Posts By: Murilee Martin

By on June 1, 2020

You’d think that examples of the Ford Pinto and its Mercury-badged twin, the Bobcat, would have disappeared from the American junkyard ecosystem by now, given the cheapness of these cars and the decades of exploding-Pinto punchlines since “Pinto Madness” came out in 1977. No doubt due to the huge quantities sold during the Pinto/Bobcat’s 10-year production run (well over three million), such is not the case; I continue to find Pintos and Bobcats in junkyards to this day.

Here’s a light blue ’77 three-door Bobcat in a Northern California self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2020

1986 Saab 900S in Arizona junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe original Saab 900 was a favorite of Colorado car shoppers during its 1979-1994 sales run, and I still see many of these cars during research expeditions to my local yards. So many, in fact, that I neglect to photograph most of them.

When I visited some of Phoenix’s excellent yards while on my way to work at the final 24 Hours of Lemons race before the Covid-19 menace shut down such gatherings, though, I spotted this ’86 900S and realized I need to document more of these interesting machines. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2020

1967 Chevrolet Impala in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsDuring the middle 1960s, the Chevrolet full-sized sedan was the most mainstream car in North America. The pinnacle for sales numbers came in 1965, with way more than a million new big Chevrolets sold, but 1967 saw 1,127,700 Biscaynes, Bel Airs, Impalas, and Caprices leave the showrooms (if you include wagons in the count, and of course you should).

Of all these full-sized Chevy cars in 1967, by far the most common was the Impala four-door post sedan, and that’s we’ve got for today’s Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

1992 Mercedes-Benz W140 500SEL in Arizona junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsTop-of-the-line German luxury sedans are worth plenty… until, suddenly, their values slam down to salvage-title Hyundai Scoupe territory. For today’s Junkyard Find, an early W140 S-Class that sold new for the 2020 equivalent of $175,000, now parked between a couple of prole-grade Japanese machines in a Phoenix yard. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2020

2001 Subaru Legacy Outback in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Outback version of the third generation of the Subaru Legacy wagon, built for the 2000-2004 model years, was the one that really nailed down the Outback as the Denver motor vehicle.

These things are so commonplace in Denver car graveyards that I don’t even notice them (unless I’m looking for bits for my own ’04 Outback), but today’s Junkyard Find is a top-trim-level VDC with every imaginable option, on top of its standard six-cylinder engine plus McIntosh audio system, and well worth documenting. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2020

2005 Saab 9-2X in a Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWeird examples of badge engineering! Who doesn’t love them? Bad people, that’s who, and so I do my best to find such vehicles while I’m exploring car graveyards. The badge-engineering world includes Isuzus badged as Hondas, Hondas badged as Isuzus, Mitsubishis badged as Dodges, Dodges badged as Mitsubishis, Chevrolets badged as Saabs, and — of course — Subarus badged as Saabs. Here’s an example of the notorious Saabaru, found in the Subiest region of the United States: Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2020

1986 Ford Taurus in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI look for good examples of automotive history for this series, and today’s car certainly qualifies: one of the very first Ford Tauruses ever built, a car that came off the assembly line during the first month of Taurus production.

I found this option-laden ’86 in a San Francisco Bay Area yard back in February. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2020

1983 Mercury Marquis in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord squeezed every possible nickel of value out of the rear-wheel-drive Fox platform during its near-20-year production run (longer than that, if you accept the SN95 Mustang as a Fox), and I enjoy tracking down as many Fox variants as possible while I march up and down the rows of my favorite car graveyards.

I think the period of Peak Fox came during the first half of the 1980s, as the Malaise Era shifted into the Conspicuous Consumption Era (and we haven’t seen a Fox Ford here since 2019), so this 1983 Mercury Marquis deserves inclusion in this series. (Read More…)

By on April 6, 2020

1973 Cadillac Sedan DeVille in Denver junkyard, LH view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCadillac had become by far the top luxury car manufacturer in North America by the early 1970s, with the all-time pinnacle of Cadillac production reached in the 1973 model year: 304,839 ’73 Cadillacs purred off the assembly line. Then, well, the Yom Kippur War pissed off OPEC’s most important members, European luxury cars gained more than just a minor foothold, and Cadillacs became so commonplace that their prestige value sank for the rest of the decade.

Here’s a big, plush Sedan DeVille, from the final year of Cadillac’s undisputed reign over the American road, photographed in a Denver self-serve car graveyard earlier this year. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

1995 Volvo 850 Turbo wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I’m strolling through my favorite junkyards and looking for significant bits of discarded automotive history, I’m always on the lookout for interesting Volvos. Thing is, my definition of interesting has long spanned the PV544/Amazon Era through the Late Rear-Wheel-Drive Brick Era, meaning that the universe of front- and all-wheel-drive Volvos beginning with the 1993 850 has been neglected in this series.

Lately, I’ve been making an effort to fill in some of those blank spots in the junkyard record, and so I went out and found a ’97 850R sedan and today’s find: this 1995 850 Turbo Wagon. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2020

1980 Honda Accord in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn rust-prone regions, first-generation Honda Accords oxidized to oblivion well before the 1980s were finished, but elsewhere they held together for decade after decade. I still see the occasional 1977-1981 Accord when I walk the rows of car graveyards in Colorado and California, though nearly all of those cars are hatchbacks.

Here’s a hard-to-find ’80 Accord sedan in Denver. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2020

1977 BMW 320i in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile I may be guilty of not photographing all — or even most — of the interesting BMWs I find in the car graveyards on my appointed rounds, I’m making an effort to get the complete set of discarded 20th-century 3 Series cars. In fact, once I remember to shoot the next junked E46 I find (which will be easy, as these cars have become plentiful in the yards I frequent), we’ll have the complete junkyard history of the 3 Series from 1977 through 2006.

The first-ever 3 Series, the E21, has become something of a junkyard rarity in recent years, but I found this ’77 in Central California back in December. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2020

2005 Suzuki Reno in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWould you consider a special-edition version of the Daewoo Nubira’s successor to be worthy of inclusion in this series, even as I walk by 99 out of 100 junked BMW E30s? Hey, if I’m willing to photograph every Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally and Geo Storm GSi that I find in the junkyard, then of course a genuine, numbers-matching Suzuki Reno SWT makes the cut! (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2020

1987 Nissan Maxima in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Nissan Maxima of the 1980s remains one of my favorite Junkyard Finds, partly because it began the decade as a sporty rear-wheel-drive cousin to the Z-Car and ended it as a swanky front-wheel-drive pseudo-luxury machine… but mostly because these cars came stuffed full of the quirky futuristic technology that made Japanese cars so interesting during The Turbo Decade.

Here’s a high-mile ’87 Maxima I spotted in an East Bay self-service yard last month. (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2020

1988 Pontiac LeMans in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince starting doing this goofy car-writing-online gig 13 years ago last month, I have documented the demise of 2,073 discarded vehicles in excruciating detail. During that time, I have walked right past thousands and thousands of allegedly interesting cars and trucks (sorry, BMW 3 Series fans, but I’ve been trying to make it up to you in recent years) in order to obsess over my very favorite kind of junkyard machines: littleknown examples of puzzling badge engineering. That means that when I see the South Korean Pontiac LeMans in a junkyard, I photograph it.

Here’s a low-mile, first-model-year LeMans sedan, found in a Denver car graveyard last spring. (Read More…)

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