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Phil Greden

By on May 10, 2021

1976 Triumph TR7 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve been visiting car graveyards since I bought my first hooptie for 50 bucks in the early 1980s, and one thing about American junkyards has remained constant during the following four decades: the presence of 1970s British and Italian sports cars. Maybe they were a bit less weathered in 1987 or 1994 or 2006, but a steady trickle of discarded MGBs, 124 Sport Spiders, X1/9s, Jensen-Healeys, Spitfires, Midgets, and TR7s into U-Wrench yards has flowed at about the same rate throughout. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to discover this allegedly rare 1976 Triumph TR7 Victory Edition in a Denver-area yard last month. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2021

2008 Dodge Avenger R/T in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I began traveling the country to work for the 24 Hours of Lemons, back in 2008, I began experiencing the joys of renting the very cheapest cars (that could haul four adults and all their stuff) available at airports in places like Charlotte and Philadelphia. That’s when I discovered the Dodge Avenger and its Journey platform-mate. These fleet-spec Avengers were not good cars, to put it mildly, but we’d speculate— jokingly— on how amazing the factory-hot-rod R/T version must be as we sliced our fingers on door-handle casting flash and listened to the wind shrieking through the sub-par door seals. Here’s one of those mythical Avenger R/Ts, found in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2021

1978 VW Beetle cabriolet in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsVolkswagen sold the air-cooled Beetle in the United States all the way through 1979, amazingly, overlapping Dasher and Rabbit sales by more than you’d have expected. By that time, the only air-cooled VW left standing here was the Beetle convertible (if you want to get nit-picky, that car was really a Super Beetle, since the last year for the original not-so-super Beetle was 1977 here and all the Beetle convertibles were Supers after 1971). I’ve never found a ’79 Beetle in the junkyard, though I’ve tried my best, but here’s the next-best thing: a ’78 in a Denver self-serve yard last year. (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2021

2005 Saab 9-7X in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The General had a healthy sales hit with the GMT360 platform in the 2002 model year, when the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, and Oldsmobile Bravada hit the showrooms. Since GM had devoured Saab in 2000 and most American car shoppers wanted trucks or truck-shaped machines by that point, it seemed to make sense to produce a Saab-badged GMT360 and extract some cash from that slice of the car-buying populace that craved both the rugged-lifestyle signifiers of a truck and the quirky-yet-sensible Swedish image of a Saab. The Isuzu-badged version— the Ascender— had had its debut for 2004, and so the Saab 9-7X appeared for 2005 (sadly, no Daewoo- or Vauxhall-badged versions were produced). Here’s a first-model-year 9-7X, found in a Denver self-service yard last week. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2021

1993 Honda Civic sedan in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn my search for super-high-mile vehicles in the car graveyards of the land, all the cars I’ve found showing better than a half-million miles on the odometer have been MercedesBenzes (other than a 1982 Rabbit Cabriolet showing an implausible 930k miles on what I think was a defective gauge). The most-traveled Honda I’ve documented was a 1983 Accord sedan with 411,794 miles, and today’s Junkyard Find now takes second-place in the Highest Mileage Honda In the Junkyard contest. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2021

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord squeezed an amazing amount of value out of the 1960 Falcon‘s chassis design, with everything from the 1964-1973 Mustang to the 1980 Granada rolling Falcon-style. The Falcon itself got replaced here by the Maverick starting in 1970 (with one year of overlap when both were available), but the Maverick still had the 1960 Falcon’s bones under its skin. Millions of Mavericks (and near-identical Mercury Comets) were sold here during the 1970-1977 period, and nearly all of these affordable commutemobiles got crushed decades ago. Still, I run across the occasional Maverick/Comet during my junkyard journeys, and I found this optioned-up ’76 in a Denver-area yard last summer. (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2021

2007 Audi S6 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I’m wandering junkyards and looking for interesting stuff, I don’t pay much attention to Audis of our current century. No, I want to photograph old Audis, preferably ones from the 1970s. I make exceptions for discarded members of the Audi S family, however, because these cars do such a great job of demonstrating the ruthlessly quick depreciation of German luxury machinery that didn’t get the maintenance it deserved. Here’s an ’07 S6 that didn’t even see 15 years of use, found in a Denver-area yard last week. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2021

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsToyota offered North American car buyers the opportunity to buy a new Camry with a manual transmission from the time of the car’s introduction here in 1983 all the way through the 2012 model year. As I’ve found during my junkyard explorations, many Camrys sold here during the 1980s had five-on-the-floor rigs, and this setup remained reasonably popular into the early 1990s. After about 1993, however, automatics rule the American Camry universe, and I’ve been on a years-long quest to find the newest possible manual-equipped junkyard Camry. After peering into thousands of discarded cars, I managed to find a 1997 Camry CE with three pedals, and now I have surpassed that discovery with this 2000 Camry CE in Colorado. (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2021

1974 Honda Civic in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe first-generation Honda Civic sold very well in the United States, but it’s just about impossible to find early examples in junkyards these days; I’ve managed to photograph a few ’78s for this series and that’s it. Why? The cars in rust-prone areas dissolved quickly and those in low-corrosion regions got driven to death well before the beginning of our current century. Here’s the oldest discarded 1973-1979 Civic I’ve managed to find since at least the late 2000s. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2021

1991 Toyota Cressida in Colorado junkyard, LH side view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAfter Americans proved uninterested in buying the luxurious-for-its-time Toyota Crown during the early 1970s, Toyota brought over the new Corona Mark II, then gave its American-market, Chaser-based successor the Cressida name starting in the 1977 model year. The Cressida remained King of Toyotas in North America throughout the 1980s, but the appearance of the Lexus LS400 for the 1990 model year changed everything; Cressida sales collapsed. However, we could buy new Cressidas here all the way through 1992, and I’m always looking for the rare early-1990s models during my junkyard travels. Here’s a ’91 in Denver. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2021

1983 Plymouth Scamp in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNorth American sales of Japanese-made small pickups went crazy during the 1970s, with the Detroit Big Three getting in on the action with rebadged Mazdas, Isuzus, and Mitsubishis. Ford and GM eventually created their own Michigan-style small trucks, the Ranger (1983 model year) and S-10 (1982 model year) but where was struggling Chrysler— in a frenzy trying to get the new K-Cars out the door— supposed to find enough money to develop a new truck design from scratch? Fortunately, Volkswagen had shown that front-wheel-drive worked well enough in little pickups, and the versatile Omnirizon platform proved suitable for a bit of El Camino-ization. Here’s the result, found in a Denver yard last summer. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2021

2002 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Subaru Impreza has been with us since the 1993 model year, and you’ll still see plenty of the first-generation Impreza Outback wagons on the streets (and in the junkyards) of Colorado. All US-market Subarus got all-wheel-drive starting in the 1997 model year, so the company’s American marketers had to show a distinction between the outdoorsy/nature-loving image of the Impreza Outbacks and the rally-inspired image of the other Imprezas when the second-generation cars appeared here for 2001. Here’s a hard-to-find early-second-gen Impreza 2.5 RS sedan, showing off its WRX-like styling in a Denver self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2021

1969 Chrysler Newport in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler redesigned the big C-Body cars for the 1969 model year, calling the vaguely airplane-ish curved-panel look the “Fuselage Style.” Although the prole-grade Fury and middlebrow Dodge Monaco looked distressingly similar to their upscale Imperial and Chrysler New Yorker/300/Newport siblings in the 1969-1973 Fuselage era (further blurring the Snoot Factor dividing lines among the Chrysler divisions), these cars offered plenty of Detroit steel at a good price. Here’s one of the most affordable Chrysler-badged C-Bodies available during the first year of Fuselage Styling, found in a Denver-area car graveyard. (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2021

2005 Chevrolet Cavalier in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe General built cars on the J Platform for a quarter-century, and J-based machines could be bought new with badges from just about every marque in the far-flung GM Empire. Yes, South Koreans drove Daewoo Esperos, Brits drove Vauxhall Cavaliers, Aussies drove Holden Camiras, and even the Japanese could buy Isuzu Askas and Toyota Cavaliers. In North America, nearly every marque offered J-Bodies at some point… and in the end, the very final Js were Chevy Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires. Here’s one of those end-of-the-line cars, found in a Denver yard a few months ago. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2021

1971 Toyota FJ55 Land Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEvery time I share photos of an old Toyota Land Cruiser I spotted in a junkyard, the anguished wails from readers commence. Nobody ever asks me where to find those doomed trucks so they can buy parts before The Crusher eats them, and only a few of the anguished wails come from Land Cruiser aficionados troubled by the demise of another old FJ. No, what upsets so many is the offense against reality on display, the demise of a truck worth 25 grand— no, 50 grand!— in any county, parish, or prefecture on the planet. Well, all I can say is that real-world values of vehicles often differ from what we think they should be, and today’s Junkyard Find proves this (again). (Read More…)

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