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…)
Will there ever be a time in which no Chrysler A-bodies show up in North America’s cheap self-serve wrecking yards? Sure, Darts and Valiants were as common 20 years ago as are dead Tauruses now, so the former torrent of old Chrysler compacts has become a trickle, but I still find at least a couple of them every time I visit The Crusher’s waiting room. In the last couple of years, this series has included this ’75 Duster, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’66 Dart, this ’73 Valiant, and this ’61 Valiant, and today we’ll be admiring the car that was to 1983 what the ’94 Corolla is to 2013: a cheap, dependable sedan that nobody noticed. (Read More…)
The AMC Spirit-based ’82 Eagle SX/4 Junkyard Find that we admired last week was an interesting car, but it was pretty well picked over and started its junkyard career as a basket case. In the very same Denver junkyard, however, sits this much nicer and more complete ’79 Spirit DL. It was so nice, in fact, that I had to buy some parts from it! (Read More…)
TTAC commentator Darth Lefty writes:
I was looking at a new Fusion in the company parking lot and noticed how its center brake light (CHMSL) is basically a very thin flap jutting out of the top of the window. Subtle… The center brake light is always like this. We are right now in a golden age of headlight and tail light design. The complex shapes and chrome and LED’s and rocket thrusters dominate the style of a car. But the center light gets none of this. (Read More…)
The AMC Eagle may have disappeared from public consciousness decades ago outside of Colorado, but Eagles are still all over the place in the Mile High City. I can think of a couple of daily-driven Eagle survivors within several blocks of my house (not to mention several VW Vanagon Syncros, but that’s another story), and fallen Eagles show up in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards with great regularity. In this series, we’ve seen this ’79 wagon, this ’80 coupe, this ’82 hatchback, this ’84 wagon, this ’84 wagon, and this ’85 wagon. As for the very rare AMC Spirit-based Eagle SX/4, we’ve seen just this Iron Duke-powered ’81 prior to today’s find. (Read More…)
For decades now, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider has been a regular sight in American self-service wrecking yards. The mid-engined Fiat X1/9, based on a healthy serving of Fiat 128 components, has been a bit less commonplace in such yards, but I still see them every now and then. We’ve seen this ’80 and this ’86 so far in this series, and today we’re adding a brightly colored ’78 to the collection. (Read More…)
Back in the Middle Malaise Era, most of the B-series Mazda pickups you saw in North America were badged as Ford Couriers, and of course we’ve found the occasional junkyard-dwelling Courier. Still, some Mazda-badged pickups were released into the wild, and the longbed version was known as the Sundowner. Here’s a very-much-of-its-time Sundowner in yellow with beige-and-brown tape stripes and red-and-brown rust, spotted at a Colorado self-serve yard earlier this week. (Read More…)
As a former MGB commuter, I always feel a certain sadness when I see one of British Leyland’s underpowered little sports cars about to get eaten by The Crusher. The B was a surprisingly sturdy car of very simple construction, but sales were undermined by terrible build quality, a primitive pushrod engine, and electrical components made by the Prince of Darkness. These cars show up frequently in self-service wrecking yards, as abandoned project MGBs are expelled from driveways and back yards; we’ve seen this ’71, this ’75, and this Toyota-engined ’79 in this series, and today we’ll look at a very used-up ’79 that I spotted in a California yard. (Read More…)
Having driven quite a few mid-70s Corollas (these cars were as commonplace during my early driving years as are second-gen Tauruses today), I have to say that they were painfully slow even by the tolerant standards of the Middle Malaise Era. However, they were also shockingly reliable by the era’s standards, which means that these cars were still plentiful on the street until well into the 1990s. Since few outside a hard core of fanatics have shown much interest in pre-AE86 Corollas, these cars get scrapped as soon as something expensive breaks and/or the Rust Monster’s bites get too large. Here’s a Deluxe liftback that I found in a Colorado self-serve yard a few weeks back.
1979 was the first year for the Fox Platform Mustang, and Ford celebrated by grabbing the rights to show off their new machine at the 1979 Indianapolis 500. You could buy a street version of the Indy 500 Mustang pace car, and many did. Many others, a few years later, bought the galloping-horses-and-tape-stripes decal kit for their non-Pace Car Edition Mustangs. I’m pretty sure that this car— which I found in a California self-service yard— belongs in the latter group… but not completely sure. (Read More…)