By on June 9, 2020

Today’s Rare Ride comes from a time when the family wagon segment was alive and well and Ford was eager to use its brand new Fox platform on as many vehicles as possible.

Presenting the wood-clad Mercury Zephyr Villager wagon, from 1979.

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By on June 1, 2020

You’d think that examples of the Ford Pinto and its Mercury-badged twin, the Bobcat, would have disappeared from the American junkyard ecosystem by now, given the cheapness of these cars and the decades of exploding-Pinto punchlines since “Pinto Madness” came out in 1977. No doubt due to the huge quantities sold during the Pinto/Bobcat’s 10-year production run (well over three million), such is not the case; I continue to find Pintos and Bobcats in junkyards to this day.

Here’s a light blue ’77 three-door Bobcat in a Northern California self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2020

The standard Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare are primarily remembered (and not seen) because they rusted as soon as the dew settled on them on a spring morning. While that makes standard examples sort of rare today, there’s a very special model which was very rare from the beginning.

It’s the 1978 Dodge Aspen Kit Car, and that’s its real name.

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By on May 6, 2020

It’s the mid-1980s, so having a gas-guzzling, rear-drive Malaise box from the late ’70s is unthinkable. No, you’re a modern consumer, and you demand something front-drive and economical, but still with Malaise build quality.

Today we pick a compact Ace of Base from 1985.

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By on April 13, 2020

1983 Mercury Marquis in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord squeezed every possible nickel of value out of the rear-wheel-drive Fox platform during its near-20-year production run (longer than that, if you accept the SN95 Mustang as a Fox), and I enjoy tracking down as many Fox variants as possible while I march up and down the rows of my favorite car graveyards.

I think the period of Peak Fox came during the first half of the 1980s, as the Malaise Era shifted into the Conspicuous Consumption Era (and we haven’t seen a Fox Ford here since 2019), so this 1983 Mercury Marquis deserves inclusion in this series. (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2020

Rare Rides reviews another Pontiac today. And much like the recently featured Bonneville, it’s large and in charge, from the Seventies, and has two doors. Let’s see how much horsepower the 1977 Can Am gained through stickers and spoilers.

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By on April 8, 2020

The AMC Gremlin celebrated its 50th birthday recently, a fact which would have passed by without notice were it not for commenter Steve Biro. And since we’re talking Gremlin today, we may as well take a look at an oddball trim that’s as quirky as it is rare.

It’s a Levi’s Gremlin from 1976, and it comes standard with an invitation to the Pants Party.

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By on April 6, 2020

1973 Cadillac Sedan DeVille in Denver junkyard, LH view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCadillac had become by far the top luxury car manufacturer in North America by the early 1970s, with the all-time pinnacle of Cadillac production reached in the 1973 model year: 304,839 ’73 Cadillacs purred off the assembly line. Then, well, the Yom Kippur War pissed off OPEC’s most important members, European luxury cars gained more than just a minor foothold, and Cadillacs became so commonplace that their prestige value sank for the rest of the decade.

Here’s a big, plush Sedan DeVille, from the final year of Cadillac’s undisputed reign over the American road, photographed in a Denver self-serve car graveyard earlier this year. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2020

1980 Honda Accord in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn rust-prone regions, first-generation Honda Accords oxidized to oblivion well before the 1980s were finished, but elsewhere they held together for decade after decade. I still see the occasional 1977-1981 Accord when I walk the rows of car graveyards in Colorado and California, though nearly all of those cars are hatchbacks.

Here’s a hard-to-find ’80 Accord sedan in Denver. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2020

1977 BMW 320i in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile I may be guilty of not photographing all — or even most — of the interesting BMWs I find in the car graveyards on my appointed rounds, I’m making an effort to get the complete set of discarded 20th-century 3 Series cars. In fact, once I remember to shoot the next junked E46 I find (which will be easy, as these cars have become plentiful in the yards I frequent), we’ll have the complete junkyard history of the 3 Series from 1977 through 2006.

The first-ever 3 Series, the E21, has become something of a junkyard rarity in recent years, but I found this ’77 in Central California back in December. (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2020

Pontiac is one of the most featured marques of the Rare Rides series, and to date there have been seven of its models represented here. Today’s Rare Ride was in showrooms the very same time as the odd and short-lived Sunbird Safari Wagon, but was intended to entice a much more traditional customer.

Let’s have a look at the upright and respectable Bonneville coupe.

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By on March 3, 2020

We all recall the Panther-based Mercury Marauder as the last gasp of large, sporty motoring from Mercury. Today’s Rare Ride is the predecessor everyone forgot — the 219-inch Marauder X-100.

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By on February 17, 2020

1977 Chrysler New Yorker in Denver junkyard, RH side view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe New Yorker name goes way back for Chrysler, running from the 1940 model year all the way through a series of K-car- and Eagle Premier-based front-drivers in the 1980s and 1990s. To me, though, the greatest of the Chrysler New Yorkers were the ones built on the majestic C-Body unibody platform for the 1965 through 1978 model years, and I have the most affection for the “we don’t care about oil prices” cars of the Middle Malaise Era.

Here’s a (nearly) two-and-a-half-ton ’77 Brougham hardtop sedan, which met its doom in a Denver self-service yard last fall. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2020

1973 VW Super Beetle in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle was pretty well obsolete when North American sales took off during the late 1950s, and so this mid-1930s design had become shockingly obsolete by the 1970s. Still, Americans understood the Beetle as a comfortably known quantity by that time and the price tag was really cheap, so Beetles and Super Beetles still sold well in 1973.

In the parts of the continent where the Rust Monster remains meek, plenty of these cars still exist, enough for them to be fairly common sights in the big self-service junkyards. Here’s a ’73 Super Beetle in a San Francisco Bay Area yard. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2019

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Mercury Cougar went through numerous platform and image changes during its 34 years of production, and I’ve managed to document examples of just about all of those changes during the course of my junkyard journeys. One generation of Cougar that remained a tough one to find, however, was the 1980-1982 fifth-generation cat, the first of the Fox-body Cougars and the boxiest of the bunch.

Finally, I discovered this green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’82 GS two-door sedan in a California self-service yard — yet another vehicle sure to result in many bitter tears from my Ford-obsessed colleague, Sajeev Mehta. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • Imagefont: Putting a powerful V8 in a Wrangler would be monumentally stupid. The 3.6V6 is perfectly adequate....
  • Art Vandelay: And these are all stupid anyway per these hallowed forums. The Telluride is whatcha need!
  • ajla: I’ll have to see how it works out. The Pentastar doesn’t do it for me though and I don’t like...
  • Art Vandelay: Isn’t the current one in the 40’s and still getting MSRP?
  • Art Vandelay: Definitely was thinking mid 90s Bonneville.

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