By on April 18, 2012


The 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix looked like it had got in a fight, and lost.

The front bumper was hanging perilously close to the ground. A big lick on the left hand side had smashed it up well and good, along with the left fender and hood. The body cladding on both sides of the vehicle had been stripped off. Leaving holes and plastic screw holders as the proverbial abusive pockmarks of the unloved.

Her seats were tore up… dashboard smashed… forget about a plain old beater. This one was beat all too hell. And you know what?

This is the one issue that pisses me off more than anything else as a car dealer. Someone gets a well kept ride that can easily last another seven to ten years, and they turn it into a wore out mop of a car. In a world where most folks have to work several years to save up for anything motorized with wheels, other less worthy souls are given the keys to vehicular freedom and then promptly flush them down the toilet.

All of these trashed up terrors have the same unique prior owner DNA to them. The smell of sweat and dampness. Left over food wrappers, old clothes, and cheap CD’s. Leaking oil and coolant under the hood. They drink. They smoke, and unfortunately these once good cars are forced to hang out with the bad boys and girls.

Today’s Hammer Time question is two fold:

1) What was the most trashed up vehicle you have ever seen?

2) What is the most frequently trashed vehicle of modern times?

Today’s winner will receive a rare, working,  left rear window regulator for a Mercedes 1995 E300. You can thank me later.

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80 Comments on “Hammer Time: Who White Trashed This Car?...”

  • avatar

    Mustangs (they are plentiful), Cavaliers, and any Saturn S series. I always see Saturn S series that are screwed up. No bumpers, broken fenders, etc. Almost every S series I see in town has some body damage.

    A runner up is a Mitsubishi Eclipse. They are almost always destroyed and look horrible.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agree on the Saturn. Is it a testament to the drivetrain engineering quality that the bodies ALWAYS look beat to shit, but they’re still on the road?

      • 0 avatar

        Drivetrain quality? I gave Saturn S’s a try, twice. First one ate a rocker arm at 18K. Next one had the MT die at 30K. That was it for me.

        Methinks the persistence of these vehicles owes more to the durability of the space frame than the powertrain.

    • 0 avatar

      Around here, the Eclipse, definitely. If the first owner takes good care of it, the second usually destroys it.

      Grand Am is a close second.

    • 0 avatar

      Reminds me of a friend in high school circa 1977. Bought a pristine 1967 Dodge Coronet 500 from a Washington State Patrolman. Immaculate inside and out, 318, Tourqueflite, buckets, floor shifter, just beautiful. Right off the bat he decides he wants to play `stick shift` with it. It was all his mothers`money, so what did he care ? After numerous trip to the shop for tranny work, brake jobs, paint touch-ups ( all paid for by mommy) he decided it was a lemon. But what could you expect from a guy who disassembled a Fender Stratocaster so that he could repaint it. it is still in pieces 35 years later.
      Honorable mention: Mitsubishi Diamante

    • 0 avatar

      I was stupid and bought a saturn sport coup or whatever they are called at a auction for 1100. It blew up, literally, in 3 months. I left engine peices all over the freeway. I replaced it with a trashed 92 boneville. I was woken up at 3 in the morning by the police saying they had found my car stripped trashed and abandoned, then I had to tell them that is where I parked it and it already looked like that. Drove it another 2 years without putting a penny in it.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like to be there and see the look of the officer’s face when you said that…

        Anyway, sounds like a car that would be safe to be left anywhere, even in the most dangerous, crime-ridden place in town. Guaranteed to be where you left it when you came back.

    • 0 avatar

      I own two Saturn S series, and both are in great condition for their age. Nothing wrong with them on the outside.

  • avatar

    1) usually Caddy Fleetwood
    2) anything with words Cutlass and/or Supreme in the name and a chevy v6 under the hood

    yes, I yearn for a left side window regulator.

  • avatar

    These beat up and neglected cars are a symptom of the problem. The problem is lack of pride and self-respect. I understand deferred maintenance – everyone hits a tough financial spot every now and then.

    It costs nothing to keep your car clean.

    I see a similar mistreatment of homes – some are kept clean and neat while others have overgrown flowerbeds and trash on the front porch. Again, paint and repairs cost money – but picking the weeds out of your flowerbeds and getting rid of the trash costs NOTHING. If you have time to watch TV, you have time to clean up your car and your house.

    One does not need to be wealthy to have pride in his/her life and possessions. My parents instilled those values in me, and I am working on these with my kids.


    • 0 avatar

      Your comment made me think of my late parents – both Depression children, who raised me in the same manner as they were raised (or as close as they could get since there were fighting all those sixties influences). Among the first thing they drilled into my mush-filled brain was the concept of pride and taking care of what you have. Of being clean and well cared-for. And, like you said, it costs nothing. Or very close to nothing. Soap and water isn’t all that expensive.

      Unfortunately, those values of my parents seem to be just as obsolete as a Cord 810 anymore.

  • avatar

    1990’s model Honda Civic. Almost any you see will have primed body panels or the cheapest paint job you have ever seen. Not to mention the usual addition of aftermarket ground effects that never quite fit right and alot of the time aren’t painted. And don’t forget the coffee cans.

  • avatar

    late 90s Integras, always with body damage, oversized mufflers, and abused beyond belief.

  • avatar

    1) There is a profoundly trashed Nissan Altima that I see around town once in a while. It’s a shame, because it’s well-specced out and less than ten years old – had the owner not been a bozo it would still be a “nice car”.

    The paint is ruined, the leather interior is all sliced up and full of garbage, and always sitting on 4 very under-inflated tires. The most recent addition is a nail through the front axle nut in lieu of a cotter pin.

    2) 90’s Thunderbirds and Cougars, hands-down.

    I also don’t buy the “the owners are poor” excuse. I know plenty of people of limited means who still keep their person and property clean.

    Throwing away the fast food wrappers and soda cans that are scattered all over your interior doesn’t take much time or money.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi Galant.

    It has no equal. It looks just as at home in front of a trailer park as it does subsidized housing. It transcends all walks of low-income life. It’s the great automotive equalizer of the downtrodden. From cleaning ladies, to fast food workers, it does it all.

  • avatar

    That is easy, I run a fleet.

    1.Our 2003 Ram 3500 quad cab Cummins dualie Laramie. When we bought it 2 years ago, it was a cherry. We’ve only put 15,000 miles on it, most of which has been towing my race car when I borrow it. Otherwise, it basically just drives across the street. You would think with all my operators clamoring for a replacement for the old truck (A VERY thrashed 1993 Ford counterpart), that they would take gentle care for this one. WRONG. Chainsaws go on the leather, all fenders smashed, sticky goo and trash throughout the cabin at all times, tools on the dash, mud on the radio (WTF?!), and a shifted rear axle.

    2.Any newer cheap car like a Suzuki or Aveo.

  • avatar

    90’s Cavaliers and Sunfires. Most of these road tumors are now driven by teenagers and trailer park residents. They’re everywhere, and hardly any of them are rust-free or don’t have missing pieces. The ones with fart-cans are usually in the worst shape.

    Ball caps that can only be worn backwards and dream catchers are standard equipment on these things too.

    • 0 avatar

      The dream catchers. That got me.

      Don’t forget the community college bumper sticker they long failed out of.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha, a sunfire and a dream catcher. So true.

      I’d have to say most white-trashed cars I see are a pontiac product or a galant.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        My favorite here in town is a light green Sunfire coupe that has not only the factory spoiler on it but a second aftermarket spoiler too. Must be going for the “biplane” look… :P

    • 0 avatar

      Cavaliers and Saturns seem to be the default choice of the messed up people who have messed up lives and drive messed up cars. Every dollar store seems to have at least one example out front. They are invariably filthy both inside and out, all of which could be remedied by 30 minutes of cleaning if the owner was so inclined.

      They coincidentally seem to be the official vehicle of the broke young single mother. Plenty of money for tats and smokes, but no time or money for car soap or a car vac. Ugly unloved cars that live ugly unloved lives.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with Cavs/Sunfires for sure. And WTF is up with all of them wanting to paint thier dashboards?? That seems to be the most common white trash “mod” made to those cars, trying to make it look like something from Pimp My Ride.

  • avatar

    “I also don’t buy the “the owners are poor” excuse. I know plenty of people of limited means who still keep their person and property clean.”

    Yes, those individuals, regardless of race or color make me equally sick, too. You can pretty well tell the type.

    I grew up in a working-poor family, and you know what? Dad’s car was ALWAYS clean inside and out, like our house. You spell it P-R-I-D-E and S-E-L-F – R-E-S-P-E-C-T. No excuses. Period.

    “Today’s winner will receive a rare, working, left rear window regulator for a Mercedes 1995 E300.”

    Well, if you would have offered an even rarer, working, ANY rear window regulator for a Chrysler LeBaron convertible, AND if I still owned ours, I’d take you up on that challenge!

    I’ll still take a stab at it: Older Honda Civic. Next guess: 1980’s-90’s Chevy Camaro.

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of people think I’m weird for this. Even my first car, a 1993 Ford Taurus, was very well kept. I’d wax it every 3 months or so and kept it super clean despite hating it. If you can’t keep what you already have clean, you deserve nothing better.

      • 0 avatar

        Nothing weird about it at all. My first car? a well-rusted-out 1952 Chevy. I still kept it clean and did my best to make it “livable” because it was all I had and I appreciated it.

      • 0 avatar

        Heck I keep my ’77 Chevelle spotless despite the failed factory paint, and the failing original cloth seat, and hashed carpet.

        My 300,000 mile Explorer still looks like it rolled out of the showroom 16 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I was the 16 year old kid rubbing brown dyed turtle wax into the failed clear coat of a 1982 Chevy in desperate attempt to make it look less like crap on the outside.

        The bonus? I took good enough care of the car that my Dad let me borrow his 1987 Olds for the prom, all I had to do was wash wax it and polish the chrome.

  • avatar

    1) What was the most trashed up vehicle you have ever seen?
    That would be in Orlando. Orlando. Humid capital of wanna-be Disney white trash. Sadly, Florida is not an island, so anyone with a tank of gas bought with shoplifted Tide detergent can drive there, looking for the “Happiest Place on Earth”! You got EPCOT, (the unfun part of Disney to these people – reading required), drugs, a low cost of living, drugs, trailer life, drugs, retirees in Grand Marquis, drugs, alligators and Navigators and Disney Channel pre-teen stars. OH MY!

    I smelled this car before I saw it. I was tanking up when I smelled somthing I thought was the carcass of a rigid possum that had been vomited up and left decomposing next to the window squeezee washer box. I fearfully looked into the open trash barrel and saw that it was almost empty, then turned and saw it. It was a minivan with expired Tennessee license plates. Inside was a couple of very large, very sweaty, folks who appeared homeless and living in it. Through the windows one could see that they slept in their own garbage. One of them was sleeping nestled in the back of the van, half buried in filth, sleeping like a sow in a pen. Being Florida let him enjoy the chance of wearing nothing other than a size 48 once-white brief over a once-size 48, but now much larger, gut. I think I threw up twice in my mouth, then held my breath, and turned away from this Hieronymus Bosch nightmare painting of Orlando Hell. I lost my appetite for a week.

    2) What is the most frequently trashed vehicle of modern times?
    That would be Chrysler minivans. They hold a lot. Families trash them thoroughly. Drivers were forced to drive them because of family duties, not for pleasure. Windows are often non-transparent, covered in dog saliva, kid food, sneezes, nicotine stains and bird droppins. Wiping the windows reveal an often chunky surface with dried on boogers and McDonalds ketchup. Carpets are covered in filth. Dirty diapers, spilled kid drinks, baby barf, Skittles and Goldfish. Some of these vehicles are never unpacked. So, you can see the entire human evolution from conception to pre-teen Pall Mall smoker. Discarded McDonald toys, rattles, last month’s snack, last year’s onesie, last generation’s spent Trojans and Grandpa’s Viagra Walmart prescription receipt.

    Minivans hold a lot. A lot of them hold incubated diseases more viral than a Bubonic Plague that also causes Leprosy.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you missed “drugs”…

      Nice tirade, nevertheless.

    • 0 avatar

      Florida seems to be the social drain for the United States east of the Mississippi River; if you run your life completely into the ditch, move to Florida for a fresh start. The beautiful state is saturated with unfortunates of all stripes who brought their bad decisions and bad consequences to the sunshine state hoping a change of scenery will provide a change in outcomes.

      Mix some poverty, short term thinking, and a meager car budget and you will get some very tragic looking cars. Add lots of sunshine + humidity any you will get terrible looking paint and interior smells that will never go away.

      • 0 avatar

        Unfortunately you are right, thats pretty much how I ended up here when my parents moved down in the 70s. I will never forget the trip down from CT, my dad bought an old school bus, and we moved in that. Man, that sounds even more white trash now that I wrote it!

        Luckily my family improved thier lot in life, but most do not. There are a LOT of poor parts of FL, way more than the rich areas. This is also why there is such a disparity in the housing prices, you have to pay up to live in the nicer parts, even though the “average” is low for the state.

        Even still, its not a bad place to be poor. If you choose wisely, you can make do on very little.

    • 0 avatar

      Hilarious and true. I suspect my appetite will be gone for a week just reading your description of the rolling pig pen.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker


    • 0 avatar

      Ladies and gentlemen: We have a winner!
      Nice job Dude. Almost blew coffee all over my screen, 3 or 4 times.

    • 0 avatar

      A four door rolling Petri dish of human de-eveolution that would make Darwin ponder his contibution to Western thought and any CDC/HAZMAT team cringe at the thought of having to enter this mobile trashcan of genetic backwash. A virtual portable pile of plastic, glass and steel that could induce vomitting in a black hole.

  • avatar

    (2) The 1996+ Chevy Cavalier. Between their indifferent build quality and the indifference (and life choices) of many owners make these some sad, sad cars.

    (1) If I’m honest, probably my 2000 Camry. Car’s a rolling collection of toddler/preschooler/tween detritus, meals-on-the-go wrappers, a trunk leak I’ve never found or fixed. Hood lip rock chips became primer, then bare metal, now pea-sized rust spots. The rocker panels still have dirt & grime from the winter of 2010-2011. However, it doesn’t leak any fluids and Still gets 27mpg having just passed 170k on the odo.

    My buddy’s 1998 Ranger 3.0 4×4 is probably worse. He’s cleaner, but he claims the truck’s *never* been washed, and I believe every word of it. Shift knob’s fallen off, the cupholders are made of duct tape, the windshield wipers are just the bare metal arms w/o rubber, and I’d hate to see the metal behind the “Bed liner” that’s warped and allows material and water in behind it. Yes, it still runs with 140k on it.

  • avatar

    about 30 days after katrina, i helped a friend get his stuff out of his apartment not too far from one of the breached levee’s. he had left a mid 90s galant parked for about 6 months before because of an expensive electrical issue. being new orleans, this is not a very smart thing to do. it survived katrina’s wrath no problem and wasnt flooded, but one look inside told a nasty story. mold. deadly mold. everywhere. lets just say, the car was abandoned completely and left for salvagers to do with what they wished.

  • avatar

    Crap, almost forgot.

    Kid (I’m assuming) in my neighborhood has a 97-ish Nissan 200SX SE-R that gets a different rattle-can “paintjob” every so often. Latest (and I couldn’t believe this if I didn’t see it) was a “camouflage” of Black, Grey, Pink, and Purple artfully applied. Having owned one, I know the SR20 that beats in the heart of the thing will last forever, but I wish someone’s put a .50 cal through the block & put the thing out of its misery.

  • avatar

    I love story time!

    In 2001 I found myself in between jobs after returning from Japan. I had planned on being home for just a few weeks before heading off to a new job on the other side of the country, but thanks to paperwork problems, my few weeks turned into a few months and I found I needed some wheels. I decided to go as cheap as possible and headed across the tracks to the bad side of town. There, in the seediest car lot in the state, behind the rolling heaps that made up the very back row – wedged in sideways between a fence and a garbage dumpster – I found an oxidized grey colored 1986 Nissan 200SX Turbo.

    After a brief discussion with the salesman, who quite frankly told me the whole car was an unsellable mistake he had taken on trade, the car was pulled out into the sun and its engine started. It idled rough and the turbo howled like a siren. Inside the filthy interior, the garish 80s style LED dashboard told me the alternator was out as well but I took a chance and brought it home for just $500.

    I got it running well by changing the spark plug wires – turns out they have specific plugs they are supposed to go to. Same goes for alternators and I got that back up to snuff by just by reversing a couple of wires.

    Inside, the fixes weren’t so easy. It stunk like cheap chain-smoked cigarettes and the filth was so thick I felt dirty sitting on the seats in coveralls. I ended up taking out the seats to get at the carpet and found about a thousand cigarette butts and six empty beer cans (illegal under my state’s open container law). I shampooed everything I could, including the seats got things half way clean. I have to say though, my skin still crawled when I sat on them so I opted to get some thick denim seat covers to add another layer between my precious hind-end and whatever was living in the disgusting crushed velour.

    I also found the glove box was locked shut and that it would not open even with the key. I was reluctant to risk breaking it off by forcing it open, but eventually decided I had to in order to ensure that it didn’t contain anything that might draw the attention of a police dog. What was inside? Three unopened packs of Camel cigarettes – non filter.

    It took few days to put this car right (I also hit the paint with some TR-3 I found at the back of a shelf in our garage) but once it was more-or-less clean and back in running order I found it to be one of the greatest cars I have ever owned. There really is something to be said about having a hot car with very little money at stake. I flogged it mercilessly and like some kind of big ol’ dog it lapped it up and came back for more. If I hadn’t ended up getting my new job and moving across the country, I’d probably still own it.

    TL/DR – Sometimes with some elbow grease, you get more than what you pay for.

  • avatar

    Pontiac Grand Am, of course.

  • avatar

    In eastern kansas, that dubious distinction seems to fall primarily on Cavaliers, Saturns and Chrysler minivans, most of them dating back to the 90’s. They’re easy to spot, lots of body damage, rust, various parts such as doors and fenders of different colors and they’re usually full of junk. The only reason I can think of why these vehicles predominate is because they are cheap and are bought by people who can’t afford anything else-obviously they receive no care whatsoever and after being driven into the ground are replaced by another one.

  • avatar

    I try to keep up on the maintenance and appearance, but the truck, I let down on the appearance, though I DID clean it out periodically. The trash was always in the back part of the cab, and often included empty oil bottles and such.

    I did keep up on the maintenance for the most part and while I didn’t wash the truck more than maybe 3 times in nearly 6 years, it still cleaned up nicely when I DID wash it.

    The Honda Accord got a little down trodden in its last few years but by then, it WAS nearly 20 YO and got rear ended, the muffler, which was quite holey finally fell off after the exhaust pipe got shoved back quite a bit, kinking the pipe itself and breaking the muffler’s bracket so it hung down, I did truss it up, but I even knocked that loose one morning running late to work and it fell down and dragged on the ground until it fell off completely.

    It didn’t help that someone clipped the left front corner getting into a parking lot and I had a minor fender bender, damaging the pop up lights so they had to stay up.

    The interior was still in good shape and outside of needing new tires (badly), possibly a new clutch and new front brakes, it had a fairly new timing belt/water pump and the car still ran great otherwise.

    The worst clapped out vehicle I’ve seen recently, a mid 90’s era burgundy Camry who’s body had dings and dents, broken light lenses, very bad rear struts as the car bounded badly over a bump at the gas station where I spotted it, putting gas in Mom’s car, missing wheel covers and I think had a bad muffler.

    I can tell when someone can’t drive well when every corner has some kind of ding, broken lens or major dent.

    Hondas, I don’t see too many of the hatchbacks riced out around here, but many of the older ones tend to be weathered, but otherwise in decent enough shape with faded, sometimes sun blasted paint being the worst of their appearance issues. It’s the sedans and coupes that tend to get riced out the most however.

  • avatar

    Parents grew up in the depression – – taught us kids that taking care of ANYTHING we use (even if we didn’t own it) was standard operation procedure. Is it just me or do the same individuals with those disgusting vehicles also not focus on savings and tend to have victim mentalities.

    Agree that if you have $ to golf, get your nails done, own 4 animals AND spend more than you make, you most likely shouldn’t be driving at all…cost of ownership is more than a monthly payment. My college-age daughter knows that I can use “her” car at a moments notice and I had better be able to pick up a customer/client from the airport.

    General rule of thumb is if you are embarrassed to have your mom/grandmother/dad/or other important person in your life, then take a little time and clean it all up.

  • avatar


    A former co-worker of mine always and without exception kept the inside of his car as a four-wheeled trash repository. Not even the “Hoarders” variety..just fast-food wrappers, overdue bills and other old mail, cassettes (this was the 90’s) strewn all over. I never got it. And it wasn’t $$, this guy was doing quite well.

    He always drove Taurii. When the ’96 redesign came out he was at his neighborhood Ford Store right away to get his new Taurus…which was promptly trashed inside. At least the outside didn’t look too bad.

  • avatar

    This will be a cringe-inducer, but it was a Mark VIII. Sitting about 2 inches from the pavement, reeking of smoke, and looking as forlorn as an automobile can. But, the modular engine was smooth and the compressor jacked everything to a reasonable ride height, so off to my workshop we went. Three bags of garbage later, it actually looked like the rolling art it was intended to be. When all was done, it would cruise at 80 and give 25 mpg. I love that people get tired of their cars. That neglect and disregard for regular maintenance is what allows me to indulge my car jones.

    • 0 avatar

      I share your appreciation for the Mark VIII, particularly the ’97-’98 LSC. It really saddens me when I see a clapped out example, since in my experience, affordability and quality are mutually exclusive when it comes to body/interior repairs. I’m glad yours turned out well.

      Still, no domestic car is as frequently trashed as the Grand Am. If a car is unreliable, ugly, and cheap inside, then it will attract inexperienced or apathetic owners. My grandparents received a ’91 as partial payment from a tenant who fell behind on his rent; Grandpa had to remove 3 trash bags worth of nastiness from that vehicle before selling it.

  • avatar
    beach cruiser

    For those of you with a tad too much time on your hands, visit and hit the section that is titled 1980-1986 bullnose F100 and larger. Look for the thread ” what is the manliest truck of all times” Scroll down to post #2 and gaze in wide eyed wonder at the most trashed vehicle I have ever seen. And it still runs after a fashion.

  • avatar

    All makes and models get trashed add to that what the owner things looks questionably good even when they spend thousand. The best laugh are at the repairs, specifically old picks ups.

    The F-150 and Silverado body repairs are the best!

  • avatar

    Neon. A dealer once told me, “We send them out the front new, and we bring them in the back a few weeks later all f***ed up.”

    Single worst white trashmobile I’ve ever personally seen was one I had the displeasure of riding in… that would be a Chevy Venture minivan. Like VanillaDude says above, it can hold an incredible heap of debris, including empty beer bottles and a broken 12-pack — something I would not have expected a driver with a record of three DUIs to risk carrying around. True story: the owner told me he had lost several small items inside, including at least one cell phone, and couldn’t find them. I sympathized; it would be like snuffling through a disagreeable haystack to find a needle. There might have a few of those in there, too.

  • avatar

    Everything that you see on most Indian reserves here in Western Canada, is trashed, full of filth and garbage and is beaten to death.
    That includes all vehicles, “homes” and adjacent spaces (no-one cares to arrange a yard there). Basically, anything that is not of natural origin, is a ruin.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, you’re talking about Rez Rockets.
      Typically a mid 90’s GM FWD – Sunfire,Cavalier,Grand Am – with about 350000 kms on it, permanent mud exterior, mismatched tires etc.
      One thing I noticed is they never buy imports, you almost never see a Corolla rez rocket, true devotees of domestic products it would seem.

  • avatar

    This one is easy..

    1988 Hyundai Excel. Friend bought it brand new and did nothing but trash it. Didn’t help that thru some paperwork glitch he was able to drive it without insurance. Every surface was sticky with soda. The passenger footwell was filled up to the sill in cans, fast food trash and used cigarettes. Was continually run low on oil til it knocked..
    Oil was added, never changed. he was overweight and busted the driver’s seat so it sat at an angle.. One time after a fresh spill, we were “spritzed” with Coke when the AC was turned on.. Believe it or not, he got about 100k out of that car.

  • avatar

    King of the white-trash motor world I’d have to give to the 90’s Pontiac Grand Am, as others have said.

    Most frequently trashed car over-all is DEFINITELY the Nissan 240SX. I feel like every single person who owns one of these got halfway through some stage of “racecar training” with the thing and then ran out of money/interest/whatever and just decided to drive the thing half-screwed until someone with high hopes and low intelligence picks it up off their hands to finish another leg of the infinite transformation from decent car to poorly done wreck.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never come across a 240sx that wasn’t in some stage of a “motor swap.” On Craigslist many are described as “JDM Spec” which seems mean they’ve been prepped for a remake of The Road Warrior.

      • 0 avatar

        Eight years ago I bought a used 93 240SX with a blown head gasket or a cracked head for $500. It was ragged out, dents everywhere, but it ran smooth as silk until it came to temp – my intention was to get it running right and get it looking have decent. Six months later my dad turned around and gave it to my brother-in-law along with our old 85 Ram 4×4 for a 76 Jeep. He gave me $500 out of his pocket to reimburse me and get it out of his yard (this is a man who has 3 vehicles in his yard that do not run). My brother-in-law’s plan was to swap in a good engine to give his wife something to drive (he’s still waiting on his friend to build that engine BTW). Two months later we’re walking through a parts yard and I round the corner and see a pristine 94 250SX, immaculate inside and out. Just came in last week, no one’s pulled anything off of it.
        “What’s wrong with it”
        “Low end knock”
        Asking price is $475, for less than $1000 I could have had a perfect working 240SX (scrap the junker, swap the block from it into this one).
        I’d probably still be driving it today…

  • avatar

    1.) A few days ago, I was playing tennis when I heard a loud banging noise. I looked over, and there was a mid-late 1990s Explorer with mismatched wheels, almost flat tires, several burnt-out lights, and sagging suspension limping into the parking lot. The engine sounded like it was running on one cylinder!

    2.) 10-20 year-old Altima, Galant, or Taurus. GM J-Body or N-Body of any vintage. Anything “riced”.

    Bonus points for anything (especially VW and Honda) with the “rusted hood look”.

  • avatar

    I think it depends on the region you live in.

    Around here, easy, early 90’s Civics and Integras. Ill-fitting body panels replaced from various wrecks, all in primer if the car is lucky, otherwise faded mismatched body panels covered in door dings and along the under carriage spotted with cancer and dings. Interiors stripped of most of its bits, instrument clusters and stereos long ripped out, coffee can mufflers, cut springs, wires everywhere, body kits that don’t fit right, huge spoilers for more down force, you know, to raise those front wheels off the ground. Completely, totally, thrashed.

  • avatar

    Used to be the 1970-1980 Camaro, but I guess they’ve rotted into the ground by now.

  • avatar

    In Arizona it’s the early 2000’s Hyundai or Kia with a never been waxed faded purple paint job, poorly applied, peeling do-it-yourself tint, and Pep Boys plastichrome hubcaps with one missing.

    Bonus points if the car is filled with filthy, feral urchins or has a running, dread-locked, hatchet man sticker on the rear window. I’m not sure what those stickers represent but it must have something to do with cheap beer, chain smoking, tattoos, and appallingly poor personal hygiene.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s the Psychopathic Records logo. Insane Clown Posse, et al. Kind of appropriate.

    • 0 avatar

      “has a running, dread-locked, hatchet man sticker on the rear window. I’m not sure what those stickers represent but it must have something to do with cheap beer, chain smoking, tattoos, and appallingly poor personal hygiene.”

      Other than the tattoo element, that’s as accurate a description of Rastafarians as you will find.

  • avatar

    Hadn’t thought of this for a while.

    Back in the early 1980s, my dad made some bad decisions and took our family from upper middle class to destitute. Then left. After the Scirocco and Volvo 240 wagon were reposessed, I guess he realized that his ex-wife still had three kids to haul around. So he gave her the automotive equivalent of a trashed-out singlewide.

    This was the 1976 Ford Maverick. Olive green. Remnants of a white top that someone had deliberately slashed into strips with a box knife, that slithered about like the snakes atop Medusa when the car was moving. Windshield repeatedly smashed with a blunt object, to the extent you couldn’t see out of the passenger side. You could hear the car well before you saw it, thanks to the absence of any muffler. I suppose the red shop rag that served as the gas cap was in case it needed to double as a Molotov cocktail.

    Inside was a different story. Or not. Never before, or since, have I smelled such an olfactory abomination as this combination of half-eaten food (some still in the wrappers), empty beer cans, used sterno cans, gasoline, and cigarettes. Looking back, the car had to have been lived in. The smell of long-unwashed flesh hung in the air like the smoke in a crowded bar. I showed my mom an opened box of stove top I found under the seat and announced we could have stuffing tonight. Needless to say, we did not have stuffing that night. Myself and my two siblings would duck down so that no one saw us in the car. I forced my mom to park about a quarter-mile away from school and I would walk the rest of the distance.

    That was a low point, but fortunately only lasted a year or so (sure felt like longer, though). The Maverick was replaced by a crumpled-fender, brown 1973 Monterrey that the brakes fell out of when my mom was trying to avoid a phone pole in the rain (but hey, at least the interior was cleaner).

    I suppose my wife doesn’t understand why I get so irritated when she leaves a receipt or an empty Starbucks cup in the car. Maybe I should tell her why.

  • avatar

    Up where I live (Western Canada)it’s the Dodge Caravan / Plymouth Voyageur dating throughout the 90’s, they’re dirt cheap and millions to choose from.
    You can tell these things have done a lot of hard miles,smoky exhaust, papers and fast food containers covering the dashboard and floor, hand prints all over the windows from hauling generations of kids and / or cargo.
    Still they soldier on the seedier side of my town usually parked outside a shadowy duplex right next to a battered Sunfire / Cavalier which runs a close second for thrashed cars around here.

  • avatar
    George B

    It’s a weird badge of honor to engineer cars that can survive extreme abuse and still run. This type of car has to depreciate to disposable car prices, but still run well enough to pass inspection. It’s not easy to make cars that get trashed long before they become scrap metal.

    In the Dallas area I see a disproportionate number of trashed Chevrolet Cavaliers and other similar GM products. The plastic parts break, cloth gets stained, the paint fades, and wheel covers get lost, but the engines and transmissions survive the abuse and neglect surprisingly well.

  • avatar

    1. The fairly new Ford Crew-Cab of the “impared” individual that hit me while I was stopped at a light. The cab smelled of something very dead. And among the trash in the bed were the packages of his sex-toys. The guy was probably in his 40s with a black concert-T, and a mullet–like he never escaped 1985.
    2. I’d go with the Mitsu Galant. There aren’t that many of them out there, but they are way over-represented in the trash-mobile population.

  • avatar

    I have to nominate the Chevy Astro van over the Chrysler minivans. The RWD Astro vans tend to survive active abuse bettwe than the FWD chrysler minivans. Also-nothing beats GM when it comes to spectacular squalor. Other cars crap out and die. GM’s tend to linger on even with advanced automotive syphilis.

  • avatar

    Gentlemen, if I may, I’d like to take this moment and step up on my little soapbox for a moment…

    While I really can’t add any other cars to this list, I can say that you have hit upon one of my biggest pet peeves!

    My father instilled in me the importance of taking care of one’s car. And, being a regular church attender, I am familiar with the term “stewardship” To be a good steward means you understand the importance of taking care of whatever has been placed in your possession.

    It kills me that so many people who are less than fortunate seem to have absolutely no interest in trying to better themselves. Granted, they might have real reasons for being, well, poor, but that is still no excuse for trashing everything you have.

    Several years ago there was an elderly couple in my town that had a 1984 Olds Omega Brougham. the car looked like brand new. They died and the car was sold to a white trash family and within a matter of weeks the car was trashed, and soon after I never saw it again.

    This past weekend I found and photographed a beautiful 30,000 mile all original 1984 Olds Ninety Eight Regency. It was for sale. I drooled, but didn’t pounce. I shared a pic on Facebook, and lamented about how it was sad to think that it will most likely end up in the ‘hood, with oversized wheels and an obnoxious stereo playing really obnoxious music while it’s passengers ride around with the seats reclined back. I said it made the people in in look like idiots. A friend quickly jumped all over me and tried to make me sound like I was a racist and was judging people! In no way did I bring up race. I did, however, call it as I saw it. Young people from all walks of life find this appealing, though I’ll never know why…

    And finally, I have my pristine 1995 LeSabre Limited that has been garage kept since new up for sale, but I’m keeping the price up because I don’t want it to go to someone who will treat it like a cheap old car and destroy it. It deserves better.

    Thank you, I will now stop off my little soapbox.

    Have a nice day :)

    • 0 avatar

      It is sad that Olds may end up being just another ghetto mobile.

      Most used cars that I end up with have neglect in or on them one way or another, but I always try to keep them clean, go easy on them when driving (with an occasional flooring when getting onto the highway).

      Right now I have a Tercel thats seen better days but its pretty nice on the inside, I intend on patching it up a bit and fixing the dents.

      One common issue with used cars are custom radios and speakers, people that install these tend to end up doing their own electric work and goofing eveything up.

      I’m trying to undo some weird cheap set-up thats been done on my Tercel, the factory speakers are good enough.

      Most people who take pride in their cars don’t brag about the cars mileage nor their maintenance, they brag about “KN Air Filters”, “Tuned ECUs”, and “high-flow exhausts”. Its cooler to be flashy than realistic about things thanks to the Fast and the Furious.

    • 0 avatar

      So first car, a 1978 Cutlass Salon 2-door (the true “aeroback”) with the 260 V8, was used up by the time I inherited it, and it could have qualified for the white-trash had an inch of cigarette ash on the floor, and it must have taken a case of paper towels and window cleaner to get the windows to my standards–even at age 18, I was anal-retentive about car maintenance. Sold it after two years and purchased a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird from my cousin, whose aunt had to go into a nursing home. (The head-gasket problem on that car turned me off of FWD GM cars for good, but that’s another discussion!)

      I wouldn’t want that Cutlass back, but I would take a mint-condition, all-options 1987 Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan with the Olds 305 and 4-speed automatic to take to local car shows and use as a summer weekend driver. Sadly, I’m sure any of these that are left end up being donked, or used in demolition derbies or as the fodder in a monster-truck race.

  • avatar

    1. A Pontiac Sunfire convertible that had been rolled, it was almost unrecognizable save for a broken “Sunfire” badge that I salvaged bits of, put together it makes “Sire”.

    2. I want to say Dodge Neons, they’re popular teen cars but unlike Hondas they cannot take the neglect that most Neons have to deal with.

    In 2nd place are early Cavaliers, no one bothers to maintain them and they end up turning into two tones, faded paint above and rust below.

    In 3rd we have the Mitsubishi Eclipse thanks to Fast n Furious, you’re more likely to see one of these riced out and decal’d than a Civic.

    In 4th the 4th generation Civic, usually they’re wrecked when their owners forget that a custom exaust dosen’t make your car corner better, and a super air filter dosen’t improve your brakes. Sometimes their timing belts will break.

  • avatar

    I was going to say the ’92 Jeep YJ sitting in my garage – the floors are almost completely rusted out, the suspension’s bottomed out, the driveshaft yolk shattered, taking out part of the transfer case, I don’t think the shifter’s properly attached (although it seems to work), the doors don’t close, and it was filled with the detritus of being a cottage toy (beer cans, cheap plastic wine cups, cheap plastic Viking helmet) – there’s a reason I got it cheap.

    But that lead me to this – one of the dealers I visit for work uses it to push larger vehicles (limos and box vans mostly) into the shop. It does run impressively for being thrashed far beyond what its original owner ever would’ve imagined.[email protected]/7092194197/in/photostream

  • avatar

    My opinion is that often the method in which an owner takes care of a vehicle depends on a) its reliability, and b) its fit-and-finish. After nine or ten years, certain vehicle start to look very long-in-the-tooth–particularly originating from the late nineties and early two-thousands. But picture this: You’ve got a 1998 BMW E38 7-Series whose transmission seems unable to climb to the fifth gear, paint peeling on the roof, and only half of the pixels on the LCD displays functioning. All of the aforementioned is realistic on any product made by the blue roundel. And once your BMW starts to exhibit cost-prohibitive or inevitable malfunctions, you begin to have little inclination to maintain its cosmetic upkeep, and suddenly all of those dirt spots, scratches, and the big dents from when that teenager in the Mitsubishi ricer rear-ended you at an intersection matter that much less. And this is on a German luxury car. Imagine the considerably-less-opulent-when-new Pontiac Grand Prix (which was borne into one of General Motors’ darkest periods and which was prone to falling apart if so much as looked at the wrong way) and voila–you have the very instance pictured above.

  • avatar

    The worst one was a 1988 Caravan a friend bought at a police auction for $350 on the coldest day of the year. It had been chewed on by a dog that made my Pit Bull mix look like a Teacup Poodle! My friend didn’t really care, he bought it for one thing, to lug parts for his truck and car restoration projects home, so the interior wasn’t a big deal. The car had been sprayed with that cherry smelling deodorizer that made my nose run, and when we opened the doors up to look at it, we didn’t smell what it was covering up! That obvious as soon as it warmed up inside. The urine smell was activated by the heat, and we had to open up the windows just to be able to open our eyes! The power windows were dead, so we opened up the sliding door and the “wings”. When we got it home, we spent about a half hour yanking urine soaked carpet out of it. My friend then sprayed the insides with water and the skunk smell came to life too. A trip to the store for a half dozen boxes of baking soda and some “deskunk”, and eventually, the smells became tolerable. We found a bunch of receipts from some junkyard under the front seats, and my friend called up the place and we found out that the Caravan was used as a doghouse for the two junkyard dogs, one of which was ancient and had bladder issues. When the old one died, they sold the van to some guy and three months later, it wound up at the auction. They said they built a doghouse for the dog. He had that thing for about 7 years, and no matter what he did, you could still smell piss and skunk when it got humid or something was spilled on the floor. My dog was kind of the same way, whenever he got wet, you could smell the skunk that sprayed him a couple years before. No matter how many baths and how much “deskunk” we used, it never went away. When the engine finally went, it got scrapped, and he got almost what he paid for it. The replacement 1995 Caravan was almost as bad inside, but was urine and skunk free.

  • avatar

    Any A body Olds Cutlass Ciera or Buick Century. Most well past their prime with missing mouldings, mismatched tires, filthy interiors.

  • avatar

    Most of the 80s/90’s GM cars are getting crushed here in salty Chicago. A, N, L and 90’s W’s are flattened. Luminas and Corsicas are nearly extinct.

    But favorite “Urban Demo Derby” cars these days are 1998-2005 J cars, Pontiac GA/GPs, Century/Regals. Ford Tauruses/Contours. Dodge Intrepids/Stratus/Sebrings, and FWD 300M’s.

    For imports, Mitsu Galants/Lancers/Eclipse, Suzuki Forenzas and older Sonatas/Elantras too. Only really old pre 99 Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans are hanging in there in working class areas. 2000’s T/H/N are still clean with first owner.

    But, the current the #1 beat to shyt car, the 1997-2005 Malibu/Classic rentals! Successor to the beloved Corsica.

    Fresh on the scene now are Calibers, Cobalts, and Avenger/Sebrings ready for thrashing.

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