By on April 27, 2020

2005 Saab 9-2X in a Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWeird examples of badge engineering! Who doesn’t love them? Bad people, that’s who, and so I do my best to find such vehicles while I’m exploring car graveyards. The badge-engineering world includes Isuzus badged as Hondas, Hondas badged as Isuzus, Mitsubishis badged as Dodges, Dodges badged as Mitsubishis, Chevrolets badged as Saabs, and — of course — Subarus badged as Saabs. Here’s an example of the notorious Saabaru, found in the Subiest region of the United States: Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2020

Pedalling sucks, but so too does shelling out tens of thousands for a new Jeep. The off-road brand’s solution is an exercise in badge-engineering that dispenses with two wheels, an internal combustion engine, and all manner of cocoon-like safety.

It’s the Jeep e-Bike, and it can be yours for a price topping that of entry-level Japanese motorcycles. (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2020

Don’t let the title fool you — what we’ve got here is not a Mitsubishi at all, but rather a Hyundai. The late Eighties were confusing times at Mitsubishi, and deals with other OEMs were made left and right.

Today’s Precis is an Excel by any other name.

(Read More…)

By on February 24, 2020

1988 Pontiac LeMans in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince starting doing this goofy car-writing-online gig 13 years ago last month, I have documented the demise of 2,073 discarded vehicles in excruciating detail. During that time, I have walked right past thousands and thousands of allegedly interesting cars and trucks (sorry, BMW 3 Series fans, but I’ve been trying to make it up to you in recent years) in order to obsess over my very favorite kind of junkyard machines: littleknown examples of puzzling badge engineering. That means that when I see the South Korean Pontiac LeMans in a junkyard, I photograph it.

Here’s a low-mile, first-model-year LeMans sedan, found in a Denver car graveyard last spring. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2020

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power - Image: Mercedes-Benz

After a short and troubled life, a Mercedes-Benz that’s mostly a Nissan will cease to exist come May, leaving behind a legacy fleet to serve as evidence of the unusual pickup pair-up.

The X-Class arrived on the scene in 2017 but failed to catch on with the buying public. Perhaps, despite the best efforts of Mercedes-Benz engineers, there was simply too much Nissan Navara showing through? (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2019

2004 Acura EL in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLast year, I found a 2009 Chevrolet Chevy (a Mexican-market Opel Corsa) in a Denver car graveyard, presumably driven here on Mexican plates and then abandoned and towed away when it couldn’t be registered in Colorado.

We can assume that today’s Junkyard Find came to the Mile High City in the same way, but via the northern border rather than the southern one. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

2006 Isuzu I-280 in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSome guys dream of finding a Blower Bentley or Hemi Super Bee in a dusty barn. I get excited when I find an obscure example of badge engineering in a big self-service junkyard.

No Suzuki Equatoryet— but here’s something just about as rare: the Isuzu-badged version of the Chevrolet Colorado, found close to Pikes Peak in Colorado. (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2019

1994 Mazda Navajo in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Mazda and Ford go way back when it comes to the badge-engineering game, what with all those Mazda-built Ford Couriers, Mazda-based Ford Escorts, Mazda-badged Ford Rangers, and so on. Since I love weird examples of badge engineering in the junkyard, I’m always on the lookout for the likes of a Saab-badged Chevy or Acura-badged Isuzu, and so I have been keeping my eyes open for a rare Mazda-ized Ford Explorer for quite a while. Most of them got crushed long ago, as the early Explorer has very little value today (due to its laughably small size and lack of luxury features, by 21st-century American-market suburban commuter-truck standards), but this ’94 just showed up in a Denver self-service yard.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2019

1996 Isuzu Hombre in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSome of the most interesting examples of GM badge engineering during the last few decades involved the Isuzu brand; first, the Chevrolet LUV pickup (Isuzu Faster) arrived during the late 1970s, followed by the Chevrolet/Geo Spectrum (Isuzu Gemini) and Geo Storm (Isuzu Impulse), and finally the Trailblazer-based Isuzu Ascender. Mixed in there was the Isuzu-ized second-gen Chevy S-10, also known as the Hombre.

You won’t find many Hombres in your local wrecking yard, but I kept my eyes open for one until this ’96 showed up in Denver. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2019

Perhaps to its misfortune, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles does not sell a midsize pickup in the world’s biggest truck market, but buyers in certain overseas markets were able to get into a four-door, body-on-frame midsizer carrying the Fiat badge — the Fullback, more properly described as a rebadged Mitsubishi Triton/L200.

Note the word “were.” The Fiat Fullback is no more, according to FCA’s light commercial vehicles division. The discontinuation stems from the same problem Fiat faces in America: really bad sales. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2019

VW

European and other overseas buyers will one day be able to purchase a Volkswagen version of the Ford Ranger, all thanks to the automakers’ recently forged alliance, but what about North American customers?

The dream of a German pickup in the U.S. is still alive, VW confirms. However, what that truck might look like — and who will build it — is still a question mark. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2018

Imagine you’re an American auto executive in the 1980s, looking on in desperation as all the youthful and wealthy customers head almost solely to BMW showrooms for their sports-oriented sedans and coupes.

Now imagine you work at Ford, and you’ve decided to do something about it. By the way, you’re Bob Lutz right now.

It’s Merkur time.

(Read More…)

By on November 5, 2018

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Even though we’ve just had two Japanese Junkyard Finds in a row, I’ve been searching for a discarded Acura SLX for so long that I had to share this ’99 in Denver immediately. (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2018

1993 Geo Tracker in Illinois wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

When The General created the Geo brand in 1989, the idea was that cars designed and/or built by Toyota, Isuzu, and Suzuki could be sold in the United States under the GM flag (Geos became Chevrolets after 1997). Of all the cars that bore Geo badging, the Tracker stayed in production the longest, when a Suzuki Grand Vitara-based Chevy Tracker could be purchased through 2004.

Here’s a frighteningly corroded 1993 Geo Tracker, spotted in a self-service wrecking yard in Joliet, Illinois. (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2018

2008 Saturn Astra XE in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Remember the Saturn Astra? A Belgian-built Opel Astra, it was supposed to replace the Ion, but GM had a few distractions around that time and axed the Saturn Astra early in 2009… followed by the Saturn brand itself.

Just two model years, poor sales, weird Euro-Detroit badge-engineering hijinks, and a near-instant disappearance from cultural memory: just what I like best in a Junkyard Find! (Read More…)

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