By on May 16, 2022

1996 Buick LeSabre Wildcat in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsDuring 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. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2022

1990 Subaru Justy 4WD in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe General began selling the Suzuki Cultus hatchback with Chevrolet Sprint badges here starting in the 1985 model year, with the later versions becoming the Geo/Chevrolet Metro. Even though gasoline prices had crashed during the middle 1980s, the three-cylinder Sprint sold well enough that Subaru decided to bring their tiny three-cylinder car to our shores. This was the Justy, and I’ve found this ’90 in a self-service yard in Subaru-crazed Denver. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2022

1985 Cadillac Cimarron in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWay 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 semiintact 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. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2022

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOnce the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, front-wheel-drive econoboxes that began life as Chrysler Europe designs, proved to be strong sellers in North America, Lee Iacocca and his poker buddies decided that a pickup based on the Omnirizon platform would be a fine idea. The result was the Dodge Rampage and its Plymouth-badged sibling, the Scamp. I found one of those cartrucks in a Denver-area wrecking yard a while back. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2022

2011 Suzuki Kizashi in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven though everything in the General Motors universe looked pretty shaky in 2009 and GM-affiliated Suzuki gave up on its attempts to sell Suzuki-badged cars in America in 2013, somehow an interesting new Suzuki midsize sedan managed to appear on our shores for the 2010 model year: The Kizashi. Just under 23,000 Kizashis were sold in the United States and Canada during the car’s 2010-2013 sales run, and I’ve found this clean ’11 in a yard just south of Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2022

1990 Lexus LS400 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile 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.

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By on April 4, 2022

1985 Ford Escort wagon in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsRemember the era, around the middle of the 2010s, when we were all supposed to desire a brown station wagon with a manual transmission (or mock those who liked brown wagons after it was cool)? Well, today’s Junkyard Find is just that! (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2022

1997 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord’s Mercury Division built rear-wheel-drive Cougars from the 1967 through 1997 model years, followed by a 1999-2002 run of front-wheel-drive Cougars based on the Mondeo chassis. Today’s Junkyard Find is thus historically significant on three counts: it’s the last model year for the rear-wheel-drive Cougar, it’s a special edition commemorating the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Man’s Car, and it’s the last year for the XR7 luxury package. Bitter tears, indeed! (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2022

2006 Buick Lucerne in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsRemember, not many years ago, when American car shoppers could choose among dozens of new Detroit sedans? For the 2006 model year alone, General Motors offered 12 different four-door sedans, and that’s ignoring sub-models plus the sedans bearing the badges of (GM-owned) Saab and Suzuki. Today, there are three new GM sedans available here, and both of the Cadillacs are built on the same platform as the Camaro. The Buick Division got out of the US-market sedan game when the final 2020 Regal rolled off Opel’s line in Rüsselsheim, but the very last proper full-sized Buick sedan was Hamtramck’s own Lucerne. I found this Northstar-equipped first-year Lucurne in a Colorado Springs yard last month. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2022

1970 Volvo 164 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn 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. (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2022

1972 Ford Galaxie 500 sedan in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars1972 ended up being the final year for the postwar era of mainstream American car shoppers buying big, cheap sedans with few misgivings about fuel economy (though, if you want to get picky about it, you could say the 1973 Oil Crisis began while 1974 models were already in showrooms). Full-sized Fords sold very well in 1972, with close to a half-million Customs, Galaxies, and LTDs sold that year (plus better than 75,000 units of the Marquis and Monterey), and these cars were commonplace on American roads well into the 1990s. Today, the 1971-1972 big Fords and their distinctive snouts have all but disappeared, so I was happy to find this extremely green example in a Denver-area yard last month. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2022

1987 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince I’ve noticed in recent years that first-generation Chevy Cavaliers have all but disappeared from both street and junkyard on our continent, despite the millions sold here, I’ve made it my mission to document examples of the now-rare 1982-1987 Cavalier when I see them during my wrecking-yard travels. We admired a Yooper-owned ’85 Cavalier wagon in a Colorado yard in November, and I found today’s factory-hot-rod ’87 Cavalier Z24 in a Northern California yard in December. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2022

1984 Pontiac 6000 STE in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe General built cars based on the front-wheel-drive A platform (no, not that other GM A platform) for the 1982 through 1996 model years, with the profoundly unmemorable Chevy Celebrity as the most numerous type. Of all the millions of these A-Bodies that roamed American roads, the most interesting was the Pontiac 6000 Special Touring Edition, a sporty sedan version made to compete with the growing menace of speedy German and technology-stuffed Japanese machines. I managed to find an extremely rare early 6000 STE in a California boneyard in December, so let’s take a look. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2022

1991 Toyota Corolla station wagon in Colorado junkyard, LH front view — ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI always look for two kinds of Toyotas when I’m walking the rows of a Ewe Pullet-type yard: Newish Camrys with manual transmissions and odometers showing better than 300,000 miles. Generally, Corolla wagons in junkyards are either mercilessly thrashed hoopties, assaulted-with-glue-gun art cars, or fastidiously-maintained trade-ins, few of which reach the magical 300k-mile mark. When I saw a fairly straight late-production AE92 Corolla in lurid, backyard-applied purple house paint and snowboard-culture decals, I expected to see Grandma’s hand-me-down church-on-Sundays-only wagon that had 120,000 miles when its keys were pressed into the grandbaby’s eager hands… and 127,000 miles when it took that final tow-truck ride to Pick Your Part. (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2022

1980 Datsun 280ZX in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNissan sold the 280ZX version of the famed Z-Car here for the 1979 through 1983 model years, right up to the end of the Datsun era and the start of the “Name Is Nissan” period we’re in today. These cars don’t have the maniacal following of their 240Z/260Z/280Z predecessors but sold well when new, so I find the 280ZX to be reasonably easy to find in the big California car graveyards I frequent. Here’s a well-equipped ’80 in Alpine White paint, showing off its T-tops in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a few years back. (Read More…)

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