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.
When I first became a wise and fair judge for the 24 Hours of Lemons race series, back in 2008, I got a lot of static from Internet Car Experts who noted the large quantity of BMW E30s in every race and proclaimed that any E30 in any condition was worth at least ten times more than the Lemons $500 limit on car cost. Because I spent a great deal of time in self-service junkyards and saw that—at least in California—such places were overflowing with unwanted E30s, I knew they were wrong. 15 years later, though, E30s have become fairly rare in junkyards, so this fairly complete 325es in a Colorado yard caught my eye a few weeks back.
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.
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.
Even as Toyota kept the Cressida a rear-wheel-drive first cousin to the sporty Supra (sales of that car continued here well into the 1990s), Nissan moved the formerly-Z-based Maxima to a front-wheel-drive platform for the 1985 model year. The new, roomier Maxima continued to be loaded with futuristic electronic gadgetry and a Z-Car engine, and sales of the wagon version continued all the way through the 1988 model year. Here’s a well-traveled ’86 Maxima wagon in a Denver-area car graveyard.
When I visit a car graveyard, I’m always on the lookout for three things: puzzling examples of badge engineering, crazy high odometer readings, and manual transmissions in unexpected cars. One of the rarest of all is a non-SHO Ford Taurus with three pedals, sold under the MT-5 designation for the 1986 through 1988 model years. After a decade of searching, I found my first discarded Taurus MT-5 in Phoenix, three years back. Now a junkyard near Pikes Peak has provided the second example of this extraordinarily rare Junkyard Find.
The original Saab 900 was a favorite of Colorado car shoppers during its 1979-1994 sales run, and I still see many of these cars during research expeditions to my local yards. So many, in fact, that I neglect to photograph most of them.
When I visited some of Phoenix’s excellent yards while on my way to work at the final 24 Hours of Lemons race before the Covid-19 menace shut down such gatherings, though, I spotted this ’86 900S and realized I need to document more of these interesting machines.
The General’s Buick division went all futuristic starting in the middle 1980s, hoping to win back (younger) American buyers who were switching their loyalty to high-tech European machinery at that time. The sleek Reatta two-seater came along in the 1988 model year, but the 1986 Riviera (and, to a lesser extent, the Somerset) were the first models to get the science-fiction touch.
Here’s a maximum-options Riviera T-Type coupe, which came with 800-way power seats and a touchscreen computer interface, spotted in a Silicon Valley self-serve yard last month.
I try to mix up these Junkyard Finds so that you won’t see five 1990s Oldsmobiles in five consecutive weeks. This week, after a 1990s Volvo and a 1990s Honda and a 1970s Plymouth, it seemed time for a really old car or maybe something from 2000s Detroit.
Then I remembered that Sajeev has been complaining about insufficient recognition from other writers of his weird love for Ford products of the 1960s-1990s, so I opted to open the floodgates for his bitter tears with the nicest fleet-grade mid-1980s Escort I’ve ever seen in a junkyard.
I see two types of distinctively Coloradan sticker-covered vehicles in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards. One type is the stony-ass wastoidmobile Subaru plastered with decals from cannabis dispensaries, vape-juice shops, and microbreweries. The other is the battered outdoorsy Detroit truck, plastered with decals from mountain-bike shops, ski resorts, rafting outfitters, and environmental causes. These types tend to overlap to some extent, so it often happens that I’ll find stickers advertising shatter-hash on an Outdoorsy Truck and stickers proclaiming allegiance to rock climbing on a Stoner Subaru, but there are cultural differences between them.
Here’s an ornately leopardified 1986 Dodge B250 Ram Wagon that appears to have hauled many a sinewy adventurer to a trailhead or ski slope.
Every once in a while, I’ll find a junkyard vehicle that I can tell was loved by some longtime owner. Maybe it shows some absurdly high odometer reading, or evidence of the single-minded pursuit of some lunatic mechanical obsession, or the work of hundreds of hours of creative customization.
Today’s Junkyard Find combines the first and third types.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Analoggrotto Where is this now? Dead. The Kia Soul rules this segment as Kia rules every segment, and Genesis above it rules the luxury realm.
- Oberkanone Nope. $8 grand for $120k miles economy hatchback is too much. Over 10 years old. Condition does not change the result.
- Master Baiter ____________ doesn't want electric _____________.
- MaintenanceCosts Too bad it's not a Sport; the styling on those is a bit nicer. There's a first-gen Fit Sport with some subtle mods (lowering, perfectly chosen wheels, tint) that used to live in my neighborhood and it may be the best-looking subcompact I've ever seen.
- Oberkanone BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen have different fleet emissions rules than Stellantis and other manufacturers. This is unfair trade practice and California is the leader of this criminal conspiracy. Unified emissions regulations are needed. Disjointed patchwork of CARB and Federal emissions states results in harm to our economy inefficient manufacturing. CARB emissions regulations violate the Commerce Clause by engaging in extraterritorial regulation.