Tag: Malaise

By on April 2, 2014

23 - 1976 Lincoln Town Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last Continental we saw in this series was of the iconic 1961-69 generation designed by Elwood Engel. Its successor was built for the 1970-79 model years, and these cars lost the suicide doors and Lincoln-specific engines but gained even more angular styling. The Town Car option package was aimed at the real high rollers of the Malaise Era, and I’ve found a very solid, refrigerator-white example (photographed at a Northern California self-serve yard last week) that’s sure to make Sajeev Mehta weep bitter, brand-loyal tears. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2014

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114 car dealers. Every single last one of them looking for an impossibly good deal among the 150 vehicles at the auction on a near-Arctic Monday morning.

Even if it’s a seemingly bad deal. It doesn’t matter during this time of year.

This is officially tax season… which means that cars that couldn’t even get a $500 down payment during the post-Christmas drought will soon be picked up in earnest by the sub-prime, debt happy public. A $1200 down payment as their first financial tombstone of 2014 will be followed by a long line of bogus fees, and a note that will hopefully be flipped into funny money (now known as sub-prime asset backed securities) before the drowning debtor becomes financial roadkill.

Everything is high. But surprisingly not as high as in years past. Orphaned brands are mostly cheap. Minivans are cheap, and everything from older luxury coupes to younger hatchbacks can be had for decent money if they’re not sporty or popular.

Speaking of popular. Let me show you a little somethin’.

(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on February 17, 2014

05 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first- and second-generation Toyota Celica was to my generation of freshly-minted California drivers (I got my license in 1982) what the early Ford Mustang was to those born a decade earlier: fairly inexpensive and sensible, but still sporty enough to make you feel cool. I drove a ’69 Corona four-door, possibly the uncoolest car a teenager could own at the time, which was to the Celica in 1982 as the six-cylinder Fairlane sedan was to the Mustang in 1972. These days, of course, all the rear-wheel-drive Celicas are considered worth having… unless they’re in rough condition, in which case they are worth little more than scrap value. Here’s an unrusty-but-still-battered ’78, done up in painfully-late-70s Crisis of Confidence Mustard Yellow, sitting in a Denver self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2014

22 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chrysler K platform spun off many K-based descendents, but genuine, pure Ks have been fairly rare in this series. We’ve seen this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon so far, though I’ve passed over many dozens more. Still, when I see a first-year Aries wagon in this weird chalky gray-green color and it has a “Hemi 2.6″ engine, I break out the camera! (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2014

15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith so many old Subarus in Denver wrecking yards, I do run across the occasional BRAT. We’ve seen this ’79 and this very rare Sawzall Edition ’86 so far in this series, and today we’ll be looking at a well-used ’82 that still has the very rare lawsuit-inducing jumpseats in the back. (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2014

02 - 1974 Ford Mustang Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAll right, Mustang II experts, I’m going to start right off by saying that this Pinto Mustang might not be a numbers-matching real Mach 1. Maybe it’s a FrankenMustang with what appears to be the correct collection of Mach 1 options. Either way, this fine Malaise Era machine— which I found at a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard a few weeks back— is a fascinating museum of the diminished automotive expectations faced by car shoppers in a grim period in American history. (Read More…)

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