By on October 14, 2019

1981 Chevrolet Chevette in Denver wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNorth Americans could buy the Chevrolet Chevette, featuring the finest in affordable early-1970s Opel Kadett C technology, starting with the 1976 model year. Chevette sales continued all the way through 1987, amazingly enough, because it could be manufactured and sold so cheaply.

Since the Chevette was so simple and sold in such large numbers, enough have survived that I still find them in the big self-service wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a grimy, beat-up ’81 spotted in a Denver yard last winter. (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser wagon in North Dakota junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile traveling to my job as Wise and Fair Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court at the Minneapolis 500 race in Brainerd last week, I flew in via Fargo, North Dakota. Naturally, I visited a Fargo self-service junkyard before boarding my plane home, and that’s where I found this rusty-but-well-preserved ’88 Cutlass Cruiser International Series. (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2019

Alvis CVR(T) in Southern California wrecking yard - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFrom 1962 through 2016, one of the continent’s most amazing junkyards operated in the Sun Valley neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles: Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking, also known as U-Pick Parts. Plenty of scenes for movies, TV shows, and music videos were filmed there, in addition to providing some great Junkyard Finds (not to mention parts for my personal cars, when I lived in Southern California in the late 1980s).

I snapped a couple of shots of an armored vehicle of some kind there, back in 2014, and now it’s time to share them. (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

1985 Toyota Van in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsInspired by the unexpected success of the K-car-based Chrysler minivans in the early 1980s, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota each made North American-market versions of their small mid-engined vans. Sales of the Mitsubishi Van (based on the Delica) and Nissan Van (based on the Vanette) never amounted to much over here, but Toyota had a minor hit with the Americanized TownAce van, known here as the Toyota Van.

The Toyota Van proved very durable and I still see plenty of them in wrecking yards to this day. Today’s Junkyard Treasure packs some extra-special provenance within its battered, 34-year-old flanks: it once served as the sacred icon of a Northern California band, appearing as the centerpiece of many music videos. (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2019

2005 Scion tC in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsToyota made the Scion brand available in North America for the 2004 through 2016 model years, hoping to lure some younger buyers to the products of a company best known for sturdy machinery that renders its drivers invisible for 400,000 miles. Well, that didn’t work out so well, but plenty of Scions found homes with their intended demographic once they reached their third or fifth owners.

I’ve been seeing Scions in wrecking yards for a few years now, mostly wrecked xAs and xBs, but the only one (prior to today) that I felt worthy of Junkyard Find status has been the amazing Devil Vampiress 2005 xB. Now I’ve found this lovingly customized 2005 Scion tC in a Denver U-Pull yard, and I thought it was worth sharing. (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2019

1993 Chevrolet Lumina Z34 in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMost of the time, you’ll see examples of the Chevrolet Lumina only in the backgrounds of my Junkyard Find photographs, because the most interesting thing about the Lumina is that it replaced the even more forgettable Celebrity.

However, The General did build a high-performance version of the Lumina for a few years: the Z34. Here’s one in a Colorado Springs self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2019

1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBig, Detroit-made Malaise Era personal luxury coupes still keep showing up in the big self-service wrecking yards, more than 35 years after the last one rolled off the assembly line. Yes, the diminished-expectations Mark VI, the “What Oil Crisis?” Mark V, and the rococo Mark IV— examples of each of these will appear in your local U-Wrench yard from time to time.

Here’s a worn-out Mark IV from the year of Nixon’s resignation and Haile Selassie’s banishment from his throne in a lowly Beetle, now awaiting The Crusher in a Denver yard. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2019

2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIt took a while for the 2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder to start showing up in the big self-service wrecking yards I visit, but depreciation finally caught up with the final generation of Mister Two. I spotted a 2002 MR2 Spyder with sequential-manual transmission in California a few months back, and now I’ve found this five-speed manual-equipped ’01 in Colorado. (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 August 12, 2019

1984 Dodge 600 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOnce Lee Iacocca’s front-wheel-drive K-cars brought Chrysler back from near-death and into profitability, the platform became the basis of a sprawling family of K-related relatives. One of the earliest spinoffs was the E Platform, a lengthened K that gave us the Chrysler E-Class/New Yorker, the Plymouth Caravelle, and the Dodge 600. Just to confuse matters, the Dodge 600 coupe remained a true K, sibling to the Dodge Aries.

That’s what we’ve got here, and this Denver 600 coupe has some stories to tell. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2019

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - The Truth About CarsWith minivan sales in decline and the Mercury brand itself locked in a death spiral, the bosses in Dearborn decided to create a Mercury-badged version of the Ford Freestar: the Monterey. No, not this kind of Monterey, which sought slightly devilish middle-managers with a sense of style as potential buyers, but an option-loaded and sensible family hauler for the 21st century.

Sales of the 2004-2007 Monterey started off weak and then bombed miserably, to be followed by the disappearance of Mercury itself by 2011. Here’s a rare example of this forgotten-but-interesting vehicle, found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2019

1981 Ford Escort in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The automotive industry’s shift from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive was in full swing by the late 1970s, and the folks at Dearborn knew that the successor to the Pinto would need to get with the space-and-weight-saving FWD program. The North American Escort appeared in the 1981 model year and sold very well to buyers with strong memories of gas lines in 1979 and 1973.

Rapid depreciation condemned nearly all of these early Escorts to The Crusher well before the end of the 1990s, but a few miraculous survivors managed to hang on for extra decades. Here’s one of those cars, spotted in a Denver-area self-service yard last winter. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The General spent the 1980s experiencing a burning desire to sell high-profit-margin personal luxury coupes that combined the irresistible sales appeal of the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with the technological sophistication of the latest high-end German machinery. This decade gave us such fascinating GM machines as the Cadillac Allanté, the Buick Reatta, the Pontiac 6000 STE, and the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo. You won’t find many Troféos today, but I’m always on the lookout during my junkyard travels. Here’s a clean ’88 in a Denver-area self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2019

1960 Chevrolet Brookwood wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH side view - ©2019 Murilee Martin- The Truth About Cars

Once the original 1955-1957 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon became a sacred icon among those who prize Detroit machinery of the Eisenhower Era, all GM two-door wagons attained a certain prestige among those who enjoy cruise nights, car shows, Time Out dolls, and the 119,544th repetition of Hot Rod Lincoln (no, not the gloriously hillbilly original 1955 Charlie Ryan version, the still-excellent-but-now-overplayed 1971 Commander Cody version, which incorrectly refers to the souped-up Lincoln motor as a V8). I would have thought that a genuine two-door 1960 Biscayne wagon ought to have found someone willing to keep it on the street, but this car in a northeastern Colorado yard proves me wrong. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2019

2005 Audi S4 in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Keeping any Audi on the road can be costly, once the car gets a decade or so old, and I see plenty of solid-looking four-ringers in the self-service junkyards I frequent. You’d think that the factory-hot-rod Audis would be worth enough to keep them out of the clutches of The Crusher, but such is not the case; just in the last year, I have seen a 2001 S8 and a 2001 S4 in low-priced self-service yards. Now I’ve spotted this even newer S4 in Denver, with the allegedly valuable Recaro seats still inside. (Read More…)

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