The Dodge Shadow was one of many, many versions of the Chrysler-saving K Platform, and it sold in fairly large quantities before being replaced by the Neon. As recently as five years ago, Shadows and their Plymouth Sundance siblings were among the most numerous Chryslers in American wrecking yards, but massive numbers of Sebrings have replaced them nowadays. I ignore most of these cars when I see them, but I can’t resist photographing examples with excessively 1990s tape stripes and decals or super-stripper no-option packages.
Today we’ll be looking at a car that puts turbocharging, overwrought 1990s tape graphics, a convertible top, and fire damage all in one K-car package.
In honor of Miller Motorsports Park’s glorious sale back to the people, fellow auto scribe and LeMons chief judge Murilee Martin, Cheat Sheet Managing Editor Andrew Ganz and I made the people’s journey Thursday across the
wasteland wonderful state of Wyoming to judge the proletariat’s race. (I’ll have a story on that later.)
The annual Return of the LeMonites will have a decidedly “red” feel this year, thanks to Murilee’s savvy Alibaba skills and dirt-cheap shipping costs from China.
This isn’t my first rodeo as LeMons judge — but it is my first tour for the best race series on the planet back in the Beehive State. I went to school at the University of Utah (AP No. 10, Coaches No. 12, ESPN No. 9) and Utah is my second home for many reasons. Basically, I’m saying I’m comfortable enough here to make terrible drivers go get me Beto’s if they drive like assholes.
Chrysler hadn’t been making the K Platform for long before they branched it out into the bewildering K Family Tree that confuses everybody to this day. Iacocca’s Chrysler-saving (or demise-postponing, depending on your point of view) platform gave us both the worst car in human history and a Dodged-down version of the swanky LeBaron GTS. Here’s an example of the latter that I saw in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.
I see so many Fox Mustangs in wrecking yards that I don’t pay attention to them unless they’re especially egregious Malaise Era abominations, but what about the other Foxes? Well, I’ll shoot a Fox Capri or Fox Thunderbird if I see one, and of course the Fairmont and its Mercury Zephyr sibling are sort of interesting. We’ve seen this snazzy-looking beige-over-gold ’82 Zephyr coupe and equallly snazzy-looking ’80 Fairmont Futura coupe in this series, and I spotted this red ’82 Fairmont Futura two-door at a Northern California yard a few months ago.
Once Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had the Isuzu Faster-based Chevy LUV. Each type rusted with great eagerness and were near-disposable cheap, so they’re all very rare today. I see maybe one LUV per three years of junkyard visits, so this ’79 LUV Mikado grabbed my attention right away.
Malaise Era Lincolns are common sightings in high-turnover pull-yer-part wrecking yards these days, since there’s not much interest in preserving these cars. We saw an extremely clean 1976 Town Car in California a few months back (it’s still on the yard, and very few parts have been pulled since I photographed it), and now I’ve found this rougher (but not at all rusty) ’79 at another San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard.
Here in Denver, the Jeep DJ-5 often shows up in Junkyard Finds. Another truck that forms a regular part of The Crusher’s diet in Colorado is the International Harvester Scout. Yes, there was once a time when a farm-equipment manufacturer made highway-legal light trucks, and the Scout was (and is) a Colorado favorite. Here’s a battered ’74 I spotted a few weeks back.
Since it took me so many months to scan the hundreds of 35mm, 126, 110, and Super 8 negatives and slides that went into the telling of the 1965 Impala Hell Project Story (tip for time-travelers: if you’re going to document a project like this, wait until digital photography becomes cheap and easy), I figure it makes sense to put together a single roundup page with links to all 20 parts in the series. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it tells the story of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala sedan that I bought in 1990 and spent a decade daily-driving and modifying into, among other things, an art car and a 13-second drag racer. Here’s your portal to each chapter.
I always notice the Cressida when I see an example in a wrecking yard, and the last two years have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of Toyota’s pre-Lexus rear-drive luxury sedan going to The Crusher. I suppose that means that the balance between real-world value and cost to fix mechanical problems has finally tilted against the Cressida. We’ve seen this ’80, this ’84, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in the Junkyard Find Series so far, and now we’re going to go all Malaise Era with today’s ’82.
I see many air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yards these days. In fact, I have always seen many VW Type 1 s in self-service wrecking yards, going back to my first junkyard adventures in early-80s Oakland. Like any car freak who came of age in that era, I’ve owned some old Beetles, and I can say from experience that there was nothing super about the Super Beetle. In fact, it’s possible that this ’73 is the Super Beetle that I sold in 1983.
Junked AMC Eagles are plentiful in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards, but nowhere near as common as the cars that took AMC’s four-wheel-drive-car concept and ran with it: Subarus. I see incredible quantities of Subarus around here, but one thing I don’t see often is a non-wagon Subaru Legacy. Even rarer in these parts is the front-wheel-drive Legacy sedan. That makes this ’91 a noteworthy Junkyard Find, at least by Denver standards.
As I’ve mentioned before, Colorado junkyards are full of Subarus of the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Mostly I’m sort of indifferent to Subarus of this era, with two important exceptions: the BRAT and the XT. Both are fairly rare (the last time I saw a junked XT was last year, when I found this Juggalo-abused ’91), so I came to a screeching halt when I found this XT6.
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- TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
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