Tag: rust

By on October 17, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser wagon in North Dakota junkyard, rust - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Good morning, all. Your author here just awoke from a nightmare, one whose subject matter should strike fear into the hearts of all vehicle owners. Allow me to describe the dream.

In a rainy and somewhat threatening near future, yours truly noticed something on the rearmost part of his driver’s side rocker panel. A blemish. Maybe dirt or asphalt, I thought, walking over to flick the speck away. Drawing nearer, I realized, to my horror, that this speck wasn’t a foreign object clinging to my vehicle’s blue (why blue?) ⁠paint — it was a hole. Around said hole wasn’t dirt, but a heat rash-like spread of surface corrosion. With mounting dread, I fell to the ground, anticipating worse to come underneath.

Sure enough, my fears were realized. Acres of rust and widespread perforation beneath my relatively new vehicle! I had let a silent killer sneak up on me. (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2019

No, we’re not talking about your college dalliance with the counterculture scene. But we could very well be talking about an event from your college years.

Higher education usually involves empty pockets, bloodshot eyes, and dry gas tanks — usually slung beneath a vehicle held together with Bondo and bought for a song. A vehicle that gets lighter as time goes on, even as your expanding midriff packs on the pounds.

Maybe college has nothing to do with the memory. Maybe, at one point in your life, you simply fought a losing battle with the scourge of autodom — corrosion — and lost. (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2019

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLiving in Colorado, I see so many discarded Subarus during my junkyard explorations that it takes a very unusual one to make me reach for my camera. An SVX might do it (though not always), or maybe a BRAT (again, not always), or perhaps a Subaru with Saab badges. A really early Subaru, from the Malaise Era days when few Americans took the brand seriously — I think that’s always worth shooting.

Here’s a first-generation Leone that I had to go all the way to Northern California to find. (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2018

1971 Volkswagen Bus in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe early second-generation Volkswagen Type 2 bus is one of those vehicles that’s supposed to be so suffused with sacred nostalgic vibes that any example, no matter how trashed, will sell for tens of thousands of dollars. As we can see here, the presence of this reasonably complete 1971 Kombi in a wrecking yard near Pikes Peak indicates that real-world values for these vans may differ from the values quoted in online diatribes angrily banged out by Internet Car Experts. (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2018

1993 Geo Tracker in Illinois wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

When The General created the Geo brand in 1989, the idea was that cars designed and/or built by Toyota, Isuzu, and Suzuki could be sold in the United States under the GM flag (Geos became Chevrolets after 1997). Of all the cars that bore Geo badging, the Tracker stayed in production the longest, when a Suzuki Grand Vitara-based Chevy Tracker could be purchased through 2004.

Here’s a frighteningly corroded 1993 Geo Tracker, spotted in a self-service wrecking yard in Joliet, Illinois. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2018

public domain

Mazda can’t seem to shake a recent history that saw its vehicles fall victim to the flesh-eating disease in embarrassing numbers. We’ve seen corrosion issues crop up in a myriad of recalls issued by the automaker over the past several years, and it’s raised its flaky brown head once again.

This time, it’s just a preliminary investigation, but probes conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have a way of turning into recalls in a hurry. The model in question is the 2009-2010 Mazda 6, and the issue is a subframe that can become so corroded, you might have trouble staying on the road. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2018

Image: FCA

Mankind’s greatest foe — road salt — can never be fully vanquished, and the latest evidence of its malevolence just cropped up in 20 northern states. Salt, though essential to human life, turns water brackish and wreaks havoc on vehicles — just ask the owners of previous-decade Toyota Tacomas, Nissan Frontiers, and Mazda 3s.

We can now add the 2009-2012 Ram 1500 pickup to the list of vehicles with salt-sullied undercarriages, though this issue, for which Fiat Chrysler is recalling 270,254 vehicles in the U.S., doesn’t result in the vehicle breaking in half (or, in the case of the Mazdas, disappearing into brown dust). (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2018

jaguar e type series i0019_B

If you haven’t noticed, Series I Jaguar E-Types have gotten very pricey. There were only about 75,000 Es made and not all have survived for a half century. The E-Type had one of the early monocoque unibodies and it was almost as if it was designed to trap water and rust. Also, quite a few were roadsters and open cars don’t do well when exposed to the elements. That’s made all E-Types rare enough to become valuable (well, that and things like a supple suspension, the outstanding Jaguar XK DOHC inline-six, and a body that even Enzo said was sexier than his Ferraris).

They’re so valuable that at this point it may well be that there is no such thing as an unrestorable example. A number of restoration shops around the world specialize in bringing back E-Types. Every body component is available, and it’s no exaggeration to say that as long as there is a number plate, they can probably rebuild an E around it. There’s even a chance, what with the E’s insane appreciation, that you might not even be underwater after the restoration is done.

I thought about that when I saw this heavily patinated ’64 E-Type coupe for sale on eBay for $47,000. (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2017

2015 Mazda3 Sport Touring, Image: Mazda

Previous generations of the Mazda 3, while popular, soon became known as much for corrosion as for zoom-zoom potential. Tears of iron oxide poured from rear wheel arches, taillights and center-mounted brake lamps, adding a somewhat tragic element to the models’ insanely happy visage.

Despite efforts to relegate rust issues to the past, Mazda just can’t seem to shake this automotive cancer. Less than a year ago, the automaker was forced to recall a slew of newer models — 2.2 million vehicles in total — after insufficient corrosion protection on hatch lift supports put owners in danger of a sudden head-whacking.

Of course, that was just a couple of months after Mazda recalled six models years of its CX-7 crossover over fears of suspension separation caused by, that’s right, rust.

This time around, it isn’t unprotected body panels or corrosion-prone suspension components causing Mazda grief. Still, rust remains the culprit behind the recently announced recall of more than 307,000 Mazda 3 and 6 vehicles, some 227,814 of which can be found in the United States. In this case, it’s rust that could cause your Mazda to stubbornly stay put, or perhaps take an unexpected, driverless journey. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For as long as I have been poking around in American automobile graveyards (35 years), the presence of the occasional Fiat 124 Sport Spider has been a constant. Even while Pininfarina-badged, Malcolm Bricklin-imported 124 Sport Spiders were still available as new cars in the United States, I was seeing 20,000-mile late-70s examples about to be crushed.

Nowadays, most of these cars show signs of decades-long outdoor storage after awaiting restorations that never came. Here’s an extremely rough and rusty one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a couple of months back. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2016

1989 Plymouth Reliant America in Minnesota junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

In last week’s Junkyard Find, I shared the first discarded BMW E30 I have photographed after nearly a decade of writing about junkyard vehicles. Yes, the E30 was a fine automobile (though right-thinking car experts recognize that its Alfa Romeo Milano competitor was faster, cheaper, and had a much better-sounding engine) and we should take a moment to appreciate this important piece of German automotive history.

Right, now that we’re done with that, let’s admire a piece of automotive history I find much more fascinating: an example of the final model year of Chrysler’s company-rescuing K-Car, photographed in a muggy, buggy, cocklebur-overgrown Minneapolis self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

1981 Toyota Corolla SR5 Coupe in Colorado Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

These days, plenty of tuner kids want to get a E70 Corolla and turn it into a sick drift machine … but then reality sets in and they end up commuting to work in a 15-year-old Kia Rio instead. Meanwhile, the abandoned drift-project TE72 wagons become 24 Hours of LeMons cars, if they’re lucky, and the rusty SR-5s just get scrapped once something costing more than $19 breaks.

This ’81 Corolla two-door SR-5 liftback gave its all in the service of its owners, and now it awaits parts buyers in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2016

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Is it fair that I photograph just about every reasonably intact International Harvester Scout that I see in wrecking yards, while ignoring nearly all air-cooled Volkswagen Beetles that I find in the same yards? Probably not, though I’m making an effort to shoot the more interesting Beetles now. No matter what happens with Beetles in this series, though, when I see a Scout in the junkyard, I’m going to document it. (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2016

2016 Mazda6, Image: Mazda USA

H.E. writes:

Sajeev,

I recently bought a 2016 Mazda6 Touring. The salesman gave me a crazed look when I told him it absolutely had to have a six-speed manual transmission. But the dealer managed to find two manual Mazda6s within about 300 miles, one of which was 45 minutes away and painted in Deep Crystal Blue paint with the black interior I wanted. I’ve put about 400 miles on it and it’s a great looking, smooth shifting car; I’m very happy.

I expect to get flamed because it isn’t brown, diesel or a wagon, to which I respond in my best Sean Connery voice, “Suck it, Trebek!”

(Read More…)

By on March 2, 2016

1991 Subaru Loyale front in Colorado junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

I moved from California to Colorado in 2010, and the stereotype of the stony Subaru driver who snowboards/hikes/camps/rock-climbs, has some sort of retriever dog, and drinks super-hoppy craft beers turns out to be based on reality.

Everyone here drives Subarus — hell, even I have an Outback in the fleet — but we’re talking about the beat-to-hell, 15-to-30-year-old cars here, and not shiny new Crosstreks in the REI parking lot. Last week, I saw the perfect example of that type of Subaru in a Denver self-service yard: this rusty, crusty, 200,000-mile, Pleiades-badged Colorado veteran, which spent its long life driving to trailheads and brewpubs, is now set to donate its metals to the global commodities markets. (Read More…)

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