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…)
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…)
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…)
We examined part of the endgame of the Audi 5000 debacle in the United States with a junked 1990 Audi 100 Quattro sedan in Denver. Having banished the toxic Audi 5000 name, Audi called these cars Audi 100s until everyone was thoroughly confused, then renamed it the A6, which they still use today.
Here’s a sort of unusual example I saw at a Denver yard a month ago: the final year of the Audi 100 name in the United States, and it’s a wagon. (Read More…)
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 Denver self-service yard a few weeks ago. (Read More…)
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 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. (Read More…)
Not everyone shares my interest in the K-variant Chrysler P platform, so I limit Shadow and Sundance Junkyard Finds to just the more historically significant members of the P family. Like, say, this ’93 Shadow ES, this ’91 Shadow, this ’92 Sundance, and this hard-to-find Sundance America. Today, we’ll be looking at one of the weirdest Sundances of them all: Chrysler’s fourth platform bearing the Duster name. (Read More…)
I’ve loved high-turnover self-service wrecking yards since I used to hang out at U-Pull Auto Wrecking in Oakland as a teenager in the early 1980s, and so it makes sense that junkyard-related stuff became so central to the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™. During the last year, as my Junkyard Find series has evolved into a near-daily thing, I became increasingly curious about the life-cycle of the vehicles in these yards. A new row of fresh cars appears one day, replacing one that was put out a few months before, and that’s all I knew. Then, earlier this year, I was able to convince the brass at U-Pull-&-Pay Self Serve Used Auto Parts to give me a behind-the-scenes look at their operation, and I chose to follow the trajectories of two cars I thought would be typical junkyard inmates: a 1991 Honda Civic Si and a 1994 Toyota Camry XLE. I visited the auction at which they were purchased, I documented the pre-yard preparations, and I visited both cars every week for their three-month stint as parts donors. After that, I watched them get fed into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. Here’s how our Civic and Camry spent the final months of their lives. (Read More…)
So I’ve still got an Integra GS-R engine sitting in my garage, waiting to be swapped into my hooptie ’92 Civic DX— because the fifth-gen Civic, with its ease of parts-swapping and galaxy of aftermarket stuff, is to the present day what the ’55 Chevy was to the 1970s— and when that happens I’ll need better brakes, right? Problem is, whenever a third-gen Acura Integra (which was a fifth-gen Civic with luxury and performance upgrades) shows up at a cheap self-service junkyard, it gets picked clean faster than just about anything this side of a Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s much like a ’55 Chevy owner in 1974, discovering an intact 396/4-speed Caprice 20 minutes after the car hit the yard at the U-Yank-It. When I found an intact ’94 Integra while on a Junkyard Find photo expedition at the Denver yard near my place, I knew I had to work fast. (Read More…)
I’ve been seeking out Japanese luxury Junkyard Finds lately, so this fairly straight example of Toyota’s personal luxury coupe of the 1990s seemed worthy of inclusion in the series. (Read More…)
The very last generation of Olds 98 was the most distinctive-looking of any of the 98s built since the early 1970s. Though it was related to a number of Buicks and Cadillacs of the era, the 1991-96 Ninety-Eight had the kind of Oldsmobility that traditional (i.e., those who remembered the Lindbergh Kidnapping) Olds buyers weren’t going to find in those weird-looking Auroras. (Read More…)
When the Cougar went from the Fox platform to the MN12 platform for the 1989 model year, it got an independent rear suspension and a longer wheelbase for even more personal luxury. The ’89-97 Cougar had style, and thus the Prowler Edition XR7 makes perfect sense. (Read More…)
Last week, the Impala roared into 1992 with more refinements and spun quite a few digits on its Buick odometer. Late in ’92, with Bill Clinton packing up his Astroturf-enhanced El Camino and heading for the White House and the days getting shorter, I decided to celebrate my escape from the looming menace of an academic career by tricking out the Impala’s hood with some Fiat X1/9-sourced scoops… and getting back to Interstate 5, where I belonged. (Read More…)
The reason I’m only doing ’65 Impala Hell Project posts every week or so is the fact that it takes for-freakin-ever for me to search and scan endless sheets of 35mm negatives and slides for images that are relevant to the story (the 1999-vintage SCSI film scanner I’m using sure isn’t helping matters). There is an unexpected bonus that comes with this process, however: I keep running across interesting car photos shot during my travels. (Read More…)
The formula for taking the win on laps at a 24 Hours of LeMons race remains the same regardless of whether a race has a Sears-Point-bulging-at-seams 170 cars… or 20, as was the case at this weekend’s swampy, sweaty Cain’t Git Bayou event: you have a team stacked with drivers who turn consistent quick laps, your car never breaks, and your drivers never get black-flagged. Driving a Mazda (which, in my opinion, is the most reliable LeMons marque) certainly doesn’t hurt. Team Hong Norrth stuck with the plan that got them two wins earlier in the year, and now they’ve just grabbed their third LeMons Overall Win trophy in 2011. (Read More…)