The Truth About Cars » Malaise Era http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 01 Aug 2014 21:12:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Malaise Era http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-mercury-grand-marquis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-mercury-grand-marquis/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875617 Here’s another Junkyard Find that deserves the Sajeev’s Bitter Tears label. It qualifies for the Brown Car Appreciation Society, it’s an early Panther, and it’s a top-trim-level Grand Marquis (owners of which looked down their noses at lowly Marquis Brougham owners). Let’s explore this exquisite example of Late Malaise Era crypto-luxury, shall we? These cars […]

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09 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s another Junkyard Find that deserves the Sajeev’s Bitter Tears label. It qualifies for the Brown Car Appreciation Society, it’s an early Panther, and it’s a top-trim-level Grand Marquis (owners of which looked down their noses at lowly Marquis Brougham owners). Let’s explore this exquisite example of Late Malaise Era crypto-luxury, shall we?
13 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were the same under the skin as the LTD and Continental, and they weren’t bad drivers (by the standards of the time).
07 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights! Trivia question: what was the last year for factory-installed opera lights on an American car? I’m guessing this feature made it well into the 21st century.
06 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one’s a little rough, though it’s a completely rust-free California car.
17 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo much trim. So much vinyl.
14 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see a lot of police-organization and AAA-related stickers on these cars, which is not surprising given the elderly demographic that preferred them.
03 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSteering-wheel cruise-control buttons showed a lot of faith in Ford’s ability to make a clockspring and/or sliding electrical contacts work.
10 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord (and Chrysler) loved these fake vents in the early 1980s. Why?

Created by science!

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-lincoln-continental-town-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-lincoln-continental-town-car/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872386 Malaise Era Lincolns are common sightings in high-turnover pull-yer-part wrecking yards these days, since there’s not much interest in preserving these cars. We saw an extremely clean 1976 Town Car in California a few months back (it’s still on the yard, and very few parts have been pulled since I photographed it), and now I’ve […]

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19 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMalaise Era Lincolns are common sightings in high-turnover pull-yer-part wrecking yards these days, since there’s not much interest in preserving these cars. We saw an extremely clean 1976 Town Car in California a few months back (it’s still on the yard, and very few parts have been pulled since I photographed it), and now I’ve found this rougher (but not at all rusty) ’79 at another San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard.
14 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven it its distressed state, the luxury is still evident.
16 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomebody grabbed the 400, for reasons that probably made sense at the time.
24 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights? Opera lights.
05 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Park-To-Reverse fiasco resulted in Ford recalling 23 million vehicles in 1980 and adding these warning stickers.
15 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuper-cushy burgundy leather seats, of course.
09 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin85 mph speedometer.
07 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ornamental trip-counter reset knob is a nice touch.
01 - 1979 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have never found one of these Cartier “digital” clocks in working order, but my car-clock collection needs one. I decided to risk $5.99 on this one… and it works! People win the lottery, and 1970s Detroit car clocks sometimes work.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-scirocco/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-scirocco/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871498 These days, most of the older water-cooled VWs you see in American pull-yer-part wrecking yards are Golf Cabrios and the occasional ancient Malaisewagen. I see a second-gen Scirocco every now and then (the first-gens have long since disappeared from the junkyard ecosystem), and today’s Junkyard Find caught my attention with its distinctively early-80s paint color. […]

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07 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese days, most of the older water-cooled VWs you see in American pull-yer-part wrecking yards are Golf Cabrios and the occasional ancient Malaisewagen. I see a second-gen Scirocco every now and then (the first-gens have long since disappeared from the junkyard ecosystem), and today’s Junkyard Find caught my attention with its distinctively early-80s paint color.
12 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Robert ArmstrongWhen I see a Scirocco of this era, I always think of it as the car that genius cartoonist Robert Armstrong gave his lovable-dirtbag Mickey Rat character when The Man brainwashed him into becoming a solid citizen; a very yuppie machine in its time.
10 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMechanically speaking, the Scirocco didn’t differ much from the Golf. 74 horsepower in 1982 for US-market Sciroccos (which were more fun to drive than that figure suggests).
01 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars aren’t worth much in rough condition, so once one falls into the hands of a city tow-yard or an insurance auction, the junkyard is the likeliest next stop.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Porsche 924 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1978-porsche-924/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1978-porsche-924/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865002 I’ve learned a couple of things about Porsches while working for the 24 Hours of LeMons race series. One is that Internet Car Experts cannot accept the idea that any Porsche might be had for a three-figure price tag, and the other is that 924s and 944s are absolute nightmares to keep running. You can […]

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09 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve learned a couple of things about Porsches while working for the 24 Hours of LeMons race series. One is that Internet Car Experts cannot accept the idea that any Porsche might be had for a three-figure price tag, and the other is that 924s and 944s are absolute nightmares to keep running. You can find cheap 924s and 944s all day long, anywhere in the country, and the sellers will be eager to take your offer. I see these cars in cheap self-serve wrecking yards all the time, but seldom do I stop to photograph the things. This time, though, the radiant copper color of this Porsche 924 was just so compelling that I reached for my camera.
03 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack in 1984 or so, I knew a guy who made the leap from small-time cannabis dealer to small-time cocaine dealer. Naturally, he needed a car that would let the world know that he’d arrived, so he ditched his Vega and bought a silver 924. Then he got burned in some sort of deal gone wrong about a month later and had to sell the Porsche in a hurry. I’m sure most 924s have several such owners in their history.
01 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know what other vehicle came with this 2.0 liter SOHC engine? The 1979 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep.
13 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has a fairly solid body, though the interior is bad.
04 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThing is, when your Porsche is worth $900 and the mechanic wants $1,500 to make it run again… well, that’s the story with many once-valuable Junkyard Finds.

Just the car for adventurous Germans!

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Datsun 210 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-datsun-210-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-datsun-210-2/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=864545 Names 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 […]

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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.
13 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Datsun name had just a few years to go at this point.
07 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI can’t tell the A12 engine from the A14 at a glance; either way, this thing delivers well under 75 horsepower.
06 - 1978 Datsun 210 - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPretty typical late-70s econobox interior. At least this car has a manual transmission.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Triumph Spitfire 1500 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-triumph-spitfire-1500/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1979-triumph-spitfire-1500/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862769 The low-value British or Italian sports car that sits in rough condition in a yard or driveway for decades, then takes that sad final journey to the local U-Wrench-It— it’s been a staple of the American self-service wrecking yard landscape for what seems like forever. The MGB and Fiat 124 Sport Spider are by far […]

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09 - 1979 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe low-value British or Italian sports car that sits in rough condition in a yard or driveway for decades, then takes that sad final journey to the local U-Wrench-It— it’s been a staple of the American self-service wrecking yard landscape for what seems like forever. The MGB and Fiat 124 Sport Spider are by far the most common examples of this breed, followed by the TR7, Alfa Romeo Spider, and the Triumph Spitfire. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’65, this ’67, and this ’75, and now we’re getting right to the end of the Spitfire’s 19-year production run with today’s ’79.
06 - 1979 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLike just about all junkyard convertibles, the interior of this one is pretty well roasted to oblivion by many years of outdoor storage.
07 - 1979 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s possible that someone plucked this tube header before the car got crushed (I shot these photos last October in Northern Californai, which means this car is probably shredded metal bits in a shipping container in Shenzhen at this point), but there’s not much demand for smogged-up 1500s these days.
05 - 1979 Triumph Spitfire Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThose horrible 5 mph crash bumpers! Even in this apparently rust-free condition, nobody was willing to rescue this forlorn British Leyland machine.

The emergency run to the hospital in a Spitfire seems like a risky proposition, but it worked out fine in the commercial.

From the land of British Racing Green.

For the man who has lived long and well, it offers a respite from boredom.

This ad offers a more accurate portrayal of real-world Spitfire driving on American highways.

Chicks dug it, though, especially after pulling .87 Gs on the skidpad.

British Leyland had something for everyone!

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford LTD Brougham http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1976-ford-ltd-brougham/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1976-ford-ltd-brougham/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861817 Just after I wrote that non-Country Squire Ford LTDs were rare Junkyard Finds (we’ve had three so far: this ’69, this ’71, and this ’72), I found this majestic yellow four-door hardtop in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. As an added bonus, it’s a Brougham! We laugh at Malaise Era big Detroit cars […]

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07 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
Just after I wrote that non-Country Squire Ford LTDs were rare Junkyard Finds (we’ve had three so far: this ’69, this ’71, and this ’72), I found this majestic yellow four-door hardtop in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard. As an added bonus, it’s a Brougham!


21 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe laugh at Malaise Era big Detroit cars now, with their overwrought heraldic crests and laughably fake wood and leather, but I spent much of my childhood in cars like this and they actually seemed pretty nice at the time.
19 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 351M V8 was big on torque, not so great for horsepower or fuel economy.
17 - 1976 Ford LTD Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one got a lot of use over its 38-year lifespan.


There is no way in hell this generation of LTD managed to get 22 mpg on the highway, even with the not-so-strict tests of the time. It was comfortable, though.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Volvo 242 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1977-volvo-242/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1977-volvo-242/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857601 In California, Volvo 240s are going to the crusher in huge numbers as the traditional Volvo-buying demographic transitions to the Prius. This has been going on for at least a decade, and every wrecking yard in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas has at least ten 240s in stock these days. Here in Colorado, […]

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13 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn California, Volvo 240s are going to the crusher in huge numbers as the traditional Volvo-buying demographic transitions to the Prius. This has been going on for at least a decade, and every wrecking yard in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas has at least ten 240s in stock these days. Here in Colorado, the pace is slower but I still see a fair number of 240s (and 140s) in Denver-area yards. Today’s find is an early example of the breed, very straight and completely rust-free. Despite what fanatical 240 worshipers say, the 240 two-doors just aren’t valuable enough to be worth saving once they get a little tired.
10 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI once believed that these “Lambda Sond” emblems indicated the presence of a more powerful engine, ideally suited for bombing through logging roads above the Arctic Circle. Unfortunately, all this means is that there’s an oxygen-sensor-based feedback fuel-injection system in the car. Admittedly, this was unusual in 1977, but still not very exciting.
15 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause of American headlight regulations of the era, these hideous single-round-lamp abominations were installed in the first few model years of US-market 240s. By the late 1970s, these cars had better-looking quad-rectangle headlight rigs.
08 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhile the wiring in these cars sometimes crapped out, the good old B engines held together for decades.
03 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one even came with air conditioning, which was serious luxury for 1977 Volvo buyers.
20 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis must be one of the very first “My Kid Is An Honor Student” bumper stickers, judging from its condition.
02 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 240 Jihad is going to hate this: 56,518 miles on the clock! This car probably spent decades in storage before getting junked.
17 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe presence of keys means that it was most likely sold to the wrecking yard by an auction house that got the car as a trade-in or from an insurance company.
05 - 1977 Volvo 242 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ll bet factory AM/FM radios for these things are very rare, but not at all sought-after.

Here’s a nice collection of Volvo 240 ads from around the world.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-alfa-romeo-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-alfa-romeo-spider/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856321 Prices for (non-164) Alfa Romeos have been getting somewhat crazy in recent years, but it’s still possible to get a restorable 1970s or 1980s Spider for non-insane bucks. The proof of this is that rougher examples still show up now and then at the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. In this series so far, we’ve […]

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13 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPrices for (non-164) Alfa Romeos have been getting somewhat crazy in recent years, but it’s still possible to get a restorable 1970s or 1980s Spider for non-insane bucks. The proof of this is that rougher examples still show up now and then at the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’74, this ’78, and now today’s ’81.
01 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is ugly, but it doesn’t show the atomic-testing-grade obliteration that Colorado convertibles get when left outside for years with no top.
07 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAlfa Spiders love to rust, even in single-digit-humidity Colorado.
06 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot worth restoring, but a good parts car.
11 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIts final parking place is next to a Mazda RX-7.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Colt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1981-dodge-colt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1981-dodge-colt/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854209 By the final years of the Malaise Era, Chrysler had their econobox needs covered on the one hand by much-modified rebadged Simcas, and on the other by not-at-all-modified rebadged Mitsubishis. These cars were no worse than their Ford and GM competitors (which isn’t saying much), but the inherent cheapness of the 4th-gen Mitsubishi-built Colt meant […]

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08 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy the final years of the Malaise Era, Chrysler had their econobox needs covered on the one hand by much-modified rebadged Simcas, and on the other by not-at-all-modified rebadged Mitsubishis. These cars were no worse than their Ford and GM competitors (which isn’t saying much), but the inherent cheapness of the 4th-gen Mitsubishi-built Colt meant that most of them weren’t worth fixing after about 1992, and these cars are rare indeed nowadays. In this series, we’d seen just one example of this generation of Colt/Mirage/Champ prior to today’s find.
05 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one was parked illegally in Hayward, California, and the owner couldn’t or wouldn’t rescue it before the tow-truck man came to take it on its last ride.
09 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy any sort of 21st-century standards, these cars sucked. They were noisy, rattly, slow, and broke down a lot. However, we are now living in the Golden Age of Miserable Little Econoboxes, where even the diminished-expectations Versa and Spark are perfectly pleasant transportation applicances, and so it just isn’t fair to apply 21st-century standards to the ’81 Colt.
01 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust imagine you’re listening to Debbie Harry “rap” about Fab Five Freddy on the AM radio and getting 40 mpg in the grim years after the Ayatollah jacked up gas prices and this car makes more sense.
11 - 1981 Dodge Colt Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot much attempt was made to obscure the Japanese origins of this car, though the same could not be said of the French origins of the Omni/Horizon.

Perhaps Chrysler should have gone with the Japan-market ads for this car.

Imported for Dodge!

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Honda Prelude http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1982-honda-prelude-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1982-honda-prelude-2/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842658 The first-gen Honda Prelude didn’t sell particularly well in the United States, being very small and not particularly quick for a sporty car, but it had Accord reliability and some examples managed to survive on the street for decades. In this series, we’ve seen this ’81 and this ’82— both silver cars with red interiors— […]

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11 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first-gen Honda Prelude didn’t sell particularly well in the United States, being very small and not particularly quick for a sporty car, but it had Accord reliability and some examples managed to survive on the street for decades. In this series, we’ve seen this ’81 and this ’82— both silver cars with red interiors— and today we’ve got another ’82… in silver, with red interior.
07 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBelieve it or not, this vacuum-hose tangle got even more complex as the early 1980s became the middle 1980s. This is the relatively simple non-CVCC, 49-state version.
05 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, these engines worked pretty well. Once rigorous emissions checks became standard in many states, though, it became a nightmare to get these cars to pass.
01 - 1982 Honda Prelude Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWas any other color interior even available on the early Prelude?

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-liftback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-toyota-corolla-liftback/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830849 It 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. […]

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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.
12 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou can tell when a junkyard car wasn’t towed away for unpaid tickets, because it will still have the keys. This was probably a trade-in at a sketchy used-car lot.
08 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust in California, but Malaise Era Toyotas find a way. This car might have lived by the beach in San Francisco for a while, though not long enough to look like this terrifyingly salty ’84 Space Van.
01 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior doesn’t look too bad here.
02 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 69,000 miles? That suggests a blown head gasket followed by 20 years of storage in a driveway.
03 - 1982 Toyota Corolla Liftback Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 3T-C engine made just 70 horses, but they were reliable horses.

Come on!

The early 1980s were the pinnacle of the “Oh, what a feeling!” era for Toyota ads.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-alfa-romeo-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-alfa-romeo-spider/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=825178 While 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 […]

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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.
02 - 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOutdoor storage with no top in Northern California, with its sunny summers and rainy winters, tends to be rough on car interiors, and not much was worth saving out of this Alfa.
03 - 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 111-horse, 1,962cc Twin Cam engine is still there.
08 - 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe giant 5-mph crash bumpers looked pretty ugly on small cars during the Malaise Era.
12 - 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSpica mechanical fuel injection! This system worked amazingly well given all the moving parts.
20140113_135806When I find a rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo with any good stuff on it, I always call my friend Conrad Stevenson to see if he needs anything. Conrad runs an amazing Alfa restoration shop in Berkeley, uses a ’58 Fiat 600 Multipla as his parts runner, and races a profoundly terrible (yet fast) Spica-equipped Spider in the 24 Hours of LeMons.
IMG950181Conrad burned rubber right over to this Oakland wrecking yard (in his ’64 Ford Ranchero, which he uses for hauling parts too big for the Multipla) and grabbed the rear end, the transmission, and a bunch of smaller goodies. The Alfa Mafia is strong in the Bay Area, and no doubt many of Conrad’s fellow capos swooped down on this car during the next few days and vultured it down to a bare shell.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Citation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-citation-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-citation-2/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820114 The Chevy Citation (and X-body Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick siblings) was built in large quantities during its 1980-1985 run, but disappeared from American streets fairly quickly; by the middle 1990s, an X-body in running condition was a rare sight. Still, I run across them in junkyards now and then. In this series, we’ve seen this […]

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19 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chevy Citation (and X-body Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick siblings) was built in large quantities during its 1980-1985 run, but disappeared from American streets fairly quickly; by the middle 1990s, an X-body in running condition was a rare sight. Still, I run across them in junkyards now and then. In this series, we’ve seen this ’80 Skylark, this ’81 Citation, this ’82 Citation, and this ’83 Citation, and I’ve declined to photograph many more. I spotted today’s find in a Northern California wrecking yard back in March, and it’s a loaded hatchback with V6, automatic, and refrigerator-white paint.
17 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Citation’s real and perceived quality issues did plenty of damage to GM’s reputation, helping to push ever more car shoppers into the nearest Toyota or Datsun showroom.
01 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe replacement for the Nova had to be a light front-wheel-drive car, due to CAFE standards coupled with the need to compete with the spacious-inside Accord, and at first the Citation seemed to get the job done.
10 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has the created-for-the-X-body 60-degree V6 engine instead of the base Iron Duke. The descendents of this engine family are still with us today, now making over 300 horsepower.
04 - 1982 Chevrolet Citation Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Citation’s interior was roomier than the rear-wheel-drive Nova, and the car got much better fuel economy. Unfortunately, it held together more like a Fiat than like the kind of car Chevy shoppers had come to expect.

Ever heard of the superhero Single Person?

The weird superhero theme continued with Perfect Couple.

The first Chevy of the 80s!

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1980-volkswagen-dasher-diesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1980-volkswagen-dasher-diesel/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=817145 The original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door […]

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24 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door diesel Dasher.
02 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car was slow even by generous 1980 standards, but diesel fuel economy must have made diesel VW buyers feel smart. I took my driver-training classes in a Rabbit Diesel, and I’m pretty sure the top speed of that car was about 52 mph.
13 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car appears to have been driven down from Alaska, judging from the body rust, moss growing on the trim, and these parking stickers.
14 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is packed with damp Alaska Airlines aircraft shop manuals, probably a couple hundred pounds of them.
15 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m sure I could have picked up a Boeing manual for cheap or even free, but I decided that I’d be able to live without it.
09 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWas it still running when it got scrapped? Who can say?
16 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s hard to use up a car this thoroughly.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1977-mercedes-benz-450slc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1977-mercedes-benz-450slc/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=817017 The value of a Mercedes-Benz R107/C107 goes down to a hair’s-breadth over scrap price once it becomes non-perfect, and so it’s no surprise that these things have been quite common in American self-serve wrecking yards for the last couple of decades. We’ve seen this ’80 450SL, this ’74 450SL, and this ’78 450SLC so far […]

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10 - 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe value of a Mercedes-Benz R107/C107 goes down to a hair’s-breadth over scrap price once it becomes non-perfect, and so it’s no surprise that these things have been quite common in American self-serve wrecking yards for the last couple of decades. We’ve seen this ’80 450SL, this ’74 450SL, and this ’78 450SLC so far in this series, and here’s a ’77 450SLC that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area last year. Such luxury, such status! It almost makes me want to pick up a cheap SLC for myself.
01 - 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you were a fairly successful cocaine dealer in Los Angeles, circa 1977, this was the car made for you. About the only competition was the new BMW E24.
05 - 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car racked up a mere 182,138 miles during its 36 years on the street. The body is completely rust-free and the interior probably wasn’t bad before junkyard customers started prying parts off it.
06 - 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNobody ever buys these OHC V8s at junkyards. Poor unloved old Mercedes.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Chevrolet Chevette http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-chevette/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1982-chevrolet-chevette/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=811250 You know how people say there aren’t any truly bad cars sold in the US any more, with a sort of wistfulness that we’ve lost the benefits of an era when men were men and miles spent in miserable crapwagons strengthened your character? Every time I see a Chevette in a wrecking yard— which happens […]

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11 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know how people say there aren’t any truly bad cars sold in the US any more, with a sort of wistfulness that we’ve lost the benefits of an era when men were men and miles spent in miserable crapwagons strengthened your character? Every time I see a Chevette in a wrecking yard— which happens more often than you might think, given the checks-all-the-boxes awfulness of these heaps— I’m reminded of how great today’s lowliest econoboxes are compared to the stuff you might buy during the darkest night of the Malaise Era. I’m a member of the generation whose first cars were mostly dredged from the cheapest-possible-used-car cesspool that contained such horrors as the Pinto, early Colt, and Vega, and— even against that backdrop of automotive suckiness— the Chevette stood out as the booby prize, the car that your crazy aunt gave you when she upgraded to a new Renault Alliance and you couldn’t afford the $150 to buy a Maverick with a rod knock. About the best that could be said about the Chevette was that it was cheap and simple, without much to go wrong, and so there’s still a pool of the things to provide fresh examples for your local U-Wrench-It. Here’s one that I saw in California a few months back.
05 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy selling cars based on the T Platform all over the world, GM probably got its development costs on the Chevette paid back by about 1976. After that, the Chevette was easy money.
04 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI don’t photograph every Chevette I see in junkyards, but even so we’ve had this bunch of diesel Chevettes, this ’84 diesel, this ’77, this ’80, this fully-optioned ’79, this ’82 Scooter, and this Pontiac 1000 Chevette clone in this series so far.
06 - 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 1.6 liter SOHC Isuzu engine in this car made 64 horsepower and gave the Chevette pretty good fuel economy for the time.

Just 12.8% financing for this car, and it came with fold-down seats!

The ads for this car were way more fun in Brazil, what with the porn music and post-Chevette cigarette.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Mazda RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-mazda-rx-7-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-mazda-rx-7-2/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809562 First-gen RX-7s aren’t uncommon in wrecking yards in the western part of the country, as demonstrated by this ’79, this ’80 with incredibly of-its-time custom paint, and this fairly solid ’85. In fact, I don’t bother to photograph most of the examples I see. Today’s ’79, with its brown-and-beige tape stripes, seemed worthy of inclusion […]

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01 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFirst-gen RX-7s aren’t uncommon in wrecking yards in the western part of the country, as demonstrated by this ’79, this ’80 with incredibly of-its-time custom paint, and this fairly solid ’85. In fact, I don’t bother to photograph most of the examples I see. Today’s ’79, with its brown-and-beige tape stripes, seemed worthy of inclusion in the Junkyard Find series, though.
09 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s fairly complete, the body is straight, and there’s no rust.
06 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s difficult to get these cars through the California emissions test, though, even with the not-so-stringent requirements for the 1979 model year.
04 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like the dash and the door panels have been pulled.
08 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPoor doomed RX-7.

The car you’ve been waiting for is waiting for you!

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1980-volvo-262c-bertone-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1980-volvo-262c-bertone-coupe/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=796986 Only 6,622 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupes were built during the Italo-Swedish machine’s 1978-1981 production run, and I’ve found two of them in California self-serve wrecking yards during the last year. We saw this silver ’79 (actually, all ’78 and ’79 262Cs were painted in Mystic Silver) last summer, and now there’s today’s find: a gold […]

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08 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnly 6,622 Volvo 262C Bertone Coupes were built during the Italo-Swedish machine’s 1978-1981 production run, and I’ve found two of them in California self-serve wrecking yards during the last year. We saw this silver ’79 (actually, all ’78 and ’79 262Cs were painted in Mystic Silver) last summer, and now there’s today’s find: a gold ’80. These cars were weird-looking and something of a puzzling marketing move by Volvo, but you’d think that their rarity would give them sufficient value to keep the survivors out of The Crusher‘s jaws. Nope!
02 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAssembled in Italy!
06 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 262C-specific glass and trim pieces have been pulled, and there’s plenty of typical Northern California upper-body rust in places where weatherstripping failure can let water in. The lower body panels are good and solid.
05 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume that some project 262C will benefit from these parts.
07 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf I owned one of these cars, I’d ditch the unreliable Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 and replace it with a good old B230 (or something more interesting). In the case of this car, though, someone has grabbed the PRV.
13 - 1980 Volvo 262C Bertone Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill a few pieces worth taking left on this car. Let’s hope they get pulled before the car gets crushed.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-ford-thunderbird/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-ford-thunderbird/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791097 Sajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white […]

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10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white two-tone paint job!
07 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI could look up the horsepower numbers on the ’79 Thunderbird‘s 351M engine, but the figures would just make us all depressed. Let’s just say that this car had enough torque to get moving fairly well for its era (i.e., it would get smoked by a 3-cylinder Mirage today).
16 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis can’t possibly be a factory paint job, can it?
13 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf course it has a landau vinyl roof!
04 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin85 MPH speedometer, according to 1979 regulations.
05 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe velour buckets are no longer as luxurious as they once were.


This ad for the similar ’77 Thunderbird shows the 85mph speedo in full effect, plus a very cocaineophile-looking driver. Radio comes as standard equipment!

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1973-mercedes-benz-280ce/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1973-mercedes-benz-280ce/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=784153 One thing just about all the Mercedes-Benz W114s I find in self-service wrecking yards have in common is that they arrived at the yard in restorable condition. Little or no rust, interiors somewhat intact, mechanical parts mostly there. In this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, and this ’74 280C, and I’ve […]

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12 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing just about all the Mercedes-Benz W114s I find in self-service wrecking yards have in common is that they arrived at the yard in restorable condition. Little or no rust, interiors somewhat intact, mechanical parts mostly there. In this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, and this ’74 280C, and I’ve passed over dozens of ordinary W114 and W115 sedans in the last half-dozen years of junkyard prowling. What we’re seeing here is a combination of extreme longevity coupled with a rapid plummeting of value (in the eyes of those who covet these cars) once the cosmetic wear and tear build up. A 41-year-old Plymouth Satellite or Chevrolet Chevelle coupe in rust-free, reasonably complete shape would be worth a couple of grand and thus safe from that final tow-truck ride to the junkyard. The W114 coupe? Here’s another one, now resting in a California yard.
09 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good news is that there are sufficient examples of these cars still on the street that many parts will be rescued before The Crusher’s cold steel jaws eat this car. Looks like someone has snared the bumpers, grille, headlight assemblies, and trim already.
02 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne difference between restoring this car and restoring that ’73 Satellite is the cost of rejuvenating the upholstery; with the Plymouth, you can buy brand-new seat skins and just about everything else with a few mouse clicks. With the Benz, fixing that leather won’t be anywhere near as affordable.
07 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis big, fuel-injected M130 six was pretty futuristic by 1973 standards.
06 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir conditioning, of course.
03 - 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280CE Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car listed at $9,994 new, which comes to just under 53 grand in 2014 bucks. How much was the much bigger and plusher ’73 Cadillac Coupe de Ville? $6,268. Of course, it probably didn’t take the Cad long to drink the price difference, given the effects of certain global political events at the time.

The W114 was quite a car, and it’s sad to see another rare coupe get eaten by the world’s demand for scrap metal.

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Junkyard Find: 1975 Audi Fox http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1975-audi-fox/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1975-audi-fox/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=783865 No, this car isn’t this kind of Fox, though it is a sibling of the first Volkswagen Passat aka Dasher. The Fox was the name given to the Audi 80 for the United States market, and we can all be forgiven for not knowing this (as very few were sold). This completely used-up, not-so-quick brown […]

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10 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, this car isn’t this kind of Fox, though it is a sibling of the first Volkswagen Passat aka Dasher. The Fox was the name given to the Audi 80 for the United States market, and we can all be forgiven for not knowing this (as very few were sold). This completely used-up, not-so-quick brown Fox jumped over the lazy junkyard dog after a life spent almost entirely in the East Bay, and now it rests in a self-service wrecking yard about two miles from its owner’s longtime place of employment.
02 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI know this because of the thick stack of Oakland Airport North Ramp employee-parking permit stickers on the bumper.
03 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like at least 30 stickers here, so we may be looking at a one-owner car.
17 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI thought I might pull this Motometer clock for my car clock collection, but it turned out to be a case full of broken gears. Sadness.
07 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior was completely cooked, which suggests that the car spent its entire life unprotected from the California sun.
09 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAccording to Audi tradition, the timing belt should be located where it’s the first thing to get crushed in a minor crash.
05 - 1975 Audi Fox Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOther than the usual California surface rust around the back window, this car is fairly solid in spite of all the bent metal.

I couldn’t find any US-market TV ads for the Fox, so we’ll go back to Germany.

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If The Big Lebowski Were Filmed Today, What Car Would The Dude Drive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773897 Before the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released […]

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Big_Lebowski_Torino_Crash-550pxBefore the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released in 1998 and was set in late 1990 or early 1991 (a period during which I was also in Southern California and living a fairly Dude-ish lifestyle myself). The choice of a ’73 Gran Torino by the Coen Brothers makes some interesting statements for those who obsess about movie cars, and Monday is always the best day to discuss such things.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Impound-550pxLooking at 1990/1991 from the perspective of 1998, you’ve got a nasty recession being observed via dot-com boom-tinted glasses, the first one-sided ass-kicking dished out by the US military since Vietnam from the point of view of an ascendant hyperpower, and so forth. At the same time, the latter years of the 1990s saw cars that could knock of 200,000 miles becoming commonplace, with carburetors and mechanical ignition systems dead as global Marxism-Leninism. With all that in mind, The Dude’s car had to be something from the Malaise Era, for symbolic location along the Malaise-Gulf War-Hyperpower continuum as well as for the fact that unemployable Los Angeles loadies could be expected to drive 18-year-old midsize sedans.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Brochure-550pxSo the question here is: What would be this car’s equivalent today? If you’re just going by straight model years, a 2014 movie set in 2006 with the protagonist driving an 18-year-old midsize Ford sedan would give us a 1988 Taurus… and it’s easy to picture the 2006 Dude clanking along in a hooptified first-gen Taurus.
10 - 1986 Hyundai Excel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' GredenHowever, the runup in global commodities prices in the second half of the first decade of the century meant that larger cars were worth a fair amount at the scrapper, which means that even the ugliest Taurus floated a bit above the very bottom of the car-value barrel. That’s why I think that The Dude of 2006 would drive an early Hyundai Excel. What do you think?

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Junkyard Find: 1974 BMW 2002 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1974-bmw-2002/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1974-bmw-2002/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=765913 I see a fair number of BMW 2002s during my trips to wrecking yards, but for some reason I’ve been hoarding the photos of the few that I photograph. We’ve seen this ’73, this ’73, and today’s ’74. I found this car in a Denver self-serve yard about four months back, which means it has […]

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11 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI see a fair number of BMW 2002s during my trips to wrecking yards, but for some reason I’ve been hoarding the photos of the few that I photograph. We’ve seen this ’73, this ’73, and today’s ’74. I found this car in a Denver self-serve yard about four months back, which means it has been fed to The Crusher by now. Just as well— this car had some scary, Minnesota-grade rust.
02 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen you see this on the fenders, you know the important structural unibody components probably aren’t so safe.
06 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, this car was visiting Colorado state parks as recently as 2006.
05 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThanks to all the E21 320is in wrecking yards, there’s not much demand for used M10 engines. This one probably went to The Crusher along with the rest of the car.
01 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone had already grabbed the instrument cluster by the time I got to this car.
12 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of Bondo to be seen.

01 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1974 BMW 2002 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Fiat 124 Sport Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1976-fiat-124-sport-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1976-fiat-124-sport-spider/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=753777 So many Fiat 124 Sport Spiders get junked, and the process has been going on for my entire junkyard-prowling career. In the three years of this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80, and we might as well add the 124′s little brother, this ’71 850 Sport Spider. […]

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06 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo many Fiat 124 Sport Spiders get junked, and the process has been going on for my entire junkyard-prowling career. In the three years of this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80, and we might as well add the 124′s little brother, this ’71 850 Sport Spider. I don’t even photograph every 124 Sport Spider I see, because they’re almost as common in wrecking yards as ’85 Camrys. Today’s ’76, however, holds the Junkyard Find record for Scariest California Beach Neighborhood Rust.
13 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCars that live within a block or two of the Pacific Ocean in Northern California (I found this car in one of my favorite East Bay yards during a recent drive around California in a new Mirage) often rust in a weird top-down pattern. For example, the truly frightening ’84 Toyota Van we saw last October. California cars with bad weatherstripping often rust inside the trunk, as water leaks in and sits for months during the long, rainy winters. This Fiat managed to rot from both types of California rust.
01 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow does this even happen?
17 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car comes from the era of separate emissions requirements for new cars sold in California.
10 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have quite a collection of these SLOW DOWN lights, which were used to warn of an overheating catalytic converter (presumably the CATALYST indicator light warned of some other cat problem). Ferrari 328s had them, too.
14 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDefinitely not worth restoring, but maybe someone will grab the Twin Cam engine for a nicer Fiat.
IMG_2237Given how cheap these cars are, we see surprisingly few 124 Sport Spiders in the 24 Hours of LeMons. I can think of a couple of Twin Cam-powered examples, and then there’s the Volkswagen TDI-powered Smokey Unit Fiat. This car is pretty quick, but its real advantage in endurance racing is its tremendous range on a tank of diesel.
19 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last owner of this Fiat was against Proposition 86.

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