The Ford Escort began life in 1955, in Britain (just a year after World War II-era food rationing finally ended), as a cheapified version of the Ford Squire wagon. After the pinnacle of rear-wheel-drive Escort action on that side of the Atlantic, a front-wheel-drive version appeared over there; a not-so-closely-related North American cousin showed up as a 1981 model.
The General began selling the Suzuki Cultus hatchback with Chevrolet Sprint badges here starting in the 1985 model year, with the later versions becoming the Geo/ Chevrolet Metro. Even though gasoline prices had crashed during the middle 1980s, the three-cylinder Sprint sold well enough that Subaru decided to bring their tiny three-cylinder car to our shores. This was the Justy, and I’ve found this ’90 in a self-service yard in Subaru-crazed Denver.
When George Romney— yes, father of Marlin-drivin’ Mitt— took over American Motors soon after its 1954 formation in a merger between Hudson and Nash, he set about shifting the company’s focus from “traditional” big cars locked in an annual styling arms race to a line of affordable compacts built on the success of the little Nash Rambler. By 1961, Nash and Hudson were long gone and every AMC car was a Rambler; the smallest Rambler that year was the American, and the cheapest American was the Deluxe two-door sedan. That’s what we’ve got for today’s Junkyard Find, spotted a few months back in a Denver yard.
Our weekly sojourn into the nation’s vehicular bargain bin sometime takes a turn towards the extreme (you know we’ll be featuring the 2020 Corvette soon enough) but, every now and then, your author comes to his senses and remembers what this post is supposed to be all about.
It’s supposed to be about cheap cars like the one you see before you, of course. For the new model year, Nissan has re-upped on its smallest sedan at a time when other manufacturers are running away from such machinery en masse. A base model still exists of course, so let’s find out what this brand is offering those who choose to sit in the cheap seats.
Rear-engine, rear-drive cars are few and far between, limited mostly to excellent things like the Porsche 911, and terrible things like the VW Karmann Ghia and Chevrolet Corvair. But there’s another car with an “RR” configuration that’s a bit more obscure. Presenting the Suzuki SC100.
Yesterday, we learned the Kia badge might not be good enough for Stingers in its home country. Around here, the slinky sedan will still carry the nameplate, despite the brand’s humble beginnings.
Twenty years ago, Kia made a name for itself on these shores hawking bargain-basement priced entry-level cars, many of which quickly returned to the earth in the form of iron oxide. Today, Kia’s smallest offering has since gone to finishing school, earning a major in Economics.
Hyundai sent its newly redesigned compact away for a lifestyle change, and it returned as the fuel-sipping Elantra Eco.
Sporting a new drivetrain and an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon, the 2017 Elantra Eco retails for $21,485 (after freight). City and combined ratings are 32 and 35 mpg, respectively.
The 2017 Elantra Limited we tested was no gas guzzler, often surpassing its 37 mpg highway rating, but the new Eco clearly has its competitors’ 40-plus mpg ratings in its sights. It’s also possible that Hyundai still has some lingering guilt over the not-yet-forgotten gas mileage scandal of four years ago.
The Geo Metro, a Suzuki Cultus imported by GM, came after the Chevrolet Sprint version of the Cultus but before GM axed the Geo brand and started selling Chevrolet Metros, which sold in respectable numbers during its 1989-1997 run.
There was a convertible version of the Metro, which allowed thin-walleted drivers to enjoy open-air driving without having to take a Sawzall to a 20-year-old Corolla, and I’ve found one of the few remaining ones at a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.
Romanian automaker Dacia is crafting limited-edition versions of its most popular models and wants its online fans to name them.
To mark the initiative, Dacia brought its first such model — the Swiss market-bound Duster Essential — to show off at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
Creature comforts like power windows and doors, alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and a new specialty body color (which even covers the bumpers!) are what sets these versions apart from their entry-level brethren. It also puts greater distance between the brand and its crude Eastern Bloc origins.
Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.
Many assumed that with the new FR-S hitting the dealers, it would only be a matter of time before the front-wheel-drive tC was sent out to pasture. However with an average buyer age of 28, the tC is isn’t just the youngest Toyota, it’s the youngest car in America. With demographics like that, product planners would be fools to kill off the tC and so the “two coupé strategy” was born. The last time we looked at the tC, the FR-S had yet to be born, this time the tC has been refreshed in the FR-S’ image. Which two door is right for you? Click past the jump, the answer might surprise you.
Descent into the Columbia river gorge on I 90 during summer
A few miles East of Ellensburg, WA, on the long winding descent into the Columbia river gorge, the little car, too small to run smoothly in both sets of the deep ruts that the semi trucks had worn into the pavement of Interstate 90, rolled from groove it had been following on the left side of the lane and dropped abruptly into the groove on the right. The lateral movement of the car within the lane was not great, maybe a foot or two, and I accounted for the motion with a simple counter of the steering wheel as I speed steadily along through the dark winter night.
Passenger pigeons were the most common bird found in North America. So common that flocks numbering 2 billion were up to a mile wide and 300 miles long. In other words, the average North American in the 18th and 19th Century saw a lot of these pigeons. You could easily argue that a passenger pigeon sighting in 1812 was something on the same scale today as seeing mind-numbing crap on TV. Not a particularly noteworthy or unique experience. So what took the passenger pigeon down? It was a combination of things but the biggest factor was that these pigeons tasted pretty good (a lot like chicken) and they were plentiful-hence a cheap source of food.bThey were wiped out at the pace of millions per year, so the last documented passenger pigeon named Martha died on September 1st 1914. In other words, something the average American had seen every day was extinct in a matter of a few decades. Quick extinction of a very common species is not a phenomenon exclusive to Mother Nature because cars can disappear overnight too. Here are a few that will soon be joining that “whatever happened to…” list.
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- Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
- Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
- Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.
- Alan In Australia only hairdressers would buy this Monaro as its known as. Real men had 4 door sedans and well hung men drive 4x4 dual cab utes with bullbars and towbars. I personally think this is butt ugly. Later iterations of the Commodore were far better looking.
- Jeff As a few commenters on prior articles on this site about the UAW strike mentioned many of the lower tiered suppliers could go bankrupt and some could possibly go out of business if the strike is prolonged. Decades ago Ford and GM owned many of their own suppliers but as we all know over the years manufacturers have been outsourcing more parts and with just in time supply there is little room for any interruptions to production including strikes, natural disasters, and anything unforeseen that could happen. When the strike ends there will be delays in production due to parts shortages. It costs suppliers money to just keep making parts and stockpiling them especially when many parts have razor thin profit margins.