By on March 14, 2016

1979 Ford Granada RH front view in California junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

I took my first driver’s test, in 1982, in a loathsome ex-rental-car 1979 Ford Granada sedan, a car that made my beige 1969 Toyota Corona sedan seem both fun to drive and cool by comparison. Since that time, it makes me happy each time I see a pre-Fox Platform Granada (or its Mercury sibling, the Monarch) in the junkyard. Where it belongs. (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2016

1974 Chevrolet El Camino in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Chevrolet El Camino reached its largest size in the 1973-1977 fourth-generation version, while engine power decreased at about the same rate as its bumper size increased. Still, these cartrucks are somewhat sought-after today, more so than the later, smaller G-body-based ones.

Since you won’t see many of these vehicles in self-service wrecking yards, I thought this California example was worth including in this series. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2016

1979 Oldsmobile 98 Regency in Colorado junkyard, front 3/4 view, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The greatest Oldsmobile song of all time is Public Enemy’s 1987 masterpiece, “You’re Gonna Get Yours” (from all the many great Oldsmobile songs out there), but just what kind of Olds 98 was it that Chuck D used to get all those suckers to the side? I say it was the 1977-1984 tenth-generation 98, and here’s an example of a luxurious ’79 Regency Coupe, complete with landau roof and plenty of fake wood trim inside. (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2016

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, LH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Daihatsu Charade was available in the United States for the 1988 through 1992 model years, then was forgotten more quickly than the speed at which Darmstadtium-267 decays. Still, among the Daewoo Nubiras and Kia Rondos and Sterling 827s and other forgotten machinery at your typical California self-service junkyards, you’ll see a Charade now and then. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2016

1978 Honda Civic front 3/4 in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The first-generation Honda Civic sold like crazy in California, and could be found everywhere in the Golden State from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s. These Civics are now virtually extinct, both on the street and in the junkyard, because they were used up and summarily discarded.

(Read More…)

By on March 2, 2016

1991 Subaru Loyale front in Colorado junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

I moved from California to Colorado in 2010, and the stereotype of the stony Subaru driver who snowboards/hikes/camps/rock-climbs, has some sort of retriever dog, and drinks super-hoppy craft beers turns out to be based on reality.

Everyone here drives Subarus — hell, even I have an Outback in the fleet — but we’re talking about the beat-to-hell, 15-to-30-year-old cars here, and not shiny new Crosstreks in the REI parking lot. Last week, I saw the perfect example of that type of Subaru in a Denver self-service yard: this rusty, crusty, 200,000-mile, Pleiades-badged Colorado veteran, which spent its long life driving to trailheads and brewpubs, is now set to donate its metals to the global commodities markets. (Read More…)

By on February 29, 2016

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera front RH view in California junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Cutlass name was applied to so many different Oldsmobiles that you could put together an all-day Cutlass Badging Trivia Challenge and have no shortage of material. By the middle-to-late 1980s, Cutlass had become something of a sub-marque for Oldsmobile, with the Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Calais, and Cutlass Supreme on different platforms and causing madness in subsequent generations of parts-counter guys. The Ciera (generally spelled “Sierra” by most owners, because what the hell is a Ciera?) achieved its greatest fame as the car driven by various bad guys in the excruciatingly Minnesotan film “Fargo.”

Here’s a Cutlass Ciera — a Brougham, no less — that I spotted in Denver last week. (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2016

1973 Chevrolet G30 Van Front 3/4 in Junkyard, Image: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

You see fairly modern minivans covered with lefty bumper stickers all over the place, but those aren’t proper hippie vans. Given their value these days, a Volkswagen Type 1 Transporter isn’t a proper hippie van, either, because you can’t be a genuine hippie in the 21st century unless you’ve burned all your bridges to The Man’s unjust world and you have no Plan B of getting a so-called real job on the Downpressor Man‘s plantations. A real hippie van is a big, ugly, cheap steel box on wheels, with crude stencils and hand-painted messages on the outside and room inside for a dozen unwashed radicals who know that unless you’re free, The Machine must be prevented from working at all.

Today’s Junkyard Find is such a van. (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2016

1992 Pontiac LeMans sedan RH front quarter in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

General Motors brought Opel Kadetts into the United States via several routes over the years. They came from Germany and were badged as Opels at first, Isuzu built “Buick Opels” a bit later, then Isuzu dealers sold them as I-Marks (the Chevette was also a Kadett sibling, but at least it was American-built). By the late 1980s, the Kadett’s American cousin was the Daewoo LeMans, a crappily-built Korean front-wheel-drive miserybox based on the Kadett E. Few were sold, and nearly all of those were three-door hatchback versions.

Here’s an exceptionally rare LeMans sedan, from the next-to-last year of American-market sales, that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2016

1971 Volvo 144 Sedan front 3/4 in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Volvo 140 was the first of the beloved brick-shaped Swedes. It was built for the 1967 through 1975 model years, and it served as the basis for the legendary 240. I owned one, briefly, and found it was a very competent machine for its era. These cars are not worth big money today, unless they’re in excellent cosmetic shape, so the ones that stay on the street tend to do so because their owners can keep them running for cheap. (Read More…)

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