I was driving something a little more hooptie at the time.
01 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPresented without comment.
17 - 1991 Geo Storm GSi Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinToday’s Junkyard Find looks just like my super-rare diecast (actually all-plastic) Geo Storm GSi, which was given to me by a LeMons racer who claimed it was a dealer-promo item.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Saturn SC2, With Rare Badass Flame Job Option http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1997-saturn-sc2-with-rare-badass-flame-job-option/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1997-saturn-sc2-with-rare-badass-flame-job-option/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=831881 Even though the Saturn S-Series has been one of the most common vehicle types in American self-service wrecking yards for at least the past decade, I’ve always walked right past the SCs and SLs when I’m looking for vehicles to photograph for this series. The rise and fall of the Saturn marque is a fascinating […]

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10 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven though the Saturn S-Series has been one of the most common vehicle types in American self-service wrecking yards for at least the past decade, I’ve always walked right past the SCs and SLs when I’m looking for vehicles to photograph for this series. The rise and fall of the Saturn marque is a fascinating story, and the S-Series spent much of the 1990s being driven by fanatically devoted owners who appreciated the distinctly un-GM-like experience of buying their cars. The SC2 has been one of the quicker and more reliable cars in 24 Hours of LeMons racing as well, but even that wasn’t enough to make me raise my camera when I passed a whole row of the things at U-Wrench-It. It took this red ’97, with its metalflake flame job peeking through the snow at a Denver yard this winter, to give us a Saturn Junkyard Find.
15 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
Someone loved this car, but then it got wrecked hard enough to render it not worth fixing.
16 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPerhaps King Credit has an in-house staff of flame painters, who apply flames to any vaguely sporty car that shows up in their inventory.
03 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe flames are executed very nicely, with clean edges, gold pinstriping, and generous application of metalflake.
07 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI didn’t feel like freezing my fingers to lift the hood and verify that the twin-cam engine was there, but I’m assuming that nobody would bother to paint such beautiful flames on a lowly SC1.
13 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThough I’d also say the same thing about an automatic car, and so perhaps I’m wrong and this car is a single-cam SC1. It has been crushed by now, so we’ll never know.
14 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAbout 10,000 miles per year during the course of its life, so this car’s owners got their money’s worth before the big crash.

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Junkyard Find: 1998 Toyota Corolla LE, New Jersey Skater Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1998-toyota-corolla-le-new-jersey-skater-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1998-toyota-corolla-le-new-jersey-skater-edition/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830505 After yesterday’s Corolla Junkyard Find, it seemed right to follow up with another, newer, Corolla. You know how you can tell when you’re a car’s final owner? Such was the case with the final owner of this much-abused Corolla, who drove his or her Corolla a couple thousand miles west, no doubt to be where […]

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12 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter yesterday’s Corolla Junkyard Find, it seemed right to follow up with another, newer, Corolla. You know how you can tell when you’re a car’s final owner? Such was the case with the final owner of this much-abused Corolla, who drove his or her Corolla a couple thousand miles west, no doubt to be where cannabis is legal.
09 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis sort of paint job attracts a lot of attention from members of the law-enforcement community, especially when the driver looks like this guy or maybe even this guy.
15 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe house-paint-and-rattle-can-graffiti look also tends to enrage neighbors, which increases the chances that the car will get parking tickets and then get towed away by The Man when those tickets aren’t paid.
08 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe drive out from New Jersey probably featured a lot of E.Town Concrete on the stereo.
03 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJudging from all the stickers and tags on the car, the owner must have been a big fan of Creature skateboards.
04 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMany Eastcrust stickers as well.
25 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see many of these Grenade Gloves stickers on various mud-splattered SUVs and final-owner hoopties in Denver. They’ve become quite commonplace in junkyards, maybe even more so than ICP Hatchetman stickers these days.
13 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOdds are that this car’s first owner was a rental-car company, as is the case with so many Corolla LEs.

Or perhaps the original owner came from this Buick-like demographic.

It’s hard to imagine any car company being willing to torpedo their wholesome image with a song from the notoriously drug-addled Sly and the Family Stone back during the band’s heyday. What’s next, Iggy Pop selling Cadillacs?

OK, now we need some of Sly’s yodeling, from an era when cities were burning, bombs were dropping, and shit was getting crazier every day.

01 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Ford Festiva L http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1993-ford-festiva-l/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1993-ford-festiva-l/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=816753 The Ford Festiva aka Kia Pride aka Mazda 121 spent much of the last decade being a fairly common sight in American self-serve wrecking yards, but lately I’ve been seeing many fewer examples of this little gas-sipper. You can buy this car new in Iran, where it is badged as the Saipa 132, and some […]

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01 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Ford Festiva aka Kia Pride aka Mazda 121 spent much of the last decade being a fairly common sight in American self-serve wrecking yards, but lately I’ve been seeing many fewer examples of this little gas-sipper. You can buy this car new in Iran, where it is badged as the Saipa 132, and some outlaw factory is probably still building the things in China. We’ve seen this ’90 Festiva in this series, and now I’ve found a decal-enhanced example of the final model year of the US-market Festiva (the next generation Pride was called the Aspire in the United States) in a Denver yard.
03 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin63 horsepower from this Mazda B3.
05 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSwooshy graphics were all the rage in the late 1980s and early 1990s, though I’m not sure if these are factory-installed or provided later by Manny, Moe, and Jack.
18 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhat more do you need in a car?

Let’s take a look at some ads for the Pride from around the world. Here’s Iran.

Korean car commercials tend to be full of video-game noises and macho voiceovers. Here’s a nice collection.

The early Pride got some very pastel 80s-ness in its Australian-market ads.

Venezuela.

Call it big. Call it small. Call it yours.

01 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1993 Ford Festiva L Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1996 Buick Regal Olympic Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1996-buick-regal-olympic-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1996-buick-regal-olympic-edition/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807738 Buick sold some special-edition Centuries as part of their sponsorship deal with the 1984 US Olympic athletes, and we saw one of these cars in this series last year. The later Olympic Edition Buicks are harder to find; there are still some ’88s around, but this is the first ’96 I can recall seeing anywhere. […]

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01 - 1996 Buick Regal Olympic Edition Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBuick sold some special-edition Centuries as part of their sponsorship deal with the 1984 US Olympic athletes, and we saw one of these cars in this series last year. The later Olympic Edition Buicks are harder to find; there are still some ’88s around, but this is the first ’96 I can recall seeing anywhere. Let us admire its athletic grace.
11 - 1996 Buick Regal Olympic Edition Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA perfectly competent front-drive Detroit sedan, but it didn’t sell to many buyers born after 1920.

The advertising for this generation of Regal talked big about “European styling” and “Camry beating.”

The subsequent generation of Olympic Regals got a bit of star power in its ads.
04 - 1996 Buick Regal Olympic Edition Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe textured-velour Olympic-logo headrests didn’t change much between 1984 and 1996.
10 - 1996 Buick Regal Olympic Edition Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old Buick V6, which soldiered on (in the Lucerne) until the 2009 model year. By 1996, this engine was much smoother than its ancestors.

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Junkyard Find: 1992 Infiniti M30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1992-infiniti-m30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1992-infiniti-m30/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=797130 When Nissan, not wanting to be left behind by Toyota, introduced the Infiniti marque in 1989, they needed a sporty coupe to sell alongside the mighty Q45 luxury sedan. No problem, just add some bling to the JDM Nissan Leopard, move the steering wheel to the left side, and you’ve got an instant Lexus SC300 […]

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09 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen Nissan, not wanting to be left behind by Toyota, introduced the Infiniti marque in 1989, they needed a sporty coupe to sell alongside the mighty Q45 luxury sedan. No problem, just add some bling to the JDM Nissan Leopard, move the steering wheel to the left side, and you’ve got an instant Lexus SC300 competitor for the American market! Sadly for Nissan, few bought the M30 (though its J30 successor sold pretty well), and M30 junkyard finds are quite rare today. Here’s one that survived the Cash For Clunkers Japanese Luxpocalypse but then succumbed to depreciation five years later.
11 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA good-looking car, but 1992 wasn’t a great year for California car dealers.
08 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s the same VG30 V6 that M30’s 300ZX and Maxima contemporaries got.

Naturally, the Japanese-market ads for the F31 Leopard coupe are far superior to anything shown on the other side of the Pacific.

01 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1992 Infiniti M30 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Daihatsu Rocky http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1990-daihatsu-rocky/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1990-daihatsu-rocky/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=775281 Remember the Daihatsu Rocky? No? That’s OK, several vehicles of this type sank without a trace during the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., the Dodge Raider), and Daihatsu itself fled the United States in 1992. I see Daihatsu Charades in self-serve wrecking yards about every six months these days— including this ’89 and this […]

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13 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember the Daihatsu Rocky? No? That’s OK, several vehicles of this type sank without a trace during the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., the Dodge Raider), and Daihatsu itself fled the United States in 1992. I see Daihatsu Charades in self-serve wrecking yards about every six months these days— including this ’89 and this ’90— and I don’t bother photographing most of them. A Rocky, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that this is the first Rocky I’ve seen anywhere in at least five years. How many are left on the street in North America? Hundreds? Dozens?
01 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThere must be at least one in the Denver area, because this junked example has been picked clean.
07 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThese little trucks came with a 1.6 liter engine and front- or four-wheel-drive.
04 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAre project Rockies worth anything? Apparently not.
20140315_120504Right after I photographed this Rocky, I felt compelled to go on eBay and buy a vintage Daihatsu Racing sticker for my travel laptop. I also got a Daihatsu patch for my race suit.
DaihatsuTerios2-900x540I was so inspired by the sight of this Rocky that I dove down the rabbit hole of 21st century Daihatsu mini-SUV ads, and there I found some seriously frenzied Daihatsu Terios-thrashin’ stuff. Perhaps Daihatsu will return to the US soon, with a Rocky-badged Terios. All right, let’s watch some Rocky ads!

The actors in this JDM Rocky ad need to lay off the helium, is all I have to say.

In Germany, a romantic approach was used to pitch the Rocky (badged as a Feroza in Europe).

For Australia, the Rocky (Feroza) was compared to the body of Surf Iron Man Champion Guy Leech.

Another Australian (or maybe New Zealand) ad shows the Turbodiesel Rocky, which was apparently half Ferrari and half tank.

Also an excellent choice for surfers who liked to crash through sand dunes. Wouldn’t some of those impacts have set off the airbags? Oh, right— pre-airbag era, carry on!

01 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1990 Daihatsu Rocky Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

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If The Big Lebowski Were Filmed Today, What Car Would The Dude Drive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773897 Before the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released […]

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Big_Lebowski_Torino_Crash-550pxBefore the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released in 1998 and was set in late 1990 or early 1991 (a period during which I was also in Southern California and living a fairly Dude-ish lifestyle myself). The choice of a ’73 Gran Torino by the Coen Brothers makes some interesting statements for those who obsess about movie cars, and Monday is always the best day to discuss such things.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Impound-550pxLooking at 1990/1991 from the perspective of 1998, you’ve got a nasty recession being observed via dot-com boom-tinted glasses, the first one-sided ass-kicking dished out by the US military since Vietnam from the point of view of an ascendant hyperpower, and so forth. At the same time, the latter years of the 1990s saw cars that could knock of 200,000 miles becoming commonplace, with carburetors and mechanical ignition systems dead as global Marxism-Leninism. With all that in mind, The Dude’s car had to be something from the Malaise Era, for symbolic location along the Malaise-Gulf War-Hyperpower continuum as well as for the fact that unemployable Los Angeles loadies could be expected to drive 18-year-old midsize sedans.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Brochure-550pxSo the question here is: What would be this car’s equivalent today? If you’re just going by straight model years, a 2014 movie set in 2006 with the protagonist driving an 18-year-old midsize Ford sedan would give us a 1988 Taurus… and it’s easy to picture the 2006 Dude clanking along in a hooptified first-gen Taurus.
10 - 1986 Hyundai Excel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' GredenHowever, the runup in global commodities prices in the second half of the first decade of the century meant that larger cars were worth a fair amount at the scrapper, which means that even the ugliest Taurus floated a bit above the very bottom of the car-value barrel. That’s why I think that The Dude of 2006 would drive an early Hyundai Excel. What do you think?

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Dodge Shadow ES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1994-dodge-shadow-es/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1994-dodge-shadow-es/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769394 So many Chrysler P bodies in American wrecking yards today, so many that Shadows and Sundances generally make up a good quarter of your typical self-serve wrecking yard’s Chrysler section. You still see some of these cars on the street these days, though hit-bottom-years-ago resale values mean that a running Chrysler P is becoming semi-rare […]

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09 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo many Chrysler P bodies in American wrecking yards today, so many that Shadows and Sundances generally make up a good quarter of your typical self-serve wrecking yard’s Chrysler section. You still see some of these cars on the street these days, though hit-bottom-years-ago resale values mean that a running Chrysler P is becoming semi-rare sight. I think the low-buck Shadow America and Sundance America are interesting enough to photograph, as is the Sundance Duster, but most of the time I just tune out the Ps when I see them during junkyard expeditions. The Shadow ES, with its goofy 80s-hangover tape graphics, manages to attract my attention, so let’s admire the exquisitely of-its-timeness of this ’94 that I spotted in Denver a couple months ago.
10 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were pretty cheap, and they weren’t slow (by mid-90s standards).
08 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat is, they weren’t slow when equipped with the Mitsubishi 6G72 V6, as this car is. Though, as we’ve seen, this engine doesn’t guarantee reliability.
05 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe early 90s are notable for having introduced the world to fake wood trim that was much more realistic than the Tormented Souls In Hell Simu-Wood™ of the 1970s and 1980s. Look, 20 years old and not faded or cracked!
04 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere oughta be a law.
14 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe snow is obscuring the mean-looking hood bulge with V6 emblems, but it’s there.
07 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith manual transmission, this sort of car wouldn’t be a bad first car for a teenager interested in making a cheap machine to take to test-n-tune night. Grab the turbo hardware off a wrecked Stealth, experience the joys of Xtreem Torque Steer®.

02 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1992-oldsmobile-toronado-trofeo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1992-oldsmobile-toronado-trofeo/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754577 You like rare cars? How about a final-year-of-manufacture Olds Toronado Troféo? I’ll bet there aren’t more than a few hundred ’92 Troféos left in the world! Here’s one that I spotted last week at a snowy Denver self-service yard. I have an unhealthy obsession with the products of GM’s mid-80s-to-early-90s efforts to compete toe-to-toe with […]

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13 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou like rare cars? How about a final-year-of-manufacture Olds Toronado Troféo? I’ll bet there aren’t more than a few hundred ’92 Troféos left in the world! Here’s one that I spotted last week at a snowy Denver self-service yard.
08 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have an unhealthy obsession with the products of GM’s mid-80s-to-early-90s efforts to compete toe-to-toe with German luxury marques (or at least drop the average age of Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac purchase from 96 to maybe 70 years old), and so I’m always happy to write about cars such as the Buick Reatta, Cadillac Allanté, and Olds Troféo. This car is the third Troféo in this series, after this ’89 and this ’90.
09 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven a 70-year-old in 1992 must have been aware that the Buick 3.8 V6 wasn’t exactly cutting-edge technology in the luxury-car world.
07 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLook, a driver’s-side airbag!
22 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, depressingly, molded-in fake stitching on the not-quite-leather door panels.
20 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf this thing had had the touch-screen Visual Information Center, I’d have pulled it and bought it on the spot. Just analog gauges, though.
21 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith all its flaws, the ’92 Troféo has a certain amount of cool going for it.

Presented without comment.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Eagle Summit Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1993-eagle-summit-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1993-eagle-summit-wagon/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=737769 As with so many things surrounding the bewildering swirl of Renault/AMC- and Mitsubishi-derived products sold by Chrysler brands during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Eagle Summit wagon is something of a puzzler. The Eagle Summit car was a rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage, which itself was the same car as a Dodge/Plymouth Colt. But the […]

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10 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs with so many things surrounding the bewildering swirl of Renault/AMC- and Mitsubishi-derived products sold by Chrysler brands during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Eagle Summit wagon is something of a puzzler. The Eagle Summit car was a rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage, which itself was the same car as a Dodge/Plymouth Colt. But the Summit wagon was actually a Mitsubishi RVR, sold in the United States as the Mitsubishi Expo LRV and the Dodge/Plymouth Colt Wagon. In Europe, this thing was known as the Space Runner. Space Runner!

In fact, this is a good time to watch a European commercial for the Space Runner. And, just as I did with the ’12 Chevy Sonic rental-car review, I’m going to find some more not-very-relevant ads for the RVR.

A whole lot more than a four-door!

How about Bugs Bunny riding an RVR to the beach while getting red-eyed to Japanese reggae?

Apparently Bugs was the RVR spokesman.

You could get a Space Wagon in Brazil, too.
18 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Eagle brand lasted all the way until 1999, though (disappointingly) the AMC Eagle that donated the name was never sold by Chrysler as an Eagle Eagle.
07 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mitsubishi Sirius 4G63 engine went into everything from the Mitsubishi Cordia to the second-gen Hyundai Elantra to the mighty Proton Perdana. You can always find plenty of 4G63s in American wrecking yards.
21 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe sliding side door was extremely useful, but image-conscious American car shoppers were beginning to hate minivan practicality by this time. Within a few years, just about every potential Eagle Summit buyer would be looking at SUVs.
04 - 1993 Eagle Summit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, just imagine the proud family that owned this Summit Wagon back in 1993, putting some of 1993’s greatest hits on the cassette deck for the family vacation to Action Park.

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Thinking About An Older, Sporty Car: What Do You Suggest? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/thinking-about-an-older-sporty-car-what-do-you-suggest/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/thinking-about-an-older-sporty-car-what-do-you-suggest/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 21:07:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706778 The decision is in, and my long awaited overseas assignment has been postponed for another year. I still have a move in my future, however, but it won’t be outside the border it will be the heartland – Leavenworth, KS. After looking at the alternatives, I’ve decided that this is the best opportunity I was […]

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Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

The decision is in, and my long awaited overseas assignment has been postponed for another year. I still have a move in my future, however, but it won’t be outside the border it will be the heartland – Leavenworth, KS. After looking at the alternatives, I’ve decided that this is the best opportunity I was presented with. It’s a chance to work with some folks I might not have otherwise worked with and, while I am there, maybe I’ll even learn a few things. The added bonus is that the move gets me out of the rust belt and back into a place where old cars are a lot more common.

Since the 300M went to a new home a little less than a year ago I’ve had an empty place in my heart to match the one in my driveway. The family mini-van and my Pontiac Torrent are both wonderful, competent daily drivers, but they aren’t really what I think of as “fun.” There’s never a hint of drama with either of them, they just do their jobs every day without complaint and, while I admire and rely upon their stolidity, I miss having something to play with. The time has come to rectify that.

Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

With an eye towards understanding the local used car market, I’ve already spent a little time perusing the Kansas City Craigslist and I’ve found some things that I have liked. Some of the usual suspects have flitted through my brain, if you’ve ever read anything I have written you know I have an unhealthy obsession with Turbo Dodges and the mid-80’s Nissans, but I’m open to all suggestions within reasons and I thought we might have some fun discussing the alternatives. My ground rules are thus:

Given the short-term nature of my assignment, I’m not willing to drop a whole lot of cash so I’m going to set a limit of $4K for the initial purchase and that’s already on the high side so my mantra is “cheaper is better.”

Projects are OK, but even though I’m not against solving a few mechanical gremlins, I won’t be swapping out entire engines, getting involved in a “frame-up” anything or ending up in a car that needs major body work.

I’d prefer something from the 80s or 90s, but would consider a smaller car, say some kind of Japanese or British classic from the 60s or 70s, but no old luxury barges. The point is that I want something small and sporty, not big and heavy.

I would like something with a manual transmission, I’ve really missed those over the past few years, but I have no real preference for which set of wheels get driven. Front and rear wheel drive cars are both on the table.

That’s it. I know there is a lot of experience on this site so I am interested in your suggestions and expect a healthy debate about the various merits of some fun old cars. Because I won’t move until summer, I’m not ready to purchase this minute and don’t need to be hooked up with a specific seller so please, for the love of God, don’t call anyone up and bother them. Besides, most of the time, thinking about what I could buy proves to be more fun than actually buying it. Let’s prolong that feeling as long as possible. What would you get if you were in my position?

Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

Photo courtesy of Craigslist.org

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Plymouth Horizon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1990-plymouth-horizon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1990-plymouth-horizon/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=704962 No, that’s not a typo— Chrysler made the Simca-derived Omnirizon all the way until the 1990 model year. I’ve been looking for a final-year example of an Omni or Horizon for quite a while now, and I finally found this one in a Denver self-serve yard over the weekend. Would you believe an airbag in […]

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11 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, that’s not a typo— Chrysler made the Simca-derived Omnirizon all the way until the 1990 model year. I’ve been looking for a final-year example of an Omni or Horizon for quite a while now, and I finally found this one in a Denver self-serve yard over the weekend.
06 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWould you believe an airbag in this cheap little car, as early as 1990? Standard equipment for the ’90 Omnirizons!
05 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin5-speed, factory tach, no rust, only 114,325 miles on the clock.
12 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinVery, very rare, and an interesting bit of history, but not really worth saving from The Crusher.
17 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you want to split hairs, the Omnirizon outlived the original Chrysler K platform by a year (though cars based on the K were built until 1995). By 1987, the Chrysler 2.2— originally developed for the K-cars— was the only engine available in these cars.
Even with the airbag, the last-year-of-production Omnirizon wasn’t much different from the original 1978 version. The new Dodge Omni does it all!

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Junkyard Find: Volvo 440 GLT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-volvo-440-glt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-volvo-440-glt/#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 14:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=688626 During my recent trip to Iceland, I stopped by a few Reykjavik wrecking yards to see what kind of stuff those Norsemen send to The Crusher. We’ve seen this Lada Niva, and this Renault Megane, some Dodges, and now we’ve got a DAF-connected Volvo that was never sold in the United States. The 440 was […]

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04 - Volvo 440GLT Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDuring my recent trip to Iceland, I stopped by a few Reykjavik wrecking yards to see what kind of stuff those Norsemen send to The Crusher. We’ve seen this Lada Niva, and this Renault Megane, some Dodges, and now we’ve got a DAF-connected Volvo that was never sold in the United States.
02 - Volvo 440GLT Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 440 was a front-wheel-drive hatchback, which seems so un-Volvo-like for the late-80s/early-90s.
05 - Volvo 440GLT Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou could get the 440 with a no-doubt-godawful continuously variable transmission (known as the Transmatic), but this one has a 5-speed.
03 - Volvo 440GLT Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s the likely reason it is no longer on the street.

It’s telling that most of the results I found for a search for Volvo 440 videos were of the “let’s kill this terrible car” variety. Here’s a fiery, smoky brick-on-the-gas-pedal example.

Throw that rulebook out the window!

Is there a safer way to lose your heart?

The 1980s were still going strong in 1993 Germany.

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Junkyard Find: 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1996-plymouth-neon-expresso/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1996-plymouth-neon-expresso/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=669282 The Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph […]

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01 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph for this series; I’ll shoot a rare Neon R/T, but that’s about it. Still, something about the dot-com-boom optimism of the Expresso trim level catches my attention, so I paused to document this ’96 in its final parking spot.
05 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were cheap and had a bit more power than their similarly priced imported competitors, but they never built up much of a popular reputation for longevity.
04 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time when 16-valve four-cylinder engines were exotic, as were 5-speeds and fuel injection.
11 - 1996 Plymouth Neon Expresso Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has the automatic, though. Note the cheerful party-style seat fabric.


Because I spend a lot of time watching low-budget race cars clank around road courses, I think of the Neon as a very good cheap racer— quicker and more reliable than most Japanese LeMons cars, and of course there’s that incredible junkyard parts selection. Here’s in-car video from one of those Neons in action.


It’s a pretty hot little number!


Neon-style cuteness was definitely out in the minds of car marketers of the 21st century, and so the Neon’s successor got ads like this. Stupid little fairy!

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Junkyard Find: 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1991-alfa-romeo-164-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1991-alfa-romeo-164-s/#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2013 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=637561 I see plenty of Fiat 124 Spiders and Fiat X1/9s in junkyards (and even a couple of Maseratis), but Alfa Romeos are worth a bit more and thus are harder to find. We’ve seen this ’79 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan and this ’74 Spider in this series, and that’s about it prior to today’s find. […]

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11 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI see plenty of Fiat 124 Spiders and Fiat X1/9s in junkyards (and even a couple of Maseratis), but Alfa Romeos are worth a bit more and thus are harder to find. We’ve seen this ’79 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan and this ’74 Spider in this series, and that’s about it prior to today’s find.
02 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 164 was the last car that Alfa Romeo sold in the US before its retreat in 1995, and the big front-wheel-drive Alfa sedan had a tough time competing with increasingly ruthless German and Italian manufacturers at that time.
03 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot only is the interior in this one pretty nice, the car is the rare 5-speed model.
05 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin172,886 miles— not bad!
09 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI couldn’t get the hood open to shoot the engine, but I assume the original 3.0 liter V6 was still there.
07 - 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOoh, 1990s Italian electronics!

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Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1998-chevrolet-cavalier-z24/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1998-chevrolet-cavalier-z24/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=630138 GM made many, many Cavaliers during the model’s 23-year production run, and these days the mid-to-late-90s models are most common in high-turnover wrecking yards. Mostly I don’t photograph Cavaliers for this series, though I did shoot this ’90 Cavalier RS last year. However, I do think that cars powered by the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine […]

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13 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGM made many, many Cavaliers during the model’s 23-year production run, and these days the mid-to-late-90s models are most common in high-turnover wrecking yards. Mostly I don’t photograph Cavaliers for this series, though I did shoot this ’90 Cavalier RS last year. However, I do think that cars powered by the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine are worthy of Junkyard Find status— we’ve seen this ’90 Cutlass Calais International Series and this ’93 Achieva SCX so far— and the Cavalier Z24 was the last GM car to get the Quad 4, so let’s take a look at this ’98 that I spotted in Denver last week.
04 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor the 1996 model year, GM had come up with the LD9 Twin Cam 2.4 version of the Quad 4, which featured balance shafts plus a torque-enhancing stroke-increase/bore-decrease treatment. Power was 150 horses, which was pretty good for a car this small.
11 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe late 1990s were all about body-colored plastic cladding and trim.
01 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Getrag 5-speed is pretty rare in these things, so I was disappointed to find the usual automatic shifter inside.

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Junkyard Find: 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1996-oldsmobile-silhouette/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1996-oldsmobile-silhouette/#comments Fri, 09 Aug 2013 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498716 Examples of the first-generation GM “Dustbuster” minivan abound at self-service wrecking yards these days, even as they disappear from the street, and every time I pass a Trans Sport or Lumina APV on my way to shoot something older and/or more interesting I say to myself, “I really need to do a Dustbuster Junkyard Find […]

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15 - 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinExamples of the first-generation GM “Dustbuster” minivan abound at self-service wrecking yards these days, even as they disappear from the street, and every time I pass a Trans Sport or Lumina APV on my way to shoot something older and/or more interesting I say to myself, “I really need to do a Dustbuster Junkyard Find one of these days.” Well, that day has come!
10 - 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese vans were startlingly weird-looking when they first showed up in 1990, but then we became jaded and the Dustbuster just looked ugly.
06 - 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe keep hoping to see one of GM’s long-snouted minivans in a 24 Hours of LeMons race, but so far we’ve had just a single post-Dustbuster Montana in a race.
08 - 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe dash surface of these things was deep enough that you could lose items if they rolled all the way forward to the windshield. I’ve heard that an extra-large pizza box will fit well here.
13 - 1996 Oldsmobile Silhouette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMany members of the GM V6 family (both 60° and 90° types) were installed here.

Futuristic!

Let’s riiiiiiide!

It’s the King’s ride.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Audi V8 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1990-audi-v8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1990-audi-v8/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498606 Audi has been building cars with V8s for decades now, but the very first Audi V8 came installed in a car named, appropriately enough, the Audi V8. These cars cost plenty when the buyer signed on the line that is dotted, and they continued to cost plenty over the life of the car. I used […]

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05 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAudi has been building cars with V8s for decades now, but the very first Audi V8 came installed in a car named, appropriately enough, the Audi V8. These cars cost plenty when the buyer signed on the line that is dotted, and they continued to cost plenty over the life of the car. I used to see quite a few of these cars in self-serve wrecking yards about five years ago, but now we’re seeing the long-term survivors whose owners took a look at the most recent repair estimate and, finally, barked GENUG! Here’s a high-mileage example that I spotted yesterday in my favorite Denver wrecking yard.
02 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin247 screaming German horsepower, fed to all four wheels and providing a good living for Audi mechanics.
07 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember factory car phones? Do any phone companies still provide the analog connections they need?
11 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin250,525 miles! Who needs a Camry? Note the fuel gauge calibrated in gallons.
09 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter the “unintended acceleration” debacle of 1986, Audi printed up vast quantities of these stickers and applied them on the shifter bezels of most of their automatic-equipped cars until, what, sometime in the mid-90s? They also recalled older cars and slapped stickers on them as well. Did these stickers prevent elderly drivers from mixing up the gas and brake pedals? Let’s hope so!
14 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that Audis are packaged as carefully as any Apple product, we can assume that the company would rather sell itself to FAW-Hongqi for 11 bucks than slap a sticker this hideous on a door panel.
10 - 1990 Audi V8 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot satisfied with the ECON/PWR transmission-mode choice available in the Lexus LS400 (and most other slushboxed Toyotas of the era), Audi V8 drivers could choose between “Sport,” “Economy,” and “Manual” modes, courtesy of this switch.

Here’s a nice German-market mini-movie advertisement for der Audi V8.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Honda Del Sol http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/junkyard-find-1993-honda-del-sol/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/junkyard-find-1993-honda-del-sol/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=496976 As the owner of a much-loved 1992 Honda Civic (unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves fifth-gen Civic hatchbacks), I know how hard it is to find parts for my V8-hauling hooptie at my local self-serve wrecking yard. The 1992-95 Civic has become to the 2010s what the ’57 Chevy was in the 1970s: […]

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10 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs the owner of a much-loved 1992 Honda Civic (unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves fifth-gen Civic hatchbacks), I know how hard it is to find parts for my V8-hauling hooptie at my local self-serve wrecking yard. The 1992-95 Civic has become to the 2010s what the ’57 Chevy was in the 1970s: the affordable car with great performance potential that all the 24-year-olds want. That means that these cars get picked clean within minutes of showing up at a low-price/high-inventory-turnover wrecking yard. The two-seat Del Sol version of the Civic is even harder to find in such yards; in fact, this is perhaps the third Del Sol I’ve seen in my last five years of junkyard crawling.
08 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has about as much flesh left on its bones as the remains of a roadkill squirrel after a month on a highway median.
03 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinTo carry the ’57 Chevy analogy further, the 102-horsepower D15B7 engine is about as desirable to Honda guys now as was the 235 six to shoebox Chevy freaks in, say, 1976. A good, reliable engine, but pretty much worthless. My own Civic is getting a B18C1, just as soon as I knock out Items 1 through 48 on my Hell Project To-Do List.
02 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf this car ever had a custom leather interior, it’s long gone now.
04 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDuring my Generation X slacker period in the early 1990s, with recession raging, I took a temp job driving brand-new ’92 Del Sols from a dirt field at the Port of Richmond to a trainyard a couple miles away (the return trips took place in an Econoline with no doors). I had this job for about a week, and I drove about four plastic-wrapped new Del Sols per hour with no lunch breaks, which means my lifetime driving experience includes approximately 160 Honda Del Sols. In other words, I have driven more Del Sols than any other type of car.
06 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSoichiro Honda died at just about the same time I was driving Del Sols, and I often wonder if he knew what a betrayal the replacement of the beloved CRX felt like to the generation of young drivers who worshiped the zippy little Civic two-seater. As Chrysler learned with the Neon, cuteness in a car equaled showroom death in post-Gulf War America, and the Del Sol was sickeningly cute. Fortunately for Honda, the Super Cub helped keep the company afloat.

No mention of the incredible driving-fun-per-buck ratio of the CRX in the ads for its successor.

Though, as always, the Japanese-market ads were more fun.

Still, the Del Sol was no CRX, and sales weren’t so great.
07 - 1993 Honda Del Sol Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMeanwhile, Acura had no V8 to compete with its rivals, and Honda’s amazing 15-year run of success faltered.

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