Tag: cheap cars

By on April 5, 2021

1976 Ford Maverick sedan in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord squeezed an amazing amount of value out of the 1960 Falcon‘s chassis design, with everything from the 1964-1973 Mustang to the 1980 Granada rolling Falcon-style. The Falcon itself got replaced here by the Maverick starting in 1970 (with one year of overlap when both were available), but the Maverick still had the 1960 Falcon’s bones under its skin. Millions of Mavericks (and near-identical Mercury Comets) were sold here during the 1970-1977 period, and nearly all of these affordable commutemobiles got crushed decades ago. Still, I run across the occasional Maverick/Comet during my junkyard journeys, and I found this optioned-up ’76 in a Denver-area yard last summer. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2021

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsToyota offered North American car buyers the opportunity to buy a new Camry with a manual transmission from the time of the car’s introduction here in 1983 all the way through the 2012 model year. As I’ve found during my junkyard explorations, many Camrys sold here during the 1980s had five-on-the-floor rigs, and this setup remained reasonably popular into the early 1990s. After about 1993, however, automatics rule the American Camry universe, and I’ve been on a years-long quest to find the newest possible manual-equipped junkyard Camry. After peering into thousands of discarded cars, I managed to find a 1997 Camry CE with three pedals, and now I have surpassed that discovery with this 2000 Camry CE in Colorado. (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2021

Buy/Drive/Burn continues its cheapest of series today, as convertibles follow up the vans, trucks, and sedans we’ve covered already.

When it’s time for ragtop fun on the lowest possible budget, which of these three gets the Buy?

(Read More…)

By on February 19, 2021

Imagine for a moment you’re not a well-heeled connoisseur of expensive cars and high finance, and there’s not a Bentley Mulsanne and a Land Cruiser in your garage. Instead, imagine you have to buy one of the three cheapest sedans on sale in America in 2021.

Today it’s Buy/Drive/Burn meets Ace of Base.

(Read More…)

By on November 23, 2020

A 2006 Suzuki Forenza in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
After the Daewoo brand fled these shores in 2002 (leaving Manny, Moe, and Jack in charge of warranty service and the company’s founder on the run from the long arm of the South Korean law), the sprawling GM Empire found a means to continue selling the Leganza and Nubira here: as the Suzuki Verona and Suzuki Forenza/Reno, respectively. Here’s a banged-up Forenza in a Denver yard with the extremely rare five-speed manual transmission. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2020

1986 Ford Taurus MT-5 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I visit a car graveyard, I’m always on the lookout for three things: puzzling examples of badge engineering, crazy high odometer readings, and manual transmissions in unexpected cars. One of the rarest of all is a non-SHO Ford Taurus with three pedals, sold under the MT-5 designation for the 1986 through 1988 model years. After a decade of searching, I found my first discarded Taurus MT-5 in Phoenix, three years back. Now a junkyard near Pikes Peak has provided the second example of this extraordinarily rare Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2020

1997 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve spent years documenting the rise of the Toyota Camry through the lens of the junkyard, from the homely-but-rugged 1983-1986 V10s through the Taurus-sales-pummeling 1987-1991 V20s to the very last US-market Camry wagons of the middle 1990s. After that, the ubiquitous Camry faded into the boneyard background for me… until about a year ago, when I decided to search for the newest possible manual-transmission-equipped discarded Camry. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2020

1987 Hyundai Excel in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUntil the appearance of the Chrysler 200 and the current generation of Mitsubishi Mirage, the fastest average showroom-to-junkyard speed I’d ever seen with a new car took place with the first-generation Hyundai Excel. Even the wretched Yugo, its rival for the title of Cheapest New Car Available In America, seemed to hold together until at least age six or seven before going to The Crusher, but I started seeing plenty of solid-looking ’86 and ’87 Excels at Southern California U-Wrench yards by 1990 or so.

Still, some of those early Excels stayed on the road for decades, and I try to document those miraculous survivors when I find them. Here’s the cleanest first-gen Excel I’ve seen in at least 25 years, found in a Denver self-service yard last week. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2020

The pursuit of safety can lead an individual down many paths. To a self-defense course. To a gun store. To a withdrawn, frightened existence well removed from the warm confines of relationships and social gatherings. And even to a car dealership.

Yes, owning and driving a car puts you more at risk of dying in a crash than riding the train or bus to work every morning, but in these strange times, a car can be more than just a convenient way to get to work on time (or not). It can be a sanctuary. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2019
  1. After our most recent Rare Rides post, your author perused The Big List of BDB Ideas and discovered a suggestion commenter Sgeffe made many moons ago. He suggested the most basic coupe A-bodies on offer in 1979. Feeling cheap? Let’s get weird.

(Read More…)

By on April 9, 2019

Image: Toyota

The first quarter of 2019 reflected a long-predicted cooling off of U.S. auto sales, with volume falling 2 percent. A few automakers bucked the trend, but the news was generally unpleasant. Of course, rising average transaction prices and a bevy of high-margin trucks, SUVs, and crossovers softened the blow for those who got their lineups in order ahead of time.

One segment that gets very little attention — for many reasons — is the lowest rung of all: subcompact cars, which traditionally provide a stepping stone for buyers just entering the market. Many journos bemoan the loss of low-priced cars, claiming relatively cash-strapped Millennials stand to be priced out of the new vehicle market by rising MSRPs and interest rates. It’s true — the herd is thinning, with the last quarter bringing about the death of the Chevrolet Cruze. (This writer actually bought one; the jury’s out if anyone else out there did.)

Still, despite the industry flux, some nameplates continue to earn the love of buyers who choose to spend as little as possible on a new car. (Read More…)

By on April 6, 2019

Journalists who holler nonstop for “affordable cars!” have one less model to choose from. As it isn’t a vehicle patterned off the original Fiat 124/Lada 1200, with the quality and handling of a BMW, suffice it to say the Nissan Versa Note probably didn’t rank high on their might-buy list.

And yet the Versa Note did offer buyers a cheap way to move five people and a decent amount of cargo from place to place, with a standard continuously variable automatic sweetening the pot for those who never bothered learning a stick. After 2019, it’s gone from North American dealers. (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2018

I can’t claim to know what Millennials want — I don’t consider myself a member of that particular cohort. Depending on the source, I’m either one year into that demographic or one year removed, but given that my circle of friends starts at about five years my junior and tops out at 20 years my senior, I’ll accept one older aquaintence’s assertion that I’m “the ragged edge of Generation X.”

That said, social media makes one a sometimes unwilling observer of this curious group of people and, amid their incessant political tweeting, the Millennial’s automotive angst emerges. Basically, cars are too expensive, OEMs have abandoned them, and the Boomers stole their future. And I thought Gen-Xers were supposed to be miserable grumps.

What automotive balm would soothe these pains? (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2018

Peaking sharply in 2015, domestic sales of Nissan’s Versa slipped as North America pivoted toward crossover vehicles. While that’s normally a shame, there isn’t a lot of praise to heap upon the model. But is certainly is cheap!

Upgraded in the middle of 2018 to include a standard rear-view camera, along with a 7.0-inch color touchscreen, audio streaming via Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, a USB connection, new speakers, and — get this — an auxiliary input, Nissan intends to further improve the model for with the SV Special Edition package. However, bargain hunters might rejoice, as the model’s overall pricing will enter 2019 nearly unchanged.

That’s $12,360 (plus a $895 destination fee) for what is inarguably a new car. Hardware includes a 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual, offering impressive fuel economy and absolutely nothing else.  (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2018

Just a couple of weeks into my ECO 101 class, I knew that something was terribly wrong.

At the age of nineteen, I’d already worked for a few dealerships and I was on the way to opening up my own bike shop. Yet I knew at some level that I was profoundly ignorant of the levers that truly move the world. So I signed up for an economics class to learn about those levers.

I learned a lot of theories and concepts in that semester, most of them “proven” by long experience if not by experiment; much like climate science and astronomy, economics is one of those disciplines where much of the scientific method is rendered inaccessible for obvious reasons. Even as a kid, however, I could tell that pure economic theory, like pure Marxism, had no relation to the real world. I was shown a lot of charts where imaginary widget factories maximized output until they broke even on the last widget they made. I heard a lot about elastic and inelastic demand. Things were shown to be fungible, or perhaps not. But if there was a direct connection to the way business worked in my daily life, it must have been made of Larry Niven’s shadow-square wire.

Now, in my forties, I have come to the conclusion that ECO 101 should not be taught to anyone who has not already taken ECO 102, or perhaps owned a business, or maybe reached the age of retirement. ECO 101 contains information that is too dangerous to be used or acted upon in its purest form. The real world doesn’t play by the rules you learn in that class.

Want proof? Here’s some: apparently people won’t buy a brand-new $16,950 car if it’s listed for half price. (Read More…)

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