By on June 5, 2017

1966 Chevrolet Impala in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I have a lengthy history with a 1965 Chevrolet Impala sedan. So when I checked the online inventory of a local Denver self-service wrecking yard and saw a ’65 Impala sedan there, I headed right over. It turned out that someone had made a data-entry mistake while listing the inventory, and the car is a 1966 model. Still, it’s a very interesting Junkyard Find, so let’s take a closer look. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

1987 Mercedes-Benz W201 190E in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Mercedes-Benz W201 sold well in California, which is where I found this clean-looking ’87. Nearly all of the W201s sold in the American market came with automatic transmissions; this one has a five-speed manual, which makes it stand out from the many W201s I find in West Coast wrecking yards. What really makes it interesting, however, is the odometer reading: 601,173 miles! (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Since we haven’t seen a Ford product in this series since this Fox Granada four months ago, and we just saw three GM cars in succession, I decided this week would be the turn of a once-plush Ranchero GT Brougham, now fallen on hard times in a San Jose self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

1993 Plymouth Voyager in Colorado wrecking yard , LH front view, © 2017 Murilee Martin

The original K-platform-based Chrysler minivans, built for the 1984 through 1995 model years, sold like mad, helped kill the station wagon, and forced the competition to get serious about selling minivans in the United States. Buyers could get the 1984-95 four-cylinder Caravan, Voyager, or Town & Country with a five-speed manual transmission, though few did.

Here’s the first 5-speed second-generation Chrysler minivan I have ever found in a wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2017

1980 Buick Skylark Limited in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

We saw a Cadillac and an Oldsmobile as our last two Junkyard Finds, so how about another member of the General Motors family? Yes, it’s a rare example of the Buick sibling to the Chevrolet Citation, the first of the front-wheel-drive Skylarks. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

1974 Cadillac Fleetwood in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

1974 was a rough year to be an American, but the Cadillac Division wasn’t about to give up on selling opulent two-and-a-half-ton highway dreadnaughts to the plutocracy (that came later).

Here’s a well-banged-up Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard last month. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Oldsmobile Division had just six years to live when the Intrigue appeared in the 1998 model year, and this car was Oldsmobile’s final version of the long-lived GM W platform. I see thousands of W-bodies every year, during my junkyard travels, but it takes a special one to make me reach for my camera. Say, a supercharged Daytona 500 Edition Grand Prix, or a Lumina Euro, or a genuine Phoenix Open-badged Intrigue.

Here’s an example of the latter car that I found languishing in a Phoenix wrecking yard, just 30 miles from the Phoenix Open’s high-zoot venue. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2017

1985 Mitsubishi Galant in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The first non-Chrysler-badged Mitsubishis arrived in the United States for the 1983 model year, in the form of the Cordia, Tredia, and Starion. They weren’t enormous sellers, but they made the Mitsubishi name a bit more familiar to American car shoppers. For 1985, Mitsubishi USA brought over the fifth-generation Galant, hoping to steal some sales from the extremely popular Honda Accord. Galant sales were not brisk, to put it mildly, and so I found it noteworthy when I spotted this first-year-of-importation Galant in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

During the 1970s, if you were sensible and had a fat bankroll, you didn’t buy an Eldorado or Mark IV or even a Toyota Crown. No, you bought a staid, humorless-as-Richard-Wagner Mercedes-Benz W114/W115 sedan, and then you kept it while the pages flew off many decades of calendars. If you were really serious, you got the naturally aspirated four-cylinder diesel, as the original purchaser of this now-retired-at-age-42 San Francisco Bay Area 240D did. (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2017

1976 MG MGB in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

During my 35 years of poking around in car graveyards, one thing has remained constant: MGBs keep showing up. Not in large numbers, but the rate at which these lovable-but-not-particularly-valuable British sports cars get discarded has remained about the same during that period. Here’s a purple model, from the darkest days of the British Leyland era, that I shot last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

1987 Plymouth Caravelle in California junkyard, RH RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

As recently as five years ago, you could get a good sense of the width and height of the Chrysler K-Car family tree by just walking the rows of a big American self-service wrecking yard. You would see at least one early Aries or Reliant and probably a few late-K-family New Yorkers or Acclaim/Spirits. Not any more. The Crusher has eaten and digested most of the K Family, so I felt that this rare Plymouth Caravelle sighting in a San Francisco Bay Area yard was noteworthy. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

1990 Mitsubishi Sigma in Colorado junkyard, RH front view- ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The fifth-generation Mitsubishi Galant came in a funky “pillared hardtop” configuration for the United States market in the 1988 through 1990 model years. Few bought them and almost none survived into the current century, making a Sigma one of the rarest of Junkyard Finds. Five years ago, I found this ’89 in a California yard, and now I have discovered this ’90 in Denver. (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2017

2004 Saturn Ion in Denver wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Saturn Ion is one of those cars you still see on the street today, perhaps not enough to notice, but it’s of minor historical interest as the Saturn-branded cousin of the Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5.

Most of the time, the Ion is just background noise to me in the GM section of a big self-service wrecking yard, something I pass by while looking for a Cimarron or Reatta. However, I had heard that the Knoxvegas Lowballers 24 Hours of LeMons team had adapted Ion electric power steering to their mid-Duratec-powered Geo Metro, and I was curious as what this alleged steering column-mounted rig looked like. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

1990 Land Rover Range Rover in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Denver drivers love their luxury SUVs, and European luxury vehicles tend to depreciate in a hurry. This means plenty of Land Rovers show up in the area’s big self-service wrecking yards. While this is good news for the several Coloradans who might be interested in finding a Rover V8 to drop into a homegrown MGB-GT V8, I don’t pay much attention to these trucks. IHC Scouts, sure, and maybe the occasional Jeep Cherokee get into this series, but I have walked right by hundreds of discarded British status-boxes and not paid much attention.

A Range Rover with 266,666 miles on the clock, though, is another story. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2017

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, quite a few Midwestern RV manufacturers would take new Chevrolet Step-Vans and build them into motorhomes. Most spent productive decades ferrying retirees between Michigan and Florida, then settled into long-term retirement in driveways and dirt lots, serving as homes for many generations of raccoons, possums, and wasps.

Here’s a Kansas-built P20-series RV in the San Francisco Bay Area, giving up some of its components while awaiting the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. (Read More…)

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