Digital License Plates Gaining Traction in U.S.

Michigan has opted to allow digital license plates, making it the third state – after California and Arizona – to give them legal backing. The state’s legislature passed the necessary laws in 2019, making it legal for vehicles registered in Michigan to utilize digital vehicle identification while traveling throughout the rest of the nation. But the company that produces them, Reviver, has only just recently found itself in a position to furnish them.

Read more
Not Everyone in Arizona Is a Fan of Waymo's Self-Driving Vans

Waymo, the autonomous program backed by Google-parent Alphabet, seems to have upset some residents of Phoenix, Arizona, who have elected to whip eggs at the company’s test vehicles. Selected due to its lax regulatory standards, the state has become home base for Waymo to pioneer its self-driving vans since 2016. However, newly released police reports paint a picture where the locals are far less enthused with the vehicles’ progress than Waymo’s marketing materials would suggest.

A subset of Phoenix citizens has been demanding the firm improve transparency and offer better explanations for some of the higher-profile crashes since 2018. Despite Waymo assuring the public that mishaps are rare, local reports showed some erratic behavior among the test mules operating in 2020. While a few of these incidents made the news, local police reports from Chandler and Tempe (metropolitan Phoenix) indicate there was a slew of incidents we did not know about — many of which involved encounters with frustrated, human motorists.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1986 Saab 900 S Sedan

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.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL

Top-of-the-line German luxury sedans are worth plenty… until, suddenly, their values slam down to salvage-title Hyundai Scoupe territory. For today’s Junkyard Find, an early W140 S-Class that sold new for the 2020 equivalent of $175,000, now parked between a couple of prole-grade Japanese machines in a Phoenix yard.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1972 Chevrolet Vega Hatchback Coupe

The General made more than two million Chevrolet Vegas during the car’s 1971-1977 run, and the numbers climb much higher if you include the Vega-derived Chevy Monza and its siblings. The Vega’s many quality problems and rapid cheap-subcompact depreciation led to nearly all of these cars disappearing from American roads well before the dawn of the 1990s, but I still find the occasional example during my junkyard travels. Here’s an early Vega two-door hatch that seemed to be in pretty good shape before it hit a large animal on an Arizona road a couple of years back.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Corsica, Ministry in Poetry Edition

I have found the self-service wrecking yards of Phoenix to be among the best in the country when it comes to discovering top-shelf Junkyard Finds, so much so that I have taken a couple of trips there just for the junkyards. You’ll see everything from a Taurus MT-5 to a Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 4.5 to one of the last Toyota Coronas sold in America in these yards.

The Chevrolet Corsica isn’t so rare, but this one in Phoenix had some interesting qualities.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1983 Mercury Lynx L Wagon
Before the North American Ford Escort became a Mazda 323/Protegé sibling, the folks in Dearborn masterminded a Mercurized version known as the Lynx. Escort wagons are rare now (though I have shot a couple during my junkyard wanderings), so I did a double-take when I saw this optioned-up ’83 Lynx wagon in a Phoenix self-service yard last winter.
Read more
Junkyard Find: 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally Edition

Hunting for interesting junkyard Mitsubishis has become more difficult during the last five years or so, as the Cordias, Tredias, and Sigmas have mostly disappeared, leaving endless fleet-spec 21st-century Galants and Outlanders plus the occasional weird Chryslerbishi.

One of the few bright spots is the Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally Edition, an econo-commuter that looked quick but had a tough time catching Tercel EZs. Here’s one in a Phoenix self-service yard.

Read more
Arizona, Suppliers Unite Against Uber Self-driving Program

Ever since last week’s fatal accident, in which an autonomous test vehicle from Uber struck a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, it seems like the whole world has united against the company. While the condemnation is not undeserved, there appears to be an emphasis on casting the blame in a singular direction to ensure nobody else gets caught up in the net of outrage. But it’s important to remember that, while Uber has routinely displayed a lack of interest in pursuing safety as a priority, all autonomous tech firms are being held to the same low standards imposed by both local and federal governments.

Last week, lidar supplier Velodyne said Uber’s failure was most likely on the software end as it defended the effectiveness of its hardware. Since then, Aptiv — the supplier for the Volvo XC90’s radar and camera — claimed Uber disabled the SUV’s standard crash avoidance systems to implement its own. This was followed up by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issuing a suspension on all autonomous testing from Uber on Monday — one week after the incident and Uber’s self-imposed suspension.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Convertible

GM sold 191 octillion Cavalier s, more or less, during the Chevrolet-badged J-Body‘s 1982-2005 production run, and so I walk by many discarded examples without feeling any urge to grab my camera.

A late-1990s Z24 convertible is a rarity, though, and so I photographed this ’98 in a Phoenix self-service yard back in July.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 2005 Dodge Sprinter Cargo Van

The European-style vans sold by Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, and Dodge have been with us here in North America since 2001, and have held their value very well since that time. Depreciation of even the most useful vehicle is relentless, however, and it was inevitable that used-up Sprinters would begin showing up in big self-service wrecking yards at some point.

That day has arrived; I spotted the first of the discarded Sprinters in my junkyarding experience, this one in a Phoenix yard over the summer.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1985 Chrysler LeBaron Woody Convertible

While Chrysler made a bewildering array of vehicles based on the staving-off-bankruptcy K Platform, only four models could be called pure K-cars: the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Dodge 400, and Chrysler LeBaron. All the rest, from the Town & Country minivan to the Imperial, were based on mutated K hardware.

Here’s an example of a fully luxed-up LeBaron convertible, featuring body trim made from the stately trees of the Magical Petrochemical Forest, spotted in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1993 Dodge Colt Coupe

Chrysler began importing Mitsubishi Colt Galants for the 1971 model year, and Mitsubishis bearing Dodge (or Plymouth) Colt badging streamed across the Pacific Ocean and into American dealerships for the following 23 years.

I spotted this vibrantly decorated ’93 model in a Phoenix self-serve yard earlier this month.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1983 Cadillac 'Bustleback' Seville

The first-generation Cadillac Seville was a sibling — or maybe first cousin — to the proletariat rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Nova, selling well while also cheapening the Cadillac brand. The second-generation Seville, introduced for the 1980 model year, moved to the Eldorado’s front-wheel-drive platform and gained a bold “bustleback” rear body design.

Here’s an example of a Bustleback Seville I spotted last week in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26

The Chevrolet Beretta and its sedan sibling, the Chevrolet Corsica, were built for the 1987 through 1996 model years. Today, both models are nearly as forgotten as the wretched Celebrity, though you’ll still see the occasional example on the street today (usually sporting at least one space-saver spare tire).

Here’s a last-year-of-production Beretta — outfitted with the high-performance Z26 package — spotted in a Phoenix yard a few months back.

Read more
  • FreedMike I don’t know if I buy into the “they’re coming for our cars” stuff - they’ve been saying that for a long time now - but I wouldn’t argue with one word of this review otherwise.
  • Oberkanone It's not a Jimny! Would be nice if we still had a selection of Suzuki auto in the US. Sidekick was simple and affordable.
  • Dave M. I will say this generation styling has grown on me; previously I thought the Fiat version was far better looking. Miatas have always been pure joy to drive.
  • Kendahl A Tesla feature has been free, periodic, over-the-air, software updates that add new features or improve existing ones. Owners brag that their x-year-old car is better today, because of the updates, than it was brand new. Will Tesla start charging for these updates after a few years? Teslas hold their value very well. I suspect losing free updates will do serious damage to that.
  • BklynPete When I was a kid, the joke about Nissan choosing the name Datsun goes like this:Nissan execs were uncomfortable with the World War 2 connotations of their name in the North American market. Seeing how successful VW was over here, they went to VW's most-recent German ad agency. The Japanese told the Germans they needed a new name. The Germans agreed. They asked the Nissan execs when they wanted a review of potential names. The execs said two weeks. The German ad people said, "dat soon?"I will be crucified.