By on June 4, 2014

09 - 2003 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that we’re all about 21st-century Junkyard Finds this week, let’s admire another JF first: the Pontiac Aztek. A popular TV show really ended up muddying the cultural waters around the Aztek, in a process similar to what happened with the DeLorean DMC-12 in the late 1980s, so let’s try to remember back to a time when each of saw our first Aztek and thought what could The General have been thinking? (Read More…)

By on June 3, 2014

09 - 2001 Honda Insight Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince we started out this week with a relatively late-model Junkyard Find, I’m going to jump into the 21st century and share the first Honda Insight I’ve ever found in a high-inventory-turnover, self-service wrecking yard. I’ve seen a few thoroughly stripped early Priuses and didn’t think they were worth photographing, but the tiny two-seater first-gen Insight made the Prius look like a fuel-swilling pig and that makes it a much more interesting car to me. 61 highway miles per gallon, all sorts of advanced aluminum components, and a coefficient of drag of just 0.25… and yet this one couldn’t stay clear of The Crusher. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2014

10 - 1997 Saturn SC2 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven though the Saturn S-Series has been one of the most common vehicle types in American self-service wrecking yards for at least the past decade, I’ve always walked right past the SCs and SLs when I’m looking for vehicles to photograph for this series. The rise and fall of the Saturn marque is a fascinating story, and the S-Series spent much of the 1990s being driven by fanatically devoted owners who appreciated the distinctly un-GM-like experience of buying their cars. The SC2 has been one of the quicker and more reliable cars in 24 Hours of LeMons racing as well, but even that wasn’t enough to make me raise my camera when I passed a whole row of the things at U-Wrench-It. It took this red ’97, with its metalflake flame job peeking through the snow at a Denver yard this winter, to give us a Saturn Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2014

11 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has become a Corolla Junkyard Find week, with this ’78 Corolla wagon on Monday and this skateboarder-enhanced ’98 Corolla LE sedan yesterday, so I’m going to keep the streak going with today’s find: a Late Malaise Era (yes, I invented the term) E-72 Corolla liftback, which I found late last year in Northern California. (Read More…)

By on May 27, 2014

12 - 1998 Toyota Corolla Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter yesterday’s Corolla Junkyard Find, it seemed right to follow up with another, newer, Corolla. You know how you can tell when you’re a car’s final owner? Such was the case with the final owner of this much-abused Corolla, who drove his or her Corolla a couple thousand miles west, no doubt to be where cannabis is legal. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2014

20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. These cars rusted fast east of the Rockies and— once they got to be 15 or so years old— weren’t worth fixing when they got ugly in the non-rusty parts of the country. That makes them fairly rare in junkyards today; in this series so far, we’ve seen this ’76 Corolla liftback and this ’74 Corolla two-door, and that’s about it prior to today’s find. (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2014

08 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was in high school, the Pinto was one of the cheapest first-car options available for wheels-hungry teenagers; you could get an ugly runner for a C-note, any day of the week. The Pinto wasn’t a good car, but it wasn’t intolerable by the (admittedly low) compact-car standards of its time. Then, rather suddenly, all the Pintos disappeared. The Crusher grew fat on Pinto flesh, then switched to Hyundai Excels. They’re rare finds in wrecking yards today, and we’ve seen just this ’74 hatchback in this series prior to today. During a recent trip to Northern California, I found this early Pinto wagon, short quite a few parts but still exuding its essential Pinto-ness. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2014

15 - 1966 Mercedes-Benz 230 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mercedes-Benz W110 makes a good endurance racer, and plenty of examples are still on the street. I see a few of these tailfin-equipped cars in wrecking yards, but most of them are so picked over and/or obliterated by 500,000 miles of hard use that I don’t bother photographing them. Here’s one that’s still pretty complete, spotted in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2014

11 - 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhile Fiat 124 Sport Spiders are commonplace in junkyards, the Alfa Romeo Spider has remained sufficiently valuable that few examples make it to the kind of self-service, high-inventory-turnover wrecking yards I frequent for this series. We’ve seen this ’74 and that’s it prior to today (though I have passed by a few junked Alfa Spiders that were picked clean before I got there). The Alfa Spider was more expensive than the Fiat Spider when new— in 1978, the Alfa listed at $9,195 (about the same as a new ’78 BMW 320i), while the Fiat cost a mere $6,495 (just a bit more than a Volkswagen Scirocco)— and American Alfa Romeo fanatics have always been more maniacally obsessed than Fiat fanatics. Here’s an unrusted, not-yet-completely-stripped ’78 that I found in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple months back. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2014

03 - 2000 Pontiac Grand Am GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe final iteration of the Grand Am, which was built for the 1999 through 2005 model years, had all the looked-bad-after-five-years plastic cladding that made 1990s GM cars so forgettable and RAM AIR! GM cars of this vintage are still so commonplace in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards that it takes something special for me to break out the camera for such a car; in this series so far, we’ve seen this supercharged Grand Prix GTP, this Beretta Z26, this Cavalier Z24, and this Pontiac Sunfire, and now it’s the Grand Am’s turn. (Read More…)

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