junkyard gems

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Lexus ES 250

Posted in REVIEWS on September 19, 2021
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When the Lexus LS 400 first appeared here in late 1989 (as a 1990 model), sellers of German-made luxury sedans broke out in the shaky sweats and car shoppers flocked to see — and buy — this well-built statusmobile that retailed for about 60% of the price of the cheapest S-Class. Not attracting nearly as much attention at the time was the other introductory vehicle of the Lexus brand: the ES 250. Sold here for Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1985 Ford Mustang GT

Posted in REVIEWS on September 18, 2021
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When you visit a big American self-service car graveyard these days, you'll find plenty of Ford Mustangs. Nearly all of those cars will be the 1994-2004 SN95s, with a few fifth-generation Mustangs plus a surprising number of 1974-1978 Mustang IIs. Pre-1974 Mustangs are exceedingly rare in the big, high-inventory-turnover yards nowadays, of course (though I do find one now and then), but the real surprise is how tough it is to find reasonably intact Fox Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1979 Triumph TR7 Drophead Coupé

Posted in REVIEWS on September 6, 2021
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Even though British Leyland stopped selling the MGB, Midget, and Spitfire after 1980 and the TR7/TR8 in the United States after 1981, I still find numerous examples of each of these English sports cars during my junkyard explorations four decades later. Each type was affordable when new, was fun to drive, and retained sufficient affection among owners to be kept intact in driveways and yards for years after they stopped running. Still, for each one Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1980 Datsun 310 GX Coupe

Posted in REVIEWS on September 5, 2021
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Even as many American car shoppers sought to stretch their gasoline budgets by purchasing the primitive-but-reliable rear-wheel-drive Datsun B210 during the middle 1970s, Nissan brought over the more sophisticated front-wheel-drive Datsun F-10. Because the Cherry-based F-10 (known as the F-11 in its homeland, just to confuse everybody) was such an awkward-looking little machine, it found few takers on this side of the Pacific. Refusing to give up, Nissan took the F-11's successor (the first-generation Pulsar) Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera XC Edition Sedan

Posted in REVIEWS on September 4, 2021
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The Cutlass proved to be such a big-selling model for Oldsmobile— particularly during the middle 1970s— that The General saw fit to apply the Cutlass name to three unrelated Oldsmobiles during the the mixed-up-muddled-up-shook-up period of the 1980s. There was the Cutlass Supreme, a midsize rear-wheel-drive G-body sibling to the Chevy Monte Carlo and then, a bit later, the front-wheel-drive Chevy Lumina. There was the compact Cutlass Calais, based on the same platform as the Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SE

Posted in REVIEWS on August 29, 2021
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American Suzuki Motor Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and new Suzuki-badged cars stopped being sold here the following year (meanwhile, Suzuki went on to create one of the biggest-selling cars in its home market). While many of the United States-market Suzukis of the previous decade had been Daewoos beneath the emblems, the Kizashi sedan was designed and manufactured entirely by Suzuki. There were high hopes – at first – that it would revive the Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1989 Subaru XT6 4WD

Posted in REVIEWS on August 28, 2021
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The first Subaru available in the United States was the tiny 360 kei car, imported by Malcolm Bricklin starting in 1968. For more than a decade after that, we knew Subarus mostly as cheap, useful little cars, sometimes equipped with manually-selected four-wheel-drive. Then, once the 1980s really got rolling, fancier and more futuristic Subarus began hitting our shores, with sci-fi gadgets, vividly-colored interiors, turbocharging, etc. The wildest of the mid-1980s Subarus was the Alcyone, known Read More »

Junkard Gem: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E

Posted in REVIEWS on August 22, 2021
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Out of the 2,200+ doomed vehicles I've photographed in wrecking yards over the years, the one with the highest trustworthy odometer reading I've found was a gasoline-powered 1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E with better than 600k miles on the clock (the highest untrustworthy odometer I've seen lived in a 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Cabrio showing 930k miles). Today's Junkyard Gem— also found in the San Francisco Bay Area— is the same year, make, and model of W201 C-Class, even Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1960 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Deluxe Sedan

Posted in REVIEWS on August 15, 2021
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If you're looking for a controversial Junkyard Gem, here's your car! Yes, I've found a first-year-of-production Chevrolet Corvair sedan, the innovative Detroit compact with an air-cooled boxer-six engine in the back, in a Denver self-service car graveyard. These cars sold very well at first, with sales of 200,000-300,000 per year from 1960 through 1965. Because there's a glut of rough Corvairs, particularly non-Monza sedans, a car like this '60 700 Deluxe sedan isn't worth very Read More »

Junkyard Gem: 1989 Pontiac 6000 STE AWD

Posted in REVIEWS on August 1, 2021
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During the middle to late 1980s, General Motors made a big push to grab back some of the sales swiped by makers of European luxury machinery during the previous decade. Around the top of the prestige pyramid, there was the Turin/Hamtramck-built Cadillac Allanté taking aim at the Mercedes-Benz 560SEC and the super high-tech Buick Reatta trying to seduce away BMW and Jaguar shoppers; even the Riviera offered a futuristic touchscreen computer sorely lacking in anything Read More »