Junkyard Find: 1978 Chrysler LeBaron Coupe

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 240 D

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Chevrolet LUV

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Ford Mustang II Ghia

Ford returned the Mustang to its roots— an affordable, sporty-looking commuter based on a huge-selling economy car— for the 1974 model year when the Pinto-based Mustang II made its debut. While many now claim that the Mustang II has finally attained true respectability among American car freaks, I still see plenty of Mustang IIs en route to the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. Here’s a heavily-optioned ’78 Mustang II Ghia, complete with V8 engine and screaming orange Stirling cloth interior, found in a Denver self-service yard a couple of weeks ago.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Mercury Zephyr Z-7
In between the homely Ford Maverick/Mercury Comet and the punitively sensible Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz, the folks at Dearborn provided North Americans with the Ford Fairmont and its Mercury sibling, the Zephyr, as reasonably modern rear-wheel-drive compact commuter machines. For those car shoppers wanting to get a bit devilish with their selections, Ford dealers offered the Fairmont Futura coupe, while your local Mercury store had the Zephyr Z-7 coupe.Here’s a tan-beige-brown Zephyr Z-7 in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard.
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Junkyard Find: 1978 Ford Mustang Stallion

After the first-generation Mustang went from frisky lightweight to bloated monstrosity, Ford transferred the name over to an economy car based on the Pinto. This proved to be a wise move, in light of certain geopolitical events that took place right around the time the first Mustang IIs began rolling into showrooms, but most of the old Mustang magic was lost during the Pinto-ization process.

Ford created a bunch of flashy trim packages for the car, and I spotted one of the more unusual ones in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks back: the Stallion.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Truck
The Toyota Hilux pickup truck first hit the streets in 1968, shoving aside flimsier trucks based on the Corona and Crown within a few years. While the Hilux (or “Hylux”) name got a bit of marketing use by Toyota in North America, this truck was known here as, simply, the Truck. I found this well-worn-but-unrusted ’78 in a Denver self-service yard last month.
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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Dolphin Mini-Motorhome

The third-generation Toyota Hilux pickup (called the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) was a legend of reliability and frugality well into our current century, and plenty of small motorhomes were built on its sturdy platform. You’ll still see them occasionally today, but the skin-crawling ickiness of tenth-owner RVs tends to mean the end comes quickly when they wear out. Here’s one that took nearly 40 years to reach that point, now residing in The Final Campground: a self-service wrecking yard near Denver.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 International Harvester Scout II Traveler

Because I think that any highway-legal vehicle made by a farm-equipment manufacturer is interesting, I photograph IHC Scouts when I see them in the junkyards I frequent (and we have not seen a truck in this series since October, so we’re due). Living in Colorado, this happens often.

Here’s a ’78 Scout II Traveler that I spotted in my local U-Pull-&-Pay.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Honda Civic Hatchback

The first-generation Honda Civic sold like crazy in California, and could be found everywhere in the Golden State from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s. These Civics are now virtually extinct, both on the street and in the junkyard, because they were used up and summarily discarded.

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CrapWagen Outtake: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel

I recall a few years ago when gearheads and tinkerers happened upon waste vegetable oil as the answer to the high fuel prices of the day. In theory, recycling used fryer grease seems like an elegant solution. In practice, however, restaurants quickly realized there was gold at the bottom of the vat, and the price advantage diminished.

Back in those days, the hot car for WVO conversion was the Volkswagen Rabbit. Cheap, reasonable reliability, and light weight meant a 45-50 mpg package for a few grand out of pocket. I knew of a few people who converted and, for a while, the cost savings was tangible.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Porsche 924

Many Internet Car Experts believe that any Porsche, no matter how battered, is worth big money. Spend some time around the 24 Hours of LeMons and you’ll learn otherwise, and of course you can always find 924 s, 944 s, 914s, and even the occasional 928 in the cheap self-serve wrecking yards. The 944 is the most common, but for some reason I have never shot one for this series. I’ll remedy that soon, but for now here’s a much-abused 924 I spotted in Denver not long ago.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Fiat X1/9

The Fiat X1/9, like the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is one of those old European cars that hasn’t held its value so well, which means you’ll see plenty of them in the sort of self-service wrecking yards that I frequent. We’ve seen this ’78, this ’78, this ’80 and this ’86 so far in this series, and now I’ve got another ’78 to show you.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Cadillac Seville Elegante

As Aaron Severson explains in great detail in his excellent Ate Up With Motor piece, the 1976-1979 Cadillac Seville (which was essentially a Chevy Nova under the skin), accelerated the long decline of the Cadillac Division that continued with the Cavalier-based Cimarron and didn’t really turn around until Cadillac started building trucks for rappers and warlords in the 1990s. Having driven a $50 1976 Nova many thousands of miles, I can assume that ’78 Seville ownership was very similar, though with a plusher interior and (slightly) more engine power. Here’s a brown-on-gold-on-brown-on-yellow-on-ochre-on-umber-on-brown-on-beige-on-copper example that I spotted a few weeks ago in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard.

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  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.
  • Bd2 Japan is evil, stop buying their vehicles. I hope TTAC has a holiday for PEARL HARBOR.
  • Wolfwagen If Isuzu could update this truck and keep the cost between $25K - $30K they would sell like ice pops on dollar day in a heat wave.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic I'm at that the inflection point of do I continue to putting money in a 12 yr old SUV entering a heavy maintenance cycle or start shopping.I have noticed comparable new SUVs with $2.5k knocked off the sticker price, but still with the shenanigans of $300 for nitrogen in the tires. However, I have noticed the same 2 yr old SUV which are only $4.5K less than the original sticker price. Usually the used cars price should be 35% to 40% less. This tells me there's a stronger market for used as opposed to new. Part of this is to handle the monthly note. Considering installments of 72 months, you'll never pay the beast off. Just wait till the end of the model year which is just two months away, and I think the comparable new SUV will come with larger markdowns. May not be the color you want, but there are deals to be made. 🚗🚗🚗