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Phil Greden

By on January 17, 2022

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLuxury coupes were falling out of favor among well-heeled American car shoppers around the turn of the century, with luxury trucks gaining sales ground by the minute, but that didn’t stop Mercedes-Benz from releasing a sporty new C-Class-based two-door with a big V8 and big price tag, starting in the 1999 model year: The CLK 430. As so often happens with costly European luxury machinery, this one took a hard depreciation hit during its time on the road, and now it resides in a Northern California self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2022

1990 Pontiac Grand Prix Turbo Coupe in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Pontiac Grand Prix started life as a sporty hardtop coupe version of the full-size 1962 Catalina, then spent the 1969 through 1987 model years as a midsize rear-wheel-drive sibling to the Chevy Monte Carlo. For 1988, the Grand Prix moved to the brand-new front-wheel-drive W platform, immediately winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award and carrying on John DeLorean’s tradition of affordable personal luxury cars with a rakish bad-boy-in-a-suit image. Here’s an ultra-rare example of the most expensive Grand Prix available for 1990, found in a Denver-area self-service yard last month. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2022

1988 Cadillac Fleetwood d'Elegance in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars1988 was an interesting year for The General’s Cadillac Division. The Cavalier-based Cimarron was in its final year of sales, the Hamtramck/Turin-built Allanté was in its second year (and priced about the same as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class), and the “traditional” rear-wheel-drive Brougham sedan shared showroom space with the front-wheel-drive De Villes, Eldorados, and Sevilles. The old Sixty Special name was still being used, along with such slightly newer titles as Elegante and d’Elegance. While the Allanté lived at the top of the GM prestige pyramid for ’88, the Fleetwood was the car of choice for those very wealthy Cadillac shoppers who insisted on four doors and zero Pininfarina nonsense. Here’s one of those cars, found in excellent condition in a Denver yard last spring. (Read More…)

By on December 27, 2021

1996 Subaru SVX in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOne great thing about living in Colorado, where new residents are issued a dog and a Subaru when they arrive, is that I can find examples of just about every Subaru model sold here since the late 1970s in the local car graveyards. That means that I have plenty of opportunities to observe the gloriously weird SVX, once its street days are finished. (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2021

1985 Mazda 626 sedan in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe original Mazda 626, sold here for the 1978 through 1982 model years, was a rear-wheel-drive machine that looked quite European in a Peugeot 504-ish way. Its front-wheel-drive successor was straight-up aimed at gaijin car shoppers who might consider a Camry, Accord, or Stanza, and it came packed with affordable luxury features and cool gadgetry. Here’s an ’85 LX sedan with one of the raddest 1980s audio systems imaginable, found in a Northern California self-service yard earlier this month. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2021

1994 Toyota Previa in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin -The Truth About CarsEver since the 1998 model year, Toyota has sold a big, American-style minivan with the engine in the front and cupholders throughout the interior. Prior to that, though, American Toyota shoppers looking for a new van had to take an innovative mid-engined machine designed entirely with the Japanese home market in mind: First the TownAce (known as the Van here) and then the Estima (known as the Previa here). The Previa was too small and too underpowered to compete head-to-head with Detroit minivans, but those who bought them found that they lasted for decade after decade. Here’s one in a Denver-area yard that got pretty close to the magical 400,000-mile mark. (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2021

1979 Volvo 245 wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH side view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEver since I began my effort to document some of the interesting machinery that shows up in car graveyards, the quantity of discarded Volvo 240s has remained steady. Back in the late 2000s, I’d had an idea that just about every 240 owner would make the transition from safe and sensible Swedish bricks to green and sensible Japanese hybrids, and that the transition would be wrapped up by the dawn of the 2020s. Such has not been the case, although the 1970s 240s are getting harder to find. Here’s a high-mile 245 in a mile-high junkyard. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2021

1987 Nissan Pulsar NX in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen the “Datsun by Nissan” Sentra first appeared in the United States in 1982, it replaced the cramped Datsun 210 in the econo-commuter role. A sportier (and quirkier) car based on Sentra’s chassis showed up here soon after; known as the Pulsar EXA in its homeland and the Pulsar NX here, these cars sold well enough to become medium-commonplace sights on American roads. Most disappeared decades ago, making today’s unrusted ’87 a rare Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2021

2005 Pontiac Vibe in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSeveral hooptie-centric road rallies take place every warm season in Front Range Colorado, including the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Rally, and the Colorado Gambler 500 Rally. Teams will build crazy stuff— say, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV filled with three tons of engine-heated water or a gutted Volkswagen R32 converted to a doorless post-apocalyptic Astroturf nightmare— or just acquire some random cheap car, decorate it, and beat it half to death on Rocky Mountain fire roads. As you’d expect, many of these cars go right to the nearest boneyard when the rally is over, and I find quite a few of them during my junkyard travels in northeastern Colorado. Here’s the “Good Vibes” Pontiac Vibe, found in Denver over the summer. (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2021

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChevrolet built Cavaliers for close to a quarter-century, selling something like five million units. If you count the all the other J-body siblings sold around the world (including some really weird stuff), the extended Cavalier family is one of the largest in automotive history. Somehow, though, the once-ubiquitous 1982-1987 first-generation Cavaliers have all but disappeared from North American car graveyards; I’ve documented plenty of later Cavaliers during my junkyard travels, sure, but the early ones seem to have been crushed decades ago. Finally, here’s a reasonably straight ’85 wagon in a northeastern Colorado yard. (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2021

1992 Ford Taurus SHO in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord introduced the high-performance version of the Taurus sedan— the SHO— in the 1989 model year, and enthusiasts rejoiced over the cheap new factory hot rod that blew away far more expensive European sedans. I’ve documented quite a few discarded SHOs during my junkyard travels, but this is the first ’92 I’ve photographed. Why is 1992 special for the SHO? Simple: It’s the final year for the mandatory five-speed manual transmission. Here’s one of those rare cars in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2021

1961 Rambler American in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen George Romney— yes, father of Marlin-drivin’ Mitt— took over American Motors soon after its 1954 formation in a merger between Hudson and Nash, he set about shifting the company’s focus from “traditional” big cars locked in an annual styling arms race to a line of affordable compacts built on the success of the little Nash Rambler. By 1961, Nash and Hudson were long gone and every AMC car was a Rambler; the smallest Rambler that year was the American, and the cheapest American was the Deluxe two-door sedan. That’s what we’ve got for today’s Junkyard Find, spotted a few months back in a Denver yard. (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2021

1978 Fiat 131 Brava in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile an ever-increasing number Americans in the second half of the 1970s felt comfortable buying sporty German and Japanese sedans, the idea of relying on an Italian sedan for everyday transportation made sense to a much more exclusive group. For those Americans who craved a commute packed with Italian passion and artistry but needed something with rear-wheel-drive (ruling out the 128 and the Lancia Beta sedan) and cheaper than the Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan, Fiat offered the 131 on these shores for the 1976 through 1981 model years (changing its name to the Brava starting in 1978). As you’d expect, these cars are about as tough to find in junkyards today as Mitsubishi Tredias or Rover 3500s, but I ran across this ’78 in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

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…)

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