Back in 2006, Jonny Lieberman reviewed the then-new Mazdaspeed6 for this publication. He deemed it ugly and slow off the line, but didn't question the reason for its existence. As it turned out, very few car shoppers felt the need to own a Mazdaspeed6, and it got the axe after just two model years. Here's one of the handful that made it out of dealerships, found in a self-service boneyard in Tulsa, Oklahoma a few months back.
Even by the standards of the far-flung General Motors Empire, the J-Body was found everywhere, from the Vauxhall Cavaliers of Great Britain to the Isuzu Askas of Japan to the Daewoo Esperas of South Korea. In the United States of the 1980s, the Chevy Cavalier was the J-Body King, but its Pontiac-badged sibling, the Sunbird, was a not-so-distant second place in the J sales race. Today's Junkyard Find is a sporty Sunbird coupe, found in a yard just south of Denver, Colorado.
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.
For a few years after the end of World War II, Detroit's automakers sold mildly facelifted prewar designs while they made the switch back to peacetime production. Chrysler managed the feat for the 1949 model year; we admired a Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan from that year in a Colorado car graveyard last summer, and today we're going to take a look at an example of one of the last of the stopgap postwar Chrysler products: this '48 Dodge in a yard just south of Denver.
The XJ Cherokee was born out of the French government's bailout of American Motors and made its debut as a 1984 model. It was so successful that it stayed in production in essentially its original form through three corporations and into the following century. Today's Junkyard Find is one of the very last XJ Cherokees ever made, found in a Wyoming car graveyard last week.
General Motors built more than two million Chevy Vegas, and they were everywhere on the roads of North America through about the second half of the 1980s. The Vega has been a junkyard rarity for decades now, but I just found six early Vegas all within a couple of rows of one another in a Denver self-service yard. Today, we'll look at the only wagon of that group.
In 1931, Buick introduced the world to its first big sedan with an eight-cylinder engine (which wasn't a V8 but did have overhead valves) driving the rear wheels. It seemed that such cars would always be available in Buick showrooms, but it turned out that the very last ones were the 1992-1996 Roadmasters. Here's one of those cars, found near Pikes Peak last winter.
Six thousand 1988 dollars were worth about $15,822 in today's money, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, just below the MSRP of the cheapest new car available here now. In 1988, American car shoppers could choose among a dozen new cars priced below that figure. Today's Junkyard Find is a rare example of Mazda's entry in the sub-six-grand field for '88, found in a self-service yard in northeastern Colorado.
Chrysler revolutionized the American family-hauler world in the 1984 model year when the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan minivans first appeared. That same year, Toyota began selling Americanized versions of its LiteAce/ TownAce/ MasterAce Surf vans over here, attracting less attention but moving enough of them that I still see them during my junkyard travels. Here's an '87 that received the camper-conversion treatment, now residing in a Northern California car graveyard.
Just over 20,000 Buick Reattas were made during the model's production run for the 1988 through 1991 model years, and I had documented seven of them in car graveyards prior to today's Junkyard Find. All of those cars were in reasonably good condition, but today's '88 is an example of a Reatta that was loved to death by its final owner.
The LeBaron name goes well back in Chrysler history, starting when the coachbuilder known as LeBaron Carrossiers was purchased by Detroit car-body-builder Briggs Manufacturing in 1926 and Chrysler bought Briggs in 1953. After various high-end Imperials got LeBaron branding over the decades, Chrysler decided to turn the Dodge Diplomat into a swanky luxury machine and revive the storied LeBaron name in the process. Here's one of those cars, found in a Denver boneyard recently.
Station wagons were falling out of favor in a hurry with American car shoppers as the 1990s progressed, especially after the 1991 Ford Explorer and 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee hit showrooms and put the hammer down on the truckification of our roads. Mitsubishi didn't seem to worry about such trends, though, and a longroof version of the Diamante luxury sedan appeared here for the 1993 model year. Here's one of those extremely rare wagons, found in a Northern California car graveyard a couple of months back.
Over the last couple of decades, the Nissan Altima has become the butt of countless online jokes and is now generally considered the most wretchedly disposable of US-market motor vehicles. We can assume that this is the result of so many years of ex-fleet Altimas being dumped into the market after full depreciation, coupled with a general sense of utter dysfunction in Nissan HQ. In any case, the Altima is an icon now, and I've spent years trying to find a first-year example in the car graveyards I frequent. Finally, in a Denver-area boneyard, I found this battered '93 GXE sedan.
Until the 1984 model year, every new Corolla sold in the United States used a rear-wheel-drive configuration. Today's Junkyard Find is an AE72 Corolla station wagon, from the final model year of its generation sold here, found in a car graveyard in John Steinbeck's hometown.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Gray Not bad, including the price. A little worn, but it's 34 years old and looks complete and original. The 318 is one of their best workhorse engines, and is easily modifiable to 400 hp. If I needed something to drive, I'd consider it. I think those are stock wheels, btw. Fifteen inchers look tiny these days.
- MRF 95 T-Bird One of the reasons why Mopar dropped the removal top version was that the marketing department found that few owners, maybe 20% took the trouble to unbolt and remove the heavy fiberglass roof.
- Zerofoo The UAW understands that this is their last stand. Their future consists of largely robot assembled EVs that contain far fewer parts. Factories moving to southern "right to work" states and factories moving to the southern-most state of Mexico.I don't think lights-out auto factories are on the horizon, but UAW demands might move those automated manufacturing process timelines up.McDonalds opened a fully automated restaurant in Texas in 2022 in response to a $15/hour minimum wage demand. I'm fairly certain that at $130/hr - fully robotic car factories start to make sense.
- Redapple2 Cherry 20 yr old Defenders are $100,000 +. Til now.
- Analoggrotto So UAW is singling out Ford, treating them slightly better in order to motivate the entire effort. Mildly Machiavellian but this will cost them dearly in the future. The type of ill will and betrayal the Detroit-3 must be feeling right now will be the utter demise of UAW. I just hope that this tribulation is not affecting Mary Barra's total hotness.