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…)

By on January 29, 2018

2018 Buick Regal TourX - Image: Buick

For 2018, Buick split its new Regal into two body styles: a liftback and a wagon dubbed the TourX. SUVs and crossovers make up a large chunk of the Tri-Shield’s sales, but these two machines will arguably swallow as much or more cargo than some of their high-riding showroom brethren.

Upon the Regal’s rollout for 2018, the marque estimated the TourX take rate would be around 30 percent. Now, thanks to either a rethink of market demands or someone’s innate love of wagons, Buick has revised that number upwards.

(Read More…)

By on November 27, 2017

1986 Toyota Tercel Wagon in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Toyota Sprinter Carib was sold as the Tercel Wagon in North America for the 1983 through 1987 model years, and most examples rolling out of American showrooms came with the more fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive setup. However, the four-wheel-drive Tercel Wagons held their value for decades after the front-wheel-drive ones depreciated into oblivion and were crushed, and thus I don’t see many of the latter type in wrecking yards these days.

Here’s a now-rare FWD ’86 that held on past age 30, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2017

1983 Toyota Cressida in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
It has taken a few decades, but Toyota Cressidas now show up at the big self-service wrecking yards in respectable numbers. I find these Lexus ancestors very interesting, so I shoot most of the ones I see; so far in this series, we have seen this ’80, this ’82, this ’83 wagon, this ’84, this ’84, this ’86 wagon, this ’87, this ’89, this ’90, and this ’92 (plus this ’79 and this ’86 wagon in my Junkyard Gems series).

Today’s Cressida is a zero-rust ’83 wagon in California. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

1984 Buick Century wagon in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Chrysler K-platform-based minivans debuted for the 1984 model year, marking the beginning of the end of the station wagon’s mainstream appeal in the United States; not many years later, SUVs would snare most of the potential wagon buyers who didn’t get minivans.

Here’s a Buick Century wagon from that decisive year, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2017

Callaway Corvette AeroWagen

Callaway Cars has been tuning and tweaking Corvettes for decades and, in 2013 the company announced it might consider producing a “shooting-brake” C7 and cash in on the returning trend. Since then, it has been developing the design while evaluating market appeal.

On Friday, Callaway officially announced its Corvette C21 AeroWagen package and the vehicle’s debut at the Michelin NCM Bash at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. An interesting idea, perhaps, but I am not in love with the execution. Callaway’s close ties to General Motors makes you trust the fit and finish will be factory quality, but fifteen grand is still a lot of money for owners to spend on potentially ruining the back half of a Corvette.  (Read More…)

By on February 2, 2017

2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon

With Cadillac’s CTS-V Wagon dead and buried, unorthodox — yet highly practical — automotive enthusiasts have been at a severe disadvantage in North America. Europe always seems to have at least a couple overpowered “estate cars” while we’re left pretending that a compact four-door Golf R is a replacement for a tuned-up 5 Series Touring or RS6 Avant.

God bless Mercedes-Benz and AMG for understanding there are still some wealthy Americans that want to load a station wagon with a half-dozen pure bred Labradors or ten bolts of Egyptian cotton (or whatever rich people put in their cars) and drive it 180 mph down an expressway.

For that highly discerning clientele, the all-new 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon will be arriving this autumn. (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2017

2002 Volvo V70XC Ocean Race in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I’m always on the lookout for small-production figure, special-edition cars during my junkyard explorations, and we have admired such classics as the Etienne Aigner Volkswagen Golf and the Daytona 500 Pace Car Pontiac Grand Prix in past installments of the Junkyard Find series.

Today, we’re moving into the 21st century, for a genuine, numbers-matching, one-of-650-made 2002 Volvo Ocean Race Edition V70 Cross Country, spotted in that hotbed of nautical action: Denver. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2016

1988 Toyota Camry in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Car writers are expected to love wagons with manual transmissions, but most of my love is reserved for the likes of three-on-the-tree-equipped Ford Country Squires and maybe the occasional 4-speed Datsun F-10 Sportwagon. Still, when I run across a Junkyard Find as rare as a second-generation Camry wagon with five-speed, I photograph it.

Here’s one that I spotted last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2016

1982 Ford LTD Country Squire in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Before Real American Families drove SUVs and minivans, they drove full-sized Detroit station wagons.

I’m not a wagon fanatic and it doesn’t break my heart that wagons are no longer mainstream (although it does break my heart that Chrysler didn’t bring back wagons with huge tailfins instead of the PT Cruiser), but I recognize that the archetypal Detroit wagon of the 1960s and 1970s was the Ford Country Squire. I can’t resist photographing a junked Squire when I see one in the junkyard, and so here’s a Late Malaise Era Country Squire I spotted in a San Francisco Bay area wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2016

1982 Dodge Aries Wagon in Colorado Wrecking Yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin

Much as members of the Mopar Jihad don’t want to admit it, Chrysler took a bailout — in the form of government-backed loans — from Uncle Sam in 1979. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved, because the then-futuristic K-Cars that Chrysler developed out of desperation turned out to be both smash sales hits and the basis for most cars put out by Chrysler for the following decade.

The K Family Tree had many branches, but only the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron, and Dodge 400 were true K-Cars. You won’t see many of the original Ks these days, but the patient junkyard crawler will find a rare survivor now and then.

Here’s an early Aries wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2016

1988 Volkswagen Fox Wagon in California Wrecking Yard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

In the 1970s, the Audi 80 was sold in the United States as the Audi Fox. In the following decade, Volkswagen decided to sell the Brazilian-made Volkswagen Gol as a Volkswagen Fox in the United States, presumably using the Fox name because it was so good.

The Fox was cheap and disposable and most were crushed before the end of the 1990s, so this ’88 wagon is an unusual find these days. (Read More…)

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