Starting with a 1981 Fox-body Ford Granada and ending with a 1989 Chrysler New Yorker Landau Mark Cross Edition, the eighth year of the Down On the Junkyard series featured 52 discarded cars that I found sufficiently interesting to be worth photographing. They ranged in age from seven to 51 years old, were built in locations ranging from Abingdon to Aichi, and ended their respective roads in conditions varying from basket case to pretty clean.
Here are my favorite ten, the ones that got me the most worked up when I first spotted them gleaming from within the junkyard chaff, presented in model-year sequence.
In a year of great political transition, there was also much change afoot at The Truth About Cars and more than a few alterations made in the way my life intersects with the automotive industry.
2017 was crazy. Yet midst all of the external upheaval (Trump, TTAC, Apple skipping the iPhone 9, the launch of a new Honda Odyssey) and an array of internal disorder (GoodCarBadCar’s acquisition, a move to rural Prince Edward Island, Miata purchase, new job) there was at least one constant.
I drove a ton of cars. Many tons of cars, to be more accurate.
When Mercedes-Benz brought the W201 platform here as the somewhat oddly named 190E 2.3, it was immediately nicknamed the “baby Benz.” The successor to that car, yclept “C-Class” to fit precisely within Daimler-Benz’s new idiot-compatible nomenclature, became known as the “Cheap-Class” at Mercedes-Benz dealerships.
The car you see above, piloted by Danger Girl at Sebring International Raceway in what was not a violation of the Hertz Dream Cars rental agreement, is no longer baby-sized. Nor is it particularly cheap at the as-tested price of just over $74,000. So what is it, exactly?
Well, it’s absurdly powerful; the Pep-Boys-style block “S” at the end of the C63 badge indicates a full 503 horsepower from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. It’s remarkably well-equipped, although there are a few omissions about which one could gripe and I’ll discuss those below. It’s as competent as you’d expect, being the top-spec sedan version of a car that is surprisingly decent even in its poverty-spec, MB-Tex-equipped four-cylinder form.
Most of all, however, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a sharp reminder that AMG isn’t what it used to be, for better or for worse.
This will not be my most popular Ace of Base. Why? Well, the general consensus of most gearheads is Lexus sedans are awash with gravitas, exhibiting all the excitement of a sleepy sloth and the soul of plain oatmeal.
That’s you and me, though. The harsh light of reality reveals a legion of people in our nation with their Diamond Anniversary in the rearview mirror and a regular booth at the Golden Corral. Their backs ache and their feet hurt. Truth be told, they’d probably rather not be driving at all, preferring to stay home and watch NCIS reruns.
Updated with details on all-wheel drive being standard equipment for Alltrack.
Volkswagen of America needs a winner as it reels from the ongoing diesel emissions scandal, and its forthcoming Alltrack — a jacked-up, all-wheel-drive version of the SportWagen — is hopefully just the ticket.
As Volkswagen prepares to launch the new model on American shores, it’s all hands on deck for the German automaker as it sends representatives from its internal training department to every single dealership in the United States.
The SUV’s rise to king of the automotive fiefdom is well documented. Seizing the chance for fat profits and sales glory, manufacturers took their existing product, added a couple of doors and ladled on the chrome. Buyers flocked to them like Brexiters lining up to change their vote. In time, thanks to Prius driving tofu-twinks wearing nuclear-free peace sandals, these brutes became as politically correct as a Monsanto home fracking kit and, with a few exceptions, have been resigned to the dustbin of history.
OEMs recognized the trend, slowly backing away from the behemoth machines. Modifying their smaller unibody offerings, tall two-box crossovers soon dotted the landscape, watering down the SUV formula until buyers were left with the automotive equivalent of Metamucil.
At the 23rd Automotive Outlook Symposium held in Detroit last week, participants representing manufacturing, banking, consulting and academia offered up predictions for 2016 and 2017. The general consensus: we’re in for a good time, possibly for a long time. The sales party will continue beyond 2017.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which compiled median results from the symposium, the forecast predicts a total of 17.3 million vehicles sold in the United States this year. In 2017, the total number of sales is expected to dip ever so slightly to 17.2 million vehicles.
That’s clearly a diesel gurgle coming out of that F-150’s lightly camo’d buttock.
If our ears are to be believed, that would be the pending fulfillment of a prophecy made here two years ago: Ford is preparing a light-duty diesel to sell by 2018.
I have so many questions to ask: What about EcoBoost? Where does that oil burner come from?
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ global hybrid chief said that the newly announced Chrysler Pacifica minivan will be the largest vehicle for FCA’s new hybrid powertrain and that the gasoline and battery combo will be scalable to smaller cars.
“This’ll be the largest footprint — in the Pacifica,” Michael Duhaime told us last week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “As we get into the smaller vehicles, basically what we’ll do is put smaller electric motors. The power electronics is part of the transmission … all that stays consistent. We’ll just go with smaller motors, and then the final drive will change with the different vehicles.”
So … Jeep Cherokee Hybrid?
When the American-spec 2017 Genesis G90 finally made its bow at the North American International Auto Show on Monday, most of us already knew what to expect. The South Korean version of the first Genesis model — dubbed EQ900 — has already been out there for more than a month. Still, we were eager to see how the new fledgling luxury automaker would grow from the top of luxury market to the bottom.
On Monday, we found out.
Four years after Lexus unveiled its LF-LC at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the automaker announced Monday that it would put into production largely the same car and call it the LC 500.
Powered by a 5-liter V-8 lifted from the RC-F and GS-F, the LC 500 will be the brand’s largest two-door coupe and mostly complete the turnaround by the automaker they started around four years ago.
Seriously, the LC 500 is by the same people who make the ES 350.
Ford unveiled Monday its 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew complete with four doors, a 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 and 10-speed transmission because more numbers always wins, all the time — except for when that number is power output, because apparently we still don’t know that yet.
The supersized truck with a supersized engine shaved 500 pounds by shedding two cylinders and aluminum body parts, according to Ford. The SuperCrew’s 145-inch wheelbase is fully a foot longer than the SuperCab’s footprint, and six inches wider than the current F-150, but still, really, no power figures.
But if you’re really into shaking up four friends in the rear seats, the Raptor SuperCrew sports an available Torsen front differential.
When you consider the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will spawn nearly a baker’s dozen variants in its time — coupes, performance models, wagons (please?) — the donor sedan can end up less thrilling than white bread. The remedy for this, like anything else in life, is to put a screen on it.
Fussy child? Screen. Long flight? Screen. Mid-size luxury sedan? You guessed it.
In addition to sporting the much hyped configurable screen setup from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will sport two fewer cylinders (to start) and a longer list of semi-autonomous driving features that won’t be available in the U.S. to start.
Hyundai on Monday revealed its 2017 Hyundai IONIQ ahead of its official reveal at Geneva in March and my goodness it’s already yelling at me.
The hatchback has been in the works for some time by now, which we already knew. Hyundai cleared up some of the technical details that we were waiting on — but not its fuel economy, apparently.
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- Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.
- Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road
- Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
- Keith Some of us appreciate sharing these finds. Thank you. I always have liked these. It would a fun work car or just to bomb around in. Easy to keep running. Just get an ignition kill switch and you would have no worries leaving it somewhere. Those OEM size wheels and tires are comical. A Juke has bigger wheels!
- Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.