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.
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.
During the 1970s, if you were sensible and had a fat bankroll, you didn’t buy an Eldorado or Mark IV or even a Toyota Crown. No, you bought a staid, humorless-as-Richard-Wagner Mercedes-Benz W114/W115 sedan, and then you kept it while the pages flew off many decades of calendars. If you were really serious, you got the naturally aspirated four-cylinder diesel, as the original purchaser of this now-retired-at-age-42 San Francisco Bay Area 240D did.
Since many Dodge D-series pickup parts fit my ’66 A100 van I’m always on the lookout for members of the species while visiting the junkyard. Today’s D100, which I found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back, is a little too new to offer many bits for my Dodge, but it’s still interesting enough for this series.
So many Chrysler A-bodies in junkyards these days, even though the last ones rolled off the assembly line in 1981 (in South America and Australia; the final Detroit-built A-body was a 1976 model). These cars were cheap and simple, and they’re still useful transportation in the 21st century, so many of them manage to stay on the street well into their 30s and 40s. Sadly, even the most fanatical Dart/Valiant restorer has all the affordable two-doors and/or factory V8 cars he or she can handle, and so when a made-by-the-zillions Slant-6 Malaise Era sedan craps out, it’s going to The Crusher. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’60 Valiant wagon, this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and now we’re adding yet another ’75 to the list.
No, this car isn’t this kind of Fox, though it is a sibling of the first Volkswagen Passat aka Dasher. The Fox was the name given to the Audi 80 for the United States market, and we can all be forgiven for not knowing this (as very few were sold). This completely used-up, not-so-quick brown Fox jumped over the lazy junkyard dog after a life spent almost entirely in the East Bay, and now it rests in a self-service wrecking yard about two miles from its owner’s longtime place of employment.
My recent trip to Southern California resulted in a bonanza of Junkyard Finds, including the first-ever Junkyard Find Jensen Interceptor, this Maserati Biturbo Spyder, this hyper-rare Sterling 827 SLi fastback, this super-scary AM General ice cream truck, and this Corinthian Leather-equipped Chrysler Cordoba. Is that all? No, that is not all! Today we’re going to admire an amazingly luxurious customized Malaise Coupe de Ville.
Will there ever be a time in which no Chrysler A-bodies show up in North America’s cheap self-serve wrecking yards? Sure, Darts and Valiants were as common 20 years ago as are dead Tauruses now, so the former torrent of old Chrysler compacts has become a trickle, but I still find at least a couple of them every time I visit The Crusher’s waiting room. In the last couple of years, this series has included this ’75 Duster, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’66 Dart, this ’73 Valiant, and this ’61 Valiant, and today we’ll be admiring the car that was to 1983 what the ’94 Corolla is to 2013: a cheap, dependable sedan that nobody noticed.
In a Northern California self-service wrecking yard not far from the one in which I found the Volvo 262C Bertone Coupe, I found an example of a first-year Volvo 240 wagon. The 240 didn’t change much during its near-two-decade run, but the very early ones stand out in this setting.
The Oldsmobile 98 was available for most of the 20th century, and the average swank level remained quite high throughout. Of course, there was a certain element of Simu-Swank™ as Oldsmobile’s core buyer demographic became older and the Malaise Era ground on. We’ve seen a few Ninety-Eight Regency Junkyard Finds, including this ’84 Regency and this ’94 Regency Elite, and today we’re going to look at a plush mid-70s Regency with Whorehouse Red interior and 210-horsepower 455-cubic-inch engine.
The big Fords of the Malaise Era don’t show up in the wrecking yards much these days, after several decades of being commonplace. The Taurus has replaced the LTD as the most common Ford product in high-turnover wrecking yards, and will likely hold that honor for another decade or two. Still, you see members of the full-size Ford family in The Crusher’s waiting room every now and then; here’s a Country Squire in Northern California.
The California streets of my childhood were full of Datsuns like this one, and the B210 remained a common sight in (rust-free parts of) America until well into the 1990s. Then, without anybody really noticing, nearly all of them disappeared. Every so often, I’ll find one in a self-service junkyard; there was this slushbox-equipped ’74 last year, and now this mustard-yellow ’75 has drifted into range of The Crusher’s jaws.
It’s strange how the passage of a few decades makes the mid-70s Corolla seem like a much better car than it actually was. Granted, it was quite a car for the time, with a combination of price, reliability, and fuel economy that Detroit and Europe couldn’t touch… but if we take ourselves out of the mindset of the Malaise Era and fast-forward our vehicular expectations maybe ten years, this generation of Corolla turns out to be a cramped, underpowered, noisy econobox that lasted maybe 150,000 miles (if you lived in the rust-free Southwest).
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.
- THX1136 As a couple of folks have mentioned wasn't this an issue with the DeLorean? I seem to recall that it was claimed you could do a 'minor' buff of the surface and it would be good as new. Guess I don't see why it's a big deal if it can be so easily rectified. Won't be any different than getting out and waxing the car every so often - part of ownership, eh.
- ToolGuy This kind of thing might be interesting in a racing simulator.
- FreedMike Hmmm, electric powered vibrations. Is this the long rumored move into the...ahem...adult products market?
- MrIcky /Checks date on his calendar- nope, not April 1st.I have a transducer in my home theater seat for sub-bass. Not sure if this is patent worthy.