Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Camry All-Trac
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.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Suzuki Samurai
Because of all the rebadged Daewoos sold in North America via the Suzuki brand during the 2000s (as well as actual Suzukis), you'll find no shortage of cars bearing the big S logo in most car graveyards these days. But what about the first highway-legal four-wheeled Suzuki sold on our shores, the Jimny?
Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood D'Elegance
1988 was an interesting year for The General’s Cadillac Division. The Cavalier-based Cimarron was in its final year of sales, the Hamtramck/Turin-built Allanté was in its second year (and priced about the same as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class), and the “traditional” rear-wheel-drive Brougham sedan shared showroom space with the front-wheel-drive De Villes, Eldorados, and Sevilles. The old Sixty Special name was still being used, along with such slightly newer titles as Elegante and d’Elegance. While the Allanté lived at the top of the GM prestige pyramid for ’88, the Fleetwood was the car of choice for those very wealthy Cadillac shoppers who insisted on four doors and zero Pininfarina nonsense. Here’s one of those cars, found in excellent condition in a Denver yard last spring.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac Fiero Coupe
The Pontiac Fiero started out as an innovative sports-car design, got bean-countered into an overweight parts-bin commuter car with embarrassingly public reliability problems, then got a complete redesign in 1988… which turned out to be the year of its demise.
Here’s one of those final Fieros, found in a Colorado car graveyard last year.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Dodge Colt DL 4WD Wagon
Junkyard Find: 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier Coupe
GM may have produced the W-Body for a few more years than the J-Body (W-based Impala Limited production continued until 2016), but Chevy Cavalier sales continued like money-printing clockwork via the increasingly antiquated J platform from 1981 all the way through 2005.
More than five million Cavaliers rolled off assembly lines in the United States and Mexico, so we still see the later ones on the street. 1980s Cavaliers — particularly Cavalier coupes — have all but disappeared from the street, so I keep my eyes open for interesting examples as I tread the oil-saturated soil of American junkyards. Here’s an ’88 coupe still showing the personality of its final owner, found in the shadow of Pikes Peak a few months ago.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac LeMans Sedan
Since starting doing this goofy car-writing-online gig 13 years ago last month, I have documented the demise of 2,073 discarded vehicles in excruciating detail. During that time, I have walked right past thousands and thousands of allegedly interesting cars and trucks (sorry, BMW 3 Series fans, but I’ve been trying to make it up to you in recent years) in order to obsess over my very favorite kind of junkyard machines: little– known examples of puzzling badge engineering. That means that when I see the South Korean Pontiac LeMans in a junkyard, I photograph it.
Here’s a low-mile, first-model-year LeMans sedan, found in a Denver car graveyard last spring.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser International Series
While traveling to my job as Wise and Fair Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court at the Minneapolis 500 race in Brainerd last week, I flew in via Fargo, North Dakota. Naturally, I visited a Fargo self-service junkyard before boarding my plane home, and that’s where I found this rusty-but-well-preserved ’88 Cutlass Cruiser International Series.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo
The General spent the 1980s experiencing a burning desire to sell high-profit-margin personal luxury coupes that combined the irresistible sales appeal of the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with the technological sophistication of the latest high-end German machinery. This decade gave us such fascinating GM machines as the Cadillac Allanté, the Buick Reatta, the Pontiac 6000 STE, and the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo. You won’t find many Troféos today, but I’m always on the lookout during my junkyard travels. Here’s a clean ’88 in a Denver-area self-serve yard.
Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon With 413,344 Miles
Junkyard Find: 1986 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon
Living in Colorado (as I do) and spending a lot of time in junkyards ( as I do), I see discarded Subarus. Lots of discarded Subarus, in fact, so many that I only notice the more interesting ones — say, an XT Turbo or a really ancient wagon out of a novelty song.
Today’s Junkyard Find isn’t particularly noteworthy by those standards, but it seems to embody so many Denver Subaru stereotypes that I decided to photograph it. High mileage, high final owner, and high levels of oxidation, all here at a mile-high junkyard.
Junkyard Find: 1989 Ford Tempo All Wheel Drive
Ford Tempos (and their Mercury Topaz siblings) were sold in such vast numbers during their 1984-1994 run that I encounter plenty of examples during my junkyard explorations. Normally, I wouldn’t bother photographing a discarded Tempo/Topaz, for the same reason I won’t photograph a Chrysler Cirrus or Kia Sephia, but there are two exceptions to my No Tempos rule: the diesel-engined cars and the all-wheel-drive cars.
Here’s an extremely rare example of the latter type, spotted in a Denver area self-service yard last week.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge 600 SE
For most of the 1980s and well into the 1990s, most cars made by Chrysler were members of the many-branched K-Car family tree. In the early years, the K was sold as an all-American economy car for the frugal, but Lee Iacocca had his eye on stealing some sales from European luxury marques. Perhaps a K made to look something like a Mercedes-Benz would do the job?
Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Camry Wagon With Five-Speed
Junkyard Find: 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX
The second-generation Nissan Pulsar NX (known as the Nissan EXA outside of North America) was a cheap, mildly sporty two-seater that never sold as well as the Honda CRX or even the Ford EXP. In this series, we’ve seen this Colorado ’87 and this California ’89, and now we have a rusty ’88 in the weeds at the edge of a Wisconsin yard.