Tag: 2000s

By on February 11, 2014

14 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI admit I’ve got a sick fascination with luxury cars sold by companies not (at the time, in this market) known for luxury. There’s the Mitsubishi Diamante, of course, and the Mazda 929, and even the Volvo 262C Bertone (I’m still looking for a junked Daewoo Leganza, but either they don’t exist or— more likely— they fade into the junkyard background so perfectly that I never notice them). The Hyundai XG, well, that’s a perfect example of the “who’s laughing now?” phenomenon; just a decade ago, we all chortled at the idea of a Korean luxury sedan selling in the United States. Today, German and Japanese car-industry execs wake up screaming from Hyundai-themed nightmares. So, that makes today’s Junkyard Find of great historical significance (to me and maybe a dozen others). (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2013

Not many cars appear and disappear while leaving as little trace as did the Suzuki Aerio, which was sold in the United States for the 2002-2007 model years. Normally, I ignore such new cars when I’m wandering around the wrecking yards of Denver, but I’ll break out the camera when I find something of historical significance— for example, an example of the final year of the GM J-body’s 24-year run— or when I see a car that doesn’t seem to exist on the street any more. This Aerio is such a car. (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2012

It takes something really special about a 21st-century junkyard car to make me willing to include it in this series. The ’04 Pontiac Sunfire we saw recently was the last of the GM J Bodies, which gave it historical significance. The Chrysler “cloud cars” mostly just serve as crusher fodder… but this one is so amazingly horrible that I had no choice but to photograph it. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2012

Pontiac rolled with the Plastic Cladding Era about as far as it could, even as most other car manufacturers entered the 21st century in a de-cladifying mood. The Sunfire had cheerful molded plastic panels all over the place, but that isn’t enough to give this car the historical significance it needs to make it as a Junkyard Find. No, what made me pick up the camera when I saw this car is that the ’04 Sunfire is just about the last of the J Bodies, which makes it a close cousin to the Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro. (Read More…)

By on October 17, 2012

Last weekend, I rode a boxcar to Joliet, Illinois, with the rest of the 24 Hours of LeMons hobos and helped put on the third annual American Irony race. Traditionally, the justices of the LeMons Supreme Court travel around race-track grounds in some sort of Judgemobile appropriate to our exalted station, and this time we had the use of what turned out to be one of the greatest motor vehicles in the entire world: a 2008 Piaggio Ape (pronounced “ah-peh”) 50 Europe with just 21 miles on the clock. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2012

The SUV arms race has been over for a few years now, with four-ton, leather-lined, full-framed trucks no longer appearing to be viable as the middle-class commuter machines they were during the SUV-crazed 1990s and 2000s. Oh, sure, you can still buy the things, but Times Have Changed. If we are to draw a parallel between the Golden Age of the Muscle Car (during which Detroit slapped off-the-shelf luxury-car engines and $27 worth of scoops and graphics on midsize commuter cars and made crazy money) and the Golden Age of the Big-Ass SUV (during which Detroit slapped off-the-shelf pleather and Simu-Wood™ trim and $27 worth of badging on full-sized work-truck chassis and made crazy money), then we are now in the SUV equivalent of about 1976. If so, this means that, in another decade or two, nostalgia for Navigators and Escalades will kick in, just as it did for GTOs and Super Bees in about 1985, and— just as with muscle cars— the love of these absurd luxo-trucks will take on symbolic connotations of past glory, an era before nanny-state killjoys, and so on. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2012

Remember the Daewoo Nubira? No? Did you know that there was a wagon version? Even though production of the Nubira stopped just ten years ago, this car has all but disappeared from our consciousness. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2012

One thing I’ve noticed after decades of prowling high-turnover self-service wrecking yards is the increasing average age of junked Hyundais. The first-gen Excel started showing up in junkyards in large quantities when the cars were about five years old (i.e., the worst car available in North America during the second half of the 20th century), and by the mid-1990s they were all gone. These days, most of the Crusher-bound Hyundais I see are more like 15 years old, about halfway between the average age of junked Chryslers and junked Hondas. The Tiburon has been around since 1997, and this is perhaps the third one I’ve seen in this setting. (Read More…)

By on November 25, 2011

The Junkyard Find series is all about the interesting and uncommon stuff I find during my travels to wrecking yards in Colorado and California, but what kind of cars form the backdrop to the Peugeots, Merkurs, and ancient Detroit iron? The demographics of this population tend to shift over the decades; 20 years ago, the GM B body reigned supreme in the high-turnover self-service yards I tend to frequent, but there’s no doubt about the 21st Century’s current Junkyard King. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2011


As Detroit was skipping a decade or two of car R&D by concentrating on packing increasing numbers of 128-ouncer-ready cup holders and faux-wood trim into big trucks, it became necessary to make it clear to the targeted buyer demographics that these trucks really weren’t, you know, trucks. In fact, they were more about protection from street crime and potholes than anything else, which is where slapping Mercury badges on the Explorer and Oldsmobile badges on the Blazer came in. (Read More…)

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