Posts By: Murilee Martin

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…)

By on November 19, 2018

1982 Dodge 400 in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Lee Iacocca’s original Chrysler K Platform spawned an incomprehensible tangle of K-related offspring between the 1981 and 1995 model years, but only a few U.S.-market models were true K-Cars: the Chrysler LeBaron, Plymouth Reliant, Dodge Aries, Dodge 600, and Dodge 400.

Of these, the 400 has been the hardest for me to find in the self-service wrecking yards I frequent; in fact, this is the first junkyard Dodge 400 I’ve photographed. (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2018

1971 Volkswagen Bus in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe early second-generation Volkswagen Type 2 bus is one of those vehicles that’s supposed to be so suffused with sacred nostalgic vibes that any example, no matter how trashed, will sell for tens of thousands of dollars. As we can see here, the presence of this reasonably complete 1971 Kombi in a wrecking yard near Pikes Peak indicates that real-world values for these vans may differ from the values quoted in online diatribes angrily banged out by Internet Car Experts. (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2018

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Even though we’ve just had two Japanese Junkyard Finds in a row, I’ve been searching for a discarded Acura SLX for so long that I had to share this ’99 in Denver immediately. (Read More…)

By on October 29, 2018

1993 Honda Civic in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

As the owner of a very battered fifth-generation Honda Civic, I’m always aware of examples of Honda’s 1992-1995 subcompact when I spot them during my junkyard travels. I see plenty of these cars with odometers showing better than 300,000 miles, but it has taken a frighteningly wretched-looking one to get me to whip out my camera while on a junkyard-photographing mission.

On a recent trip to grab a heater-temperature control knob for my car (lost in my garage clutter when I removed the dash during an ill-advised engine-swap-related rewiring job), I found this used-up ’93 sedan and decided that this high-mile veteran ought to be documented before it heads to The Crusher. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

2003 Nissan 350Z in Colorado wrecking yard, LH rear view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

These days, I find many discarded Nissan Z-Cars from the 280Z through 300ZX eras, with the occasional 240Z or 260Z thrown in to add variety. 350Zs, though, have retained sufficient value to evade the high-inventory-turnover self-service yards where I get most of my Junkyard Finds… until now. Just as BMW Z3s and Mazda RX-8s began showing up in these yards a couple of years back, the 350Z’s time in the U-Wrench-It yards has come.

Here’s the first (but not the last) of the 350Zs to appear in my local U-Pull-&-Pay yard in Denver. (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2018

1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Oldsmobile has been gone since 2004, which makes it hard to believe that the Olds Cutlass spent most of the period from the middle 1970s through the early 1980s as either the #1 or #2 best-selling car in the United States. For 1979, the Cutlass came in second place (behind the Chevy Caprice), and thus these downsized A/G-body fourth-generation Cutlasses once crowded North American streets.

Now, most are gone, but this primered ’79 Cutlass Supreme coupe nearly made it to age 40, ending its days in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2018

1989 Chevrolet Corsica in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I have found the self-service wrecking yards of Phoenix to be among the best in the country when it comes to discovering top-shelf Junkyard Finds, so much so that I have taken a couple of trips there just for the junkyards. You’ll see everything from a Taurus MT-5 to a Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 4.5 to one of the last Toyota Coronas sold in America in these yards.

The Chevrolet Corsica isn’t so rare, but this one in Phoenix had some interesting qualities. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2018

2005 Scion xB in Colorado wrecking yard, mural - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsToyotas mostly don’t show up in the big self-service wrecking yards until about age 15, so discarded Scion xBs are just beginning to appear in U-Wrench-It inventories. Here’s a Scion Toaster covered with totally brutal airbrush murals, spotted in a Denver-area yard a few months back. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2018

1982 Chrysler LeBaron in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

While Chrysler developed endless variations of the original K Platform, adding branches to the K-car Family Tree through 1995, only the Dodge Aries/400/600, Plymouth Reliant, and Chrysler LeBaron were true Ks. The K-cars saved Chrysler from near-certain bankruptcy, with the first Dodge and Plymouth versions rolling off showroom floors as 1981 models; the LeBaron came the following year, and the luxurious LeBaron convertible stood tall as the K-car King.

Here’s a well-preserved 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible in a Denver-area self-service yard. (Read More…)

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