We've had a run of European machinery in this series lately, with six of the last ten Junkyard Finds coming from across the Atlantic ( one from Sweden, one from Italy, two from West Germany and two from France), so today it's the turn of that most Michigandic of machinery: A Chrysler minivan.
Because Volvo sold the 200 Series cars here from the 1975 through 1993 model years and so many owners loved those sensible bricks so deeply, plenty are only now showing up in the self-service car graveyards I frequent. What about the 200's predecessor, the 140?
Peugeots! The final model year for new Peugeot cars in the United States was 1991, though I find the occasional Mexican-market Pug here and we can still purchase a new Peugeot pepper grinder right now. Back in the 1980s, though, Peugeot managed to hang onto a semblance of American marketplace relevance with the 505. I've found an oil-burning 505 in a boneyard in California's Central Valley, so let's take a look.
The branches of the Chrysler K-Car Family Tree are far too numerous to describe here, since so many different K-derived cars and minivans were built from the 1981 through 1995 model years for the North American market. One of the rarest types is the 1985-1989 Dodge Lancer, and I've found an example in a Silicon Valley self-service wrecking yard.
What was the most fuel-efficient (mass-produced, internal combustion-powered, highway-legal, non-gray-market, four-wheeled, et freakin' cetera) new car available in the United States during the 1980s? No, not the Toyota Starlet or Corolla Tercel, not the Honda CRX HF, not the Subaru Justy. It was the Chevrolet Sprint ER, and I've found a nicely intact example in a car graveyard just east of Sacramento.
Alfa Romeo Spiders weren't especially difficult to find in American car graveyards as recently as 15 years ago; I saw perhaps one for every three MGBs or Fiat 124 Sport Spiders during my junkyard travels back then. Today, the MGBs and 124s keep showing up in Ewe Pullets just as they always have, while I might find one discarded Alfa Spider every few years. Here's the latest one: a '79 in a yard (on the aptly named Dismantle Court) just to the east of Sacramento, California.
If you owned a car that had traveled more than 400,000 miles during its life, could you bear to send it into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher? In the course of my junkyard adventures, I've found quite a few vehicles that met such a fate. Here's a very solid Mercedes-Benz W123 oil-burner that now languishes in a self-service boneyard in Phoenix, Arizona.
French cars have been junkyard rarities in North America for decades now, which is an ongoing disappointment for those of us who enjoy poring over machinery that ranges from fascinating to baffling in our local Ewe Pullets. I discovered a Mexican-market '06 Peugeot 407 in a Denver boneyard, earlier this year, and thought years would pass before the next time I'd hear the ghosts of André Citroën, Louis Renault, and Armand Peugeot singing La Marseillaise over a car graveyard.
From the time of the first KdF-Wagens until distressingly deep into the 1970s, Volkswagens had air-cooled engines in back and rode on goofy 1930s chassis designs. Finally, the Audi 80-based Dasher showed up here as a 1974 model, but it wasn't until the following model year that the first true water-cooled VW went on sale in North America.
When GM introduced the third-generation Chevrolet Camaro for the 1982 model year, it was 367 pounds lighter than its 1981 predecessor. The third-gen Camaro had gained most of that weight back by its final model year of 1992, but it still showed plenty of early-1980s-style swagger. Today's Junkyard Find is one of the very last third-gen Camaros ever built, found in a Denver car graveyard recently.
Back in 2006, Jonny Lieberman reviewed the then-new Mazdaspeed6 for this publication. He deemed it ugly and slow off the line, but didn't question the reason for its existence. As it turned out, very few car shoppers felt the need to own a Mazdaspeed6, and it got the axe after just two model years. Here's one of the handful that made it out of dealerships, found in a self-service boneyard in Tulsa, Oklahoma a few months back.
The Ford Escort began life in 1955, in Britain (just a year after World War II-era food rationing finally ended), as a cheapified version of the Ford Squire wagon. After the pinnacle of rear-wheel-drive Escort action on that side of the Atlantic, a front-wheel-drive version appeared over there; a not-so-closely-related North American cousin showed up as a 1981 model.
For a few years after the end of World War II, Detroit's automakers sold mildly facelifted prewar designs while they made the switch back to peacetime production. Chrysler managed the feat for the 1949 model year; we admired a Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan from that year in a Colorado car graveyard last summer, and today we're going to take a look at an example of one of the last of the stopgap postwar Chrysler products: this '48 Dodge in a yard just south of Denver.
The XJ Cherokee was born out of the French government's bailout of American Motors and made its debut as a 1984 model. It was so successful that it stayed in production in essentially its original form through three corporations and into the following century. Today's Junkyard Find is one of the very last XJ Cherokees ever made, found in a Wyoming car graveyard last week.
General Motors built more than two million Chevy Vegas, and they were everywhere on the roads of North America through about the second half of the 1980s. The Vega has been a junkyard rarity for decades now, but I just found six early Vegas all within a couple of rows of one another in a Denver self-service yard. Today, we'll look at the only wagon of that group.
In 1931, Buick introduced the world to its first big sedan with an eight-cylinder engine (which wasn't a V8 but did have overhead valves) driving the rear wheels. It seemed that such cars would always be available in Buick showrooms, but it turned out that the very last ones were the 1992-1996 Roadmasters. Here's one of those cars, found near Pikes Peak last winter.
Six thousand 1988 dollars were worth about $15,822 in today's money, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, just below the MSRP of the cheapest new car available here now. In 1988, American car shoppers could choose among a dozen new cars priced below that figure. Today's Junkyard Find is a rare example of Mazda's entry in the sub-six-grand field for '88, found in a self-service yard in northeastern Colorado.
The LeBaron name goes well back in Chrysler history, starting when the coachbuilder known as LeBaron Carrossiers was purchased by Detroit car-body-builder Briggs Manufacturing in 1926 and Chrysler bought Briggs in 1953. After various high-end Imperials got LeBaron branding over the decades, Chrysler decided to turn the Dodge Diplomat into a swanky luxury machine and revive the storied LeBaron name in the process. Here's one of those cars, found in a Denver boneyard recently.
Chrysler revolutionized the American family-hauler world in the 1984 model year when the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan minivans first appeared. That same year, Toyota began selling Americanized versions of its LiteAce/ TownAce/ MasterAce Surf vans over here, attracting less attention but moving enough of them that I still see them during my junkyard travels. Here's an '87 that received the camper-conversion treatment, now residing in a Northern California car graveyard.
Just over 20,000 Buick Reattas were made during the model's production run for the 1988 through 1991 model years, and I had documented seven of them in car graveyards prior to today's Junkyard Find. All of those cars were in reasonably good condition, but today's '88 is an example of a Reatta that was loved to death by its final owner.
Station wagons were falling out of favor in a hurry with American car shoppers as the 1990s progressed, especially after the 1991 Ford Explorer and 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee hit showrooms and put the hammer down on the truckification of our roads. Mitsubishi didn't seem to worry about such trends, though, and a longroof version of the Diamante luxury sedan appeared here for the 1993 model year. Here's one of those extremely rare wagons, found in a Northern California car graveyard a couple of months back.
Over the last couple of decades, the Nissan Altima has become the butt of countless online jokes and is now generally considered the most wretchedly disposable of US-market motor vehicles. We can assume that this is the result of so many years of ex-fleet Altimas being dumped into the market after full depreciation, coupled with a general sense of utter dysfunction in Nissan HQ. In any case, the Altima is an icon now, and I've spent years trying to find a first-year example in the car graveyards I frequent. Finally, in a Denver-area boneyard, I found this battered '93 GXE sedan.
Until the 1984 model year, every new Corolla sold in the United States used a rear-wheel-drive configuration. Today's Junkyard Find is an AE72 Corolla station wagon, from the final model year of its generation sold here, found in a car graveyard in John Steinbeck's hometown.
When the first Hyundai Excels appeared on American streets as 1986 models, bearing shockingly cheap price tags, did anyone imagine that someday there would be a big, ostentatious Hyundai luxury sedan with serious V8 power available here? It happened, and I found one of those machines in a car graveyard in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a few weeks back.
Toyota sold new Camry station wagons in North America from the 1987 through 1996 model years. I've found a couple of examples of the first-year longroof Camry during my junkyard travels, but the final-year cars remained elusive… until I spotted this one in a Silicon Valley car graveyard in April.
Nissan sold two generations of Silvias badged as Datsun 200SXs in the United States from the 1976 through 1983 model years, then sold the subsequent Silvia generation here as the Nissan 200SX until 1989. Today's Junkyard Find, found in a yard just south of Denver, is a nicely preserved example of the final year of the S110 Silvia, as well as of the Datsun name.
Studebakers! They're not easy to find in your local Ewe Pullet these days, since the very last ones were built in Hamilton, Ontario more than 57 years ago. I have documented a half-dozen Studes during my junkyard travels, but none of them were examples of the compact that bought the venerable South Bend company a few more years of survival: the Lark. Last week, a first-model-year Lark sedan showed up at a self-service yard just south of Denver, and I was there to document it in its final parking spot.
After 16 years of writing about junkyard vehicles, I've come to appreciate the marques that have so few models sold in the United States that I can capture the entire span of their offerings in the automotive marketplace, just by visiting my local Ewe Pullets enough times. Daihatsu sold but two models here. Sterling had two. Merkur also had two. Daihatsu, however, sold three car models during its three years in the United States. We saw a discarded example of the entry-level Daewoo subcompact, the Lanos, a couple of months back. Five years ago, we admired the Daewoo luxury sedan, the Leganza. Today, it's the turn of the third member of the 2000-2002 Daweoo triumvirate: The compact Nubira, an example of which I found in a Denver self-service yard last week.
From the time John DeLorean and his Pontiac co-conspirators created the 1962 Grand Prix until the very last W-Body Grand Prix appeared a couple of years before Pontiac's demise, millions of North American car shoppers eagerly purchased the affordable sportiness of the Grand Prix. Today's Junkyard Find is an example from the very pinnacle of Grand Prix sales, found in pretty decent condition in a Colorado self-service wrecking yard.
When American Motors introduced the Eagle for the 1980 model year, followed by Audi beginning Quattro sales here a year later, it was finally possible to buy cars—not trucks—that powered all four wheels with no confusing decisions demanded of drivers. Toyota's response to this was the All-Trac AWD system, which first appeared here in 1988 models. Here's one of those first-year cars: a Camry All-Trac found in a Denver self-service yard recently.
1979 was the final model year for genuinely enormous Lincoln sedans, with the mighty Continental moving to the Panther platform for 1980. Today's Junkyard Find, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently, is one of those era-ending Continentals.
Cadillac began using the Biarritz name on the high-zoot Eldorado in 1956, dropped it after 1964, then revived it for 1976 on an Eldo distinguished by its extra-squishy "Cabriolet" vinyl half-roof. The definitive Biarritz came a bit later, though, with the downsized 1979-1985 generation of Eldorados. Here's one of those cars, found on the outskirts of my very favorite Colorado car graveyard.
Chrysler began building cars on the midsize B-Body platform for the 1962 model year, and production continued all the way through the final B-based Cordobas and Magnums in 1979. Today's Junkyard Find is one of the earliest Dodge B-Bodies: a 1963 Polara spotted in a Silicon Valley self-service yard last fall.
From the 1966 through 1997 model years, American car shoppers could walk into an Oldsmobile dealership and drive out in a new Cutlass Supreme. During its peak sales years of the middle 1970s through the middle 1980s, the Cutlass Supreme reigned as one of the best-selling cars in the land. Today's Junkyard Find, found in a Denver-area car graveyard, comes from the often-overlooked twilight years of Cutlass Supreme production.
When the time came to design a successor to the beautiful Jaguar E-Type, British Leyland gave the world a much different V12-powered coupe. This was the XJ-S, and it stayed in production for more than 20 years. This week's Junkyard Find is an early High Efficiency model, found in a self-service yard near Reno, Nevada last fall.
Of all the far-flung outposts of the sprawling GM Empire, Daewoo produced some of the best stories. Today's Junkyard Find is an example of one of the three car models sold with Daewoo badging during the company's brief attempt to establish a toehold under its own name in North America.
Nissan did very well selling the rear-wheel-drive Sunny in North America, as the Datsun 1200, Datsun B210, and Datsun 210. When the Sunny went to a new front-wheel-drive platform in 1981, the North American version began showing up here as the Nissan Sentra (United States and Canada) and the Tsuru (Mexico) during the following year. 1980s Sentras have become very rare in the car graveyards I frequent, so I have documented this '87 in Denver.
The engine of the current Mitsubishi Mirage, much derided for its alleged slowness, must pull a bit more than 27 pounds of car for each of its 78 horsepower. That's underpowered, yes? Not compared to the Mercedes-Benz W123 equipped with a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder diesel engine! That's the car we're going to admire for this week's Junkyard Find.
Starting with the 1962 model year, GM sold cars on the new compact rear-wheel-drive X Platform (thus dooming the Corvair long before Ralph Nader had any say in the matter). In the United States, these cars were Chevrolet Chevy IIs and Novas; north of the border, they were Acadians. Eventually, the platform got bigger and the other GM car divisions jumped in for a piece of the action. Buick sold these cars from the 1973 through 1979 model years, and I've found one of those Buickized Novas in a boneyard near Reno, Nevada.
Small Japanese pickups became increasingly popular in North America as the 1970s went on, with plenty of Hiluxes and 520s/ 620s rolling out of Toyota and Datsun showrooms. Detroit wanted some of that minitruck money, and so each of the Big Three turned to a Japanese partner to make it happen. Today's Junkyard Find is the GM player in that game, found in a self-service boneyard near Reno, Nevada.
Ford built cars on the Fox platform from 1977 through 1993 (or 2004, if you consider the Fox-derived SN95 Mustang to be a true Fox), and I've done my best to document junkyard examples of every Fox Ford model ever built. One Fox that avoided boneyard discovery for many years was the wagon version of the 1983-1986 LTD, but my searching paid off when I found this very rough '85 in a San Francisco Bay Area knacker's yard.
Alfa Romeo took a break from the North American car market during the 1996-2008 period, and the very last Alfa model available here before the company's strategic retreat was the 164 sedan. Here's one of those cars, found in a Northern California boneyard in November.
The W116 was the first Mercedes-Benz to get the S-Class designation from the factory, and it was sold in North America from the 1973 through 1980 model years. During the darkest days of the Malaise Era, the W116 was a rare bright spot of performance and build quality, and I still see quite a few of these cars during my junkyard travels (because they took this long to wear out). Here's a late-production W116 sedan, found in a self-service Colorado yard last summer.
It's still no sweat to find Malaise Era Cadillacs in the big California self-service car graveyards these days, but the sleek and powerful Cads of the mid-to-late-1960s don't show up in such places so often. That makes this 1967 Cadillac Calais Coupe, found in a yard just up I-880 from the Tesla Factory last month, a very special Junkyard Find.
Of all the Mercury models sold since the marque was born in the 1939 model year, the Cougar must have been the most varied. From the first Mustang sibling in 1967 and into our current century, the Cougar name went on small sporty coupes, white-powder-sprinkled personal luxury boats, midsize sedans, big sedans, station wagons, and various thinly-disguised Continental/Thunderbird copies. The very last Cougar generation was a sport compact coupe with European ancestry, and that's what we've got for today's Junkyard Find.
Daihatsu is one of the oldest motor-vehicle manufacturers in Japan, though it's now a division of that relative newcomer, Toyota. On the streets of Japan today, you'll see Daihatsu kei cars and trucks everywhere (including such fine models as the Taft, Canbus, and Thor), but Daihatsu's foray into the North American market didn't go so well. When I saw a Daihatsu appear in the online inventory of an independent self-service yard south of Denver a couple of months back, I hopped in my kei van and got right over there to document it.
The very first BMW 7 Series cars were sold in North America for the 1978 model year, and production of the E23 continued through the middle of 1986. With a build date of March of that year, today's Junkyard Find (in a Colorado yard between Denver and Cheyenne) is one of the last E23s ever made.
By the early 2000s, Fuji Heavy Industries was raking in fat piles of yen by selling slightly lifted Subaru Legacy wagons with plastic cladding, weather-band radios, and a general air of outdoorsiness. The real money, though, would come from selling SUVs in North America, and so the Legacy chassis got the growth-hormone treatment and a truck-inspired body. This was the Subaru B9 Tribeca, which made its debut as a 2006 model.
GM sold Isuzu Faster pickups with Chevrolet LUV badging in North America from 1972 through 1982, replacing that Japanese truck with the all-Detroit S-10 starting in that final LUV year. An SUV-ized version of the S-10 ( the S-10 Blazer) followed for the 1983 model year, and a GMC-badged twin known as the S-15 Jimmy went along with it. Here's one of those first-generation mini-Jimmies, found in a self-service yard near Sacramento, California.
Volvo began selling its now-legendary brick-shaped sedans and wagons here in the 1968 model year, with the 140, and continued with the rear-driven sensible square Swedes all the way through the 1998 S90/ V90. Of all those cars, though, the most iconic is the 240. The first of the 240s showed up in North America for the 1975 model year, and here's one of them: a 245 DL wagon in a Denver self-service boneyard last summer.
Honda was the first of the Japanese car companies to create a separate luxury brand to sell abroad, beating Nissan and Toyota by several years. When the first Acuras appeared here in late 1986, there were two models: a dressed-up, hot-rodded Civic and an innovative midsize luxury machine co-developed with Austin Rover. Here's an early example of the latter car, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard.
Plymouth sold trucks through 1942, gave up on the idea, then returned to the truck business with the Trail Duster (rebadged Dodge Ramcharger) and Voyager (rebadged Dodge Sportsman) for 1974. Sales of the big Voyager van continued through the 1983 model year, after which the name went onto the new K-platform-derived Plymouth minivan. Here's one of those all-but-forgotten first-generation Voyagers, found in a Denver self-service yard recently.
Ford updated its full-sized cars for 1969, stretching the wheelbase a couple of inches and adding a completely new snout. Production of this generation of big Fords continued through 1978, with well over a half-million sold just for 1969, so these cars were everywhere on American roads well into the 1990s. Here's one of the sportiest models you could buy in that first year, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard last month.
When the Pontiac Aztek concept SUV was unveiled in 1999, it was a bit odd-looking but no more so than the Isuzu VehiCROSS. It looked angular, low, and menacing, which is just how plenty of Americans wanted their truckish vehicles. When the production Aztek appeared as a 2001 model, however, some changes had been made.
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- ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.
- George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
- 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate financial adviser at Arthur Andersen and CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become Chase Center the home of the Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
- RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
- Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.