Every time I share photos of an old Toyota Land Cruiser I spotted in a junkyard, the anguished wails from readers commence. Nobody ever asks me where to find those doomed trucks so they can buy parts before The Crusher eats them, and only a few of the anguished wails come from Land Cruiser aficionados troubled by the demise of another old FJ. No, what upsets so many is the offense against reality on display, the demise of a truck worth 25 grand— no, 50 grand!— in any county, parish, or prefecture on the planet. Well, all I can say is that real-world values of vehicles often differ from what we think they should be, and today’s Junkyard Find proves this (again).
It’s not hard to find Detroit sedans of the early to mid 1970s in California self-service wrecking yards, and so I usually don’t photograph stuff like ’73 Olds 88s or ’76 Chrysler New Yorkers unless they’re in pretty decent condition. However, the 1970-71 Mercury Montego is special because these cars (and their Cyclone cousins) have the craziest snouts of just about any vehicle from Detroit during the second half of the 20th century, thus I felt compelled to photograph this very battered example. It also pleases me to make Lincoln-Mercury loyalist Sajeev Mehta taste his own bitter tears, so here we go!
Once American Motors was absorbed by Chrysler in 1987, after lingering on the ropes for a few years during a series of early-1980s bailouts by Renault (i.e., the French government), random strands of its Kenosha/Boulogne-Billancourt DNA appeared here and there in various Chrysler products over the following decades. You’ll still find plenty of examples of full-on AMC products in North American junkyards today, in the form of the XJ Cherokee and AMC Eagle (the case could be made that the Chrysler LH is an AMC design, via the Renault 21/25-based Eagle Premier), but full-strength AMC models from the company’s heyday of the George Romney era and into the early 1970s are very rare sights today.
Here’s a pre- Malaise Gremlin, in glorious brown, that I spotted in a Denver yard last week.
The Volvo 140 was the first of the beloved brick-shaped Swedes. It was built for the 1967 through 1975 model years, and it served as the basis for the legendary 240. I owned one, briefly, and found it was a very competent machine for its era. These cars are not worth big money today, unless they’re in excellent cosmetic shape, so the ones that stay on the street tend to do so because their owners can keep them running for cheap.
I find quite a few International Harvesters in junkyards, mostly because I live in Colorado and the IHC Scout makes sense here. IHC pickups, though, aren’t as easy to find. We’ve seen this ’62 Travelette, this ’72, and this pickup-related ’71 Travelall in this series, and now I’ve found this well-used ’71 pickup in a San Francisco Bay Area yard.
My first car was a beige ’69 Corona sedan, and so I’m always happy to see a junkyard Corona. In this series prior to today, we’ve seen this ’66 sedan, this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, this ’70 coupe, plus this Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. Now I’ve found a Corona Mark II at a Denver yard.
Flawless examples of the BMW New Class are worth plenty, but ratty project cars are another story; the flow of 1602s and 2002s into self-service wrecking yards continues unabated. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73, this ’73, this ’74, and now today’s find, a no-rust California 1602. Now, before you Rust Belt BMW fanatics start emailing me about this car, be aware that I shot these photos last October, which means that this car got crushed, shredded, and melted down at least six months ago.
Mercedes-Benz W114s lasted forever and held their value pretty well, which means that plenty of them still show up in self-service yards nearly 15 years into the 21st century (though most of the time I skip photographing the sedans). So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, this ’73 280CE, and this ’74 280C, and now I’ve found this coupe in Denver.
While Volvo 240s continue to be crushed in alarming quantities, I also see quite a few Volvo 140s during my wrecking-yard trips. Prior to today, we’d seen this ’68 142, this ’69 145, this ’71 144 and this ’71 142, and now another non-rusty, solid-looking 140 is going to be eaten by The Crusher.
The Volvo 140 is the often overlooked parent of the extremely successful Volvo 240, with everything behind the rear doors pretty much the same between the two cars. I owned a very tired 144 for a brief period and I’ve always liked these things, so I photograph them when I spot them in wrecking yards. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’68 142, this ’69 145, and this ’71 142. Today we’ve got a very clean-looking ’71 four-door, which I spotted in a Denver self-service yard last week.
Some say the huge US Postal Service contract to buy Jeep DJs saved AMC (well, postponed AMC’s final downward spiral by a decade or so), and everyone will agree that vast quantities of USPS-surplus Mail Jeeps gave cheapskate Americans low-cost steel boxes to drive for the last few decades. These things must have been extremely popular in Colorado, because I see them all the time in Denver-area wrecking yards; in this series, we’ve had this Chevy-powered ’68, this Audi-powered ’79, this AMC six-powered ’72, this GM Iron Duke-powered ’82, and now today’s AMC-powered ’71.
A Volvo 140 doesn’t always jump right out at you, thanks to its similarity to its still-with-us-in-huge-numbers descendant, the Volvo 240 (especially when viewed from the rear), so I probably overlook a few of these in junkyards. The 140 isn’t an uncommon sight in Denver, and I’ve found this ’68 142 and this ’69 145 just in the last year. I’ve always liked these cars (though I’ve only owned one example, and it was quite troublesome), so it makes me a little sad to see another one about to get crushed.
Because I live in Colorado, I see quite a few Scouts in wrecking yards— this ’70 and this ’73, for example— and most of the time I don’t photograph them. IHC pickups and SUVs, sure, but the Scouts just blend in like DJ-5 mail Jeeps. This ’71 had a cool custom paint job, plus I’ve realized that all Scouts are interesting, so we’ll check it out.