By on December 9, 2019

1974 Toyota Corona wagon in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSince my first car was a very beige 1969 Toyota Corona sedan and I now own a heavily customized lowrider 1969 Toyota Corona coupe, I’m always on the lookout for Coronas in junkyards. Just prior to a California trip I took a week ago, I received a Row52 notification about a 1974 Corona at an East Bay self-service yard.

Here’s what I found. (Read More…)

By on December 4, 2019

News arrived in our inboxes this morning of yet another death in the automotive family. The Buick Regal TourX, aged just three model years, was pronounced dead today, victim of insatiable consumer thirst for crossovers and SUVs. It leaves to mourn many dozens of wagon-lovers across the nation.

In a classic case of calling the locksmith after the equines have departed, let’s look at what a base model Regal TourX would have provided wagon customers.

(Read More…)

By on November 18, 2019

1990 Volvo 245 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBecause Volvo made the 200 Series cars well into the 1990s, they were pretty reliable, and 240 owners tend to stick with their cars for decades. I still see plenty of Swedish bricks in the self-service car graveyards I frequent.

In fact, I walk by a dozen or two discarded 240s for each one I shoot, but I appreciate good manual-transmission wagons and high-mile veteran vehicles and this ’90 checks both boxes. (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

It’s not difficult to spend forty large on a new car in America these days. Heck, the average transaction price across this country is knocking on that amount, suggesting that nearly half of buyers are signing a note for that amount or more.

Thing is, it needn’t be spent on a milquetoast minivan or cringeworthy crossover. There are more creative options out there in which to haul the family and life’s detritus to the hockey rink and soccer pitch.

(Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser wagon in North Dakota junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile traveling to my job as Wise and Fair Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court at the Minneapolis 500 race in Brainerd last week, I flew in via Fargo, North Dakota. Naturally, I visited a Fargo self-service junkyard before boarding my plane home, and that’s where I found this rusty-but-well-preserved ’88 Cutlass Cruiser International Series. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2019

1960 Chevrolet Brookwood wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH side view - ©2019 Murilee Martin- The Truth About Cars

Once the original 1955-1957 Chevy Nomad two-door wagon became a sacred icon among those who prize Detroit machinery of the Eisenhower Era, all GM two-door wagons attained a certain prestige among those who enjoy cruise nights, car shows, Time Out dolls, and the 119,544th repetition of Hot Rod Lincoln (no, not the gloriously hillbilly original 1955 Charlie Ryan version, the still-excellent-but-now-overplayed 1971 Commander Cody version, which incorrectly refers to the souped-up Lincoln motor as a V8). I would have thought that a genuine two-door 1960 Biscayne wagon ought to have found someone willing to keep it on the street, but this car in a northeastern Colorado yard proves me wrong. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2019

1988 Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Tercel 4WD Station Wagon, known in its homeland as the Sprinter Carib, sold very well in Colorado, where I live, and tended to be both reliable and well-loved by owners. I still see them in wrecking yards here, so many that I don’t photograph any but the most interesting. This one in a Denver yard had an impressive-even-by-Toyota-standards odometer reading, so it made the cut for a Junkyard Find. (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2019

1981 Toyota Corona in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBecause my very first car was a 50-buck ’69 Corona sedan in dazzling beige, I always photograph Coronas when I see them in wrecking yards. Sadly, Toyota stopped selling the Corona in North America in 1982, which means that I might see one every couple of years these days. Here’s a luxurious, fully loaded 1981 Toyota Corona wagon in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2019

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Our man Steph Willems chronicled the state of the station wagon in America a couple of days ago, reporting that longroofs (longrooves?) amounted to less than 2 percent of the new vehicle market in 2018 despite a 29 percent sales increase compared to five years earlier.

VW Group is doing its part, offering both the pricey A4 Allroad and the bargain Golf SportWagen shown here. The latter is a case of getting more for less, as the wagon is priced $160 less than its hatchback fraternal brother, despite having more horsepower and more cabin room.

And, oh yeah, it’s still available with a manual transmission.

(Read More…)

By on January 2, 2019

1986 Toyota Tercel wagon in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUsed-up examples of the 1983-1987 Toyota Tercel wagon (known as the Sprinter Carib in its homeland) still show up in junkyards today, but nearly all of them are the four-wheel-drive versions; the humble front-wheel-drive ones weren’t as desirable (once they became beaters, hoopties, and/or buckets) and mostly got crushed a decade ago.

Here’s an ’86 in a Silicon Valley self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2018

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Before the North American Ford Escort became a Mazda 323/Protegé sibling, the folks in Dearborn masterminded a Mercurized version known as the Lynx. Escort wagons are rare now (though I have shot a couple during my junkyard wanderings), so I did a double-take when I saw this optioned-up ’83 Lynx wagon in a Phoenix self-service yard last winter. (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2018

1988 Subaru wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Living in Colorado (as I do) and spending a lot of time in junkyards (as I do), I see discarded Subarus. Lots of discarded Subarus, in fact, so many that I only notice the more interesting ones — say, an XT Turbo or a really ancient wagon out of a novelty song.

Today’s Junkyard Find isn’t particularly noteworthy by those standards, but it seems to embody so many Denver Subaru stereotypes that I decided to photograph it. High mileage, high final owner, and high levels of oxidation, all here at a mile-high junkyard. (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2018

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsVolvo made the beloved 240 for 19 model years, 1975 through 1993, and the car didn’t change much during that period. By the early 1990s, Volvo had “replaced” the increasingly dated-looking 240 three times, with the 740, 940, and 850, but plenty of buyers were still choosing the ancient brick over the more modern iron. It had to end at some point, though, and 1993 was the last year for these cars.

Here’s a very clean, very high-mile ’93 wagon in a Denver-area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on July 2, 2018

2004 Audi A4 Wagon in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Here in Denver 15 or so years ago, the Subaru Legacy Outback wagon was king among car shoppers looking for a vehicle suited for their dog-owning, ski-slope-visiting, REI-shopping lifestyles (that is, most of the population). But what about those who wanted an all-wheel-drive wagon that was a bit less… stolid?

While you could get the Outback with a manual transmission or a six-cylinder engine (sorry, one or the other) back then, only the most rabid Subaru fanatics would describe the driving experience of the Outback as fun. That’s where the second-generation Audi A4 wagon came in, and they sold very well here. Here’s one that looked to be in pretty good condition when it got rear-ended, spotted in a yard just south of town. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2018

1994 Volvo 940 Turbo wagon in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Volvo 900 Series replaced the 700 Series, which replaced the 200 Series, but — in true Volvo fashion — there was sufficient production overlap between these related models that all three were available at the same time for a couple of years in the early 1990s. The 940 sold well in the United States, but you’ll see more 240s and 740s today, perhaps due to the great affection held by Volvo fanatics for the “real” rear-wheel-drive Swedes.

I went into a Northern California wrecking yard determined to shoot the first 940 or 960 I saw, and that car turned out to be this 940 Turbo station wagon. (Read More…)

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