Tag: Malaise

By on May 9, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2014

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. (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2014

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! (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2014

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! (Read More…)

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…)

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