By 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…)
Remember this piece from the Honda Summer 2008 Hydrogen Collection? It was supposed to point the way to future of green fuel technology before the Tesla brought plug-in sex appeal down the ramp with their Roadster and, later on, the S, as well as the trend of compliance EVs from Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Kia.
But with sales of plug-in hybrids advancing far slower than originally expected regulators are taking another look at alternative ZEV powertrains.
Though they’re still behind major Asian car companies in the critical California market, and while they still do better in the rest of the country the three Detroit based automakers increased their share of that market by 1.3% for the first 9 months of the year. Overall new car sales in the state were up 12.9% while the Big Three were up 18.5%. California is the biggest market in the United States, accounting for about a tenth of all new car and light truck sales. GM, Ford and Chrysler combined for a 27.8% market share, compared to the 45.2% they earn nationally. (Read More…)
Since Willys/Kaiser/Jeep/AMC/Chrysler built the Wagoneer from Biblical times until ten minutes ago (actually 1963 through 1991), and I live in Jeep-centric Colorado, I see these things just about every time I visit a wrecking yard. Mostly, I don’t photograph them (unless I see an unusually late example, such as this ’89, or one resplendent in purple paint and tape stripes, like this ’81), but today’s Junkyard Find— spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard a few weeks ago— was just so incredibly Malaise-y that I felt compelled to document it in its final parking space. (Read More…)
In response to charges that it’s California electric bus building operation has been violating that state’s labor and minimum wage laws in the way it employs Chinese nationals, the company issued a statement saying that it is ”dedicated to ensuring that its employees are treated fairly” and that it would be hiring more American employees at its California electric bus factory. BYD explained that the Chinese nationals in question were engineers and experts that had been loaned by the parent company to transfer technology and train local employees and that they are not displacing any American workers. California labor officials had hit BYD with a $100,000 fine, charging that the company was paying its Chinese employees only $1.50/hr. The company is appealing that fine. BYD currently employs about 40 local workers at the plant. The state investigation was the result of charges by labor rights group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy of minimum wage and other labor violations. Last week, BYD had said that the group was spreading “misinformation”.
BYD is stepping up efforts to sell electric vehicles overseas. The California facility is intended to supply contracts for electric buses for the Los Angeles and Long Beach municipalities. In Europe, BYD’s electric buses are in trial service in a number of cities and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has ordered 35. The company plans to build those buses somewhere in Europe. ”We need to have around 100 sales in Europe to justify a plant and we believe that day is really near now,” Isbrand Ho, BYD Europe’s managing director, said in a statement. As yet no location has been chosen.
BYD electric buses have been tried out in Paris, Bremen, Bonn, Madrid, Barcelona, Salzburg, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Brussels and Budapest, and trials will begin in London as well. The electric bus is 12 meters (37 feet) long and is claimed to have a range of 250 kilometers (150 miles) in urban use, powered by lithium iron phosphate battery cells.
The state of California gave the Warren Buffet backed Chinese car company B.Y.D. almost $2 million in tax subsidies in 2010 to locate its North American headquarters in Los Angeles. Since then, the company has gotten contracts worth more than $40 million to build electric city buses for Los Angeles and Long Beach and it has said that it will be creating dozens of new jobs at a manufacturing plant in suburban LA. However, more than three years along, B.Y.D. is employing fewer than 40 workers in California and the company has now been fined almost $100,000 by the state for violating its minimum wage law for how it is paying the Chinese nationals it employs. According to the state, the car company employs at least 5 Chinese nationals here on temporary worker visas, and it apparently has been paying them not in dollars but rather in Chinese yuan and at a rate far below California’s $8.00 an hour minimum wage, the equivalent of $1.50/hr. (Read More…)
Since I’ve been haunting self-serve wrecking yards since the early 1980s, I’ve seen some patterns in the average age of various junkyard inhabitants. Detroit cars show up in large numbers after about 10-13 years on the road. Toyotas and Hondas need about 20 years. Off-brand Japanese stuff (e.g., Mitsubishis, Daihatsus, Suzukis) appear in under a decade. 1980s Hyundais started showing up in these yards when they were under five years of age, which is a terribleness record. Mercedes-Benz cars, however… well, the stuff they built in the early-to-middle 1970s is just now appearing in large numbers at U-Wrench-It. (Read More…)
First-gen Mazda RX-7s aren’t difficult to find in self-service wrecking yards (we just saw this ’80 with Flashdance-grade custom paint and this fairly solid ’85), and so most of them don’t make it into this series. During my recent trip to California for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race in history, I stopped at one of my favorite East Bay wrecking yards and found this utterly rust-free example of one of the few bright spots of the Malaise Era. (Read More…)
Analyzing data from Polk, Melissa Burden of the Detroit News reports that more than 35% of all new electric vehicle sales in the United States through June of this year have been in registered in the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan regions and that a majority of EVs are being sold in just five cities. Joining LA and San Francisco on the list where EVs are popular are the Seattle, Atlanta and New York City areas.
EV market share in California climbed from 0.4% to 1.1% year to date, with over 9,700 deliveries. “A lot of the manufacturers have targeted California for the launch of their electric vehicle product,” said Brian Maas, president of the California auto dealers’ association, said. “Our consumers are cutting-edge and early adopters in this area.” (Read More…)
After travelling the world, we come back to California today to check out which cars are the most popular here.
And I’ve got one word for you: Japan, Japan, Japan.
California too close for comfort? That’s ok because you can check out new car sales data for 176 additional countries and territories on my blog. Go on, you know you want to!
For the detail of what sells and what doesn’t in California, jump in below!
The successor to the incredibly successful Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant was the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré. These simple rear-wheel-drive cars sold fairly well, but for every Aspen or Volaré I see in high-turnover wrecking yards today, I find ten Darts and Valiants. Part of that reason is a short production run, part is (arguably) lower build quality, but I’m guessing the main reason is that Americans just didn’t love the F-body Chryslers the way they did the A-body. When a Valiant got sick (which wasn’t often), it got fixed; when a Volaré came down with some expensive problem, it got crushed. Now these things are almost nonexistent, but here’s a very rare Volaré Premier wagon I spotted in a California yard a few months back. (Read More…)
20 years ago, when junkyard parking lots were full of forward-control vans, full-sized GM sedans were as commonplace in self-serve wrecking yards as are Ford Tempos and Dodge Intrepids today. It seemed like the flow of Crusher-bound Impalas, 98s, and Electras would never stop… but that’s just what has happened, save for the occasional appearance of a car such as today’s Junkyard Find. (Read More…)
1979 was the first year for the Fox Platform Mustang, and Ford celebrated by grabbing the rights to show off their new machine at the 1979 Indianapolis 500. You could buy a street version of the Indy 500 Mustang pace car, and many did. Many others, a few years later, bought the galloping-horses-and-tape-stripes decal kit for their non-Pace Car Edition Mustangs. I’m pretty sure that this car— which I found in a California self-service yard— belongs in the latter group… but not completely sure. (Read More…)