By on August 3, 2020

2005 Volvo S60 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve documented 60 discarded Volvos since I started my junkyard history project, but 58 of those Swedes were born in the 20th century, and 44 of those rolled off the assembly line before 1990. Just as I’ve done with BMWs in recent years, I’m going to try to document some of Göteborg’s (and maybe Hangzhou’s) newer products in my favorite kind of car museum.

Here’s a Ghent-built S60 with a super-rare three-pedal setup, found in a Denver self-service yard. Read More >

By on July 27, 2020

1988 Chevrolet Cavalier in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsGM may have produced the W-Body for a few more years than the J-Body (W-based Impala Limited production continued until 2016), but Chevy Cavalier sales continued like money-printing clockwork via the increasingly antiquated J platform from 1981 all the way through 2005.

More than five million Cavaliers rolled off assembly lines in the United States and Mexico, so we still see the later ones on the street. 1980s Cavaliers — particularly Cavalier coupes — have all but disappeared from the street, so I keep my eyes open for interesting examples as I tread the oil-saturated soil of American junkyards. Here’s an ’88 coupe still showing the personality of its final owner, found in the shadow of Pikes Peak a few months ago. Read More >

By on July 20, 2020

1985 Volkswagen Quantum in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsVolkswagen of America used model names that didn’t match up to those of its European counterparts for much of the 1970s and 1980s. The Golf was the Rabbit through 1984 and the Passat started out as the Dasher and then became the Quantum over here. I find the occasional Dasher or Quantum during my junkyard voyages, but nearly all of the Quantums that have survived into our current century will be gasoline-burning Syncro Wagons. Diesels? After the Oldsmobile Diesel 350 debacle of the late 1970s and early 1980s, few Americans had the guts to buy a new oil-burner.

Here’s an extremely rare ’85 Quantum sedan with turbocharged diesel engine and manual transmission, finally laid to rest in a Denver self-service yard last month. Read More >

By on July 13, 2020

2012 Fiat 500 Gucci Edition in Denver junkyard, RH rear view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe junkyard tells me that the Fiat 500 depreciates nearly as quickly as the New Mini and Mitsubishi Mirage, though the current generation of 500 remains sufficiently recent that most examples I see are crash victims.

This car, though crashed, is still special: a genuine, numbers-matching Gucci Edition Fiat 500, found in a Denver car graveyard. Read More >

By on July 6, 2020

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe years 2008 and 2009 were interesting times for GM, with the company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 1, 2009 and the Pontiac Division clearly on the ropes (despite the Bondo applied over Pontiac’s rusty image by the Solstice).

To The General’s warlords, only one solution to Pontiac’s woes made sense: take the Chevy Aveo, itself a South Korea-built Daewoo Kalos, and give it Pontiac badges! Read More >

By on June 29, 2020

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven after the Mitsubishi Overlords began selling vehicles under their own badging in North America in the early 1980s, Chrysler continued selling those very same vehicles with Dodge, Plymouth, Eagle, and Chrysler emblems. One of these machines didn’t stay on sale for long, but captured the hearts of a devoted American following: the Dodge Raider, twin to the Mitsubishi Montero (aka Pajero).

Here’s one that acquired some mean-looking modifications before meeting its demise in Colorado Springs. Read More >

By on June 22, 2020

1989 Chev1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - RH rear view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Carsrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor better than three decades, Chevrolet sold Americans full-sized sedans with angular lines and — in most cases— V8 engines. Beginning in 1959 (or even earlier, depending on how strict you are about the definition of “angular”), a big rear-drive Chevy box sedan was the most mainstream American motor vehicle… and that came to an end in 1990, after which the Caprice got a new cetacean body on the old 1977-vintage chassis.

These late Box Caprices have become very tough to find in junkyards, so I decided to document this picked-over example in Colorado before they’re all gone forever. Read More >

By on June 15, 2020

1987 Hyundai Excel in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUntil the appearance of the Chrysler 200 and the current generation of Mitsubishi Mirage, the fastest average showroom-to-junkyard speed I’d ever seen with a new car took place with the first-generation Hyundai Excel. Even the wretched Yugo, its rival for the title of Cheapest New Car Available In America, seemed to hold together until at least age six or seven before going to The Crusher, but I started seeing plenty of solid-looking ’86 and ’87 Excels at Southern California U-Wrench yards by 1990 or so.

Still, some of those early Excels stayed on the road for decades, and I try to document those miraculous survivors when I find them. Here’s the cleanest first-gen Excel I’ve seen in at least 25 years, found in a Denver self-service yard last week. Read More >

By on June 8, 2020

2008 Pontiac Solstice in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsQuick, what was the final new Pontiac model introduced before the marque’s demise in 2010? The G3, a Pontiac-badged Chevy Aveo (itself a rebadged Daewoo Kalos, which makes The Final Pontiac first cousin to the Ravon Nexia R3). We remember a Pontiac model from slightly earlier in the chaos of mid-to-late-2000s GM much better: the Solstice, a mean-looking sports car that showed great promise but went down with the Pontiac ship in 2010.

I saw my first discarded Solstice last year in Colorado Springs, and now I’ve found this much cleaner one in Denver. Read More >

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 >

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