By on June 17, 2019

Which SUV looked like a 1995 Range Rover at its debut in 1984, but was less reliable and more expensive?

Why, it’s a Laforza of course.

(Read More…)

By on May 28, 2019

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBack in the early 1980s, when I began my junkyard-crawling career in the East Bay, I would find examples of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider on a depressingly regular basis. I still find them today, in about the same quantities; the only difference is that now they’re 40 years old instead of six years old.

Here’s the latest: a black ’79 without a speck of corrosion, spotted in my old East Oakland junkyard stomping grounds (though at a yard that didn’t exist in 1982). (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2018

The looks of an old Volkswagen Jetta, the reliability of an old Italian car, and the inconvenience of right-hand drive. All of your dreams can come true in today’s Rare Ride — a Fiat Tempra. It made its way from 1990s Italy to England, then stormed up the banks of Rhode Island.

(Read More…)

By on September 19, 2018

In the 1990s, nobody in North America spent much (any?) time thinking about Maserati products. So you’d be forgiven if today’s Rare Ride slipped from your fond early-90s memories long ago.

It’s the Shamal, and it’s a bit homely.

(Read More…)

By on September 5, 2018

To mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the Ferrari Museum in Maranello is launching two new exhibitions showcasing the man and the machines he was particularly fond of.

The first display is a photographic journey entitled “Passion and Legend,” which follows Enzo’s life and times at Ferrari. However, the second exhibit, called “Driven by Enzo,” looks to be the more interesting of the two. It features the various four-seater models driven personally by Ferrari. While Enzo was known to test every vehicle the company produced, his penchant for the more-practical 2+2 frequently resulted in them becoming his daily driver. Interesting, considering the man supposedly only built road-going cars to fund his love of racing.  (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

You can go into a Fiat showroom today and buy a brand new Fiat 124, undoubtedly delighting a dealer who’s desperate to move some reworked Miatas. It wasn’t always this way, though. The 124 name was originally applied to a lineup of Fiat-developed vehicles, like today’s Sport Coupe from 1974.

(Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For as long as I have been poking around in American automobile graveyards (35 years), the presence of the occasional Fiat 124 Sport Spider has been a constant. Even while Pininfarina-badged, Malcolm Bricklin-imported 124 Sport Spiders were still available as new cars in the United States, I was seeing 20,000-mile late-70s examples about to be crushed.

Nowadays, most of these cars show signs of decades-long outdoor storage after awaiting restorations that never came. Here’s an extremely rough and rusty one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple of months back. (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2015

04 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill the steady procession of Fiat 124 Spiders into America’s self-service wrecking yards never cease? So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, this ’80, and now yet another sporty little Fiat from the Malaisiest year of them all. Here’s a beat-up but not hopeless example I spotted in Northern California. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2015

07 - 1978 Fiat X1_9 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe Fiat X1/9, like the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is one of those old European cars that hasn’t held its value so well, which means you’ll see plenty of them in the sort of self-service wrecking yards that I frequent. We’ve seen this ’78, this ’78, this ’80 and this ’86 so far in this series, and now I’ve got another ’78 to show you. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2015

07 - 1980 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnce again, we are reminded that examples of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider have been a junkyard constant for my entire 33-year junkyard-haunting career. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, and now I’ve found another 1980 Sport Spider in a snowy Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on October 29, 2014

Maserati GhibliHow does one make it in America? Grow your product portfolio by 50%. Grow your North American dealership network by 29%. Make all-wheel-drive a part of your business’s best practices. Spend $11 million airing a commercial during the Super Bowl while only bothering to display your product at the tail end of the ad. Name your products after a Mediterranean wind, the number of doors they possess, or a video game.

And continue to place one of the industry’s coolest logos on a highly visible portion of all your products.

Cue year-over-year Maserati sales growth in the United States of 307% through the first nine months of 2014, a gain of 6884 units. (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2014

08 - 1981 Maserati Biturbo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYour typical Maserati Biturbo isn’t worth much these days, which means that the cost/benefit analysis of one sitting under a tarp in the driveway often results in a trip to the nearest wrecking yard. In this series so far, we’ve seen this super-rare ’86 Biturbo Spyder, this not-so-rare ’84 Biturbo, and today’s first-year ’81 ’84 Biturbo. All three of these cars were photographed in California, one in Los Angeles and the other two in Oakland, and it’s a safe bet than none of them had driven on the street in the decade prior to arriving in the wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2014

1965-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Front

 

Why wait to pay $30,000 for Alfa’s new, long-rumored, often-postponed rear-drive Giulia when you can have one right now?

(Read More…)

By on July 2, 2014

13 - 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPrices for (non-164) Alfa Romeos have been getting somewhat crazy in recent years, but it’s still possible to get a restorable 1970s or 1980s Spider for non-insane bucks. The proof of this is that rougher examples still show up now and then at the self-service wrecking yards I frequent. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’74, this ’78, and now today’s ’81. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2014

06 -1975 Fiat 124 Spider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo many Fiat 124 Sport Spiders get junked, and the process has been going on for my entire junkyard-prowling career. In the three years of this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’78, and this ’80, and we might as well add the 124’s little brother, this ’71 850 Sport Spider. I don’t even photograph every 124 Sport Spider I see, because they’re almost as common in wrecking yards as ’85 Camrys. Today’s ’76, however, holds the Junkyard Find record for Scariest California Beach Neighborhood Rust. (Read More…)

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