By on November 28, 2016

2004 Suzuki Verona in California wrecking yard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

What American car buyers in 2004 really needed was a lengthened Daewoo Leganza with Giorgetto Giugiaro styling, a transverse-mounted straight-six engine, and Suzuki badging … or so GM Daewoo Auto & Technology believed. Not so surprisingly, American car buyers weren’t so excited about the Verona, and these things are now nearly as rare as the similarly puzzling Isuzu Oasis.

Here’s one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2016

2001 Pontiac Grand Prix Daytona 500 Edition in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

General Motors created quite a few NASCAR-themed special-edition W-bodies during the first decade of our current century, complete with plenty of plastic cladding and racy-looking decals. Ordinary W-bodies clog up every junkyard in the country, and so it takes something special for me to deploy my camera on a W.

This very-rare-but-not-so-valuable Grand Prix Daytona 500 Edition showed up in a Denver-area yard, and I photographed it last week. (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2016

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Before Real American Families drove SUVs and minivans, they drove full-sized Detroit station wagons.

I’m not a wagon fanatic and it doesn’t break my heart that wagons are no longer mainstream (although it does break my heart that Chrysler didn’t bring back wagons with huge tailfins instead of the PT Cruiser), but I recognize that the archetypal Detroit wagon of the 1960s and 1970s was the Ford Country Squire. I can’t resist photographing a junked Squire when I see one in the junkyard, and so here’s a Late Malaise Era Country Squire I spotted in a San Francisco Bay area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2016

1980 Cadillac Seville in Colorado Junkyard, LH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Our last three Junkyard Finds have been Deutschland machines, and before that we had four trucks in a row. That means that we are overdue for some genuine Malaise Era Detroit luxury, and I have found a genuine first-year Bustleback Seville for the occasion. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2016

00 - 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL in California Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

The Mercedes-Benz W126 S-Class was the king of 1980s sedans and it sold very well in the United States. You’ll still see plenty of them on the street today and it’s rare that a California self-service wrecking yard doesn’t have at least one fully depreciated, high-mile example in stock. I haven’t paid much attention to these cars for this series, but that changed when I saw a 560SEL taxi in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2016

1979 Audi 500 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Before the Audi 5000 (the 100 or 200 outside of the US market) became notorious for playing the lead role in the first unintended acceleration fiasco (technically, the Ford “park-to-reverse” fiasco involved unintended shifting, not acceleration), it was known as an expensive, luxurious German car purchased by a handful of car-savvy California orthodontists. Sales of the first-generation 5000 began in the 1978 model year, so this high-mileage ’79 is a rare one. I spotted this lil’ beige devil in a Denver-area self-service yard last week. (Read More…)

By on October 17, 2016

1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

There was a time when many American buyers of family sedans — particularly European family sedans — ordered their cars with manual transmissions and didn’t think such a choice was a big deal or weird in any way.

Those days are gone, forever, but a trip to your local U-Wrench-It yard is likely to turn up something like this 22-year-old B4 Passat, complete with VR6 engine and five-speed manual transmission. We’ve had trucks for our last four Junkyard Finds, so it’s time for a car! (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2016

1983 Dodge Ram 50 in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Small pickups sold pretty well in the United States during the Malaise Era, and Ford and GM cashed in by importing and rebadging Mazda and Isuzu trucks, respectively. Chrysler, late to the party, turned to longtime partner Mitsubishi and began bringing in first-generation Forte pickups, starting in the 1979 model year.

Here’s a Dodge-badged version I found last week in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2016

1972 Dodge D200 Pickup in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Dodge D-series trucks were getting embarrassingly dated by the late 1960s, with their solid-axle front suspensions and archaic styling, so Chrysler created the third-generation D-series pickups for the 1972 model year.

Here’s a reasonably solid three-quarter-ton from the first year of that generation, spotted in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

1995 Dodge Dakota in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The plenitude of vehicles based on the Chrysler K Platform helped the company bounce back from its humiliating 1979 near-bankruptcy and government bailout, and the modern overhead-cam four-cylinder engine Chrysler developed for the K was a big part of that success. We think of that 2.2/2.5 as a transverse-front-wheel-drive-only engine, but Chrysler made a longitudinal version for the rear-wheel-drive Dakota pickup.

Here’s a very rare 2.5/5-speed example I saw in a Denver-area yard recently. (Read More…)

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