By on October 10, 2016

1983 Dodge Ram 50 in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Small pickups sold pretty well in the United States during the Malaise Era, and Ford and GM cashed in by importing and rebadging Mazda and Isuzu trucks, respectively. Chrysler, late to the party, turned to longtime partner Mitsubishi and began bringing in first-generation Forte pickups, starting in the 1979 model year.

Here’s a Dodge-badged version I found last week in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

1996 Isuzu Oasis in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

One of the best things about haunting high-inventory-turnover self-service junkyards is finding really rare vehicles. Sometimes those ultra-rare machines are ancient European cars nobody remembers, sometimes they are commonplace cars with options nobody ordered, and sometimes they are obscure imported minivans that disappeared without a trace.

Today’s Junkyard Find is the third type, with a bewildering badge-engineering subplot that made sense to about a half-dozen suits in Japan. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2016

1990 Geo Storm in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Storm was the Geo-ized American-market version of the 1990-1993 Isuzu Gemini Coupe, and the GSi version was cheaper and more powerful than most of its sport-compact competition of the era. Most of them seemed to come in bright yellow paint, and most of them were crushed before they hit their tenth birthday. Still, some of them survived as long as any Civic Si or Sentra SE-R.

Here’s one that I found in a Denver-area self-service yard last year. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2016

1988 Mitsubishi Precis in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Hyundai Excel had a Mitsubishi engine, and so some obscure tenet of badge engineering mandated a Mitsubishi-branded Excel so it might drive on the same roads as Plymouth-branded Mitsubishis.

This was the Mitsubishi Precis, a car that was so stunningly bad and such a poor seller that this one is the first and only example I have ever seen in all my years of crawling through wrecking yards.

That makes it one of the rarest cars … in the world. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2016

1992 Geo Metro Convertible in California Junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Geo Metro, a Suzuki Cultus imported by GM, came after the Chevrolet Sprint version of the Cultus but before GM axed the Geo brand and started selling Chevrolet Metros, which sold in respectable numbers during its 1989-1997 run.

There was a convertible version of the Metro, which allowed thin-walleted drivers to enjoy open-air driving without having to take a Sawzall to a 20-year-old Corolla, and I’ve found one of the few remaining ones at a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2016

1980 Plymouth Arrow in California Junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Chrysler imported and rebadged quite an assortment of Mitsubishis during the gloomy years of the Malaise Era, and we have seen a good sampling of those cars in this series so far. There was the Mitsubishi Colt Galant aka Dodge Colt, the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda aka Plymouth Sapporo/Dodge Challenger, and the Mitsubishi Mirage aka Plymouth Champ, among others.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste aka Plymouth Arrow was never a big seller, but this one managed to outlive nearly all of its brethren, only washing up at this Northern California self-service yard after 36 years. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2016

1987 Dodge Raider in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The Dodge Raider was a transparently badge-engineered first-gen Mitsubishi Montero (known as the Pajero in much of the world), available in the United States for just the 1987-89 model years. The Montero wasn’t a big seller and its Raider sibling was a rare sight even in the late 1980s. I find the more obscure Chrysler-badged Mitsubishis fascinating, so I photograph every Raider I see in the junkyard.

We have seen a Ford product and a GM product in this series so far this week, so we’ll finish it up with a Chrysler(-badged) product. (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2016

1992 Pontiac LeMans sedan RH front quarter in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

General Motors brought Opel Kadetts into the United States via several routes over the years. They came from Germany and were badged as Opels at first, Isuzu built “Buick Opels” a bit later, then Isuzu dealers sold them as I-Marks (the Chevette was also a Kadett sibling, but at least it was American-built). By the late 1980s, the Kadett’s American cousin was the Daewoo LeMans, a crappily-built Korean front-wheel-drive miserybox based on the Kadett E. Few were sold, and nearly all of those were three-door hatchback versions.

Here’s an exceptionally rare LeMans sedan, from the next-to-last year of American-market sales, that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on December 23, 2015

18 - 1992 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Imagine it’s 1992 and you’re shopping for a sporty convertible: Do you get an Australian-built front-wheel-drive Mazda based on the 323 … or do you get a Miata?

Exactly. (Read More…)

By on December 16, 2015

08 - 1995 Eagle Summit in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

It’s hard to keep track of all the twists and turns of the drama involving Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and American Motors vehicles and branding during the last quarter of the 20th century — and that’s without even bringing Rootes Group stuff into the cast of characters.

The Eagle Summit Wagon, which was a left-hand-drive Mitsubishi RVR slapped with the badges of a marque named for a long-defunct AMC vehicle and not much related to the Mirage-based Eagle Summit car, is a good example of an obscure Mitsu-Chrysler sold just a few years before a bunch of Daimler DNA got added to the Chrysler genome.

We saw this ’93 Eagle Summit FWD Wagon a couple of years back, and now here’s an AWD example that I spotted in Denver last month. (Read More…)

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