By on July 6, 2015

00 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The third-gen Chevy Caprice, made for the 1977 through 1990 model years, was the last of the traditional box Caprices. Those of us who came of driving age during the Late Malaise Era came to fear the rear-view-mirror sight of the grille of this car, the early Panther Ford LTD, and the Dodge Diplomat, due to their popularity among police departments in the 1980s. You don’t see many box Caprices these days, but enough were made that they appear in self-service wrecking yards now and then. Here’s a very governmental-looking example I saw in Denver a couple months ago. (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2015

10 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

When you spend as much time in fast-turnover self-service wrecking yards as I do, you get this lesson over and over: Nothing depreciates like high-end German luxury cars. Once the interior gets a little rough, or the cutting-edge elaborate electrical system gets a bit confused, or the next generation of engine makes an additional 50 horses… well, your big A8 or 7-series or S-class passes through a sequence of increasingly budget-challenged owners, and then there’s another $700 repair needed, and here comes the tow-truck to take it to U-Wrench-It. Mostly I don’t pay much attention to these cars, because the yards are paved with German luxury, but the numbers of discarded V12 E32s peaked about 5 years ago and they’re getting harder to find now. Here’s one that I saw yesterday in a Denver-area yard. (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2015

08 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Ah, the Malaise Era! Engines making one horsepower per three cubic inches. Broughams, Landaus, and molded-in fake stitching on petroleum-distillate Simu-Vinyl™ upholstery. And, of course, a pseudo-pickup based on the Ford Thunderbird platform. 1977-79 Rancheros still show up in California wrecking yards now and then, and that’s where I saw this green-on-green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’79 last fall. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2015

02- 1993 Chevrolet Lumina Euro Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

By the 1980s, Japanese carmakers had established themselves as making the most reliable vehicles in the minds of plenty of American car shoppers. Meanwhile, the Europeans had conquered much of the sporty/sophisticated market by that time. General Motors responded by stamping out millions of plastic badges with the magical letters “E-U-R-O” molded in (as well as by doing stuff like putting pushrod front-drive V8s in bodies flown over from Italy). You could get a Chevy Celebrity Eurosport, and— a few years later— a Chevy Lumina Euro. I’ve been overlooking these cars in junkyards for many years, but now I realize that they have a certain historical significance. Here’s one I spotted in Denver. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2015

23- 1976 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

We’ve seen plenty of frontwheeldrive Colts in this series, but (prior to today) the only example of the rear-wheel drive Dodge-badged Mitsubishi Colt Galant we’d seen was this lichen-covered ’72 wagon. On a recent trip to California, I spotted this coastal-rusty example of tape-striped Malaise Mitsubishi glory. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2015

10- 1993 Nissan NX1600 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The Nissan NX was never much of a big seller in the United States, and only the first-cousin-of-the-Sentra-SE-R NX2000 gets any attention from potential diamond-in-the-rough rescuers today. That means that you won’t see many of these cars in the wrecking yards, so I decided to photograph this purple-duct-tape-customized example in a Denver yard a couple months back. (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2015

06 - 1976 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I see many Corolla-based, NUMMI-built Novas in my junkyard travels, but the earlier rear-wheel-drive X-body Nova has become a fairly rare sight in self-service wrecking yards during the last decade or so. Other than a handful of factory-performance versions, 1970s Novas were disposable, cheap transportation appliances, and so the ones that haven’t been crushed by now tend to be nicely restored and/or drag racers. Still, I find a few; we’ve seen this ’77 two-door, this rare ’73 hatchback, this ’79 Oldsmobile Omega (one of GM’s many adventures in X-body badge engineering), and this ’78 Cadillac Seville Elegante (one of GM’s many adventures in Cadillac brand dilution) so far, and now we’ve got this ’76 in California. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2015

24 - 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

So many rusty Junkyard Finds lately! We had the Krusty Kressida earlier this week, and then a whole week of corroded Coloradans before that. Now we’re returning to San Francisco, where cars parked close to the ocean dissolve in strange top-down fashion thanks to the constant salt spray and chilly fog. I found this once-luxurious Fleetwood sedan in a Bay Area yard a few weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2015

40 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2015

12 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The second-generation Ford Econoline van abandoned the forward-control layout of its mid-engined predecessor and was a big sales success. I still see these vans in junkyards (in fact, I found one in Sweden last year), but I tend to photograph only the most hantavirus-laden campers, attractively weathered window vans, or Chlamydia-enhanced customs. I saw this workhorse cargo Econoline (the technical term, coined by angry neighbors, for a featureless Detroit van with no windows is “Molester Van” or “Free Candy Van”) in a Denver yard recently, and it seemed like a good time to shoot this worn-out piece of van history. (Read More…)

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