Even though Denver wrecking yards are always full of old trucks, the Dodge Ramcharger isn’t quite as common as its GM, Ford, and Jeep rivals. In fact, this Royal SE ’83 Ramcharger is the only example we’ve seen in this series, prior to today’s find. This tan Dodge is every bit as Malaise-y as the yellow ’76 Wagoneer we saw last month, so let’s look at these photos and imagine what it was like driving a 9 MPG truck during a period of high inflation and steep gas prices. (Read More…)
One thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area self-serve yard than you’ll see Corollas or Civics. You’ll also find lots of more recent Legacies and Imprezas, not to mention XTs, BRATs, SVXs, and even the occasional Justy 4WD. 1970s Subarus, however, are getting pretty rare here; in this series, we’ve seen just this ’79 Leone wagon and this ’79 GL sedan so far. Today, we add this very-much-of-its-time ’78 wagon. (Read More…)
The BMW E24 6-series is one of those cars with a vast, uncrossable gulf between the values assigned to it by Internet Car Experts and those assigned by Hardbitten Burned-By-Real-World-Purchases Car Experts. The Internet Car Expert has seen an ’87 635CSi in nice shape with an asking price of $25,000 on Craigslist, and therefore he knows that even a rough one is worth ten grand, minimum. The Hardbitten Burned-By-Real-World-Purchases Car Expert once paid $2,500 for a fairly solid E24, put $1,500 of parts into it, and sold it for $2,750. The junkyard doesn’t lie, and I see E24s in cheap self-service yards all the time, so often that I don’t photograph most of them. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, has just enough of that Late Malaise Era appeal, with its overtones of imminent Able-Archer 83-triggered nuclear annihilation (plus a manual transmission), that I decided to shoot it. (Read More…)
Since Willys/Kaiser/Jeep/AMC/Chrysler built the Wagoneer from Biblical times until ten minutes ago (actually 1963 through 1991), and I live in Jeep-centric Colorado, I see these things just about every time I visit a wrecking yard. Mostly, I don’t photograph them (unless I see an unusually late example, such as this ’89, or one resplendent in purple paint and tape stripes, like this ’81), but today’s Junkyard Find— spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard a few weeks ago— was just so incredibly Malaise-y that I felt compelled to document it in its final parking space. (Read More…)
The air-cooled Volkswagen was so rust-prone that it managed to get serious cancer in the normally rust-free San Francisco Bay Area, but quite a few have managed to hang on to life in that region. This last-year-of-production Karmann Ghia coupe showed up at the same Oakland wrecking yard that gave us the beachfront rust victim ’84 Toyota MasterAce and the gory Integra Halloween display last week. Its rust isn’t quite in the same league as the van’s, but then it probably lived further from the ocean. (Read More…)
Since I’ve been haunting self-serve wrecking yards since the early 1980s, I’ve seen some patterns in the average age of various junkyard inhabitants. Detroit cars show up in large numbers after about 10-13 years on the road. Toyotas and Hondas need about 20 years. Off-brand Japanese stuff (e.g., Mitsubishis, Daihatsus, Suzukis) appear in under a decade. 1980s Hyundais started showing up in these yards when they were under five years of age, which is a terribleness record. Mercedes-Benz cars, however… well, the stuff they built in the early-to-middle 1970s is just now appearing in large numbers at U-Wrench-It. (Read More…)
Ford may have squeezed even more vehicles out of their Fox platform than Chrysler got with their roughly contemporary K platform and derivatives, and the range of cars was just about as broad. Though Foxes are very plentiful in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards, I let most of them go to The Crusher undocumented. We’ve seen this ’79 Mustang Indy 500 Pace Car, this ’80 Mercury Capri, and this ’82 Mercury Zephyr so far in this series, and today we’ll add another Malaise Era Fox. Yes, there was a Fox Thunderbird with squared-off, Fairmont-style body, available for the 1980 through 1982 model years. Not many of these cars were sold, so today’s find— in Denver— is a rare one. (Read More…)
The fourth-gen Olds Cutlass was one of the few bright spots for The General as the Malaise Era grew darker for Detroit. You could get T-tops, factory 8-track players, velour interiors in a wide range of bright colors, and who cared if engines were making less than one horse per two cubic inches? The Salon was the top-of-the-line Cutlass for ’74, with reclining bucket seats, radial tires, and other futuristic goodies. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver self-service yard not long ago; nearly 40 years of personal luxury for this Olds. (Read More…)
I find lots of Malaise Era Cressidas for this series, but what about the Cressida’s main competitor, the second-generation Datsun/Nissan 810/Maxima? As you can see by the confusing names for this car, Nissan was going through some marque- and model-name gyrations during the early 1980s, which makes today’s Junkyard Find a car of some historical significance. (Read More…)
Malaise era. Supposedly the time when cars were the worst, and especially the American ones. Compared to the glory days of the 1960s, when the gas was cheap, horsepower plentiful and cars the most beautiful ever, the 1970s are considered to be dark ages. Emission-strangled engines with pathetic power-to-weight ratio, huge and hideous bumpers, as well as floaty suspensions with not even a pretention of “sportiness” or “handling”, traits so popular with modern car enthusiasts.
But, was it really that bad? I had a chance to find out.
First-gen Mazda RX-7s aren’t difficult to find in self-service wrecking yards (we just saw this ’80 with Flashdance-grade custom paint and this fairly solid ’85), and so most of them don’t make it into this series. During my recent trip to California for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race in history, I stopped at one of my favorite East Bay wrecking yards and found this utterly rust-free example of one of the few bright spots of the Malaise Era. (Read More…)
I know it probably made perfect marketing sense for Toyota to piggyback their new subcompact’s image atop that of the fantastically successful Malaise Era Corolla, in spite of the fact that the two cars were unrelated other than having the same their parent company, but the confusion caused by the “Corolla Tercel” name persists to this day. For that reason, these cars always attract my attention when I see them in wrecking yards; in this series, we’ve seen this ’80 and this ’81 so far.
The successor to the incredibly successful Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant was the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré. These simple rear-wheel-drive cars sold fairly well, but for every Aspen or Volaré I see in high-turnover wrecking yards today, I find ten Darts and Valiants. Part of that reason is a short production run, part is (arguably) lower build quality, but I’m guessing the main reason is that Americans just didn’t love the F-body Chryslers the way they did the A-body. When a Valiant got sick (which wasn’t often), it got fixed; when a Volaré came down with some expensive problem, it got crushed. Now these things are almost nonexistent, but here’s a very rare Volaré Premier wagon I spotted in a California yard a few months back. (Read More…)