By on September 18, 2017

2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo in California wrecking yard, RH view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The quantity of Chrysler PT Cruisers in the high-turnover self-service wrecking yards remained close to zero for the first decade after the car’s 2001 model year debut (while the Cruiser’s Neon cousins showed up in large quantities starting at about age five). For the first few years of our current decade, I’d see a sprinkling of discarded PT Cruisers… and then the floodgates burst in about 2014, with seemingly every U-Wrench-It yard in the country packed wall-to-wall with the things.

I have ignored them, but the minivan version of the SRT4 Neon seemed worth photographing. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

1984 Buick Century wagon in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Chrysler K-platform-based minivans debuted for the 1984 model year, marking the beginning of the end of the station wagon’s mainstream appeal in the United States; not many years later, SUVs would snare most of the potential wagon buyers who didn’t get minivans.

Here’s a Buick Century wagon from that decisive year, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

1977 Ford Pinto in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Ford sold more than three million Pintos during the 1971-1980 period, though most of those were 1974 and earlier models. By 1977, Corollas and Civics and Rabbits had taken a big bite out of Pinto sales, so these later cars are even more uncommon in junkyards than their older brethren. Not that Pintos are easy to find in your local U-Wrench-It yard; most of these cars were crushed long before the end of the 1990s.

Here’s a ’77 I spotted a few days ago in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2017

1977 Toyota Corolla in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Toyota Corolla, still on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, was a tremendous sales success in California. The cheapest model was the two-door post sedan, and these reliable commuters were seen everywhere in the Golden State well into the 1990s.

Nearly all are gone, but this ’77 stayed on its own four tires until age 40, finally wrapping up its long career in this San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

2003 Honda Civic GX in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The compressed natural gas-burning Honda Civic GX first appeared in the United States in 1998, for sale to fleet buyers, but individuals in California were able to buy Civic GXs soon after that. In spite of its extremely clean tailpipe emissions, few Californians opted to endure the hassle of trying to refuel the GX, and so these cars are very rare sights in the Golden State.

Here’s a crashed example I spotted a few weeks ago in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

1986 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Honda Civic, built from 1984 through the 1987 model year, was a tremendous sales success in the United States. In places where rust wasn’t a big problem, they lasted for decades, and they were fun to drive for such frugal machines.

Well, some of them were fun to drive; the fourth-gen Civics and CRXs with the 1500cc engines accelerated respectably by mid-1980s standard, but base-model 1300cc versions were on the miserable side. For that reason, few bought these cars, so this ’86 in a Denver self-service yard is an interesting Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2017

1979 Ford Mustang Notchback in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Fox Mustang replaced the much-reviled (but big-selling) Pinto-based Mustang II for the 1979 model year, and production continued through 1993 (or 2004, if you consider the Fox-based SN-95 platform to be a true Fox).

Today’s Junkyard Find, spotted in Denver, is a triple rarity: it’s a first-year Fox Mustang, it’s a notchback, and it has the 200-cubic-inch straight-six engine. Let’s take a look. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

1993 Dodge Colt in Arizona junkyard, hood - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Chrysler began importing Mitsubishi Colt Galants for the 1971 model year, and Mitsubishis bearing Dodge (or Plymouth) Colt badging streamed across the Pacific Ocean and into American dealerships for the following 23 years.

I spotted this vibrantly decorated ’93 model in a Phoenix self-serve yard earlier this month. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

1983 Cadillac Seville in Arizona wrecking yard, RH rear view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe first-generation Cadillac Seville was a sibling — or maybe first cousin — to the proletariat rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Nova, selling well while also cheapening the Cadillac brand. The second-generation Seville, introduced for the 1980 model year, moved to the Eldorado’s front-wheel-drive platform and gained a bold “bustleback” rear body design.

Here’s an example of a Bustleback Seville I spotted last week in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

1976 Audi 100LS in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Audi 100 was the car that made most Americans aware of the Audi brand for the first time. The 100 wasn’t particularly reliable in American hands, to put it mildly, and most examples were long gone by the time the 1980s came to a close.

Here’s a long-neglected ’76 that just showed up in a Colorado Springs self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2017

1991 Toyota Camry in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
When I poke through automotive graveyards in search of the rare and the interesting, I always take a look at late-1980s/early-1990s Toyota Camrys for the very rare All-Trac all-wheel-drive versions and extremely rare manual-transmission versions.

So rare that its existence in the wild is merely theoretical, however, is the V6-powered manual-transmission Camry… and I just found one in Denver. Let’s take a look! (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2017

1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26 in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Chevrolet Beretta and its sedan sibling, the Chevrolet Corsica, were built for the 1987 through 1996 model years. Today, both models are nearly as forgotten as the wretched Celebrity, though you’ll still see the occasional example on the street today (usually sporting at least one space-saver spare tire).

Here’s a last-year-of-production Beretta — outfitted with the high-performance Z26 package — spotted in a Phoenix yard a few months back. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

00-1978-toyota-dolphin-rv-in-colorado-wrecking-yard-photograph-by-murilee-martin
The third-generation Toyota Hilux pickup (called the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) was a legend of reliability and frugality well into our current century, and plenty of small motorhomes were built on its sturdy platform. You’ll still see them occasionally today, but the skin-crawling ickiness of tenth-owner RVs tends to mean the end comes quickly when they wear out. Here’s one that took nearly 40 years to reach that point, now residing in The Final Campground: a self-service wrecking yard near Denver. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For as long as I have been poking around in American automobile graveyards (35 years), the presence of the occasional Fiat 124 Sport Spider has been a constant. Even while Pininfarina-badged, Malcolm Bricklin-imported 124 Sport Spiders were still available as new cars in the United States, I was seeing 20,000-mile late-70s examples about to be crushed.

Nowadays, most of these cars show signs of decades-long outdoor storage after awaiting restorations that never came. Here’s an extremely rough and rusty one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple of months back. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

1986 Toyota MR2 in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Toyota MR2 has always been a somewhat rare Junkyard Find, partly because not many were sold in the first place, and partly because the surviving examples tend to be cherished by MR2 enthusiasts. Here’s a solid ’86 that showed up in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back. (Read More…)

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