Tag: Denver

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 June 6, 2016

1985 Buick Riviera in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

In 1979, the Riviera moved onto the front-wheel-drive Toronado/Eldorado platform, continuing the tradition of rococo Riviera personal luxury coupes that started back in 1963. This version of the Riviera was built through the 1985 model year, so we’re looking at the very last year of the V8 Riviera in this weathered Denver car. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

1981 Toyota Corolla SR5 Coupe in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

These days, plenty of tuner kids want to get a E70 Corolla and turn it into a sick drift machine … but then reality sets in and they end up commuting to work in a 15-year-old Kia Rio instead. Meanwhile, the abandoned drift-project TE72 wagons become 24 Hours of LeMons cars, if they’re lucky, and the rusty SR-5s just get scrapped once something costing more than $19 breaks.

This ’81 Corolla two-door SR-5 liftback gave its all in the service of its owners, and now it awaits parts buyers in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2016

1969 Chevrolet Van in Colorado Wrecking Yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For most of the 1960s, the forward-control, mid-engined small van, with the driver sitting atop the front axle and crowded against the door by an engine-containing box known as the “doghouse,” was quite popular in the United States. These things were bouncy, ill-handling, dangerous steel boxes, but they could haul absurd loads with their 1904-technology solid axles and leaf springs all the way around and were easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

Nearly all these vans were used up or crashed decades ago, but xillion-mile survivors still trickle into wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a rare long-wheelbase late-’60s ChevyVan that I spotted in Denver last week. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2016

1982 Dodge Aries Wagon in Colorado Wrecking Yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin

Much as members of the Mopar Jihad don’t want to admit it, Chrysler took a bailout — in the form of government-backed loans — from Uncle Sam in 1979. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved, because the then-futuristic K-Cars that Chrysler developed out of desperation turned out to be both smash sales hits and the basis for most cars put out by Chrysler for the following decade.

The K Family Tree had many branches, but only the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron, and Dodge 400 were true K-Cars. You won’t see many of the original Ks these days, but the patient junkyard crawler will find a rare survivor now and then.

Here’s an early Aries wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

1989 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado Wrecking Yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The N Platform-based 1985-1991 Pontiac Grand Am was sibling to such rapidly depreciating semi-sporty-looking coupes as the Buick Somerset and Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, and there was a time when they were common sights on American roads.

Now most of them are gone, but this Iron Duke-powered, 5-speed-equipped rusty survivor showed up recently at a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2016

00 - 1990 Cadillac Allante in ColoradoJunkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Yes, from the Volaré to the Troféo, Detroit marketers of the 1970s and 1980s knew that an accent in the car’s name meant “no need to buy one-a-them fancy imports with no pushrods in the engine, we got your class right here!” to American car shoppers. Unfortunately for General Motors, the Cadillac Allanté cost much more to make than those other accented cars, what with flying the bodies (on customized Boeing 747s) between the Pininfarina shop in Italy and the Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class-grade price tag on the Allanté scared off most buyers.

That makes this car one of those Holy Grail Junkyard Finds, so it’s a stop-the-presses moment when I find one. Here’s a snazzy gold ’90 I spotted over the winter in a Denver yard. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2016

1974 Toyota Land Cruiser in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Land Cruiser has been around since the Sengoku Period (OK, since 1951), and all varieties of this truck tend to have plenty of obsessively devoted single-interest fanatics here in Colorado. You’ll see the occasional FJ60 Land Cruiser in junkyards here, and I’ve even seen a well-stripped FJ40 in a Denver yard. Today’s well-thrashed Junkyard Find is the first example of an FJ55 Land Cruiser I’ve found. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2016

1989 Mercury Sable in Colorado junkyard, front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The first-generation Mercury Sable, like its revolutionary Ford Taurus sibling, was a smash sales hit. Then, well, the plastic in those cool-looking “lightbar” grilles yellowed after a few years, sales of later Sables declined, and then the 1986-1991 Sables were just about all gone. I don’t see many first-gen Sables at U-Yank-It yards these days, though they were not uncommon just a few years ago.

Here is an appliance-white ’89 that I found in a Denver yard recently. (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2016

1980 Toyota Corona in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - © 2016 Murilee Martin

I have an extensive formative history with the 1965-70 (third-generation) Toyota Corona, and so I photograph them whenever I find them in junkyards. So far in this series, prior to today, we’ve seen this ’66 sedan, this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, and this ’70 coupe. Much harder to find in the United States is the 1979-83 Corona, which was replaced by the Camry in the U.S. market for the 1983 model year.

Here’s an extremely rare 1980 Corona liftback that I spotted in Denver last month. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2016

1982 Toyota Starlet in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - © 2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Starlet was sold in the United States for the 1981 through 1984 model years, though not in large numbers. It was rock-and-stick simple, had rear-wheel drive and an unkillable pushrod engine, and it got a (claimed) 54 highway mpg. But it was tiny and cramped even by Miserable Econobox standards and had to compete with the Corolla Tercel on the very same showroom floors. Since the Tercel was cheaper, roomier, more powerful (everything is relative!), and generally more modern, American Starlets were rare to start with. They have become even more rare today, as generations of wild-eyed engine-swappers tripled Starlet horsepower and stuffed the handful of remaining examples (that didn’t succumb to rust) into concrete abutments and dragstrip K-barriers.

Here’s a Colorado ’82 that is as close to being completely used up as any vehicle I have ever seen in a wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2016

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, front 3/4 view, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The greatest Oldsmobile song of all time is Public Enemy’s 1987 masterpiece, “You’re Gonna Get Yours” (from all the many great Oldsmobile songs out there), but just what kind of Olds 98 was it that Chuck D used to get all those suckers to the side? I say it was the 1977-1984 tenth-generation 98, and here’s an example of a luxurious ’79 Regency Coupe, complete with landau roof and plenty of fake wood trim inside. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2016

1991 Subaru Loyale front in Colorado junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

I moved from California to Colorado in 2010, and the stereotype of the stony Subaru driver who snowboards/hikes/camps/rock-climbs, has some sort of retriever dog, and drinks super-hoppy craft beers turns out to be based on reality.

Everyone here drives Subarus — hell, even I have an Outback in the fleet — but we’re talking about the beat-to-hell, 15-to-30-year-old cars here, and not shiny new Crosstreks in the REI parking lot. Last week, I saw the perfect example of that type of Subaru in a Denver self-service yard: this rusty, crusty, 200,000-mile, Pleiades-badged Colorado veteran, which spent its long life driving to trailheads and brewpubs, is now set to donate its metals to the global commodities markets. (Read More…)

By on February 29, 2016

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera front RH view in California junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Cutlass name was applied to so many different Oldsmobiles that you could put together an all-day Cutlass Badging Trivia Challenge and have no shortage of material. By the middle-to-late 1980s, Cutlass had become something of a sub-marque for Oldsmobile, with the Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Calais, and Cutlass Supreme on different platforms and causing madness in subsequent generations of parts-counter guys. The Ciera (generally spelled “Sierra” by most owners, because what the hell is a Ciera?) achieved its greatest fame as the car driven by various bad guys in the excruciatingly Minnesotan film “Fargo.”

Here’s a Cutlass Ciera — a Brougham, no less — that I spotted in Denver last week. (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2016

00 - 1984 Ford Escort wagon in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The first North American Ford Escort went on sale for the 1981 model year; it was related to its Mark III Escort European counterpart but was more of a cousin than a sibling. It wasn’t a great car, but was such an improvement over its miserable Pinto predecessor that it flew off the showroom floors in great quantities. These cars were cheap and disposable, so nearly all of them disappeared during the 1990s.

I see quite a few of the Mazda 323/Kia Sephia-related second-gen Escorts in junkyards these days, but a genuine, early Escort wagon is nearly as rare as a numbers-matching Geo Prizm GSi today. Here’s a solid-looking ’84 wagon that I shot in Denver earlier this winter. (Read More…)

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