Tag: Van

By on September 23, 2019

1985 Toyota Van in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsInspired by the unexpected success of the K-car-based Chrysler minivans in the early 1980s, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota each made North American-market versions of their small mid-engined vans. Sales of the Mitsubishi Van (based on the Delica) and Nissan Van (based on the Vanette) never amounted to much over here, but Toyota had a minor hit with the Americanized TownAce van, known here as the Toyota Van.

The Toyota Van proved very durable and I still see plenty of them in wrecking yards to this day. Today’s Junkyard Treasure packs some extra-special provenance within its battered, 34-year-old flanks: it once served as the sacred icon of a Northern California band, appearing as the centerpiece of many music videos. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2019

When the updated Ford Transit Connect debuted, Ford showed off a fancy new 1.5-liter turbodiesel to power it. While the company said it would be late availability, it turns out that the company decided that it wouldn’t put it into production at all.

Car and Driver initially reported the decision, with a Ford spokesperson citing a lack of demand for the reason for putting it into production. Considering the premium price that the diesel engine would command, plus rising fuel prices, it’s not hard to see why buyers wouldn’t ultimately be interested in the engine. (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2018

1984 Toyota LiteAce Van in North Carolina wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
When Chrysler had such a smash hit with the K-derived minivans of the 1980s, Toyota USA needed some kind of family hauler bigger than the Cressida, Camry, and Tercel wagons. The solution, from the perspective of the suits in Aichi, was obvious: Americanize the TownAce mid-engined van and ship it west ASAP!

Here’s an ’84 Toyota Van I found in a Charlotte, North Carolina, wrecking yard last month. (Read More…)

By on September 10, 2018

1986 Dodge Van in Colorado wrecking yard, LH rear view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I see two types of distinctively Coloradan sticker-covered vehicles in Denver-area self-service wrecking yards. One type is the stony-ass wastoidmobile Subaru plastered with decals from cannabis dispensaries, vape-juice shops, and microbreweries. The other is the battered outdoorsy Detroit truck, plastered with decals from mountain-bike shops, ski resorts, rafting outfitters, and environmental causes. These types tend to overlap to some extent, so it often happens that I’ll find stickers advertising shatter-hash on an Outdoorsy Truck and stickers proclaiming allegiance to rock climbing on a Stoner Subaru, but there are cultural differences between them.

Here’s an ornately leopardified 1986 Dodge B250 Ram Wagon that appears to have hauled many a sinewy adventurer to a trailhead or ski slope. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2018

It’s best to just admit it: I have van envy. The educated among you will know that van envy, like many other communicable diseases, comes in a few forms. There’s Van Envy A, which is the traditional desire to have a boxy vehicle of some sort in the immediate vicinity for carrying children and accomplishing household tasks; this virus is typically found in the water supply of single-family homes. Van Envy B is indicated by repeated involuntary exclamations of “dajiban!” You catch that from accidental subculture immersion.

Van Envy MTB is when you can’t stop thinking about fitting out a fresh new Transit with a toolbox and internal bicycle mounts so you can take a quick trip to Ray’s Bike Park in Cleveland — or maybe Moab. The most virulent and damaging strain of the disease is Van Envy IG, which manifests in a gnawing sense of envy regarding attractive twenty-something couples who rootlessly travel the West holding drum circles and making love in converted high-roof Sprinters, subsisting on nothing but their income from selling woven bracelets at street fairs and an eight-figure trust fund.

Today’s question comes from someone who is suffering from precisely none of that. Instead, he has another condition. One marked by eroding telomere chains, drying skin, and a growing desire to watch Matlock. Chances are you have it too, although it might not be as severe.

(Read More…)

By on January 22, 2018

1977 Ford Econoline Van in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
During the 2016 American presidential election, those voters who loathed both Trump and Clinton had the option of voting for one of a couple of long-shot third-party candidates, or perhaps the far more rational fourth-party candidate. Those rebellious souls who opted for the fourteenth-party candidate in 2016 went for that Econoline-driving Californian: Jussy G.G. Prussly.

Here is Jussy’s once-glorious van, now retired in a Central Valley self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on December 11, 2017

2010 Nissan Cube in Colorado Wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Nissan’s slow-selling, goofy-looking minivan debuted in the United States market for the 2009 model year and got axed just five years later. You can still buy a new Cube in Japan, but junkyards on this side of the Pacific are getting discarded Cubes in more-than-flukey quantities.

After seeing several in a Denver-area self-service yard last month, I decided to photograph one. (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2017

2005 Dodge Sprinter in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The European-style vans sold by Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, and Dodge have been with us here in North America since 2001, and have held their value very well since that time. Depreciation of even the most useful vehicle is relentless, however, and it was inevitable that used-up Sprinters would begin showing up in big self-service wrecking yards at some point.

That day has arrived; I spotted the first of the discarded Sprinters in my junkyarding experience, this one in a Phoenix yard over the summer. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2017

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, quite a few Midwestern RV manufacturers would take new Chevrolet Step-Vans and build them into motorhomes. Most spent productive decades ferrying retirees between Michigan and Florida, then settled into long-term retirement in driveways and dirt lots, serving as homes for many generations of raccoons, possums, and wasps.

Here’s a Kansas-built P20-series RV in the San Francisco Bay Area, giving up some of its components while awaiting the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2016

1982 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia in Colorado Junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Volkswagen Vanagon has a global cult following, for reasons I have never understood, and the Westfalia camper version is an object of heavy-duty veneration among Vanagon zealots. You hear about the crazy prices that any Westfalia Vanagon will fetch … but it turns out that most serious Volkswagen fanatics are too cheap to pay the prices they quote so knowledgeably. So, rough examples of the Vanagon show up often at cheap self-service wrecking yards.

Here’s an ’82 that I found last week in the Denver area. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2016

2016 Kia Sedona Exterior Front, Image: © 2016 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Let’s face it: Nobody wants to drive what their parents drove, even if it’s the right vehicle for the task at hand. Minivan shoppers balked at their parent’s station wagon, and CUV shoppers seem to believe that minivans are the gateway to mom-jeans and velcro sneakers.

My sister-in-law is the perfect example of a conflicted minivan shopper. With four kids, she needs a minivan. However, because she grew up sitting in the back of a string of Chevrolet Astro vans, she has a special hatred reserved for minivans. It probably doesn’t help that her parents recently traded in an Oldsmobile Silhouette for a Chrysler Town & Country.

Technically, a family of six will fit in your average three-row crossover, but even the biggest CUVs have a cramped back seat and limited cargo compared to the average minivan.

Seeing an opportunity to differentiate itself, Kia decided to put a different twist on the Sedona when it was redesigned for 2015. The latest Sedona gives up some traditional minivan practicality in an attempt to appeal to crossover shoppers on the fence.

(Read More…)

By on May 20, 2016

1969 Chevrolet Van in Colorado Wrecking Yard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
For most of the 1960s, the forward-control, mid-engined small van, with the driver sitting atop the front axle and crowded against the door by an engine-containing box known as the “doghouse,” was quite popular in the United States. These things were bouncy, ill-handling, dangerous steel boxes, but they could haul absurd loads with their 1904-technology solid axles and leaf springs all the way around and were easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

Nearly all these vans were used up or crashed decades ago, but xillion-mile survivors still trickle into wrecking yards to this day. Here’s a rare long-wheelbase late-’60s ChevyVan that I spotted in Denver last week. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2016

2015 Ford Transit

The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van in March 2016 and the first-quarter of 2016, full stop.

Not just the best-selling full-size commercial van. Not just the best-selling commercial van overall. The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van, besting all of its direct rivals as well as each and every minivan.

Much has been made of the all-American Ford Mustang’s one-month stand in Germany. Even if the Mustang’s “Best-Selling Sports Car In Germany” status is only temporarily grasped, it certainly was a noteworthy turn of events. Meanwhile, Ford of Europe’s long-running commercial van, now Americanized, is dominating on our side of the Atlantic. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2016

1992 Toyota Previa in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Living in Colorado, I have become something of a connoisseur of low-sales volume, all/four-wheel-drive versions of otherwise commonplace vehicles. The rarest one so far has got to be this ’87 Ford Tempo AWD, but I also have managed to find some fairly unusual All-Trac-equipped Toyota vehicles.

There’s this ’90 Camry All-Trac, a car that’s a rarity even in this state and just about unheard of anywhere else, and a few examples of the Corolla All-Trac wagon. Now we have this gleaming gold Previa All-Trac. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2016

Toyota Tarago

There are longer minivan jumps you could watch, even some with explosions, but no flying family hauler can match the poise and grace of this 1980s Toyota Tarago.

Somewhere in rural Australia — possibly near a dingo — this sturdy conveyance not only survived its flight seemingly unscathed, it probably stopped off for a case of Fosters after the jump before driving a pack of blonde teens home.

(Read More…)

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