By on May 5, 2017

tvr griffith

It’s exciting times for the independent British automaker. TVR, which reappeared on the automotive scene in 2013 after an absence of seven years, plans to unveil a production sports car in September.

Apparently, many TVR aficionados were itching for an opportunity to get their hands on a boutique vehicle from the low-volume automaker, money in hand. When the company showcased a prototype at a private event, hundreds ponied up deposits for a vehicle that might appear bearing a familiar name. (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2017

1976 MG MGB in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

During my 35 years of poking around in car graveyards, one thing has remained constant: MGBs keep showing up. Not in large numbers, but the rate at which these lovable-but-not-particularly-valuable British sports cars get discarded has remained about the same during that period. Here’s a purple model, from the darkest days of the British Leyland era, that I shot last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

1990 Land Rover Range Rover in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Denver drivers love their luxury SUVs, and European luxury vehicles tend to depreciate in a hurry. This means plenty of Land Rovers show up in the area’s big self-service wrecking yards. While this is good news for the several Coloradans who might be interested in finding a Rover V8 to drop into a homegrown MGB-GT V8, I don’t pay much attention to these trucks. IHC Scouts, sure, and maybe the occasional Jeep Cherokee get into this series, but I have walked right by hundreds of discarded British status-boxes and not paid much attention.

A Range Rover with 266,666 miles on the clock, though, is another story. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2016

2017 Jaguar lineup

Jaguar Land Rover’s brands are as British as crumpets and the Union Jack (ignore the fact that it’s owned by India’s Tata Motors), so concerns over Britain’s vote to leave the European Union should fall squarely on its tweed-covered shoulders.

The automaker is keeping a stiff upper lip, at least in public, with a spokesperson saying the company doesn’t plan to make changes to its strategy, Reuters reports.

A $1.34 billion assembly plant in Slovakia is going ahead as planned, said Jaguar Land Rover strategy director Adrian Hallmark, who called the Brexit a “short-term issue” during a news conference. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2015

00 - 1979 MG MGB in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

MGBs continue to show up in self-service wrecking yards, with another rubber-bumper Malaise Era example today. In my junkyard expeditions prior to today, I’ve photographed this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’77, this ’77, this ’79, and this ’79 with a Toyota 20R swap, and now we’ve got today’s Denver ’79.

(Read More…)

By on April 21, 2015

01 - Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost of these Junkyard Finds come from big chain-owned self-service wrecking yards that have fast inventory turnover and plenty of fresh cars at all times. This means that I’m going to see lots of Volvo 240s in California, lots of old Subarus in Colorado, and millions of acre-feet of Tauruses and Sables everywhere. Oddball high-end stuff shows up, too, like the occasional Maserati or every Jaguar XJ-S ever made, but you just aren’t going to see a Rolls-Royce in this type of yard… until now. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2015

hillmanhusky

I like the aesthetic properties of old British cars. The way they drive, leak fluids and operate on a sporadic basis is another matter.

(Read More…)

By on July 11, 2014

09 - 1979 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe low-value British or Italian sports car that sits in rough condition in a yard or driveway for decades, then takes that sad final journey to the local U-Wrench-It— it’s been a staple of the American self-service wrecking yard landscape for what seems like forever. The MGB and Fiat 124 Sport Spider are by far the most common examples of this breed, followed by the TR7, Alfa Romeo Spider, and the Triumph Spitfire. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’65, this ’67, and this ’75, and now we’re getting right to the end of the Spitfire’s 19-year production run with today’s ’79. (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2014

05 - 1967 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome old cars have managed to maintain a steady trickle of fresh examples into self-serve wrecking yards since I began crawling around in such yards, back in 1981 or so. The kings of this phenomenon are, of course, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider (in a few years of this series we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80), and the MGB (so far, this ’67, this ’71, this ’75, this ’79, and this ’79 with Toyota 20R power). The MGB’s British Leyland cousin, the Triumph Spitfire, has been a rarer but just-as-steady find for me; first this ’65 and then this ’75, and the prehistory of this series gives us this Spitfire-sibling ’67 GT6 as well. What these cars have in common is near-scrap value when in rough shape, respectable price tags when in nice condition, and a tendency to be hoarded by guys who plan— someday— to turn the former condition into the latter condition. Eventually, reality sets in and a car that sat in a driveway from the time of the Chowchilla Kidnapping until a few months ago takes its final trip. Here’s a rust-free, fairly complete, restorable early-ish Spitfire that I saw last month in a Northern California yard. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2014

For the first time since 1966, the United Kingdom’s automobile industry will likely build more cars than those built in France. Increasing domestic and export sales are expected to make 2013 a record year for car manufacturing, putting Great Britain in third place among car producing countries in Europe, behind Germany and Spain. UK car production is estimated to reach 1.55 million units, up from 1.47 million the previous year and 1.35 million in 2011. In contrast, French car production for 2013 is expected to fall to ~1.54 million units, down from 1.66 million in 2012 and 1.88 million the year before that. Some analysts and industry executives predict UK car production to hit 2 million by 2017 as investments to plants bear fruit.

(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 November 19, 2013

12 - 1965 Triumph Spitfire Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy far the most numerous British sports car in junkyards these days— and, in fact, for the last few decades— is the MGB. We’ve seen many of these cars in this series, but today’s find is just the second Junkyard Find Spitfire, after this ’75. The Spitfire had a long production run, 19 years total, but Spitfires just weren’t anywhere near as sturdy as their MGB cousins and most of the non-perfect examples got crushed long ago. Still, every so often a forgotten project gets evicted from a garage or back yard, and that’s probably what this happened to this battered ’65 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard last month. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2013

03 - 1967 MGB Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe MGB is not at all uncommon in American self-service wrecking yards these days— perhaps a bit less numerous than the Fiat 124 Sports Spider, but I still see a few Crusher-bound MGBs every year. I had an MGB-GT daily driver about 25 years ago, and so I’m very familiar with this car’s many drawbacks… but I still think the B was a pretty good car for its time, so it saddens me to see yet another doomed one. Here’s an early B that I spotted at a Denver self-service yard a few weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2013

06 - 1979 MGB Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinAs a former MGB commuter, I always feel a certain sadness when I see one of British Leyland’s underpowered little sports cars about to get eaten by The Crusher. The B was a surprisingly sturdy car of very simple construction, but sales were undermined by terrible build quality, a primitive pushrod engine, and electrical components made by the Prince of Darkness. These cars show up frequently in self-service wrecking yards, as abandoned project MGBs are expelled from driveways and back yards; we’ve seen this ’71, this ’75, and this Toyota-engined ’79 in this series, and today we’ll look at a very used-up ’79 that I spotted in a California yard. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2013

Land_Rover_Defender_front_20070518 (1)

Car and Driver scribe (and TTAC alum) Justin Berkowitz has penned an amazing feature about the U.S. Government’s campaign against grey market Land Rover Defenders.

(Read More…)

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