By on February 12, 2014

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! (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2014

09 - 1989 Sterling 827 SLi Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen you find a Jensen Interceptor in one row and a Maserati Biturbo Spyder in the next row at a Los Angeles self-service wrecking yard, you can count on finding another weird import not far away. Sure enough, here’s a Sterling, a rare reminder of the short-lived Austin-Rover-Honda experiment of the late 1980s. (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2013

18 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo, out of the entire series of Junkyard Finds, which goes back three years and includes more than 600 posts, which vehicle has attracted the most readers? Strangely, it’s this 1987 Dodge Raider, which I shot in a Denver yard about a year ago. Why? Perhaps fans of the rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero are especially obsessed devoted, to a degree that the rest of us (I’m sure Raider/Montero/Pajero fans have a derisive nickname for us) will never understand. Anyway, here is exactly the second Raider I’ve seen in a wrecking yard since the start of this series; I found this little gold devil during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area last week. (Read More…)

By on December 5, 2013

16 - 1988 Dodge Colt Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWe see the occasional Colt hatchback in this series— say, this ’84 Plymouth Colt Turbo or this ’88 Dodge Colt hatchback— but the Colt sedan is stop-the-presses rare by Junkyard Find standards. Chrysler called this car the Premier, and it’s full of unusual-for-a-badge-engineered-econobox options. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2013

01 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe haven’t seen many Daewoo products in this series— in fact, just this ’00 Nubira wagon has made the cut, out of all the expired Lanoses and Leganzas I see— but there was a time when The General saw fit to sell a Pontiac-badged, Opel-based Daewoo LeMans next to its Chevrolet-badged Suzuki Cultus and Geo-badged Toyota Sprinter and Isuzu Gemini. The 1988-93 Pontiac LeMans never was a common sight on American roads, and its iffy reliability and plummeting resale value sent most of them onward via the Great Steel Factory In the Sky by the late 1990s. Still, someone has to win the lottery, and some Daewoontiacs have to survive on the street for as long as Grandpa’s Plymouth Valiant hung on to life. Here’s a miracle LeMans I found at a California self-serve wrecking yard a few weeks back. (Read More…)

By on October 21, 2013

27 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn my travels as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, I spend a lot of time in bottom-end rental cars. Sometimes I get press cars and write about them on these trips, but that’s usually more of a hassle than it’s worth. For about 15 four-day race weekends a year (plus a few vacation trips here and there) I’m in a Dodge Avenger, Nissan Altima, Ford Focus, or other rental-fleet favorite. 2013 is a year of Wisconsin visits for me; first, I went to my wife’s Milwaukee high-school reunion with a ’13 Jaguar XJL Portfolio, then I spent nine days in Door County with a rental ’12 Sonic, and next month I’ll be at the Chubba Cheddar Enduro at Road America with a ’14 Mitubishi Evo. The Sonic made an unexpectedly strong impression on me in August, so let’s see what life with Chevy’s little Daewoo is like. (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2013

11 - 1987 Plymouth Horizon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler did pretty well selling Mitsubishi-derived products in North America, but the only platform from their European operations that was a hit over here was the Simca-based Omnirizon. These cars had a lengthy production run and you still see a fair number in wrecking yards these days; in this series so far, we’ve had this ’78 Horizon, this ’83 Dodge Rampage Prospector, this ’84 Turismo, this ’85 Shelby Charger, this ’86 Omni, and this this Shelby-ized ’86 Omni GLH. I’d really like to find a final-year-of-production 1990 model Omnirizon, but so far this ’87 is the newest example I’ve seen in the wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2013

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

By pure happenstance I ended up with an Elantra GT immediately after reviewing the 2014 Kia Forte sedan. As I said last week in the Forte review, the Elantra and Forte are related, but this isn’t a case of Korean badge engineering. It’s far more complicated. The Forte is the new kid on the block while the Elantra has been around for a few years. At this stage in life, Hyundai is trying to inject vitality into the Elantra name by adding new models. First we got the four-door sedan, then a two-door coupé followed by the Veloster which is just a four-door hatchback Elantra (yes, I know Hyundai calls it a three-door, but I know better). If you’re confused by door counts, the new Elantra GT is a five-door. Say what?

(Read More…)

By on July 4, 2013

10 - 1998 Cadillac Catera Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Cadillac Catera, a rebadged Opel Omega that was supposed to entice car shoppers about 50 years younger than the typical (non-Escalade) Cadillac buyer of the time, disappeared from the streets of North America without leaving much of a trace. Sufficient Cateras remain, however, to ensure that examples will show up in wrecking yards from time to time; in this series, we’ve seen this ’97, this ’98, and now today’s find. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2013

11 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYesterday, we admired this El Camino-ized Geo Metro, which probably got all of you wondering about the badge-engineered Suzuki Cultus that The General sold before the Geo marque existed. Wonder no more— here’s a genuine Chevy Sprint awaiting consumption by The Crusher! (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2013

Unless there’s a super-rare find that requires immediate action or it’s half-price day, I usually avoid hitting Denver junkyards when it’s snowing and/or below freezing out. Thanks to the magic of high altitude, it feels more like December than late April here… but checking the online inventory at my local self-service yard revealed a potential engine-donor for my ’41 Plymouth project. Disregard the snow, pack up the tools! (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2013

Buick’s been on a roll this year, their sales are up and their owner demographics are younger than they have been in recent memory. The cynic in my says that’s because half their clientele died of old age, but it has more to do with their product portfolio. Say what? Yep, it’s true, the brand I wrote off for dead last decade is targeting younger buyers with designs imported from Europe and finding sales success. The Verano turbo shattered my preconceptions, but can Buick do it again? A brown Encore arrived one rainy morning to see if it was possible. (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2012

There was a time, when American truck shoppers were willing to tolerate the shame of driving small pickups, when the members of the Detroit Big Three couldn’t/wouldn’t build their own and thus sold rebadged Japanese trucks. GM had the Isuzu-built Chevy LUV, Ford had the Mazda-built Ford Courier, and Chrysler had various flavors of the Mitsubishi Forte aka Mighty Max. In 1982, you could get your Forte as a Mighty Max, a Plymouth Arrow, or a Dodge Ram 50. Though you could buy the Ram 50 until 1986, examples of this truck are very rare these days. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on December 4, 2012

All right, we saw one of the rarest examples of Detroito-Japanese badge-engineering of the 1980s in Sunday’s Junkyard Find— a Chrysler/Mitsubishi truck— and today we’re going to look at GM/Isuzu truck that’s a bit less uncommon (but still not something you see every day): a Chevy LUV wearing its original Isuzu badging. (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2012

Remember the Raider? No, you don’t. Nobody remembers the Raider, because this one that I found yesterday at a self-service wrecking yard near Denver was the only Raider Dodge ever sold. (Read More…)

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