Honda was the first of the Japanese car companies to create a separate luxury brand to sell abroad, beating Nissan and Toyota by several years. When the first Acuras appeared here in late 1986, there were two models: a dressed-up, hot-rodded Civic and an innovative midsize luxury machine co-developed with Austin Rover. Here's an early example of the latter car, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard.
It’s a new week, and I’m back with another German car Rental Review for your enjoyment! Today’s rental is one of two American market entrants into the premium compact five-door liftback segment, and not a car one expects to find in an Enterprise lot. Presenting a 2020 Audi A5 Sportback, two years and 50,000 rental miles later.
During the bling-and-horsepower-crazed 1960s, The General’s Buick Division took the full-size B-Body platform, added a hot engine and flashy trim, and called it the Wildcat. Not many well-heeled grandfathers felt interested in doing land-yacht burnouts in the VFW parking lot, it turned out, so Wildcat sales ended after 1970… but a yearning for the glory days of the Wildcat must have inspired some Buick dealers to create their own Wildcats during the 1990s. Here’s one of those rare special-edition cars, found in a Denver-area self-service yard.
Way back in 2007, I kicked off the Down On the Street series (which was supposed to be a one-time reference to the title of a Stooges song beloved by me and the late Davey J. Johnson) with the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of interesting street-parked cars: a 1984 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro. That led to something of a Cimarron obsession, and I’ve spent the past 15 years documenting every semi– intact Cadillac J-Body I find during my junkyard adventures. You’d think they’d all have been crushed by now, but such is not the case; I found this loaded Brown Overload Edition ’85 in a yard near Pikes Peak earlier this year.
While Honda was the first Japanese car company to have a North American showroom hit with a new luxury brand, the Legend lacked the imposing bulk to really threaten the flagship sedans of competitors based in Michigan and Europe (and, on top of that, it had Accord running gear and Rover DNA). Nissan and Toyota got into the luxury-sedan game here in the 1990 model year, when the Infiniti and Lexus brands had their debuts here with the Q45 and LS 400, respectively.
In North America, the Volvo Brick family first appeared with the 140 in the 1968 model year, and the sensibly square Swedes remained on sale here through the last of the S90s and V90s (formerly known as the 960) in 1998. I’ve managed to find junkyard examples of all of these cars, including such oddities as the 262C and 780 Bertone Coupes, but the Volvo 164 has been a tough one; prior to today’s Junkyard Find, I had documented just a single 164. On a recent trip to a snow-coated yard between Denver and Cheyenne, I found another: this scorched and punctured ’70.
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.
When Lee Iacocca’s K-cars finally hit American showrooms for the 1981 model year, the ax that had seemed poised over Chrysler’s neck for much of the late 1970s seemed to pull back. For model year 1983, a stretched version of the K chassis became the basis of such luxurious machines as the Dodge 600, Plymouth Caravelle, and Chrysler E-Class. Just to confuse everybody, the New Yorker line bifurcated that year, with the New Yorker Fifth Avenue remaining on the same platform as the rear-wheel-drive Dodge Diplomat and the regular New Yorker becoming an E-platform sibling to the 600/E-Class/Caravelle. Here’s one of those first-year New Yorkers, found in very clean condition in a Denver-area self-service yard last week.
If you were in the market for a midsized luxury sedan from Europe, you could certainly do worse than the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. While it sacrifices a bit of interior volume for the sake of style, it remains an opulent and sedate experience for the driver with just enough performance to keep the office commute from becoming dull. Of course, those seeking enhanced trills could pay AMG to transform the sedan into the 429 horsepower CLS53. But it has been retired for the 2022 model year, along with the base CLS450 with rear-wheel drive.
That just leaves the CLS450 4Matic, which Mercedes has given some new accouterments — perhaps to take the sting out of the company dumping the more interesting trims.
After Americans proved uninterested in buying the luxurious-for-its-time Toyota Crown during the early 1970s, Toyota brought over the new Corona Mark II, then gave its American-market, Chaser-based successor the Cressida name starting in the 1977 model year. The Cressida remained King of Toyotas in North America throughout the 1980s, but the appearance of the Lexus LS400 for the 1990 model year changed everything; Cressida sales collapsed. However, we could buy new Cressidas here all the way through 1992, and I’m always looking for the rare early-1990s models during my junkyard travels. Here’s a ’91 in Denver.
Genesis has been planning a mid-cycle update for the G70 sedan for a while and has been obliging us with previews showing off how good its designers are at their jobs for months. But Hyundai Motor Group recently previewed the model in South Korea to prove that the improvements made went beyond mere aesthetics.
While the split headlamps and updated grille bring the model more in line with other Genesis products, sacrificing a bit of visual menace for a more upscale appearance, technological changes ensure it’s no less capable from a performance standpoint. Next year, the Genesis G70 will receive a new sports+ driving mode that tightens engine and transmission programming to squeeze out every ounce of performance available, a new dynamic AWD system featuring a built-in drift mode, and an exhaust with active valves to make the V6 sound as sweet as possible on demand.
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.
I’m not quite to the tin foil hat stage, but I’m certain that Google’s ad servers have their cameras trained on me. No, I didn’t get caught up in that face aging app nonsense a couple weeks ago — and I’m not one for selfies. Rather, I’m sure I’m being watched, as with every new gray hair that sprouts on my beard, I seem to get more advertisements for products meant to help with aging.
From retirement planning advice, to literal beard dying products, to (ahem) virility potions and devices, there seems to be no end to the market reminders that I’m much closer to the dirt nap than I am to a nap in a crib. And the vitamin ads never stop.
Maybe this 2019 Kia K900 is yet another solution to my advanced years, with comfort and luxury meant to coddle my aching back. But I like to think of it as one of those once a day vitamins. It’s easy to use, just like a simple daily pill — but like that pill, you don’t think about it much when you’re done swallowing it. And, again like the daily dose, it’s forgettable for Kia, who sold roughly one K900 per day last year.
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- Beachy Asphalt only works to keep the dirt road below it dry, and it is the dry dirt that holds up the asphalt surface to make a smooth road surface. Once the asphalt cracks or a spring wells up and the dirt gets wet, all bets are off. It is usually due to a spring that perennial potholes form. They are very hard to get rid of.
- JamesG I’m the owner of the featured car that’s currently on EBay. Thanks for such a nice write up on these cars. Mine happens to be in excellent condition and the photos don’t do it justice. The HT4100 isn’t as bad as some made them out to be and they can go 200k miles with proper maintenance. I also own a 79 w/the analog fuel injected 5.7 350 which should have been used through 1985 but ever-increasing CAFE regulations called for more economical power plants which made GM shelve this great motor.
- Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars recently bought a pristine 71 Kenosha Cadillac.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY-G2dExgXE&ab_channel=RareClassicCars%26AutomotiveHistory
- Jeff S Wouldn't most of the large suvs in NYC be livery vehicles? If so that would be hurting those who make their living by driving for hire.
- EBFlex Yes their mass transit is great if you want to be beat within an inch of your life or pushed onto the tracks by some random psycho.