When I walk the rows of a big Ewe Pullet-style self-service car graveyard, I always take a look inside every 2000s Toyota Camry I see. I do this because I wish to document one of the most elusive of all junkyard inmates: One of the final Camrys sold in the United States with a factory-installed manual transmission. Prior to today's Junkyard Find, the newest discarded three-pedal Camry I'd found was a 2001 model in California. We're pushing the record another five years forward today because I've found this five-on-the-floor-equipped 2006 Camry in the very same yard.
Remember, not many years ago, when American car shoppers could choose among dozens of new Detroit sedans? For the 2006 model year alone, General Motors offered 12 different four-door sedans, and that’s ignoring sub-models plus the sedans bearing the badges of (GM-owned) Saab and Suzuki. Today, there are three new GM sedans available here, and both of the Cadillacs are built on the same platform as the Camaro. The Buick Division got out of the US-market sedan game when the final 2020 Regal rolled off Opel’s line in Rüsselsheim, but the very last proper full-sized Buick sedan was Hamtramck’s own Lucerne. I found this Northstar-equipped first-year Lucurne in a Colorado Springs yard last month.
From the time of John DeLorean’s money-printing 1962 Grand Prix through the model’s demise two years before the Pontiac Division itself got Old Yeller-ized by The General, Americans bought huge numbers of the sporty-looking Grand Prix. I’ve documented these cars in junkyards going back to 1969, but the LS-powered Grand Prix GXP of the Grand Prix’s final generation had eluded me… until now. Here’s one of those rare machines in a Denver-area yard.
After the Daewoo brand fled these shores in 2002 (leaving Manny, Moe, and Jack in charge of warranty service and the company’s founder on the run from the long arm of the South Korean law), the sprawling GM Empire found a means to continue selling the Leganza and Nubira here: as the Suzuki Verona and Suzuki Forenza/Reno, respectively. Here’s a banged-up Forenza in a Denver yard with the extremely rare five-speed manual transmission.
One thing about visiting wrecking yards in the Upper Midwest is that I know I’ll see interesting late-model General Motors cars.
I couldn’t find the elusive junkyard Saturn Ion Redline during my trip to Wisconsin in August, but I did find its Chevrolet cousin: a Chevrolet Cobalt SS, spotted in a Green Bay self-service yard.
The Malibu Maxx was a funny looking, crypto-station-wagon version of the 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu (which was itself based on the Opel Vectra C). It sold poorly and is now largely forgotten, which makes it exactly the kind of junkyard car I like to find.
Yes, obscure sales flops in the junkyard have stories to tell!
We’re following up a week of Volkswagen Junkyard Finds with 21st Century Junkyard Finds (don’t worry, we’ll go back to Junkyard Finds arranged in whatever random order strikes my fancy soon enough). On the heels of yesterday’s ’02 JuggaLambo, here’s a not-even-a-decade-old fourth-gen Mitsubishi Eclipse that showed up at a Denver yard last week.
Some vehicles hit my tightwad tendencies like a nickel split into two quarters. Take this one for example. A base, five-speed unpopular car in an attractive color going through it’s very last year of production. The last of these Optimas went for less money out the door than a mid-level Corolla or Civic thanks to a mid-year model change. A few of the leftover demos with a few thousand miles even went in the $12k to $13k range. That’s a Two Buck Chuck-level deal for a nearly new midsized car. However…