By on September 5, 2017

1977 Ford Pinto in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Ford sold more than three million Pintos during the 1971-1980 period, though most of those were 1974 and earlier models. By 1977, Corollas and Civics and Rabbits had taken a big bite out of Pinto sales, so these later cars are even more uncommon in junkyards than their older brethren. Not that Pintos are easy to find in your local U-Wrench-It yard; most of these cars were crushed long before the end of the 1990s.

Here’s a ’77 I spotted a few days ago in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2017

1977 Toyota Corolla in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Toyota Corolla, still on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, was a tremendous sales success in California. The cheapest model was the two-door post sedan, and these reliable commuters were seen everywhere in the Golden State well into the 1990s.

Nearly all are gone, but this ’77 stayed on its own four tires until age 40, finally wrapping up its long career in this San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2017

1979 Ford Mustang Notchback in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Fox Mustang replaced the much-reviled (but big-selling) Pinto-based Mustang II for the 1979 model year, and production continued through 1993 (or 2004, if you consider the Fox-based SN-95 platform to be a true Fox).

Today’s Junkyard Find, spotted in Denver, is a triple rarity: it’s a first-year Fox Mustang, it’s a notchback, and it has the 200-cubic-inch straight-six engine. Let’s take a look. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

1983 Cadillac Seville in Arizona wrecking yard, RH rear view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe first-generation Cadillac Seville was a sibling — or maybe first cousin — to the proletariat rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Nova, selling well while also cheapening the Cadillac brand. The second-generation Seville, introduced for the 1980 model year, moved to the Eldorado’s front-wheel-drive platform and gained a bold “bustleback” rear body design.

Here’s an example of a Bustleback Seville I spotted last week in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

1976 Audi 100LS in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Audi 100 was the car that made most Americans aware of the Audi brand for the first time. The 100 wasn’t particularly reliable in American hands, to put it mildly, and most examples were long gone by the time the 1980s came to a close.

Here’s a long-neglected ’76 that just showed up in a Colorado Springs self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

00-1978-toyota-dolphin-rv-in-colorado-wrecking-yard-photograph-by-murilee-martin
The third-generation Toyota Hilux pickup (called the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) was a legend of reliability and frugality well into our current century, and plenty of small motorhomes were built on its sturdy platform. You’ll still see them occasionally today, but the skin-crawling ickiness of tenth-owner RVs tends to mean the end comes quickly when they wear out. Here’s one that took nearly 40 years to reach that point, now residing in The Final Campground: a self-service wrecking yard near Denver. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For as long as I have been poking around in American automobile graveyards (35 years), the presence of the occasional Fiat 124 Sport Spider has been a constant. Even while Pininfarina-badged, Malcolm Bricklin-imported 124 Sport Spiders were still available as new cars in the United States, I was seeing 20,000-mile late-70s examples about to be crushed.

Nowadays, most of these cars show signs of decades-long outdoor storage after awaiting restorations that never came. Here’s an extremely rough and rusty one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple of months back. (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 19, 2017

olds omega 1977

Around the time of the Bicentennial, 300 horsepower was reserved for from-the-factory supercars and custom builds aimed at the drag strip. Today, you can find family sedans eclipsing that benchmark without a lot of trouble. Compare the first decade of Toyota Corollas to hit North American shores to their modern day equivalents and you’ll note that 0 to 60 time have been almost halved.

It’s the same with most models. A few years ago, I had the privilege of driving a well-maintained 1977 Oldsmobile Omega and wondered how enthusiasm ever survived malaise era automobiles. It must have been the gorgeous styling keeping us going.

Modern cars aren’t just more powerful, they’re also far more efficient and significantly less dirty. Additional safety regulations and standard equipment should have left us with bogged-down fuel hogs, yet automakers have managed to roll with the punches — not just maintaining the status quo but routinely moving it forward. However, to really appreciate just how far we’ve come you need to see those decades of progress plotted.  (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 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 January 23, 2017

1978 IHC Scout Traveler in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Because I think that any highway-legal vehicle made by a farm-equipment manufacturer is interesting, I photograph IHC Scouts when I see them in the junkyards I frequent (and we have not seen a truck in this series since October, so we’re due). Living in Colorado, this happens often.

Here’s a ’78 Scout II Traveler that I spotted in my local U-Pull-&-Pay. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2017

1981 Datsun 280ZX in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Datsun 280ZX was sold in the United States for the 1979 through 1983 model years, and many a line of cocaine was sniffed inside these cars during their heyday as affordable sports cars. The 280ZX still shows up regularly in California wrecking yards, but most of them go unphotographed as I continue seeking out the really rare stuff. However, since I’ve never included a 280ZX in this series, and this one in the San Francisco Bay Area was an especially ugly rare 2+2 version, I decided to photograph it. (Read More…)

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