By on March 1, 2021

1983 Plymouth Scamp in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNorth American sales of Japanese-made small pickups went crazy during the 1970s, with the Detroit Big Three getting in on the action with rebadged Mazdas, Isuzus, and Mitsubishis. Ford and GM eventually created their own Michigan-style small trucks, the Ranger (1983 model year) and S-10 (1982 model year) but where was struggling Chrysler— in a frenzy trying to get the new K-Cars out the door— supposed to find enough money to develop a new truck design from scratch? Fortunately, Volkswagen had shown that front-wheel-drive worked well enough in little pickups, and the versatile Omnirizon platform proved suitable for a bit of El Camino-ization. Here’s the result, found in a Denver yard last summer. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2021

2002 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Subaru Impreza has been with us since the 1993 model year, and you’ll still see plenty of the first-generation Impreza Outback wagons on the streets (and in the junkyards) of Colorado. All US-market Subarus got all-wheel-drive starting in the 1997 model year, so the company’s American marketers had to show a distinction between the outdoorsy/nature-loving image of the Impreza Outbacks and the rally-inspired image of the other Imprezas when the second-generation cars appeared here for 2001. Here’s a hard-to-find early-second-gen Impreza 2.5 RS sedan, showing off its WRX-like styling in a Denver self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2021

1969 Chrysler Newport in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler redesigned the big C-Body cars for the 1969 model year, calling the vaguely airplane-ish curved-panel look the “Fuselage Style.” Although the prole-grade Fury and middlebrow Dodge Monaco looked distressingly similar to their upscale Imperial and Chrysler New Yorker/300/Newport siblings in the 1969-1973 Fuselage era (further blurring the Snoot Factor dividing lines among the Chrysler divisions), these cars offered plenty of Detroit steel at a good price. Here’s one of the most affordable Chrysler-badged C-Bodies available during the first year of Fuselage Styling, found in a Denver-area car graveyard. (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2021

2005 Chevrolet Cavalier in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe General built cars on the J Platform for a quarter-century, and J-based machines could be bought new with badges from just about every marque in the far-flung GM Empire. Yes, South Koreans drove Daewoo Esperos, Brits drove Vauxhall Cavaliers, Aussies drove Holden Camiras, and even the Japanese could buy Isuzu Askas and Toyota Cavaliers. In North America, nearly every marque offered J-Bodies at some point… and in the end, the very final Js were Chevy Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires. Here’s one of those end-of-the-line cars, found in a Denver yard a few months ago. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2021

1971 Toyota FJ55 Land Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEvery time I share photos of an old Toyota Land Cruiser I spotted in a junkyard, the anguished wails from readers commence. Nobody ever asks me where to find those doomed trucks so they can buy parts before The Crusher eats them, and only a few of the anguished wails come from Land Cruiser aficionados troubled by the demise of another old FJ. No, what upsets so many is the offense against reality on display, the demise of a truck worth 25 grand— no, 50 grand!— in any county, parish, or prefecture on the planet. Well, all I can say is that real-world values of vehicles often differ from what we think they should be, and today’s Junkyard Find proves this (again). (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2021

2011 Mercury Mariner in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEver since I found one of the very last Oldsmobiles in a Denver car graveyard, I’ve been keeping my junkyard eye open for other final-year-of-marque Detroit machinery. We’ve got the 1998 Eagle, the 2001 Plymouth, and the 2010 Pontiac, and now it’s time for one of the very last vehicles to wear the Mercury badge: this 2011 Mariner Premier. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2021

1986 Nissan Maxima wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven as Toyota kept the Cressida a rear-wheel-drive first cousin to the sporty Supra (sales of that car continued here well into the 1990s), Nissan moved the formerly-Z-based Maxima to a front-wheel-drive platform for the 1985 model year. The new, roomier Maxima continued to be loaded with futuristic electronic gadgetry and a Z-Car engine, and sales of the wagon version continued all the way through the 1988 model year. Here’s a well-traveled ’86 Maxima wagon in a Denver-area car graveyard. (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2021

2001 Plymouth Neon in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Quite a few hallowed (and not-so-hallowed) Detroit brands got axed forever during the decade of the 2000s (whatever we’re calling it now— the Noughts? the Oh-Ohs?), and the one that went to the slaughterhouse first was Plymouth. Starting in 1928 (not-so-coincidentally, just a couple of years after the birth of Pontiac), Americans and Canadians could buy low-priced Plymouths with the same running gear as the costlier Dodges and Chryslers, and life was good. Then the outlines of the brand became increasingly blurred as the 20th Century waned until finally just one Plymouth was left: the Neon. Last week, we saw one of the very last Pontiacs ever made, so we’ll follow that up with one of the final Plymouths. (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2021

2010 Pontiac G6 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen The General decided to eliminate the Oldsmobile brand— I’m still convinced that the main reason for the execution was the syllable Old in the marque’s name— the process took nearly a half-decade, with nostalgia-drenched “Final 500” editions of the last Oldsmobile models released with great solemnity. Even the ho-hum Silhouette minivan got a Final 500 version for its sendoff. When the Pontiac Division’s time came at the close of the 2000s, the 84-year-old marque was shoved out the door to stagger to an ignominious death, unloved and alone in a Michigan drainage ditch. Here’s one of the very last Pontiacs ever built, found in a Denver boneyard last month. (Read More…)

By on December 28, 2020

1990 Mitsubishi Galant GSX in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAs we’ve seen in this series, Coloradans bought plenty of all-wheel-drive-equipped AMC Eagles, VW Quantum Syncros, Audi Quattros, and Toyota All-Tracs during the 1980s. The suits at Mitsubishi Motors saw all those AWD-enhanced car sales in snowy American regions and decided to sell some rally-influenced Galants on our shores. A few decades later, this rare-but-not-valuable Galant GS-X appeared in a Colorado Springs self-service car graveyard. (Read More…)

By on December 21, 2020

1985 Mercedes-Benz W123 300D in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI like to search for junkyard vehicles with exceptionally high final odometer readings, a task made more difficult by the fact that just about every manufacturer besides Volvo and Mercedes-Benz used five-digit odometers well into the 1980s. Even in the middle 1980s, most cars weren’t really expected to hit the 100,000-mile mark … unless they were Mercedes-Benzes with diesel engines, in which case their owners expected them to make it to 300,000 miles. Here’s an oil-fueled W123 in Colorado that exceeded even that expectation. (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2020

1959 International Harvester Metro-Mite van in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Looking at my Junkyard Find posts for 2020, I find that I’ve been neglecting American trucks for much of this year (I don’t consider the PT Cruiser to be a true truck, despite being categorized as one by the federal government). For that reason, I’ve decided to share this thoroughly used-up IHC Metro-Mite stepvan before the year ends. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2020

1979 Dodge Colt in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler’s run of selling rebadged Mitsubishis began way back in 1970, when the rear-wheel-drive Colt Galant arrived here for the 1971 model year. Those cars sold very well in North America, with sales continuing through 1978. After that, Colt badges went onto the front-wheel-drive Lancer Fiore (later sold here as the Mirage). Here’s one of those first-year FWD Colts, found in a Denver-area yard in nice condition and equipped with the extremely cool Twin-Stick dual-range transmission. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2020

1996 Saturn SW1 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
We’ve had back-to-back oddball three-pedal cars in this series (a Suzuki Forenza and non-SHO Taurus), so let’s make it three weeks in a row with today’s Junkyard Find! Saturn S Series cars were always cheaper with manual transmissions, but nearly every Saturn wagon shopper insisted on an automatic. I knew I’d find a manual Saturn SW if I kept searching junkyards, though, and here it is: a low-end ’96 with single-cam engine, Ignore Me Silver paint, and a 5-on-the-floor manual. (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…)

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