By on July 25, 2014

04 - 1988 Ford Escort GT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost of the Escort GTs you see these days are the Mazda-based cars that came out starting in the 1991 model year. The first-gen North American Escort, loosely based on its European counterpart, was built from 1981 through 1990, and examples are becoming very rare in wrecking yards. We saw this first-half-of-1988 Escort GT last month, and now I’ve found this “1988.5″ model in a Southern California yard. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2014

10 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNames for various flavors of the Nissan Sunny got very confusing during the 1970s and 1980s. Starting in the 1978 model year, the front-wheel-drive replacement for the B210— known as the B310 within Nissan— kept the “210″ name in the United States (meanwhile, you could also buy “510s” that were actually A10 Violets), later evolving into the car that became the Sentra. These were cheap but reliable (for the time) misery boxes, competing with the likes of the Chrysler Omnirizon, and so very few of them escaped The Crusher when they started wearing out in the early 1990s. Here’s a rare example that I found in Southern California in January. (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2014

UberSUV

Ride-sharing service Uber has hit a few rough patches as of late, mainly from taxi operators and city and state officials who believe Uber and others like it are too disruptive for its own good. However, the Teamsters — who supported European taxi drivers in their protest of the service earlier this month — are throwing their support to Uber drivers wishing to organize.

(Read More…)

By on February 13, 2014

01 - 1984 Chevrolet Corvette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know how there was no 1983 Corvette, and then the C4 finally came out in 1984, and it had this terrible twin-throttle-body fuel-injection system? Of course you do. Anyway, C4 Corvettes are worth enough these days that they’re not common sights in self-service wrecking yards, and those that I do find have been picked pretty clean.. Shops that specialize in Corvettes intercept most basket-case examples before they get to these yards, but I found four C4s all together at a Southern California yard last month. Let’s check out a well-stripped example of the first of the good-handling Corvettes. (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2014

14 - 2001 Hyundai XG300 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI admit I’ve got a sick fascination with luxury cars sold by companies not (at the time, in this market) known for luxury. There’s the Mitsubishi Diamante, of course, and the Mazda 929, and even the Volvo 262C Bertone (I’m still looking for a junked Daewoo Leganza, but either they don’t exist or— more likely— they fade into the junkyard background so perfectly that I never notice them). The Hyundai XG, well, that’s a perfect example of the “who’s laughing now?” phenomenon; just a decade ago, we all chortled at the idea of a Korean luxury sedan selling in the United States. Today, German and Japanese car-industry execs wake up screaming from Hyundai-themed nightmares. So, that makes today’s Junkyard Find of great historical significance (to me and maybe a dozen others). (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2014

07 - 1962 Corvair 700 Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOther than the many Corvairs in the Brain Melting Colorado Junkyard, we haven’t seen any examples of GM’s rear-engined compact so far in this series. As recently as ten years ago, Corvairs were not uncommon sights in self-serve wrecking yards, and trashed ones are worth little more than scrap value today, but it took until a couple of weeks ago and a trip to California for me to find one. (Read More…)

By on January 29, 2014

09 - 1975 Cadillac Coupe Deville Custom Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMy recent trip to Southern California resulted in a bonanza of Junkyard Finds, including the first-ever Junkyard Find Jensen Interceptor, this Maserati Biturbo Spyder, this hyper-rare Sterling 827 SLi fastback, this super-scary AM General ice cream truck, and this Corinthian Leather-equipped Chrysler Cordoba. Is that all? No, that is not all! Today we’re going to admire an amazingly luxurious customized Malaise Coupe de Ville. (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2014

08 - 1976 Chrysler Cordoba Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSo far in this series, I’ve had no luck finding Chrysler Cordobas from the first couple years of production. We’ve seen this ’78 (which provided me with a beautiful Corinthian Leather garage couch), this ’79, and this ’80 prior to today, and now we’ve got a genuine, Ricardo-approved 1976 Cordoba. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2013

desert

(Ryan sent this to me before the recent Adbusters piece, but perhaps it’s additionally relevant now — JB)

The Truth About Cars is that sometimes they tell us the truth about ourselves.

I rolled into Los Angeles one morning in a badly running 911. It was already hot, though the morning haze hadn’t yet burned off. The transition from the wide-open, high desert to the sudden congestion of the L.A. basin was disorienting. Still, I felt a tinge of excitement. I was on the West Coast, and I was there to pursue a girl.

(Read More…)

By on June 20, 2013

tumblr_mnjda9F4dq1qd21vlo1_500

If the first half of my automotive life was informed by Honda products, the second half was largely colored by “Sport Compact Car” magazine, which I still consider to be America’s finest automotive print magazine. From the age of 13 onward, I faithfully purchased SCC every month, enthralled by the idea of low-budget import car builds and sweeping California canyon roads. I liked that they took a different tack than most of the other tuner magazines; they weren’t as dogmatic as the other rags were with respect to the “Japan rules, America sux” dichotomy that seemed to pervade the lesser publications. There were no photo spreads of Asian women in flourescent bikinis. Unlike the editorials in Grassroots Motorsports, the budgets for their projects seemed realistic.

One shot that has stuck with me is this shot of an ancient 323 GTX sliding through the dirt; I can’t remember if it was an SCC project car or not, but it encapsulates what I always pictured Southern California to be; an automotive playground free of rust and full of roads that are appropriate for whatever driving conditions you could want. The 323 GTX’s near me are either terminally oxidized or going for absurd amounts of money ($6,000 for a barely running 26 year old Mazda that would amputate my legs in a crash? No thanks) but Mazda was kind enough to lend me a Mazdaspeed3 for my first trip to Los Angeles so I could live out my canyon run fantasies on the Angeles Crest Highway, albeit in front-drive form only. If that wasn’t enough, TTAC contributor Jeff Jablansky brought along his own Volkswagen GTI MKVI for comparison.

(Read More…)

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