By on November 21, 2021

2005 Pontiac Vibe in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSeveral hooptie-centric road rallies take place every warm season in Front Range Colorado, including the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Rally, and the Colorado Gambler 500 Rally. Teams will build crazy stuff— say, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV filled with three tons of engine-heated water or a gutted Volkswagen R32 converted to a doorless post-apocalyptic Astroturf nightmare— or just acquire some random cheap car, decorate it, and beat it half to death on Rocky Mountain fire roads. As you’d expect, many of these cars go right to the nearest boneyard when the rally is over, and I find quite a few of them during my junkyard travels in northeastern Colorado. Here’s the “Good Vibes” Pontiac Vibe, found in Denver over the summer. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2021

2000 Toyota Camry CE in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsToyota offered North American car buyers the opportunity to buy a new Camry with a manual transmission from the time of the car’s introduction here in 1983 all the way through the 2012 model year. As I’ve found during my junkyard explorations, many Camrys sold here during the 1980s had five-on-the-floor rigs, and this setup remained reasonably popular into the early 1990s. After about 1993, however, automatics rule the American Camry universe, and I’ve been on a years-long quest to find the newest possible manual-equipped junkyard Camry. After peering into thousands of discarded cars, I managed to find a 1997 Camry CE with three pedals, and now I have surpassed that discovery with this 2000 Camry CE in Colorado. (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…)

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 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 6, 2020

As the manual transmission gradually joins the wheel-mounted throttle lever in the automotive history trash bin, we’ve been wondering which manufacture would be the next to take a bold stance against be-clutched vehicles. Today we have our answer, thanks to a tweet explaining the brand’s research boss had indicated Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have room for manuals in its current restructuring program.

“The head of @MercedesBenz’s R&D operations, Markus Schaefer, has confirmed the company will ‘eliminate manual transmissions’ as part of cost-cutting initiatives that will also see a ‘substantial reduction in platforms’ and a ‘very dramatic reduction in combustion engines,'” automotive journalist Greg Kable explained via social media on Tuesday.

(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 July 29, 2020

2016 Honda Accord Sport Six-Speed Manual Shifter, Image: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars

It looks like the problem isn’t the damn kids. Well, not in this instance.

The problem is us keyboard jockeys; the corpulent shrimp-eaters of the world.

Clearly, our bitching and moaning hasn’t gotten us anywhere. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2020

Korea’s answer to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class earned accolades upon its launch, with some kudos reserved for the availability of a six-speed manual transmission paired with the base 2.0-liter turbo four.

You know what’s coming next. Due for a refresh for the 2022 model year, the G70 is in line for an automatic-only future. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2020

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: Jeep

When you think of the rapidly dwindling handful of vehicles still available with a manual transmission, you probably didn’t list the Jeep Compass among those remaining holdouts. And yet the compact crossover does offer such a setup, ever since the current-generation model went on sale for 2017.

Well, Jeep offered, but not many buyers took them up on it. Actually, it seems Jeep could barely find any takers — which is why, for 2021, the Compass will carry only an autobox. (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2020

The unbridled enthusiasm and lust over Ford’s reborn Bronco, which greeted hungry eyes on the evening of July 13th, lasted not quite two days before a fly hit the ointment.

Would-be owners were enthused to see that the Bronco’s gnarly, off-road-oriented Sasquatch package, is available even on the lowly(?) base model, but a reality Ford left unmentioned spoiled some of their fun yesterday. (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2020

A laundry list of options from the Porsche 911 Turbo S have trickled down to the rest of the 992 Series, plus a few new inclusions aimed at making daily commutes more livable.

The biggest get has to be the expanded availability of the seven-speed manual, but that’s thus far reserved for European customers who still prefer be-clutched vehicles in greater numbers than we do. Still, don’t panic just yet. Porsche hinted in the past that the U.S.-spec Carrera S and 4S models would also be made available with manual options later on.

If it works out like it’s supposed to in Europe, optioning your prospective 911 with the Sport Chrono package opens it up to the no-cost option of choosing either the PDK dual-clutch or seven-speed stick. You’ll also get the associated track goodies, plus a new tire temperature display and some updated ambient lighting options.  (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2020

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Jeep is recalling 33,237 Wranglers and Gladiators equipped with manual transmissions because the clutch plate can overheat and fracture. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recall report, the callback encompasses all Wranglers sold with a third pedal from the 2018-2020 model year, with the same being true for the 2020MY Gladiator. (Read More…)

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