Tag: Oakland

By on September 18, 2013

06 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFirst-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…)

By on September 5, 2012

I was in my old East Bay stomping grounds last weekend, to drive the Scion FR-S (review coming soon) and watch the Oakland A’s beat up the hapless Red Sox. I also spotted one of the greatest motor vehicles in history while driving down High Street on the way to The Island That Rust Forgot. It featured the letters “UFO” across a vaguely tailgate-ish rear body panel. I’ve puzzled out the type of vehicle it’s based on. Can you? (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2012

It’s hard to get more stereotypically 80s than this car. Weird Japanese styling, headache-inducing upholstery patterns, and— most important— TURBO! I was 20 years old when this car was new, and the sight of this Crusher-bound example gave me terrible A-Ha flashbacks. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2012

By 1985, it was clear to everyone that the Renault Alliance, product of the strange AMC/Renault mashup that failed to save the “not too big to fail” Wisconsin automaker, wasn’t quite as good as the ’83 Motor Trend Car of the Year award suggested. Still, enough Alliances sold that you still see them in the junkyard every now and then. Here’s one I spotted in a California self-serve yard last month. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2012

Some of our sharper-eyed readers noticed that the car parked next to yesterday’s Junkyard Find (this 1965 Mercury Park Lane Breezeway) was also a mid-60s-vintage Mercury. It’s the upscale version of the Ford Falcon, the car that the Edsel Jihad still hates as a symbol of Robert MacNamara‘s misplaced— and probably Communist-inspired— priorities. Yes, Ford CEO MacNamara killed the Edsel in favor of the Falcon, right before he masterminded the not-real-successful war effort in Vietnam; the Edsel Jihad can forgive the latter but never the former. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2012

Of all the crazy ideas to come out of Dearborn in the 1960s, the Breezeway option on big Mercury cars is one of my favorites. You had a rear-canted back window that rolled up and down, providing a hurricane of wind through the car at speed, and no doubt enhancing the passengers’ intake of Vitamin CO. It made no sense, but so what? Not surprisingly, mid-60s Montereys and Park Lanes (the Mercury-ized Ford Galaxie), aren’t worth much in beat condition these days (nice ones are another story), but I still wasn’t expecting to find this one in a Northern California wrecking yard last month. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2012

After a couple of 1970s Italian sports cars for our last two Junkyard Finds, it’s time to look at the Japanese competition. Malaise Era Z Cars are not uncommon in California junkyards, and I spotted this fairly rough example in an Oakland yard last month. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2012

When the GM Fremont Assembly plant took on Toyota managers and became NUMMI in 1984, the same supposedly inept lineworkers who hammered together sub-par Buick Apollos suddenly started building Corollas that were at least as well-made as the ones made by their Japanese counterparts (you are free to draw your own conclusions about GM management in the 1980s). The initial round of GM-badged Corollas were given the Chevrolet Nova name, prior to becoming the Geo Prizm; you still see Prizms around, but the 80s Nova has become a rare sight on the streets and in the junkyards. Here’s a Nova I spotted in an Oakland, California, self-serve yard earlier in the month. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2012

The first thing we need to make clear when talking about the Sterling 827 is that it is not a Honda. It’s a Rover. Rover! (Read More…)

By on November 11, 2011

You don’t see a lot of intact 60s Detroit cars in the junkyards of Denver, where I now live. When I return to my old haunts in the San Francisco Bay Area, as I did last month, I find that a steady trickle of these old survivors still flows into the self-serve yards. Here’s a big Ford I found in Oakland. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2011

The Cressida was never a big seller in North America, and the second- and third-generation versions make up most of the examples you’ll see these days. First-gen ones like this ’80 I spotted in an Oakland self-service yard on Monday are just about nonexistent… and the number of survivors is about to be reduced by one. (Read More…)

By on October 27, 2011

The Reatta we saw in the junkyard yesterday was a pretty rare car (though not so rare as its Hyundai Scoupe neighbor), but California self-service junkyards tend to be full of such jewels. Here’s a long-forgotten, one-of-250-built Mopar that makes those two seem commonplace. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2011

The reason I’m only doing ’65 Impala Hell Project posts every week or so is the fact that it takes for-freakin-ever for me to search and scan endless sheets of 35mm negatives and slides for images that are relevant to the story (the 1999-vintage SCSI film scanner I’m using sure isn’t helping matters). There is an unexpected bonus that comes with this process, however: I keep running across interesting car photos shot during my travels. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2011


I’ve been scanning a lot of my old 35mm negatives and slides for the ongoing 1965 Impala Hell Project series (using a time-slows-to-crawl 1999-vintage SCSI film scanner), and I ran across this series of panoramic black-and-white photos that I shot in the early 1990s. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2011


The turnover of inventory at self-service junkyards near major West Coast ports is extremely quick, what with the hunger of Chinese industry for scrap steel; some yards keep vehicles for just a month or two before crushing them. This steel-company-owned yard in Oakland, California, gets some interesting machinery, but a Lancia Beta? I can’t recall the last time I saw a Beta in any condition, but Volvo parts hunter David ran across this ’78 while seeking parts for his 240. (Read More…)

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