Ram Adds Yet Another Trim to Its Half-Ton Pickup

Pickup truck makers are seemingly bound and determined to explore the upper echelons of price and luxury, constantly layering trim after trim (and profit after profit) atop their popular models. The latest? For 2023, there will be a Ram 1500 Limited Elite available on dealer lots.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Suzuki Sidekick JX Four-Door Hardtop

The General began selling rebadged Suzukis on our shores for the 1985 model year, with a Chevrolet-badged Cultus called the Sprint. A few years later, GM's Geo brand came into being, with the Cultus becoming the Metro and the Escudo aka Vitara, rolling into Geo dealerships bearing Tracker badging. Meanwhile, Suzuki began selling its own versions of both vehicles here, with the Tracker's sibling known as the Sidekick. Here's one of those trucks, a rusty '93 in a Denver car graveyard.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Datsun 620 King Cab Truck

The middle 1970s through early 1980s were the Golden Age of small Japanese pickups in the United States, when truck shoppers could choose from various models made by Isuzu, Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. The decade of the 1970s began with Nissan selling the Datsun 521 here and finished just around the time the first Datsun 720s appeared in showrooms, with the workhorse 620 in between and proving a tough competitor for the Toyota Hilux and (Mazda-built) Ford Courier.


This week's Junkyard Find is a much-battered 1977 Datsun 620 King Cab, found in a self-service yard located on the High Plains between Denver and Cheyenne.

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Junkyard Find: 1999 Cadillac Escalade

Starting in the 1997 model year, The General’s Cadillac Division glued Cadillac badges and some puzzling cartoon-duck advertising to the Opel Omega and called it the Catera. I’ve photographed just about every junkyard Catera I’ve found because they seem like relics from a long-ago past when Detroit car companies believed Americans would buy their European-market cars… or cars, period. Another Cadillac from the same era fits right in with American automotive trends of the last couple of decades, though, because it helped create them: The Cadillac Escalade. Here’s a first-model-year Escalade, found in a Silicon Valley self-service yard a few months back.

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The Right Spec: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Our own Tim Healey recently found himself behind the wheel of Hyundai’s new trucklet, where he proclaimed it to be an all-around performer while tooling around the tony environs of Palo Alto. Whether he stopped into Tesla HQ for Elon’s take wasn’t mentioned and doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the Santa Cruz starting price, anchored at the end of a swimming pool that’s usually filled with commuter cars and small hatchbacks. Its sticker does climb to nearly 40 grand when all the option boxes are checked, however, leaving us with the question of finding the right balance of price and features

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Any Takers? Chevrolet Previews Rear-Wheel Steering on Silverado EV

With Ford currently enjoying the brunt of the all-electric pickup coverage, General Motors needed to something to help highlight its Silverado EV and come up with rear-wheel steering. It’s something the upcoming electric F-150 will lack and could give the Chevy some advantages when moseying around a cluttered construction site or tight urban landscape.

In addition to a tighter turning radius, rear-wheel steering should also help the Silverado EV tackle trailers with a more ease. There are few things more terrifying than feeling the load you’re pulling start trying to have its way with the back half of your vehicle. Having the back wheels pivot to account for sway could be another big advantage Chevrolet could lean on once its electric pickup is going head-to-head with Ford’s.

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Mitsubishi Montero

While Mitsubishi sold Montero-badged Pajeros in North America from the 1985 through 2006 model years, the boxy first-generation version (and its Dodge Raider twin— no, not the Mitsubishi Raider) is the one most of us recognize as the true Montero. Since I live in Montero-loving Colorado, I find plenty of these trucks in junkyards and have the privilege of choosing only the nicest ones to share as Junkyard Finds. Here’s a low-mile ’89 that now resides in a car graveyard just north of downtown Denver.

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2022 Ford Maverick Debuts Next Week

Ford has announced that it will be introducing a new pickup next week, effectively making this the pre-engagement ring of automotive commitments. Anticipated to be a compact truck priced to contend with tougher times, the model has fittingly been named the Maverick. The title harkens back to the 1970s and the 2-door coupe (later sedan) equipped with a lineup of “Thriftpower” motors that originally had the name emblazoned on the rear deck with a somewhat confusing cattle theme.

While designed in roughly the same spirit as the original, the modern Maverick is a different animal and unlikely to come with the optional Windsor V8 allotted to the coupe. We’ve been told it’s to be produced alongside the smaller Bronco Sport in Mexico and likely share a platform. That means powertrains will probably be limited to 1.5 or 2.0-liter Ecoboost motors with a maximum possible output of 245 horsepower.

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Junkyard Find: 2005 Saab 9-7X Linear

The General had a healthy sales hit with the GMT360 platform in the 2002 model year, when the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, and Oldsmobile Bravada hit the showrooms. Since GM had devoured Saab in 2000 and most American car shoppers wanted trucks or truck-shaped machines by that point, it seemed to make sense to produce a Saab-badged GMT360 and extract some cash from that slice of the car-buying populace that craved both the rugged-lifestyle signifiers of a truck and the quirky-yet-sensible Swedish image of a Saab. The Isuzu-badged version— the Ascender— had had its debut for 2004, and so the Saab 9-7X appeared for 2005 (sadly, no Daewoo- or Vauxhall-badged versions were produced). Here’s a first-model-year 9-7X, found in a Denver self-service yard last week.

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2020 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab - Bowing Out at the Right Time

As you know by now, the 2022 Nissan Frontier is all new.

I haven’t yet gotten my hands on one, and nor has, it appears, most of the rest of the automotive press. But I did get to sample one of the last-gen trucks before it moved into the dustbin of history.

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Nikola Embarrassed After Internal Review, Now Downsizing

The outside firm Nikola hired to conduct the internal investigation looking into the validity of claims made by ousted founder Trevor Milton has reached a conclusion. Milton does appear to have been fabricating the status of the company’s technology and how far along its prototypes were. But Nikola wasn’t helping and ended up being implicated in a few falsehoods of its own.

Some wealthy individual lying to a sea of people for the sake of making money is hardly news, however. The entire world runs on politicians and business people going back on promises made months earlier and clarifying statements that never seem to illuminate anything. What makes Milton’s offense so bad is that he seems to have used the power of lying to mislead investors who might have otherwise made money. Nikola shares never truly recovered from the exposé published by Hindenburg Research as part of its plan to short the company, and those who never bothered to question the legitimacy of its technical claims before investing are suddenly very interested in knowing everything about the business.

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Junkyard Find: 1971 Toyota Land Cruiser

Every time I share photos of an old Toyota Land Cruiser I spotted in a junkyard, the anguished wails from readers commence. Nobody ever asks me where to find those doomed trucks so they can buy parts before The Crusher eats them, and only a few of the anguished wails come from Land Cruiser aficionados troubled by the demise of another old FJ. No, what upsets so many is the offense against reality on display, the demise of a truck worth 25 grand— no, 50 grand!— in any county, parish, or prefecture on the planet. Well, all I can say is that real-world values of vehicles often differ from what we think they should be, and today’s Junkyard Find proves this (again).

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100K+ Pre-Orders for Lordstown's Pickup a Shocker

Lordstown Motors announced on Monday that they had exceeded 100,000 pre-orders for their Endurance light-duty, all-electric pickup, slated to begin production in September.

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Junkyard Find: 1959 International Harvester AM-80 Metro-Mite

Looking at my Junkyard Find posts for 2020, I find that I’ve been neglecting American trucks for much of this year (I don’t consider the PT Cruiser to be a true truck, despite being categorized as one by the federal government). For that reason, I’ve decided to share this thoroughly used-up IHC Metro-Mite stepvan before the year ends.

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Raider, Sawzall Roadster Edition
Even after the Mitsubishi Overlords began selling vehicles under their own badging in North America in the early 1980s, Chrysler continued selling those very same vehicles with Dodge, Plymouth, Eagle, and Chrysler emblems. One of these machines didn’t stay on sale for long, but captured the hearts of a devoted American following: the Dodge Raider, twin to the Mitsubishi Montero (aka Pajero).Here’s one that acquired some mean-looking modifications before meeting its demise in Colorado Springs.
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