Junkyard Find: 2006 Toyota Camry With Manual Transmission
When I walk the rows of a big Ewe Pullet-style self-service car graveyard, I always take a look inside every 2000s Toyota Camry I see. I do this because I wish to document one of the most elusive of all junkyard inmates: One of the final Camrys sold in the United States with a factory-installed manual transmission. Prior to today's Junkyard Find, the newest discarded three-pedal Camry I'd found was a 2001 model in California. We're pushing the record another five years forward today because I've found this five-on-the-floor-equipped 2006 Camry in the very same yard.
Junkyard Find: 1977 Datsun 620 King Cab Truck
The middle 1970s through early 1980s were the Golden Age of small Japanese pickups in the United States, when truck shoppers could choose from various models made by Isuzu, Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. The decade of the 1970s began with Nissan selling the Datsun 521 here and finished just around the time the first Datsun 720s appeared in showrooms, with the workhorse 620 in between and proving a tough competitor for the Toyota Hilux and (Mazda-built) Ford Courier.
This week's Junkyard Find is a much-battered 1977 Datsun 620 King Cab, found in a self-service yard located on the High Plains between Denver and Cheyenne.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Volvo 242
Volvo built the 200 Series for nearly 20 years and the owners of those sensibly rectangular machines tended to keep them for decade after decade, so I have no problem finding plenty of discarded examples during my junkyard travels despite the last ones rolling off the assembly line in 1993. Most of those machines have been the four– cylinder/ four– or five– door cars, though, because more cylinders and/or fewer doors didn’t seem stolid enough for your typical American Volvo shopper. In fact, prior to today, I had documented as many junked 262C Bertones as 242 two– doors (and just a single 264 sedan). Now I’ve found this rusty 242 in a self-service yard between Denver and Cheyenne.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Ford Taurus LX
Junkyard Find: 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe Sedan
I’ve been living in Colorado for 12 years now, and I’ve found that the junkyards here have plenty of both the rust-free Japanese cars you’d find in California yards and the late-model Detroit machinery of the Midwest yards (the liquor stores here also stock the watery yellow beers of both the Pacific Northwest and the Upper Midwest, great news if you’re throwing a Denver party that requires both Rainier and Hamm’s). The one thing that really sets Colorado car graveyards apart from those elsewhere (besides all the Scouts and edge-case 4WD cars) is the huge numbers of pre-1960 American vehicles that end up in the U-Wrench-It-type yards here. Here’s the latest, a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan in a big self-service yard between Denver and Cheyenne.
Junkyard Find: 1993 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The Mazda Miata has been with us for well over three decades, becoming the best-selling two-seat sports car in history along the way. Miatas were popular as quasi-sensible commuter cars in North America well into our current century, which means that I should have been seeing at least a couple in every junkyard I’ve visited for at least the last 15 years. In fact, I still see many more discarded MGBs and Fiat 124 Sport Spiders than I do Miatas, so this reasonably intact ’93 in Crystal White paint caught my attention immediately (naturally, there was an ’81 Fiat Spider 2000 a few rows away).
Junkyard Find: 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Club Coupe
Ah, the Chevrolet Corvair. Easily the most controversial American car ever made, nearly two million examples were sold during the 1960 through 1969 model years. It remains one of the most common 1960s Detroit cars in Ewe Pullet-style car graveyards to this day. I found this sporty 1962 Monza Club Coupe in a Denver-area yard last month.
Junkyard Find: 1989 Mazda 626 DX
Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Escort GT
Junkyard Find: 1991 Geo Prizm GSi Sedan
When The General began building the AE82 Toyota Corolla (actually based on the JDM Sprinter version) at the NUMMI plant in California, that car got Chevrolet Nova badges. When Toyota debuted the E90 Corolla platform in 1987, it made sense for the NUMMI-ized version of the new E90 Sprinter to join the Suzukis and Isuzus of the new Geo brand. That car was the Geo Prizm, and I’ve found one of the super-rare factory-hot-rod GSi Prizms in a Denver-area self-service yard.
Junkyard Find: 1966 Ford Falcon Club Wagon
Junkyard Find: 1996 Buick LeSabre Wildcat Edition
During the bling-and-horsepower-crazed 1960s, The General’s Buick Division took the full-size B-Body platform, added a hot engine and flashy trim, and called it the Wildcat. Not many well-heeled grandfathers felt interested in doing land-yacht burnouts in the VFW parking lot, it turned out, so Wildcat sales ended after 1970… but a yearning for the glory days of the Wildcat must have inspired some Buick dealers to create their own Wildcats during the 1990s. Here’s one of those rare special-edition cars, found in a Denver-area self-service yard.
Junkyard Find: 1990 Subaru Justy 4WD GL
The General began selling the Suzuki Cultus hatchback with Chevrolet Sprint badges here starting in the 1985 model year, with the later versions becoming the Geo/ Chevrolet Metro. Even though gasoline prices had crashed during the middle 1980s, the three-cylinder Sprint sold well enough that Subaru decided to bring their tiny three-cylinder car to our shores. This was the Justy, and I’ve found this ’90 in a self-service yard in Subaru-crazed Denver.
Junkyard Find: 1985 Cadillac Cimarron
Way back in 2007, I kicked off the Down On the Street series (which was supposed to be a one-time reference to the title of a Stooges song beloved by me and the late Davey J. Johnson) with the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of interesting street-parked cars: a 1984 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro. That led to something of a Cimarron obsession, and I’ve spent the past 15 years documenting every semi– intact Cadillac J-Body I find during my junkyard adventures. You’d think they’d all have been crushed by now, but such is not the case; I found this loaded Brown Overload Edition ’85 in a yard near Pikes Peak earlier this year.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Dodge Rampage
Once the Dodge Omni/ Plymouth Horizon, front-wheel-drive econoboxes that began life as Chrysler Europe designs, proved to be strong sellers in North America, Lee Iacocca and his poker buddies decided that a pickup based on the Omnirizon platform would be a fine idea. The result was the Dodge Rampage and its Plymouth-badged sibling, the Scamp. I found one of those cartrucks in a Denver-area wrecking yard a while back.
Junkyard Find: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi SE AWD
Even though everything in the General Motors universe looked pretty shaky in 2009 and GM-affiliated Suzuki gave up on its attempts to sell Suzuki-badged cars in America in 2013, somehow an interesting new Suzuki midsize sedan managed to appear on our shores for the 2010 model year: The Kizashi. Just under 23,000 Kizashis were sold in the United States and Canada during the car’s 2010-2013 sales run, and I’ve found this clean ’11 in a yard just south of Denver, Colorado.
Junkyard Find: 1990 Lexus LS 400
While Honda was the first Japanese car company to have a North American showroom hit with a new luxury brand, the Legend lacked the imposing bulk to really threaten the flagship sedans of competitors based in Michigan and Europe (and, on top of that, it had Accord running gear and Rover DNA). Nissan and Toyota got into the luxury-sedan game here in the 1990 model year, when the Infiniti and Lexus brands had their debuts here with the Q45 and LS 400, respectively.
Junkyard Find: 1985 Ford Escort GL Wagon
Remember the era, around the middle of the 2010s, when we were all supposed to desire a brown station wagon with a manual transmission (or mock those who liked brown wagons after it was cool)? Well, today’s Junkyard Find is just that!
Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Cougar XR7 30th Anniversary Edition
Ford’s Mercury Division built rear-wheel-drive Cougars from the 1967 through 1997 model years, followed by a 1999-2002 run of front-wheel-drive Cougars based on the Mondeo chassis. Today’s Junkyard Find is thus historically significant on three counts: it’s the last model year for the rear-wheel-drive Cougar, it’s a special edition commemorating the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Man’s Car, and it’s the last year for the XR7 luxury package. Bitter tears, indeed!
Junkyard Find: 2006 Buick Lucerne CXS
Remember, not many years ago, when American car shoppers could choose among dozens of new Detroit sedans? For the 2006 model year alone, General Motors offered 12 different four-door sedans, and that’s ignoring sub-models plus the sedans bearing the badges of (GM-owned) Saab and Suzuki. Today, there are three new GM sedans available here, and both of the Cadillacs are built on the same platform as the Camaro. The Buick Division got out of the US-market sedan game when the final 2020 Regal rolled off Opel’s line in Rüsselsheim, but the very last proper full-sized Buick sedan was Hamtramck’s own Lucerne. I found this Northstar-equipped first-year Lucurne in a Colorado Springs yard last month.
Junkyard Find: 1970 Volvo 164
In North America, the Volvo Brick family first appeared with the 140 in the 1968 model year, and the sensibly square Swedes remained on sale here through the last of the S90s and V90s (formerly known as the 960) in 1998. I’ve managed to find junkyard examples of all of these cars, including such oddities as the 262C and 780 Bertone Coupes, but the Volvo 164 has been a tough one; prior to today’s Junkyard Find, I had documented just a single 164. On a recent trip to a snow-coated yard between Denver and Cheyenne, I found another: this scorched and punctured ’70.
Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Galaxie 500 Sedan
1972 ended up being the final year for the postwar era of mainstream American car shoppers buying big, cheap sedans with few misgivings about fuel economy (though, if you want to get picky about it, you could say the 1973 Oil Crisis began while 1974 models were already in showrooms). Full-sized Fords sold very well in 1972, with close to a half-million Customs, Galaxies, and LTDs sold that year (plus better than 75,000 units of the Marquis and Monterey), and these cars were commonplace on American roads well into the 1990s. Today, the 1971-1972 big Fords and their distinctive snouts have all but disappeared, so I was happy to find this extremely green example in a Denver-area yard last month.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Sport Coupe
Junkyard Find: 1984 Pontiac 6000 STE
Junkyard Find: 1991 Toyota Corolla Wagon With 315,406 Miles
Junkyard Find: 1980 Datsun 280ZX
Nissan sold the 280ZX version of the famed Z-Car here for the 1979 through 1983 model years, right up to the end of the Datsun era and the start of the “Name Is Nissan” period we’re in today. These cars don’t have the maniacal following of their 240Z/ 260Z/ 280Z predecessors but sold well when new, so I find the 280ZX to be reasonably easy to find in the big California car graveyards I frequent. Here’s a well-equipped ’80 in Alpine White paint, showing off its T-tops in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a few years back.
Junkyard Find: 1970 Fiat 124 Sport Spider
Since 2007, when I started writing about interesting vehicles in car graveyards, I’ve seen at least a couple of discarded Fiat 124 Sport Spiders per year. In fact, I was finding these cars in junkyards when you could still buy them new, back when I was hitting the yards of Hayward in search of parts for my ’69 Toyota Corona. These days, most Sport Spiders you’ll find at your local Ewe Pullet will be 1976-1980 models (I still haven’t managed to find any junked examples of the Pininfarina-badged mid-1980s Spiders that Malcolm Bricklin sold as Azzurras), so today’s ’70 is quite a rare Junkyard Find.
Junkyard Find: 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Limited Roadster
Junkyard Find: 2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK 430 Coupe
Luxury 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.
Junkyard Find: 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix Turbo Coupe
The 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.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood D'Elegance
1988 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.
Junkyard Find: 1996 Subaru SVX
One 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.
Junkyard Find: 1985 Mazda 626 Luxury Sedan
The 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.
Junkyard Find: 1994 Toyota Previa LE With 376,407 Miles
Ever 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.
Junkyard Find: 1979 Volvo 245 DL With 338,475 Miles
Ever 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.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX XE
Junkyard Find: 2005 Pontiac Vibe, Gambler 500 Edition
Several 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.
Junkyard Find: 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Wagon
Chevrolet 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.
Junkyard Find: 1980 Toyota Celica Supra
In 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!
Junkyard Find: 2003 Toyota Prius
It took many years before the first (non-wrecked) Toyota Priuses began showing up in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent, partly because Toyotas tend to hold together pretty well and partly because buyers of early Priuses seem to be the kind of car owners who obsess over the proper care and feeding of their vehicles. This ’03 Prius in Denver, painted in I Love Gaia Green™ (actually, it’s Electric Green Mica), appears to be one of those well-loved cars that finally just wore out.
2013-15 Honda Accords Heading in the Wrong Direction
2013-15 Honda Accords are under investigation by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a steering issue. Allegations of Accords suddenly losing control without warning have led to 107 complaints. According to a Motor1 report, there are as many as 1,120,470 Accords in the US that could be affected.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 4WD Wagon
By the second half of the 1980s, Subaru had moved beyond being known only for tiny, hilarious econoboxes. While American Subaru shoppers could still get front-wheel-drive cheapmobiles at that time, the same showrooms also offered futuristic-looking s ports cars and four-wheel-drive family wagons loaded with luxury features. Today’s Junkyard Find is the swankiest Subaru wagon money could buy in 1987 North America: a GL-10 4WD Turbo, found in a Denver car graveyard last summer.
Your Junkyard Find Treasure Trove Awaits
There’s something poignant about Murilee Martin’s Junkyard Find photos. Dejected, tired, forgotten by multiple owners, and stripped of their parts (and dignity) by self-interested scavengers, these once proud vehicles sit motionless, quietly collecting rust and dust in various scrapyards across the American West.
And yet, for some reason, I can’t get enough of them. Murilee’s sharp eye picks out peculiarities with Colombo-like precision, and there’s a distinct joy to be had as he envisions various episodes in the vehicles’ roadgoing lives. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of this junkyard goodness all in one place, you say?
Well, you’ve got your wish.
Lemon or Lemonade: March Madness
February ends. March begins. What better way to celebrate the sunny-but-cool weather of early spring than by looking at military castoffs? Luckily, the Lemon Lot full of them, and some were quite appropriately named.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of Nissan’s cutest products: the March.
From Auction to Flip, This Is How a Salvage Car Makes It to Craigslist
Salvage and rebuilt vehicle listings on Craigslist (and other classified sites) are ubiquitous. They often manifest themselves as late-model metal with low prices and even lower standards of ad copy.
But have you ever wondered how those vehicles end up on Craigslist in the first place? What happens to a salvage or rebuilt vehicle between the time it’s sold at auction and its first appearance on your local classified site?
Missouri Law Lets Thieves Scrap Your Classics
Kansas City’s KCTV reported this week on an attempt to repair a 2012 Missouri state law that has led to a dramatic increase in car thefts. The law, which allows people to sell vehicles 10 years or older without a title, was originally intended to help rural property owners dispose of derelict vehicles and outdated machinery that would otherwise be left to rot. Criminals, however, soon discovered that they could scoop up virtually any vehicle that met the standard and sell it to scrap yards for a tidy profit.
Justice for the Zombie Cars
Photo courtesy of NBCnews.com
Just in time for Halloween, NBC News’ China-centric news blog “Behind the Wall” is running a piece on the removal of a Chinese “Zombie car.” The car, actually a small blue van, was left in a roadside parking lot just over a year ago and has since been consumed by a voracious ivy plant. When photos of the plant covered car became an internet sensation earlier this year, the police became involved but had little luck tracing the current owner. Eventually the decision was made to impound the vehicle, but by then the vines were so thick that local authorities determined it would be easier to haul the entire mess away in one fell swoop. The end result makes an interesting photo.
Paging Dr. Ferraristein: Wrecked Exotic Goes up for Salvage Auction in Connecticut
It’s amazing what having a ton of cash can buy you these days. For example, if you have a tween daughter with big dreams to be on stage singing about her favorite Asian foods, up to $4,000 can buy her a music video featuring a clown in a panda costume, plus the music and lyrics.
That said, why allow your daughter to become the next big viral sensation (for all the wrong reasons), when for the right price, you can buy a wrecked 1995 Ferrari F50?
A Little Context From A Forgotten Photograph
We have all been there, posing proudly with our car alongside some curvy country road on a sunny afternoon. It doesn’t matter if the car is new or old, is just going through the break-in procedure or is on its last legs, what matters is the moment. A photo like this is a powerful talisman against old age, wherever we go and whatever happens to us, we have simply to gaze upon it and we are transported back to that special time in our lives when the road was clear and the only thing we needed to be serious about was having a little fun.
More Than 550 Classic Cars For Sale In One Ebay Auction
My Role In The Extinction Of The American Muscle Car
1969 Chevelle SS
A few weeks a go I had the opportunity to watch part of the Barrett Jackson auction. I found myself captivated by the colorful commentary that went along with each sale. Every car had a story and the commentators spent a great deal of time telling us about them. They also discussed the cars’ performance, available options and recited the original production numbers, contrasted by telling us exactly how many of those cars survive today. It turns out that many of the cars I regularly used to see back in the 1970s are extremely rare today. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, however, after all, I had a hand in making them go away.
Hammer Time: If You Want A Deal, You Have To Pay For It
BCA Auctions in Derby, UK; Courtesy of Zimbio.com
I get a lot of emails from auto enthusiasts. About 60% of what I get comes down to this question.
“Can you get me a high demand vehicle at a disgustingly low price at the auctions?”
The short answer is no. Just as an athlete can’t contradict the laws of physics, I can’t control the free market aspect of a dealer auction. In my world a car is bid on by dozens of professionals until the last man pays the most. If you want a Toyonda or the latest and greatest wheels that are based on yet another ‘”Fast & Furious” ripoff, then you have to pay the premium.
As for unpopular cars, they are a different story.