By on December 18, 2013

18 - 1977 Datsun 810 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Datsun 810 wagon was a fairly common sight on the streets of Northern California during the Middle and Late Malaise Eras, sort of the semi-sporty wagon choice for families who wanted a family hauler with a bit of 280Z in its genes. The Datsun 810 became the Datsun Maxima by the early 1980s and the Nissan Maxima by 1984, and all of the rear-drive members of this family have become rare finds these days. We’ve seen this ’82 Maxima and this ’78 810 wagon so far in this series; those two cars and today’s 810 were all shot during trips to California wrecking yards. I don’t know if they even existed outside of a 50-mile radius from San Francisco. (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2013

01 - Lada Niva Down on the Reykjavik Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen I went to Iceland to abuse some Subarus, I managed to visit a couple of Reykjavik junkyards and poke around a bit. In addition to the weird-to-American-eyes French cars and puzzling quantities of 1990s Chrysler products, I found this VAZ-2121 aka Lada Niva 3-door wedged nose-to-tail with a green Megane. (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2013

01 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne 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…)

By on November 13, 2013

02 - 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of front-wheel-drive Cutlasses go to The Crusher without being photographed for this series, but here’s one with an interesting customization job that attracted my attention. Why didn’t GM ever make a wagon with a red-glass option? (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2013

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Starting in January of 2014, consumers will be able to buy a real wagon again from Volvo. The brand will re-introduce the V60 “sports wagon”, with a lineup of 4, 5 and 6-cylinder turbocharged engines, with the 4-cylinder motors eventually filtering down to the rest of the lineup.

(Read More…)

By on August 27, 2013

11 - 1987 Nissan Stanza Wagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler scored big in the North American market with their K-car-based minivan in the early 1980s, and the Japanese automotive manufacturers wanted to cash in on the demand for front-wheel-drive (or four-wheel-drive) small van-like machines. Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi brought over the Master Ace, Vanette, and Delica, respectively, and you could get all sorts of little Japanese wagons as well, but nothing seemed able to pry many sales away from the Caravan. So, Nissan took their top-heavy-looking Prairie, slapped some badges from the unrelated Stanza on it, and shipped a bunch across the Pacific. Few bought the Stanza Wagon, which makes them very rare Junkyard Finds. Here’s one I found in Denver a couple weeks back. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2013

09 - 1977 Plymouth Volare Wagon Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 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…)

By on July 30, 2013

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Here are a few books I consider required reading for Transportation Design students: The Reckoning, Rude Awakening, All Corvettes are Red and Car: A Drama of the American Workplace.  These show what it takes to make a car…to make a designer’s work come to fruition.

Sadly, during my (short) time at the College for Creative Studies, we focused on creativity at all costs: pay no attention to the business behind the curtain.  So while the Honda Crosstour is a curious stylistic exercise, does this dog hunt in the real world? (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2013

22 - 1985 Buick Skyhawk Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Buick Skyhawk started out as a badge-engineered upscale version of the wretched Chevy Monza, took 1981 off, then returned as a front-wheel-drive J-body in 1982. This car is largely forgotten today, and the station wagon version manages to be even more forgotten. Still, a few remain, and this ’85 hung on for nearly 30 years before washing up in The Crusher’s waiting room. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2013

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What you’re looking at here is

  1. A big “F U” to CAFE regulations
  2. Very likely the next vehicle my parents buy

(Read More…)

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