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 November 9, 2020

1974 Mercury Montego MX Brougham in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor the connoisseur of Malaise Era Broughams, the Mercury Montego MX Brougham checks all the boxes: long hood, “stitches” molded into plastic door panels, unapologetically phony “wood” dashboard trim, low-compression smog V8, and obvious kinship with a much cheaper corporate twin. That’s what we’ve got with today’s Junkyard Find from the year of Richard Nixon’s resignation. (Read More…)

By on November 2, 2020

1990 Geo Prizm in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The General established the Geo brand for the 1989 model year, as a way to move low-priced iron designed and/or built by Toyota, Suzuki, and Isuzu (for some reason, Daewoo-built cars didn’t get sheltered under the Geo banner, so the LeMans retained Pontiac badges for its entire 1988-1993 sales run here). Of all the Geos, the Corolla-twin Prizm proved the most durable, and so I still find plenty of Prizms during my junkyard travels. Here’s a ’90 with an exceptionally high final odometer reading, found in a Denver-area yard last month. (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2020

2002 Toyota Corolla CE in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Not long ago, I became curious about the production longevity of the good old three-speed automatic transmission in North America. The first really successful true automatic had four forward speeds and the two-speed Powerglide delivered the slushbox to the masses, but the three-speed Detroit automatics of the 1960s truly converted the continent to the two-pedal religion. During the last couple of decades of the 20th century, the three-speed got sidelined by more sophisticated transmissions. What was the final new car you could buy with a three-speed transmission in North America? That’s today’s Junkyard Find: a 2002 Toyota Corolla CE, found in Denver last week. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2020

1973 Dodge Dart Swinger in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Blinged-up personal luxury coupes based on big land yachts and cushy midsize cars printed money for Detroit during the mid-to-late 1960s, and so it made sense to extend the treatment to the lower reaches of the model range. Eventually, Chrysler took two-door hardtop versions of the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart, made some comfort and styling features standard, and gave them kicky, youthful names: the Scamp and the Swinger. These cars sold like mad during the early 1970s, but most of them disappeared from American roads before the dawn of our current century. Here’s a ’73 Dart Swinger, complete with V8 engine, found in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2020

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile it seems that we have always been at war with Eurasia Eastasia and hated the PT Cruiser, the loathing for Chrysler’s retro-styled, Neon-based “truck” didn’t become widespread until well into the smartphone/social-media era of the late 2000s and early 2010s. That was the time when the PT started showing up in large numbers in the big self-service junkyards I haunt. Now I see so many discarded PT Cruisers that I can be picky about which ones I document, and this first-model-year example in Deep Cranberry Pearl paint and screaming flames qualifies for inclusion in my Junked PT Cruiser Hall of Fame. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2020

1989 Volvo 780 Bertone in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve documented quite a few discarded Volvos in this series, from the PV544 through the S60, and I never fail to stop and photograph a genuine Italo-Swedish Volvo Bertone Coupe. Here’s the latest, a 1989 780 in a Denver car graveyard over the summer. (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 September 21, 2020

1989 Lincoln Mark VII in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord began selling Lincoln Mark Series cars starting in 1956, with the hand-built Continental Mark II, then mass-produced the first go-round of the Mark III, Mark IV, and Mark V for the 1958-60 model years. Fast-forward to the 1968 model year, for which Lee Iacocca decreed that a luxury-for-the-well-off-masses Thunderbird-based Mark III would be built, and we get to the period of Lincoln Marks that I’ve covered in this series; we’ve seen discarded examples of the III through the final VIII, but no Mark VII… until today. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2020

2001 Mercedes-Benz ML 55 AMG in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince trucks, truck-shaped cars, and generally truck-influenced vehicles dominate American roads in the present day, it’s about time I started paying attention to high-end luxurious German truck-like machines in the vehicle graveyards I frequent. Such machines have been easy to find in such places for quite some time now, due to the notoriously quick depreciation of large-dollar German cars that don’t get the meticulous maintenance they deserve, but prior to today, we’d just seen a single BMW X5 in this series. Let’s go right to an AMG for our first Mercedes-Benz SUV: this 2001 W163 ML55 AMG. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2020

1989 Honda Accord LX-1 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOnce Honda started building second-generation Accords in Ohio, the limits of the Voluntary Export Restraint agreement between Japanese automakers and the United States government ceased to mean much for American Honda shoppers. The third-generation Accord debuted in the 1986 model year and sales of these Marysville-built cars boomed. Most were sensible, low-priced Accord DX hatchbacks and sedans, but some rakehell Accord shoppers went for the sporty fuel-injected coupes packed with snazzy options. Here’s one of those cars, a 1989 LX-i Coupe in a Denver-area yard. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2020

The Pontiac Fiero started out as an innovative sports-car design, got bean-countered into an overweight parts-bin commuter car with embarrassingly public reliability problems, then got a complete redesign in 1988… which turned out to be the year of its demise.

Here’s one of those final Fieros, found in a Colorado car graveyard last year. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2020

2002 Saab 9-3 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsDuring my years of documenting discarded Saabs in junkyards around the country (and in Saab’s homeland), I’ve managed to cover the pre-GM American-market models well enough, with a special focus on the 900. In recent years, I’ve been working to cover some of the Saabs from the period of General Motors influence (1989-2000) and control (2000-2010).

I may never find an example of the ultra-rare 9-4x, but it’s easy to find used-up Opel Vectra-based 9-3 these days — and I vowed to photograph the first one I saw on a recent Denver junkyard expedition. That car turned out to be this Silver Metallic 2002 9-3 SE hatchback. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2020

1988 Dodge Colt 4WD Wagon in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler sold various Mitsubishis badged as Dodge or Plymouth Colts from the 1971 model year all the way through 1994.

Here’s a Mirage-based fifth-generation Colt in California, the final model year for the Colt station wagon, and it sports both a five-speed manual transmission and the very rare all-wheel-drive powertrain. (Read More…)

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