Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Galaxie 500 Sedan

1972 ended up being the final year for the postwar era of mainstream American car shoppers buying big, cheap sedans with few misgivings about fuel economy (though, if you want to get picky about it, you could say the 1973 Oil Crisis began while 1974 models were already in showrooms). Full-sized Fords sold very well in 1972, with close to a half-million Customs, Galaxies, and LTDs sold that year (plus better than 75,000 units of the Marquis and Monterey), and these cars were commonplace on American roads well into the 1990s. Today, the 1971-1972 big Fords and their distinctive snouts have all but disappeared, so I was happy to find this extremely green example in a Denver-area yard last month.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood D'Elegance

1988 was an interesting year for The General’s Cadillac Division. The Cavalier-based Cimarron was in its final year of sales, the Hamtramck/Turin-built Allanté was in its second year (and priced about the same as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class), and the “traditional” rear-wheel-drive Brougham sedan shared showroom space with the front-wheel-drive De Villes, Eldorados, and Sevilles. The old Sixty Special name was still being used, along with such slightly newer titles as Elegante and d’Elegance. While the Allanté lived at the top of the GM prestige pyramid for ’88, the Fleetwood was the car of choice for those very wealthy Cadillac shoppers who insisted on four doors and zero Pininfarina nonsense. Here’s one of those cars, found in excellent condition in a Denver yard last spring.

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Chrysler Newport 4-Door Sedan
Chrysler redesigned the big C-Body cars for the 1969 model year, calling the vaguely airplane-ish curved-panel look the “ Fuselage Style.” Although the prole-grade Fury and middlebrow Dodge Monaco looked distressingly similar to their upscale Imperial and Chrysler New Yorker/300/Newport siblings in the 1969-1973 Fuselage era (further blurring the Snoot Factor dividing lines among the Chrysler divisions), these cars offered plenty of Detroit steel at a good price. Here’s one of the most affordable Chrysler-badged C-Bodies available during the first year of Fuselage Styling, found in a Denver-area car graveyard.
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Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LS Brougham

For better than three decades, Chevrolet sold Americans full-sized sedans with angular lines and — in most cases— V8 engines. Beginning in 1959 (or even earlier, depending on how strict you are about the definition of “angular”), a big rear-drive Chevy box sedan was the most mainstream American motor vehicle… and that came to an end in 1990, after which the Caprice got a new cetacean body on the old 1977-vintage chassis.

These late Box Caprices have become very tough to find in junkyards, so I decided to document this picked-over example in Colorado before they’re all gone forever.

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

Cadillac had become by far the top luxury car manufacturer in North America by the early 1970s, with the all-time pinnacle of Cadillac production reached in the 1973 model year: 304,839 ’73 Cadillacs purred off the assembly line. Then, well, the Yom Kippur War pissed off OPEC’s most important members, European luxury cars gained more than just a minor foothold, and Cadillacs became so commonplace that their prestige value sank for the rest of the decade.

Here’s a big, plush Sedan DeVille, from the final year of Cadillac’s undisputed reign over the American road, photographed in a Denver self-serve car graveyard earlier this year.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham Hardtop Sedan
The New Yorker name goes way back for Chrysler, running from the 1940 model year all the way through a series of K-car- and Eagle Premier-based front-drivers in the 1980s and 1990s. To me, though, the greatest of the Chrysler New Yorkers were the ones built on the majestic C-Body unibody platform for the 1965 through 1978 model years, and I have the most affection for the “we don’t care about oil prices” cars of the Middle Malaise Era.Here’s a (nearly) two-and-a-half-ton ’77 Brougham hardtop sedan, which met its doom in a Denver self-service yard last fall.
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Junkyard Find: 1968 Ford LTD Sedan
Full-sized Detroit sedans from the 1960s, cool as they are, don’t get much interest from those willing and able to take on project cars. With so many millions of these big boxy four-doors made — they were the default mode of transportation for most Americans back then, remember — plenty still sit in barns and fields and driveways a half-century later, and they continue to show up in self-service wrecking yards.Here’s my latest find: a fairly solid 1968 Ford LTD sedan, in a Denver yard.
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Junkyard Find: 1977 Buick Electra Limited

Back in 2011 we admired a discarded example of the last of the true Buick Electra land yachts: a 1976 Electra Park Avenue Limited four-door hardtop found in a Northern California wrecking yard. What happened in 1977? General Motors, suffering from plummeting sales of thirsty big Buicks in the wake of events beyond its control, shrank the Electra, ditching the pillarless hardtop in the process.

Here’s one of those downsized Electras — a Limited, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.

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Junkyard Find: 1965 Ford Thunderbird Landau

A perfectly restored example of a 1964-66 Ford Thunderbird is worth plenty. A beat-up example, even a non-rusty California car, on the other hand… well, it’s one of those cases where you can start with a thousand-dollar car, apply 15 grand to get it into pretty nice shape, and end up with a car worth $9,500. This cruel math is the reason that today’s Junkyard Find was spotted at a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard a few weeks back.

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  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.