Not Everyone in Arizona Is a Fan of Waymo's Self-Driving Vans
Waymo, the autonomous program backed by Google-parent Alphabet, seems to have upset some residents of Phoenix, Arizona, who have elected to whip eggs at the company’s test vehicles. Selected due to its lax regulatory standards, the state has become home base for Waymo to pioneer its self-driving vans since 2016. However, newly released police reports paint a picture where the locals are far less enthused with the vehicles’ progress than Waymo’s marketing materials would suggest.
A subset of Phoenix citizens has been demanding the firm improve transparency and offer better explanations for some of the higher-profile crashes since 2018. Despite Waymo assuring the public that mishaps are rare, local reports showed some erratic behavior among the test mules operating in 2020. While a few of these incidents made the news, local police reports from Chandler and Tempe (metropolitan Phoenix) indicate there was a slew of incidents we did not know about — many of which involved encounters with frustrated, human motorists.
Junkyard Find: 1986 Saab 900 S Sedan
The original Saab 900 was a favorite of Colorado car shoppers during its 1979-1994 sales run, and I still see many of these cars during research expeditions to my local yards. So many, in fact, that I neglect to photograph most of them.
When I visited some of Phoenix’s excellent yards while on my way to work at the final 24 Hours of Lemons race before the Covid-19 menace shut down such gatherings, though, I spotted this ’86 900S and realized I need to document more of these interesting machines.
Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Corsica, Ministry in Poetry Edition
I have found the self-service wrecking yards of Phoenix to be among the best in the country when it comes to discovering top-shelf Junkyard Finds, so much so that I have taken a couple of trips there just for the junkyards. You’ll see everything from a Taurus MT-5 to a Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 4.5 to one of the last Toyota Coronas sold in America in these yards.
The Chevrolet Corsica isn’t so rare, but this one in Phoenix had some interesting qualities.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Mercury Lynx L Wagon
Junkyard Find: 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally Edition
Hunting for interesting junkyard Mitsubishis has become more difficult during the last five years or so, as the Cordias, Tredias, and Sigmas have mostly disappeared, leaving endless fleet-spec 21st-century Galants and Outlanders plus the occasional weird Chryslerbishi.
One of the few bright spots is the Mitsubishi Lancer OZ Rally Edition, an econo-commuter that looked quick but had a tough time catching Tercel EZs. Here’s one in a Phoenix self-service yard.
Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Convertible
GM sold 191 octillion Cavalier s, more or less, during the Chevrolet-badged J-Body‘s 1982-2005 production run, and so I walk by many discarded examples without feeling any urge to grab my camera.
A late-1990s Z24 convertible is a rarity, though, and so I photographed this ’98 in a Phoenix self-service yard back in July.
Junkyard Find: 1985 Chrysler LeBaron Woody Convertible
While Chrysler made a bewildering array of vehicles based on the staving-off-bankruptcy K Platform, only four models could be called pure K-cars: the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Dodge 400, and Chrysler LeBaron. All the rest, from the Town & Country minivan to the Imperial, were based on mutated K hardware.
Here’s an example of a fully luxed-up LeBaron convertible, featuring body trim made from the stately trees of the Magical Petrochemical Forest, spotted in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.
Junkyard Find: 1993 Dodge Colt Coupe
Chrysler began importing Mitsubishi Colt Galants for the 1971 model year, and Mitsubishis bearing Dodge (or Plymouth) Colt badging streamed across the Pacific Ocean and into American dealerships for the following 23 years.
I spotted this vibrantly decorated ’93 model in a Phoenix self-serve yard earlier this month.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Cadillac 'Bustleback' Seville
The first-generation Cadillac Seville was a sibling — or maybe first cousin — to the proletariat rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Nova, selling well while also cheapening the Cadillac brand. The second-generation Seville, introduced for the 1980 model year, moved to the Eldorado’s front-wheel-drive platform and gained a bold “bustleback” rear body design.
Here’s an example of a Bustleback Seville I spotted last week in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.
Junkyard Find: 1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26
The Chevrolet Beretta and its sedan sibling, the Chevrolet Corsica, were built for the 1987 through 1996 model years. Today, both models are nearly as forgotten as the wretched Celebrity, though you’ll still see the occasional example on the street today (usually sporting at least one space-saver spare tire).
Here’s a last-year-of-production Beretta — outfitted with the high-performance Z26 package — spotted in a Phoenix yard a few months back.
Junkyard Find: 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue GLS, Phoenix Open Edition
The Oldsmobile Division had just six years to live when the Intrigue appeared in the 1998 model year, and this car was Oldsmobile’s final version of the long-lived GM W platform. I see thousands of W-bodies every year, during my junkyard travels, but it takes a special one to make me reach for my camera. Say, a supercharged Daytona 500 Edition Grand Prix, or a Lumina Euro, or a genuine Phoenix Open-badged Intrigue.
Here’s an example of the latter car that I found languishing in a Phoenix wrecking yard, just 30 miles from the Phoenix Open’s high-zoot venue.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham Coupe
The Oldsmobile Toronado started out as a big sporty car, morphed into an Eldorado-styled full-on luxury boat, then spent its twilight years getting progressively smaller and less opulent. Every Toronado ever made had front-wheel-drive and two doors, and every one had at least some Eldorado DNA in its bloodstream.
Here’s a downsized-but-still-substantial third-generation Toronado I found at a self-service yard in Phoenix, while I was in Arizona to work at the Arizona D-Bags 24 Hours of LeMons.
Spotted: 2016 Passat Alltrack Roaming Streets of Phoenix
I love you, unicorn.
A TTAC reader spotted this 2016 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack roaming the streets of Phoenix the other day and dutifully reported “What the hell is that?”
This Passat wagon, which is sold overseas, may be the only one in the States. It’s wearing manufacturer tags and likely just had its way with VW’s massive testing circuit in Phoenix.
Phoenix Suburb Installing License Plate Readers To Thwart Rare Burglary Activity
Police in Paradise Valley, Arizona are planning to install 15 license plate readers to aid in thwarting burglaries in the Phoenix suburb.
Saabstermath: Of Vultures And Phoenixes
If you are worried that you may have to live without daily episodes of the Saab Soap, now that the company is bankrupt, worry no more. Or in the words of Saabsunited: “never ever give up!” The show will go on.
Today, Automotive news China [sub] reports:
“Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. says it has purchased Saab Automobile’s Phoenix architecture despite its failure to acquire the automaker itself. Youngman already has set up a company in Sweden to develop new models based on the architecture, said Rachel Pang, Youngman’s spokeswoman and daughter of Youngman President Pang Qingnian.”
The trouble is, nobody in Sweden or elsewhere has heard about it.