By on October 5, 2020

1989 Volvo 780 Bertone in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve documented quite a few discarded Volvos in this series, from the PV544 through the S60, and I never fail to stop and photograph a genuine Italo-Swedish Volvo Bertone Coupe. Here’s the latest, a 1989 780 in a Denver car graveyard over the summer. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2020

2002 Saab 9-3 in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsDuring my years of documenting discarded Saabs in junkyards around the country (and in Saab’s homeland), I’ve managed to cover the pre-GM American-market models well enough, with a special focus on the 900. In recent years, I’ve been working to cover some of the Saabs from the period of General Motors influence (1989-2000) and control (2000-2010).

I may never find an example of the ultra-rare 9-4x, but it’s easy to find used-up Opel Vectra-based 9-3 these days — and I vowed to photograph the first one I saw on a recent Denver junkyard expedition. That car turned out to be this Silver Metallic 2002 9-3 SE hatchback. (Read More…)

By on August 3, 2020

2005 Volvo S60 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve documented 60 discarded Volvos since I started my junkyard history project, but 58 of those Swedes were born in the 20th century, and 44 of those rolled off the assembly line before 1990. Just as I’ve done with BMWs in recent years, I’m going to try to document some of Göteborg’s (and maybe Hangzhou’s) newer products in my favorite kind of car museum.

Here’s a Ghent-built S60 with a super-rare three-pedal setup, found in a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2020

1986 Saab 900S in Arizona junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2020

2005 Saab 9-2X in a Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWeird examples of badge engineering! Who doesn’t love them? Bad people, that’s who, and so I do my best to find such vehicles while I’m exploring car graveyards. The badge-engineering world includes Isuzus badged as Hondas, Hondas badged as Isuzus, Mitsubishis badged as Dodges, Dodges badged as Mitsubishis, Chevrolets badged as Saabs, and — of course — Subarus badged as Saabs. Here’s an example of the notorious Saabaru, found in the Subiest region of the United States: Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

1995 Volvo 850 Turbo wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen I’m strolling through my favorite junkyards and looking for significant bits of discarded automotive history, I’m always on the lookout for interesting Volvos. Thing is, my definition of interesting has long spanned the PV544/Amazon Era through the Late Rear-Wheel-Drive Brick Era, meaning that the universe of front- and all-wheel-drive Volvos beginning with the 1993 850 has been neglected in this series.

Lately, I’ve been making an effort to fill in some of those blank spots in the junkyard record, and so I went out and found a ’97 850R sedan and today’s find: this 1995 850 Turbo Wagon. (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2020

1990 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon in California junkyard, RH side view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOne of the frustrating things about my job looking for interesting discarded vehicles is the fact that most cars and light trucks didn’t start getting six-digit odometers until the 1980s or even the 1990s. I find vehicles that I know must have racked up incredible total mileage figures, but their odometers all turned over (once? ten times?) when they got past 99,999 miles.

Fortunately, Volvo felt sufficiently optimistic to adopt the six-digit odometer way back in the 1960s, so I was able to read a very impressive figure on the one in this 740 wagon: 493,549 miles. (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 March 11, 2019

1994 Volvo 960 in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile I live in Denver, my family and work ties in the San Francisco Bay Area make me a regular visitor at the incredibly well-stocked self-service wrecking yards of the region between San Jose and Richmond. These yards don’t have quite the selection of Subarus and IHC Scouts that I see in the yards around Denver, but they make up for that shortage by stocking plenty of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and Volvos.

Just last week, I found a half-dozen 240s, a 780 Bertone Coupe, and a pair of 960 sedans… in a single yard. Here’s the better-preserved of the two 960s. (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2018

What do you get when you cross practical Swedish design sensibility with some Italian flair? You get a very expensive and boxy two-door sedan with a Bertone badge on it.

Presenting the 1989 Volvo 780.

(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 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 March 30, 2016

1968 Volvo 144 in California junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

How is it that there are still sufficient Volvo 140s left, more than 40 years after production of the original Swedish brick ceased, that you’ll still find plenty of them in American wrecking yards? Not in the quantities you’ll find of their 240 descendants, of course, but anybody driving a 140 today should have no problem getting parts. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2016

1971 Volvo 144 Sedan front 3/4 in California junkyard, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Volvo 140 was the first of the beloved brick-shaped Swedes. It was built for the 1967 through 1975 model years, and it served as the basis for the legendary 240. I owned one, briefly, and found it was a very competent machine for its era. These cars are not worth big money today, unless they’re in excellent cosmetic shape, so the ones that stay on the street tend to do so because their owners can keep them running for cheap. (Read More…)

By on November 23, 2015

00 - 1987 Saab 900 in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

About five years ago, the Saab 900 was a relatively common sight in American self-service wrecking yards, but now examples of this Saab 99 descendant are getting rare.

Here’s a non-turbo 900S that I spotted not long ago in a Denver yard. (Read More…)

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