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Phil Greden

By on October 18, 2021

1980 Toyota Celica Supra in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn 1970, Toyota introduced the world to a pair of cars based on a new platform: The Carina sedan and the Celica sports coupe. The Carina was sold in the United States for just the 1972-73 model years and disappeared without a trace, but its Mustang-resembling Celica sibling proved to be a big sales hit on this side of the Pacific. With their truck-appropriate four-cylinder R engines, though, those U.S.-market Celicas of the 1970s were slow and tended to sound like a Hilux groaning up a mountain pass in Waziristan with a load of 15 Red Army-battling mujahideen fighters. So, Toyota widened and lengthened the second-generation Celica, yanked out the truck mill, and dropped in a straight-six. Thus was the Celica XX born in 1978, and when it arrived on our shores in the following year, it had a new name: Celica Supra! (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2021

1984 Chevrolet Chevette in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn early 1973, the new GM T Platform was introduced to the world as the Brazilian-market Chevrolet Chevette, followed soon after by the Opel Kadett C in Europe. The Isuzu Bellett Gemini appeared in Japan in 1974, and it wasn’t long before these cheap, rear-wheel-drive subcompacts were being sold in every corner of the GM Empire. North America got the Chevette starting in the 1976 model year, and sales continued here all the way through 1987. American Chevette sales peaked here in the late 1970s, so the examples from the middle 1980s have been tough to find in junkyards. Here’s one of those cars, a thoroughly battered ’84 in a San Francisco Bay Area yard. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2021

1982 Plymouth Sapporo in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler began importing rebadged Mitsubishis to North America starting with the Colt in the 1971 model year, with more models being added as the decade progressed. By 1976, Plymouth shoppers could buy a Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste as the sporty Arrow; Plymouth Arrow and Dodge D-50 (later Ram 50) pickups, based on the Mitsubishi Forte, showed up here in 1979. So that those Dodge/Plymouth dealers would have a small personal luxury coupe to sell, the Japanese-market Galant Lambda hardtop was pressed into American service as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo for 1978. Sales continued through 1983, and I’ve found one of those final Sapporos in a yard south of Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2021

2017 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI have become accustomed to running into the unexpected during my junkyard travels, finding everything from a JDM Nissan Fairlady Z to a bullet-riddled Cadillac from a Mythbusters episode to a British tank. That said, I never expected to find a four-year-old hydrogen fuel-cell car, more than a thousand miles from the only state in which they were sold that year. This becomes the newest junkyard car I’ve documented, taking the top spot from the now-second-place 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2021

Starting in the 1997 model year, The General’s Cadillac Division glued Cadillac badges and some puzzling cartoon-duck advertising to the Opel Omega and called it the Catera. I’ve photographed just about every junkyard Catera I’ve found because they seem like relics from a long-ago past when Detroit car companies believed Americans would buy their European-market cars… or cars, period. Another Cadillac from the same era fits right in with American automotive trends of the last couple of decades, though, because it helped create them: The Cadillac Escalade. Here’s a first-model-year Escalade, found in a Silicon Valley self-service yard a few months back. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2021

1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith The General offering a costlier-than-an-S-Class Cadillac built in Turin and Hamtramck (the two assembly lines connected via custom-built 747 freighters) as well as Italianate Buicks and Oldsmobiles in the late 1980s, Lee Iacocca decided to leverage Chrysler’s investment in Maserati to create a K-Car-based Italian sports car: the TC by Maserati. Like the Allanté, Troféo, and Reatta, the TC hasn’t held its value so well over the decades, and I find the occasional example during my junkyard travels. Here’s a crashed ’91 in a yard near Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2021

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFrom the time of John DeLorean’s money-printing 1962 Grand Prix through the model’s demise two years before the Pontiac Division itself got Old Yeller-ized by The General, Americans bought huge numbers of the sporty-looking Grand Prix. I’ve documented these cars in junkyards going back to 1969, but the LS-powered Grand Prix GXP of the Grand Prix’s final generation had eluded me… until now. Here’s one of those rare machines in a Denver-area yard. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2021

It feels like the Subaru Outback has existed in wagon-only form forever, but you could get a new Outback sedan until 2004. In fact, the Outback name was once used by Subaru USA for outdoorsy option packages on both the Legacy and (from 1995 through 2000) the Impreza. If you want to go back down the branches of the Subaru family tree to find the current Outback‘s direct ancestor, you’ll come to something like today’s Junkyard Find: a second-generation Legacy station wagon with the Outback package, found in a Silicon Valley self-serve yard in June. (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2021

1986 Ford Mustang in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBecause the 1979-1993 Fox Mustang remains so popular with enthusiasts, I don’t find so many noncrashed examples in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent. In fact, these days I see more 19741978 Mustang IIs than I do Fox Mustangs (unless you consider the 1994-2004 SN95 Mustang to be a true Fox). Last week, I found this very solid ’86 Mustang LX hatchback in a Denver yard, and my camera was ready for it. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2021

1984 Buick Century Olympia in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBuick was one of the major sponsors of the United States Olympic Team for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles— you know, the Games that got boycotted by the Evil Empire as payback for our boycott of the 1980 event— and the centerpiece of that sponsorship came in the form of a very special car: the 1984 Buick Century Olympia. We last saw one of these rare machines back in 2014, and now the Junkyard Find series returns with another, found in the San Francisco Bay Area a couple of months back. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2021

1964 Volvo PV544 in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I’m searching car graveyards for interesting examples of automotive history, discarded rear-wheel-drive Volvos from the Swedish Brick era (roughly 1967 through 1998) have been easy enough to find over the last decade. Yes, 140s, 200s, 700s, 900s— I’ve been able to document each type. Even the pre-brick Amazon isn’t so hard to find in the big American UWrenchIt yards. But the Amazon’s ancestor, the PV444/544, that’s a rare Junkyard Find, even though Americans could buy the PV544 through 1966. (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2021

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile Mitsubishi sold Montero-badged Pajeros in North America from the 1985 through 2006 model years, the boxy first-generation version (and its Dodge Raider twin— no, not the Mitsubishi Raider) is the one most of us recognize as the true Montero. Since I live in Montero-loving Colorado, I find plenty of these trucks in junkyards and have the privilege of choosing only the nicest ones to share as Junkyard Finds. Here’s a low-mile ’89 that now resides in a car graveyard just north of downtown Denver. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2021

2002 Chevrolet Venture WB Edition in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBack in the days before smartphones and cheap tablet computers, parents planning to take some screaming ankle-biters on a long road trip needed some means of hypnotizing the little darlings into submission, something that didn’t involve extreme measures such as tranquilizer dart guns or child literacy. Minivan makers began installing airliner-style flip-down video displays in the 1990s, enabling The Slime to ooze out of tiny flat screens on the road. The General took this idea one step further, partnering with Warner Brothers to issue a special-edition Chevy Venture packed with Looney Tunes goodies and branding. I spent years trying to find one of these rare vans in the U-Wrench-It yards I frequent, and I hit pay dirt last month in Denver. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2021

2003 Toyota Prius sedan in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIt took many years before the first (non-wrecked) Toyota Priuses began showing up in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent, partly because Toyotas tend to hold together pretty well and partly because buyers of early Priuses seem to be the kind of car owners who obsess over the proper care and feeding of their vehicles. This ’03 Prius in Denver, painted in I Love Gaia Green™ (actually, it’s Electric Green Mica), appears to be one of those well-loved cars that finally just wore out. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2021

1987 Porsche 924S in California junkyard, LH side view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile Porsche provided the (relatively) inexpensive 914 and 924 to American buyers during the 1970s and into the early 1980s, the debut of the 944 here in the 1983 model year resulted in the price tag on the cheapest possible Porsche starting at $18,980 (about $52,240 in 2021 dollars). While the white-powder-dusted 928S listed at $43,000 that year (about $118,360 today), it must have pained the suits in Stuttgart to have nothing to compete for sales with the likes of the affordable Mitsubishi Starion and Nissan 280ZX. So, for the 1987 and 1988 model years, American Porsche shoppers could buy a 924 with a detuned version of the 944’s engine, keeping the cheap(-ish) price tag of the 924 while ditching the VW engine that— humiliatingly— went into American Motors economy cars and even DJ-5 mail Jeeps. This car was known as the 924S, and I’ve found this one in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

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