Posts By: Murilee Martin

By on March 4, 2019

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, LH side view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Dodge Shadow and its Plymouth Sundance sibling were among the last members of the extended Chrysler K-car family to be built, sold from the 1987 through 1994 model years and replaced by the Neon after that. Millions were sold, but these cars are all but forgotten today. Chrysler built a handful of convertible Shadows, perhaps inspired by GM’s feat of selling some Geo Metro convertibles, and I’ve found this ’91 in a North Carolina self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2019

1987 Volkswagen Golf in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf you’re a European car manufacturer in the middle 1980s, what do you do when Tercels and Excels and Justys make your value-priced econobox seem too expensive in North America? If you’re Volkswagen, you call up your Brazilian operation and start building Americanized versions of the VW Gol, successor to the Type 1 Beetle in the South American market.

Here’s a very early example of the first-year Fox, found in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2019

1989 Pontiac Sunbird Turbo in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince The General built cars on the J Platform from the 1982 through 2005 model years, I still see numerous examples of the J during my junkyard travels. Most of those are late-production Cavaliers and Sunfires — not so interesting — but today we’ve got a genuine high-performance Sunbird bearing one of the most important words of the 1980s: TURBO! (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2019

1978 Toyota Pickup in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Toyota Hilux pickup truck first hit the streets in 1968, shoving aside flimsier trucks based on the Corona and Crown within a few years. While the Hilux (or “Hylux”) name got a bit of marketing use by Toyota in North America, this truck was known here as, simply, the Truck. I found this well-worn-but-unrusted ’78 in a Denver self-service yard last month. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

1992 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas Majestic in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsJaguar XJ40s are so plentiful in U-Wrench-It yards that I don’t even notice them as I wander around searching for the elusive Suzuki Equator (no luck there, yet). In fact, none of the Jags I’ve photographed prior to today’s Junkyard Find have been XJ40s, but we’ve got a one-of-121-built super-rarity here in Denver: a genuine Vanden Plas Majestic! (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2019

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLiving in Colorado, I see so many discarded Subarus during my junkyard explorations that it takes a very unusual one to make me reach for my camera. An SVX might do it (though not always), or maybe a BRAT (again, not always), or perhaps a Subaru with Saab badges. A really early Subaru, from the Malaise Era days when few Americans took the brand seriously — I think that’s always worth shooting.

Here’s a first-generation Leone that I had to go all the way to Northern California to find. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

1980 Datsun 310 in Colorado wrecking yard, Lh front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Nissan sold lots of the original Datsun 510s in the United States, and so the remainder of the 1970s saw a whole series of model names ending in “10” showing up in Datsun dealerships. Some (e.g., the 610 and 710) were Bluebird-based cars like the 510, but the 310 was really a Cherry-based Nissan Pulsar.

Here’s an optioned-up 1980 Datsun 310 hatchback coupe in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on January 14, 2019

1999 Ford Contour SVT in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOver the decades since the 1960s, the Detroit car companies have tried their best to make dollars selling their Euro-market cars in North America, with varying degrees of success. Ford did tolerably well with the Capri and Fiesta over here, then raked in little American-market income with the Merkur XR4Ti and got bombed, Dresden-style, with Merkur Scorpio sales.

Dearborn optimism climbed to new heights for a high-performance version of the Americanized Mondeo, the Contour SVT, prior to its 1998-model-year debut. Here’s a fiery red ’99 in a Denver wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on January 7, 2019

1953 Pontiac in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMore pre-1960 vehicles than one might think show up in the big U-Wrench wrecking yards; you won’t find a ’55 Chevy coupe, but I’ve seen Nash Metropolitans, a ’55 Buick, a ’49 Dodge, a ’58 Edsel, a ’53 Willys, and a ’50 Studebaker in recent years, and that’s just a small sampling. Today’s Junkyard Treasure is a ’53 Pontiac Chieftain sedan in very solid condition, photographed in a Denver-area self-service yard last week. (Read More…)

By on January 2, 2019

1986 Toyota Tercel wagon in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUsed-up examples of the 1983-1987 Toyota Tercel wagon (known as the Sprinter Carib in its homeland) still show up in junkyards today, but nearly all of them are the four-wheel-drive versions; the humble front-wheel-drive ones weren’t as desirable (once they became beaters, hoopties, and/or buckets) and mostly got crushed a decade ago.

Here’s an ’86 in a Silicon Valley self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on December 26, 2018

1976 MGB in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
In all of my decades of visiting junkyards, one thing has remained constant: I’ll see a handful of Fiat 124 Sport Spiders and MG MGBs every year, about the same number in 2018 as I saw each year in 2001 or 1987. Here’s the latest: a red ’76 convertible in a self-service wrecking yard in California’s Central Valley. (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2018

1984 Toyota LiteAce Van in North Carolina wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
When Chrysler had such a smash hit with the K-derived minivans of the 1980s, Toyota USA needed some kind of family hauler bigger than the Cressida, Camry, and Tercel wagons. The solution, from the perspective of the suits in Aichi, was obvious: Americanize the TownAce mid-engined van and ship it west ASAP!

Here’s an ’84 Toyota Van I found in a Charlotte, North Carolina, wrecking yard last month. (Read More…)

By on December 10, 2018

1989 Nissan Stanza in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

By the 1989 model year, the weak-selling Nissan Stanza Wagon (aka Nissan Prairie) was gone from the United States, but the unrelated Nissan Stanza sedan continued to sell (poorly) through 1992. You didn’t see many of these cars back then, and they’re exceptionally rare Junkyard Finds today.

Here’s an ’89 that I found in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard last summer. (Read More…)

By on December 3, 2018

1977 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

GM shrank its B-Body full-sized models for the 1977 model year, including the massive-selling Chevrolet Caprice/Impala. This proved a wise move in light of certain geopolitical events a couple of years later, and the 1977-1979 full-sized Chevrolet coupes got a cool “fastback” wraparound rear glass treatment.

Here is such a car, spotted in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2018

1984 Dodge Ram pickup in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCan you imagine buying a new full-size Detroit pickup truck with the top luxury trim package and less than 100 horsepower? In 2018, such a truck would be smashed to bits by angry mobs, were it to appear in a showroom, but this half-ton pickup with 95 Slant-Six horses, four-on-the-floor manual transmission, and the Royal SE package would have been considered pretty nice, 34 years back. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • webebob: A small observation on the most insignificant part. The Cup 2 tires, in what alternate world does Michelin...
  • webebob: I parked next to one of these, driving a RAV4 yesterday, totally dwarfed. I thought “wow, what a land...
  • RHD: Absolutely right. They were placticky and underwhelming, and smaller than you’d expect, and slower, too....
  • MRF 95 T-Bird: In the future I’m considering a Mustang eco boost or the last V6 as a potential replacement. I...
  • conundrum: When an EV does catch fire, there is some level of stored energy in its battery pack, just as when a...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States