The Truth About Cars » 1994 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:13:03 +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 » 1994 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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: 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®.

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Plymouth Sundance Duster http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1994-plymouth-sundance-duster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1994-plymouth-sundance-duster/#comments Thu, 17 Jan 2013 16:30:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474153 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 […]

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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.
The P-based Duster was the quickest Duster since the days when you could get an A-body with a 340-cubic-inch V8, thanks to its Mitsubishi V6.
Of course, beating the Turismo- and Volare-based versions wasn’t much of a challenge. Check out this mean-looking hood bulge!

We really can’t talk about any variety of Duster without referring to the infamous “Cocaine Factory” ad for the 1985 Turismo Duster. This may well be the Greatest Car Ad of All Time.
Will we miss the Sundance Duster when the last one is gone?

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Auction To Crusher: 12 Weeks In the Lives of Two Cars At a Self-Service Wrecking Yard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/auction-to-crusher-12-weeks-in-the-lives-of-two-cars-at-a-self-service-wrecking-yard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/auction-to-crusher-12-weeks-in-the-lives-of-two-cars-at-a-self-service-wrecking-yard/#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470330 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 […]

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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.
It all started last winter, when I found this ’78 Chrysler Cordoba at a self-serve yard near Chez Murilee in Denver. This fine example of Malaise Era personal luxury had a genuine Corinthian Leather bench seat in excellent condition.
So, I went back, bought the seat, and made it into a very comfy garage couch. In that tale, I’d mentioned some unpleasant experiences I’d had with certain California self-serve yard employees, experiences that make me reluctant to ask for help— say, moving a junkyard welded-wheel jackstand that made Cordoba seat bolts difficult to access— from any junkyard employees. The folks at the yard that provided the Corinthian Leather seat have always treated me well, so I had no complaints there… but then I got an email from a TTAC-reading employee at the corporate HQ of the chain that owned another Denver yard that has provided many Junkyard Finds: “I think you frequent our Aurora and Denver stores (from what I can see in your pics anyway). If you ever do need assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask. For safety reasons, we’re reluctant to bring mobile equipment into the yard during store hours. But someone could’ve helped you get that last nut.” I assured him that I had no complaints about any employees at those yards (in fact, Colorado junkyard employees tend to be several orders of magnitude pleasanter and more competent than their California counterparts)… but, while we’re on the subject, perhaps he might be able to find a way to get me access to the inner workings of one of their yards, for a future TTAC piece?
Next thing I know, I’m wearing a hardhat backstage at the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay yard, talking to John Fernbach, chief vehicle buyer for the company’s Colorado yards (sharp-eyed readers might recognize in the background the ’71 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser that later got picked completely clean within days of being put out on the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay yard). John, who holds a degree in economics and specialized in commodity studies, doesn’t exactly conform to the the hardbitten, gas-axe-wielding junkyard dog stereotype some of us old-timers might hold. These days, running this sort of operation is a tightrope-walking science, where even slightly bad moves can move the balance sheet right into the red. His job is to obtain the feedstock for the three Colorado U-Pull-&-Pay yards, and that job gets tougher every week nowadays. High scrap-metal prices, well over $200/ton at the scrapper, just for cars dragged in off the street, and years of a grim economy have created legions of car-hungry scavengers who scour the land for any vehicle they can drag to the scrapper for a quick buck. Meanwhile, the same grim economy means that money-strapped working folks keep their old cars limping along longer than ever. The upshot is that finding fresh inventory for three major yards is like pulling teeth, and the job requires nonstop hustling.
John buys a lot of vehicles at local auctions, so he took me along to a nearby operation with plenty of inventory to move. A decade back, I used to buy Tercels and Civics at the San Francisco City Tow auctions of towed-away cars, a Wild West operation at which you could pick up runners for a C-note… but those days are long gone. In a few minutes at this auction, mostly watching beater 15-year-old dealership trade-ins go under the gavel, I became shocked at the prices being paid for these heaps.
For example, are you shopping for a rough-looking early-90s Ford Escort with bad oil rings? This car sold for 800 bucks, at an auction mostly attended by hard-eyed car-biz veterans. Whaaaaat? Blame high commodities prices, tough credit for new-car buyers, and general economic misery. Still, John manages to buy enough cars and trucks at sufficiently low prices to keep the yards in business; keep in mind that high prices for scrap metals mean that the picked-over hulks leaving the yard are worth much more than they were a few years back, even if the value of their parts to junkyard shoppers hasn’t increased much. Back to the Denver yard we went, so that I could pick out a couple of cars purchased during a previous auction visit.
We headed over to the holding area, where fresh arrivals are kept. I wanted two cars, one that I knew would inspire an instant feeding frenzy among car-enthusiast junkyard parts seekers and another that would be sought after by those patching together their daily drivers. For the latter car, I picked this ’94 Camry XLE, the kind of cockroach-grade survivor that’s usually worth fixing up when something breaks.
For the car that would really put some blood in the water for the junkyard sharks looking for bits for personal projects or maybe to resell on eBay, I selected this 1991 Honda Civic Si.
The 1988-91 Si hatch was once the factory-hot-rod Honda of choice for street-racer types, and the fourth-gen Civic still retains enough of a devoted following to ensure that one that appears at a low-priced self-serve yard will attract hordes of parts-pullers.
I was really tempted to go with this 1978 Mercury Marquis, just because it was so incredibly cool. Unfortunately, cars like this don’t get much action at a self-serve yard these days; probably a guy with an F-150 would yank the 400M engine and maybe the C4 transmission, and the rest of the car would go right into The Crusher’s jaws without giving me much of a story (plus this yard separates imports from domestics and I wanted the two cars parked side-by-side, meaning I’d need two Detroit cars or two imports). I tried my best to get a certain TTAC writer with an irrational love of Malaise Era Blue Oval products to buy this rust-free car— which ran and drove perfectly and which U-Pull-&-Pay was offering at a very reasonable price— but he didn’t feel up to the Denver-to-Houston, single-digit-MPG drive that would be required.
Once I chose the cars I’d be following, it was time for me to watch the U-Pull-&-Pay grunts prep them for placement among the rest of the inventory in the junkyard proper. At this point, my bullshit detectors kicked into DefCon One mode, as I geared up for any sign that the men running this yard were faking up a Potemkin village of just-this-one-day-only safe-and-clean fluid-disposal procedures and so on; such is the level of suspicion that interacting with car-company PR flacks engenders in a properly cynical automotive journalist. Having watched plenty of junkyard-chain employees in allegedly-enviro-conscious California dumping oil on the ground a few hundred yards from the endangered species of San Francisco Bay (and no doubt playing Crush The Alameda Whipsnake with old car batteries when customers weren’t watching), I was ready to pounce on signs of phony safety and/or waste-disposal hijinks.
As suspicious and pessimistic as I try to be, and as much as I want to write an Ida Tarbell-grade muckraking exposé, I’ve got to admit that the operations at U-Pull-&-Pay Denver (and, I hope, the rest of their yards) appear to be legitimately safe-n-sane, and that what I saw behind the scenes this summer looks like their typical workday.
Before a new arrival gets put up on the rack for fluid and refrigerant removal, the U-Pull-&-Pay employees harvest all the loose change they find under the seats. This goes into a bucket, and the contents of the bucket are used to buy pizza for the whole crew on Fridays.
Batteries are removed from vehicles and brought to this area for testing. Good batteries are sold to customers, bad batteries are sent to recycling plants.
The air-conditioner refrigerant is harvested and stored, and all fluids— including windshield-washer juice and brake fluid— are sucked out and sent off for recycling or disposal.
A vampire-like device punches into the fuel tank and drains all the gasoline without spilling a drop. Good gas is given to employees; bad gas gets recycled with the other petroleum-based liquids. The entire procedure is weirdly clean and not anything like the puddles-of-burning-gear-oil Superfund nightmare I’d imagined.
After that, the cars were put into the on-deck area, where they’d wait until it was time to pull out an old row of imports and replace it with fresh meat.
So that the forklift drivers would keep the Civic and the Camry together on the yard, my name was written on the windows in paint-pen ink. This made me feel like a junkyard VIP.
I was off at a distant 24 Hours of LeMons race when the cars were placed at the end of a row in the Imports section, so they’d already been exposed to parts shoppers for two days when I visited them.
The hood and a couple of wheels had sold off the Camry, but otherwise it was untouched.
The Civic Si, on the other hand, had already given up a bunch of high-value parts. The Si instrument cluster probably lasted about 20 minutes; these things fetch good money on eBay— not bad for a part that U-Pull-&-Pay gets $20.99 for. The factory aluminum wheels and many interior components were gone as well. I visited this Civic every week for each of its 11 weeks in the Import section, but we’ve only got room for a brief outline of what parts got pulled when; go here for the complete start-to-finish photo-essay of the 1991 Honda Civic Si’s life at U-Pull-&-Pay Denver.
The following week, the Camry’s dash had been hit, but the factory radio, once removed, was judged to be not worth buying. Go here for the complete start-to-finish photo-essay of the 1994 Toyota Camry XLE’s life at U-Pull-&-Pay Denver.
Under the Camry’s (nonexistent) hood, the usual scramble for pocket-sized relays and electronic devices had begun.
Next door, the Civic had donated a fender and most of its front body parts to Denver Honda fanciers.
The door panels and inside latches had been taken, along with about 50% of the remaining interior parts. Exterior trim pieces were also evaporating.
By Week Three, the Camry had started to lose some in-demand bits; the driver’s-side rear-view mirror, for example.
At the same time, someone had removed a valve cover and begun the process of pulling out a couple of the camshafts, before giving up and leaving the cams in place.
Not much had changed on the Camry the following week. Nice front door panels on sub-20-year-old import sedans mostly get snapped up from self-service yards, and that’s what happened to our Camry.
By Week Five, the Civic was looking even more naked. Taillights, most of the exterior trim, and a sprinkling of parts from all over the car had departed.
The Camry’s interior, which looked pretty clean for an 18-year-old car, was bearing the brunt of the scavenging by this time. Part of the center console and the parking-brake lever now live on in a still-on-the-street Camry.
< After the Civic Si spent six weeks on the yard, someone finally came and pulled the car’s 108-horse D16A6 engine. The transmission, oil pan, and most of the accessories were left behind.
By that time, the Camry had yielded some more interior parts, including the driver’s-side armrest and power-window controls.
While Civic-parts shoppers continued to pick the ’91 Si cleaner with each passing week, the Camry at seven weeks was still 90% there.
With 266,542 miles on the clock, this Toyota served its owners well.
A row of cars stays out for two or three months at this type of yard, so time was running out for these two after 11 weeks.
The next row over was replaced around this time, with this ’73 Super Beetle parked nose-to-nose with the Camry.
High-demand parts are often pulled from a car and stashed in an adjacent car, while the buyer runs home to get money and/or check to see if he really needs the thing. I’m not sure why anybody would care much about a Mexican Solex 34PICT knockoff, but I found the Super Beetle’s carb sitting in the Camry’s trunk.
Twelve weeks after our Camry and Civic were placed on the yard, it was time for some new inventory. In their place, a Mazda Protege and a Lexus SC400.
Meanwhile, the junkyard-browsing public having had three months to pick over the Civic and Camry, our cars waited in a holding area next to The Crusher.
The forklift man grabbed the Toyota first.
The aluminum-laden engines of modern cars are removed before crushing at U-Pull-&-Pay; the forklift operator just tears the engine and transmission right out of the car.
This guy then jumps in and begins clipping off valuable copper wiring from the engine.
After that, he’ll remove the alternator, starter, and other accessories that have value as rebuildable cores.
While that’s going on, the forklift goes back in and rips out the dash wiring harness and whatever remains of the engine harness.
Copper is money!
18 years and the equivalent of 11 trips around the world’s circumference, and the end of the line has been reached for this Camry. Into The Crusher it goes.
Squish!


If you have a ghoulish fascination with watching cars die, here’s a video compilation of the sequence I just described.
With the Camry pressed flat, The Crusher has room for another course in its meal. The forklift fetches the Civic.
The engine and much of the wiring had already been pulled by customers, so there wasn’t as much to extract from this car.
Placed atop the Camry in The Crusher, the Civic gets mashed flat quickly.


Here’s the video version of the Civic’s demise.
The two-car pancake is then hauled over to the stacks of squished cars awaiting a trip to the scrapper.
The two cars together couldn’t have been more than 18″ thick.
I’ve owned a few fourth-gen Civics and liked them a lot, so this sight made me a bit sad. Still, the endless cycle of cars and steel must continue.
The crushed carcasses are loaded onto a truck, which then takes the load of steel about ten miles south to the scrapper.
The pressed remains of our Camry and Civic then get shredded and put into shipping containers. Maybe they’ll be hauled by train over the Rockies and Sierras and put into a China-bound container ship, or perhaps they’ll head to foundries in the United States or Europe. And that’s it— two more cars reenter the food chain.
For the complete story of the ’91 Civic Si’s 11 weeks as a parts donor, go here.
For the ’94 Camry XLE’s saga, go here.

13-71-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-01-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-02-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-03-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-04-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-08-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-09-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-11-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-13-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-15-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-17-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-20-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-21-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-23-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-30-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-32-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01-01-UPAP_Week1- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01-11-UPAP_Week1- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01-21-UPAP_Week1- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02-11-UPAP_Week2- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02-16-UPAP_Week2- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02-25-UPAP_Week2- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02-32-UPAP_Week2- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02-43-UPAP_Week2- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03-32-UPAP_Week3- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03-39-UPAP_Week3- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04-03-UPAP_Week4- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05-19-UPAP_Week5- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05-29-UPAP_Week5- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05-31-UPAP_Week5- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05-36-UPAP_Week5- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06-04-UPAP_Week6- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06-05-UPAP_Week6- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06-27-UPAP_Week6- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06-28-UPAP_Week6- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07-13-UPAP_Week7- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07-22-UPAP_Week7- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08-01-UPAP_Week8- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08-06-UPAP_Week8- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08-17-UPAP_Week8- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08-30-UPAP_Week8- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10-33-UPAP_Week10- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11-01-UPAP_Week11- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11-17-UPAP_Week11- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11-18-UPAP_Week11- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11-38-UPAP_Week11- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12-UPAP-Week12- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-01-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-07-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-13-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-20-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-25-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-26-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-38-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-41-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-42-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-49-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-52-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-56-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-59-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-63-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-68-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13-69-UPAP_Crushing- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 00-00-UPAP_Story-Top 22 - 1978 Chrysler Cordoba Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Corinthian Leather' Greden 21 - Chrysler Cordoba Corinthian Leather Bench Seat - Picture courtesy of Phillip 'Personal Luxury' Greden 00-33-UPAP_Initial_Visit- Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

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Because You Grab This Stuff While You Can: Junkyard Integra Donates Brakes For My Civic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/because-you-grab-this-stuff-while-you-can-junkyard-integra-donates-brakes-for-my-civic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/because-you-grab-this-stuff-while-you-can-junkyard-integra-donates-brakes-for-my-civic/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 15:30:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=468195 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 […]

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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.
So, I went back the next day with tools and Rich, team captain of the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-engined Renault 4CV LeMons team.
The junkyard had only been open for about three total hours between the last time I’d seen the Integra and our return to grab parts, but some Civic “tuners” had already torn the crap out of the front suspension and brakes in order to pull… well, I’m not sure what. Somehow, they missed this fart-can custom Magnaflow exhaust, though.
We had to remove the exhaust to get to the rear brake parts I needed. Here’s Rich huffing some well-aged hydrocarbon residue.
The reason the crew who destroyed the stuff on the front of the car hadn’t done the same to the rear was that the rear wheels were held on with those maddening security lug nuts.
Experienced junkyard crawlers know lots of ways to defeat those wheel locks. First, we tried Vise-Grips, which didn’t work.
Then Rich scrounged up a tire iron and pounded it into the lock. That worked, but it was a lot of work to turn the things.
Another approach is to clamp the Vise-Grips inside the hollow part of the lock…
…and then jam the tire iron through the pliers and twist. This worked well.
Success!
Swapping an Integra rear disc setup onto a drum-equipped Civic is a pure bolt-on, but you need the complete trailing arm assemblies from the Integra.
You also need the disc-specific parking-brake cable assemblies, so I volunteered to brave the biohazardous interior to begin that process.
Hondas of this era are very easy to dismantle; almost every component is made to be accessible and Honda used high-quality fasteners throughout their cars. A cordless impact made removal of the trailing arms, control arms, and everything else take a total of maybe 20 minutes.
I left the control arms attached to the trailing arms, even though they’re identical to the Civic units, because sometimes junkyards will just throw in all the attached stuff when you buy major suspension components. Such was not the case at this yard, so I saved a few bucks by removing the parts I didn’t need while at the counter.
Even though aftermarket sway bars are cheap and plentiful, I figured the factory stuff is worth having. My Civic doesn’t have a rear swaybar, so even this pencil-thin one should bring it up to Integra standards.
For $150 or so, I now have everything I need to Integra-ize (Integrate?) my Civic’s rear brakes. I still need to find Integra front brakes (the Civic has smaller rotors), which means I’ll need to pounce immediately when I see a suitable donor car. For now, more bulky Honda parts will be cluttering up my garage, right next to the Chrysler 318 TBI intake I keep stubbing my toes on. Ah, project backlogs!

16 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - Pulling 1994 Acura Integra Rear Trailing Arms - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Lexus SC400 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1994-lexus-sc400/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1994-lexus-sc400/#comments Sat, 22 Sep 2012 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460960 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. The early SCs were USDM-ized Toyota Soarers with either the Supra’s 3-liter 2JZ six or the 1UZ V8 from the Celsior/LS400. My ’97 LS400 has this […]

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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.
The early SCs were USDM-ized Toyota Soarers with either the Supra’s 3-liter 2JZ six or the 1UZ V8 from the Celsior/LS400.
My ’97 LS400 has this engine, and it’s smooooooth. It wasn’t incredibly powerful (just 256 horses), however, which was something of a weak point for the sporty-looking SC400.

Just like most other 15-plus-year-old German and Japanese high-end machines, when an SC gets a bit battered or develops some expensive mechanical problem, it just isn’t worth keeping alive. I see a lot more LSs than SCs in the self-service yards these days, but the SCs aren’t particularly rare in this context.

12 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1994 Lexus SC400 Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Elite http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1994-oldsmobile-ninety-eight-regency-elite/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1994-oldsmobile-ninety-eight-regency-elite/#comments Mon, 17 Sep 2012 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460177 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 […]

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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.
The Ninety-Eight Touring got the supercharged engine, while the Ninety-Eight Regency got seating for six passengers and extra-cushy Detroit luxury. The Regency Elite was, well, elite.
One glance tells you that this car would be an excellent machine for a 2,500-mile road trip.
I suspect that these door-mounted seat controls suffered from more than their share of electrical glitches, but they look cool.
Yes, rear drum brakes just six years before the dawn of the 21st century.
Front-wheel drive was actually a good idea for this sort of luxury machine, due to all the extra interior space you get, but it’s too bad GM didn’t see fit to make a version of this car with the Aurora-ized Northstar engine instead of the not-so-smooth Buick V6.
13 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1994 Oldsmobile 98 Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 “Prowler” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1994-mercury-cougar-xr7-prowler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1994-mercury-cougar-xr7-prowler/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428687 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. Other than a bunch of dudes who have named […]

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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.
Other than a bunch of dudes who have named their Mustang-based early Cougars “Da Prowler” on their websites, a 45-second painstaking Google search doesn’t turn up any reference to Prowler Cougars. The Standard Catalog makes no mention of a factory “Prowler package,” and the Special Edition Cougars site covers only Fox Cougars. Still, the lettering and spoiler look a little too professional to have been done by some guy with gold paint and a suitcase of Milwaukee’s Best; I’m guessing the Prowler XR7 was a dealer-installed setup.
This Cougar landed in a Denver wrecking yard in more or less fully-used-up condition.
Ford didn’t really think the XR7 would be stealing many sales from BMW, IRS or not, but drum brakes on a mid-90s car marketed as being at least somewhat sporty?
Still, it is a Prowler.
24 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 01 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 03 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 04 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 06 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 07 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 08 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 09 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 10 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 11 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 12 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 13 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 14 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 15 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 16 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 17 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 18 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 19 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 21 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 22 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden 23 - 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 Prowler Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Phillip 'Nash Kelvinator' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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1965 Impala Hell Project, Part 10: Fiat Hood Scoops, Endless Ribbon of Asphalt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/1965-impala-hell-project-part-10-fiat-hood-scoops-endless-ribbon-of-asphalt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/1965-impala-hell-project-part-10-fiat-hood-scoops-endless-ribbon-of-asphalt/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=408576 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 […]

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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.
The car was really starting to look the way I’d envisioned the project by this time, with random application of primer paint, greasy handprints, and road dirt giving it the proper finish, but I felt that was coming up a bit short in the jacked-up-street-racer portion of its image. I asked myself what a young Bill Clinton would have done to, say, a beater ’51 Olds Super in 1965 to impress the young ladies of his fevered Arkansas fantasies. The answer came immediately: Hood scoops!
I thought about going with one of J.C. Whitney’s fine selection of fiberglass scoops, but didn’t see one that really seemed right for the Impala. What I needed, I decided, was a pair of junkyard scoops, something made to mount on a flat surface without too much hassle. First-gen Toyota MR2s had pretty interesting square air-intake scoops, but Pick Your Part didn’t have many 8-year-old Toyotas on the yard in 1992. The choice was obvious: Fiat X1/9!
The X1/9 was a common sight in California self-service junkyards of the early 1990s; the little mid-engined Fiat (and, later, Bertone) had been quite popular during the Late Malaise Era. The plastic side scoops (which, if I recall correctly, were used for carburetor air intake and engine compartment cooling) mounted using two screws and required about 15 seconds apiece to remove from a junkyard specimen. Five bucks each from El Pulpo.
A few minutes’ work with a metal-cutting-blade-equipped Sawzall, two trapezoidal holes in the hood, a couple of screws per scoop, and I had hood scoops that had a vaguely ’64 GTO-ish look about them. I wish I had better photos of the installation, but one works with the photos one has on hand.
The scoops were “functional” in that they weren’t blocked off, but they simply directed air downward, into the engine compartment. I thought about rigging up a cold-air intake for the carburetor, fed by dryer hose to the scoops, but the scoops had square outlets and I couldn’t figure out an easy way to route the hoses so that they’d have enough slack to allow the hood to open. Anyway, they looked good; here’s a view of the back side of the scoops from the driver’s seat, while rumbling through the Fruitvale BART Station parking lot in East Oakland.
By early 1993, I was living in East Oakland, near the intersection of Seminary and MacArthur. This meant that I spent a lot of time driving up Seminary from the Nimitz Freeway, and I shot quite a few Seminary Avenue photos out the window of the Impala during this period. Here’s what the scene in this photograph of Seminary near Foothill looks like today.
The crazy clown face on this long-boarded-up candy store on Seminary was the stuff of nightmares.
Having grown up on an island just off the “coast” of Oakland, I was quite comfortable living in the home of Jack London and Gertrude Stein. Unfortunately, the early 1990s weren’t the best time to be living near Seminary and MacArthur; gun battles over prime crack-dealing turf broke out, on what seemed like a nightly basis, within a few blocks of the crowded slacker house I was renting. First you’d hear a lot of shouting, followed by one or two lone gunshots, followed by a couple of minutes of a half-dozen combatants spraying bullets, followed by screeching tires… and then, much later, ambulance sirens.
The Impala seemed properly apocalyptic for this environment, and it seemed to inspire respect in the ‘hood. Other than the occasional kid yelling “HOOPTIE! HOOPTIE!” as I drove by, nobody in East Oakland seemed to notice my car.
Most of my Bay Area friends were living in similarly rough neighborhoods across the Bay in San Francisco at the time, and the Impala turned out to be admirably suited for climbing SF’s steep hills and squeezing into tight parking spaces. Perhaps because so many mid-60s big Chevrolets were sold to police departments and taxi companies, GM designed the car with a very tight turning radius. As an added bonus, the hordes of San Francisco smash-window-grab-glovebox-change thieves stayed away from my car when it spent nights parked in the Lower Haight or Western Addition. Strangely, my 28-year-old sedan had turned out to be an extremely practical daily driver for a Generation X slacker on a tight budget (had gas prices been higher at the time, of course, it wouldn’t have worked out so well for me).
Life was pretty good at this time; I had a good car, I had found a way to keep office-temp jobs from driving me too crazy, and I’d found a set of housemates that didn’t make me feel like doing murder every few hours. Here’s a photograph from an early-1993 party we threw, with a “disreputable characters” theme for participants. That’s me on the left, dressed as a Lodi meth dealer. The other costumes were, left to right (if my memory isn’t too faded after 18 years): a crooked real-estate hustler from Oklahoma City, a Ponzi-scheme operator from Pittsburgh, an Earlimart junior-high dropout who’d just scratched her rival’s eyes out in the Dairy Queen parking lot, and a Talahassee strip-club owner.
Since I was doing so much driving in sketchy neighborhoods full of Olde English 800-fortified drivers in mechanically-challenged Buick Electras, I became quite conscious of my car’s difficult-to-see urban-camouflage finish. With visions of being T-boned by some bleary-eyed Chrysler Newport driver, I decided to channel the spirit of Ralph Nader and install side marker lights and more visible front turn signals on the car. I picked some lights off of Japanese subcompacts and rigged them up on the Impala; I believe this marker light— used here as a turn signal light, mounted above the headlight— came from an early-70s Datsun 1200.
For the rear flanks, I used the little square marker lights from a late-1960s Toyota Corona. A ’69 Corona sedan was my first car, and I never forgot those goofy square marker lights.
My sister went to China for a few weeks and brought back this tasseled Mao Zedong mirror icon for me; Young Mao on one side, Old Mao on the other. It seemed just the decoration for my car.
Of course, there was always the chance that some enraged survivor of the Three Terrible Years would flip out upon seeing my Mao icon, but it never happened.
Likewise, no fanatical Richard Nixon zealot ever snapped at the sight of my Tricky Dick hood ornament (in a later episode, we’ll see what happened when I drove my Nixon-ornamented Impala to Nixon’s birthplace on the day after his death in 1994).
It was fun driving the Impala to temp jobs and ironic Generation X parties, but the open road was where the car really belonged.
Even though most folks had gone to CDs for in-car music by the early 1990s, my tunes collection was all on cassette at the time. The Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head was on extremely heavy rotation for me in 1993, as were several road-trip mix tapes I created around this time; here’s my long digression on the subject.
Even though I’d left Orange County to return to my homeland 430 miles to the north a couple years back, I kept returning to visit friends behind the Orange Curtain. During 1992-1993, it was rare that more than two months passed between Impala trips down I-5.
Mostly I went by myself, but you’ve always got a pool of quality traveling companions when you’re hanging around underemployed Generation X types. Yes, that’s a taxi-fare list sticker on the rear side window; I have no recollection of where it came from.
With no air conditioning in the car, the best time to drive through the Central Valley in summer is late at night.
How many cars today have room for the driver and two sleeping passengers in the front seat? I think it’s time for the automakers to de-clutter their vehicle interiors!
The first beer after an all-night drive is always most welcome, although only dire slacker poverty could make a 40-dog of King Cobra seem like a good choice. Shudder.
The whole brigade of couch-surfing slackers would join the party when the Impala rolled into Santa Ana. Here’s a future Ivy League professor contemplating what looked like a downward-spiral future of office-temp days and King Cobra evenings… and, given our current economic conditions, she might be looking down the barrel of a similar future today.
We paid a visit to my steel sculpture, entitled “The Electric Man,” (much enlarged after my departure from UCI by artist Lars Israelson) in the Irvine Meadows West sculpture garden.
What’s that I’m standing on?
It’s the Impala’s original 283 block, now used as ballast to keep the Electric Man from tipping over. Sadly, drunken UCI frat boys kept climbing the sculpture in later years, and lawsuit-fearing university officials had it torn down and scrapped.
After a day or two down south, it’s time to pack up the gear and point the Impala’s snout north.
Palm trees and smog.
And, on closer view, a billboard hawking the execrable ’93 Pontiac Grand Am.
Goodbye, land of excellent tacos al pastor and junkyards bigger than Disneyland!
The Glendale Boulevard overpass over I-5 in Los Angeles is my all-time favorite freeway overpass in the whole world.
But the real I-5 experience starts once you get out of the Grapevine and into the Central Valley. Then you watch the number of miles to San Francisco get smaller as the cotton fields and almond orchards go by.
As Tower of Power says, Back To Oakland. Next up: getting on Nixon’s posthumous Enemies List.

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Down On The Oakland Street, 1994: Before Taurus Beaters Were Cheap Enough http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-oakland-street-1994-before-taurus-beaters-were-cheap-enough/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-oakland-street-1994-before-taurus-beaters-were-cheap-enough/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2011 13:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=408487 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 […]

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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.
I shot this panoramic photograph out the window of my Impala in early 1994, just south of the Nimitz Freeway on High Street. That spot looks much different now, thanks to a new onramp configuration and Shell station upgrade, and you won’t see dudes hauling a pile of crap on the roof of a Malaise Era Torino wagon any more; look for Tempos and Tauruses in that role today.

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And the Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-winner-is-20/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/and-the-winner-is-20/#comments Sun, 14 Aug 2011 17:44:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407162 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, […]

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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.
Things weren’t always so rosy for Hong Norrth (formerly known as Hong Norr). They campaigned this reliability-challenged CRX for a couple of years, winning the Heroic Fix trophy for performing a probably-never-will-be-topped record five engine swaps during the course of a single race weekend. The Honda was a bit quicker than their MX-3, but the Mazda keeps all its connecting rods inside the engine.
This bunch has become the team to beat in the ’11 LeMons season. Congratulations, Hong Norrth!

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And the Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/and-the-winner-is-12/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/and-the-winner-is-12/#comments Mon, 23 May 2011 03:33:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395849 The temperature soared well into the 90s today, causing fearful mechanical carnage among the cars that had survived the first session of the 2011 ‘Shine Country Classic in South Carolina. Through all the busted engine blocks and vaporized head gaskets, one Screamin’ Chicken-bedecked Mazda just kept blasting out fast lap after fast lap, padding its […]

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The temperature soared well into the 90s today, causing fearful mechanical carnage among the cars that had survived the first session of the 2011 ‘Shine Country Classic in South Carolina. Through all the busted engine blocks and vaporized head gaskets, one Screamin’ Chicken-bedecked Mazda just kept blasting out fast lap after fast lap, padding its lead and avoiding even a hint of a black flag. In the end, the Hong Norrth 1994 Mazda MX-3 took the checkered flag with a dominating 12-lap cushion separating it from the second-place car (the Team SOB VW Golf, a perennial South Region contender that’s way overdue for a LeMons win on laps).

Just goes to show: ditch your head-gasket-frying CRX (as Hong Norrth did this year) and get a Mazda, start winning LeMons races. Two wins so far this season, which gives the team the early lead in the national LeMons points competition. Congratulations, Hong Norrth!

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Southern Discomfort LeMons: And The Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/southern-discomfort-lemons-and-the-winner-is/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/southern-discomfort-lemons-and-the-winner-is/#comments Mon, 21 Feb 2011 03:56:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=384497 Plenty of Mazdas (including the Protege, Miata, RX-7, and— depending on how strictly you define a Mazda— Ford Probe) have taken the win on laps at a 24 Hours of LeMons event, so the fact that the Hong Norrth 1994 MX-3 wore Mazda badges didn’t shock anyone. No, what shocked everyone was the crazy series […]

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Plenty of Mazdas (including the Protege, Miata, RX-7, and— depending on how strictly you define a Mazda— Ford Probe) have taken the win on laps at a 24 Hours of LeMons event, so the fact that the Hong Norrth 1994 MX-3 wore Mazda badges didn’t shock anyone. No, what shocked everyone was the crazy series of lead changes during the race’s last hour, with a Saab 900 Turbo, BMW 325i, and Honda Prelude slugging it out with the Mazda for the checkered flag.

With less than an hour to go and a massive 20-lap lead, it appeared that the RBankRacing Saab team was ready to start clearing space for their second LeMons overall-win trophy… but then the transmission failed. The Southern Region 2010 season champion Magnum P.U. Prelude took the lead for a time, but soon the race became a battle between the Hong Norrth MX-3 and the Road Warriors’ “Falcon XB” E30. The Mazda was a bit quicker around the Carolina Motorsports Park short course than the BMW, but its fuel tank was nearly empty and the Hong Norrth driver had to take it easy on the throttle to make the juice last until the checkered flag; the Road Warriors closed the gap to just under a lap but ran out of time. Congratulations, Hong Norrth!

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