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Category: 1980s

Junkyard Gem: 1982 Toyota Cressida Wagon


There was once a time when many car manufacturers each offered station wagons to American car shoppers in several sizes. During the early 1980s, even Mercury had wagons available in small, medium and large sizes, and Toyota was right there with three of its own: the little Corolla, the somewhat bigger Corona and the opulent Cressida. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those Cressidas, found in a car graveyard in the Northern California hometown of John Steinbeck.


The rear-wheel-drive Cressida was available in the United States from 1978 through 1992, going through four generations along the way. It descended from the Corona Mark II, and in fact retained the Mark II name in Japan well into our current century. Until the Lexus LS 400 showed up here as a 1990 model, the Cressida was the most luxurious U.S-market Toyota car during its reign here; the Avalon is the closest thing to the Cressida’s replacement in the United States market.


This generation of Cressida was sold in the United States for the 1981 through 1984 model years, and it was closely related to the Celica Supras of the same era. That means it has an M-series overhead-cam straight-six engine driving the rear wheels. One big difference between the 1982 Cressida wagon and the 1982 Celica Supra is that the wagon didn’t get an independent rear suspension (the Cressida sedan did, though).


In this case, the engine is a 2.8-liter 5M-E with electronic fuel injection, rated at 116 horsepower and 145 pound-feet. Curb weight was just 2,906 pounds (significantly less than that of the current Corolla), so its performance was decent for the era.


A four-speed automatic with an overdrive top gear was standard equipment.


The MSRP for this car was $12,699, or about $42,294 in 2024 dollars. The only 1982 Toyota with a higher U.S.-market price tag was the $13,218 Land Cruiser four-door.


This was a California-market car from the beginning, as we can see by the underhood emissions sticker.


The 1982 Cressida came with plenty of standard features that were extra-cost options on most comparable cars (beyond the automatic transmission, that is). Air conditioning, cruise control, rear defroster and an AM/FM four-speaker audio system were included.


I’ve found plenty of high-mile Toyotas in junkyards over the years, including an Avalon that drove 949,863 miles and a Camry that did 648,928 miles, but this Cressida barely cracked the 100k mark during its 42-year life.


The wagon version of the Cressida was available in the United States from the 1978 through 1987 model years, after which it was replaced by the high-end trim levels of the Camry wagon.


These cars have something of an enthusiast following, but that wasn’t enough to spare this rust-free one from its junkyardy fate.

Nobody else can give you the feeling!

Sadly, we never got the turbocharged version on our shores.



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Junkyard Gem: 1985 GMC Suburban K1500


General Motors has been selling Suburbans since 1935, outlasting the DeSoto Suburban, the Nash Ambassador Suburban and the Plymouth Fury Suburban. These days, the US-market GMC-branded twin to the Chevrolet Suburban wears Yukon XL badging, but GMC Suburbans were sold here from 1937 through 1999. Today’s Junkyard Gem is a four-wheel-drive example of the very successful 1973-1991 Suburban generation, found in a car graveyard just outside of Reno, Nevada.


The Service Parts Identification sticker on the glovebox lid tells us that this truck was part of a fleet order with some interesting RPO codes, including one for “Retail Amenity Delete.” Yes, the cigarette lighter was an extra-cost option.


The original engine was a good old carbureted Chevrolet 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) small-block V8, and this small-block may even be the one that was installed on the line in Flint, Michigan. The power rating was 165 horsepower and 275 pound-feet, not a lot of power (by our current standards) for a truck that scaled in at nearly two-and-a-half tons, but it was enough for the era.


The transmission is the optional 700R4 four-speed automatic. The seat is a bench, as is proper.


This is a half-ton with four-wheel-drive and the base Sierra trim level. The High Sierra and Sierra Classic packages (corresponding to Chevrolet’s Scottsdale and Silverado names at the time) got you nicer-looking decorations plus some convenience features.


The 1985 GMC and Chevrolet Suburbans had identical price tags, which started at $11,650 for the K1500 with 350 engine (about $24,682 in 2024 dollars).


The eighth-generation Suburban showed up as a 1992 model, and it received the luxurious independent front suspension that had lived beneath C/K-series GM pickups since the 1988 model year.


At some point, the tailgate from a Chevrolet Suburban was installed.


Rust works slowly in Nevada, though we don’t know where this truck resided before it came to the Silver State.


An owner of this truck was a proud member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12, which covers California and Nevada.


What broke and sent this truck here? We can’t know.

The Suburban doesn’t show up in this commercial for the 1985 GMC trucks, but it’s still worth a view.

Most of the Suburban advertising dollars went to the Chevrolet version.



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Junkyard Gem: 1982 Jeep J-20 4X4 Pickup


The Jeep SJ Wagoneer was built for the 1962 through 1991 model years, by Willys Motors, then Kaiser-Jeep, then American Motors and finally Chrysler. For all but the last few of those years, a pickup version of the SJ was manufactured as well. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those trucks, an AMC-built ¾-ton four-wheel-drive J-Series, found in a Wyoming car graveyard with snowplow mount still attached.


The Equality State gets meme-worthy amounts of snow in winter, and four-wheel-drive plow trucks tend to be in heavy demand there. The blade is missing from this Fisher plow assembly, but we can be pretty sure it moved cubic miles of the white stuff during its career.


AMC would sell you a factory-installed Snow Boss plow system for 1982, on your new J-Series, Wagoneer or Cherokee. This truck’s owner went the aftermarket route.


The Jeep SJ pickup began life as the Gladiator, a name revived recently on a Wrangler-based pickup. After that, it became the J-Series through the end in 1988. From 1974 on, the ½-ton Js were badged as J-10s and the ¾-ton ones were J-20s.


This one was sold new in Denver, about 100 miles south of the Wyoming state line.


It still has Colorado plates with 2013 tags, so we can assume it did most of its plowing in the Centennial State.


The American Motors Corporation bought Jeep in 1970, dropping the Gladiator name soon after.


Kaiser-Jeep had been buying AMC engines for its trucks since the middle 1960s (along with 225-cubic-inch Buick V6s with Dauntless badges), so it was easy for AMC to continue bolting in its powertrain hardware once it took over Jeep.


This truck has the 360-cubic-inch (5.9-liter) pushrod AMC V8, rated at a Malaise-y 150 horsepower and 205 pound-feet for 1982. A 258-cubic-inch (3.7-liter) AMC straight-six was base equipment in the J-10.


The AMC 360 stayed in production after Chrysler bought AMC in 1987, with the last ones built for the 1991 model year.


The transmission is the base four-on-the-floor manual with extra-low “granny” first gear. A three-speed automatic was available as an option.


The final J-Series pickups were built by Chrysler as 1988 models, after which they got axed so as not to compete with Dodge pickups.

Go ahead, drop a piano into your J-10!

You Jeep truckers just keep on truckin’ in the snow, don’tcha?

Avoid the embarrassment of destroying your date’s front porch by trading in your tank for a Jeep pickup.



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Junkyard Gem: 1985 Ford F-150 Explorer XL 4X4


The Ford F-Series was the best selling motor vehicle in the United States for the 1982 model year and has remained in the No. 1 spot ever since. You’d think that Junkyard Gem-worthy examples of that historic F-Series generation would be easy to find in the car graveyards I frequent, given how many were sold, but most of the ones that do show up have been used up beyond easy recognition and then picked clean by junkyard shoppers. That’s not the case with today’s truck spotted in a northeastern Colorado yard: a fairly solid 1985 F-150 with two-tone paint and the Explorer trim package.


The seventh generation of the F-Series was sold in the United States for the 1980 through 1986 model years. For 1980 through 1983, the F-100 cost-cutting half-ton model was still available, after which it was replaced by the F-150 as the only half-ton F-Series. This truck has the mid-grade XL trim level, positioned between the Standard and XLT tiers.


The Explorer package, which included styling upgrades and various popular options at tempting prices, first became available in F-Series trucks for the 1968 model year. There were Explorer Rancheros and Broncos as well for a while. 1985 appears to have been the last model year for the F-Series Explorer package, after which it was replaced by a set of Preferred Equipment Packages. Starting with the 1991 model year, the Explorer name was repurposed as the model designation for a hot-selling SUV based on the Ranger chassis via the Bronco II.


The F-Series hadn’t gone very far along the process of its metamorphosis into the replacement for the American family sedan by the middle 1980s, so the powertrain in this one is extremely truckish. The engine is the base 300-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) pushrod straight-six, rated at 115 horsepower and 223 pound-feet. 302- and 351-cubic-inch (5.0- and 5.8-liter) gasoline V8s were available as options, and buyers of 1985 F-250s and F-350s could opt for a 460-cube (7.5-liter) big-block V8 or a 6.9-liter diesel.


No drive-to-the-office-park automatic here! This truck has the four-on-the-floor manual transmission, which was an upgrade from the base three-on-the-tree column-shift manual but cheaper than the four-speed with overdrive top gear.


Who says you can’t have a floor-shift manual with a bench seat? The middle passenger just had to get used to taking a beating from the shifter.


Ford hadn’t gone to six-digit odometers in these trucks by 1985, so the actual final mileage must remain a mystery.


There’s rust here and there, but it looks good from 100 feet away.


The original buyer of this truck even sprang for the optional AM/FM stereo radio, which was a good idea for the kind of long drives you take in the Mountain Time Zone.


Ford used the chassis of the 1980 F-Series nearly into our current century, finally doing a major redesign for the 1997 model year. The current F-Series is the 14th generation of a truck family dating back to 1948.

Willie Nelson better have been paid well for Ford’s use of this rewrite of his 1980 song!

Climbs a rocky hill while carrying a Chevy truck and towing a Dodge.

 



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Junkyard Gem: 1985 Jaguar XJ-S


An American car shopper looking for a new V12-engined coupe in 1985 had two choices: Spend the present-day equivalent of several hundred grand for a Ferrari or Lamborghini … or get a Jaguar XJ-S for about a third that price. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found in a Denver car graveyard recently.


Jaguar began bolting V12 engines into the E-Type beginning in 1971, then into the XJ12 sedan soon after that. By the time the E-Type was discontinued after 1974, Jaguar had spent the better part of a decade grappling with the near-impossible task of developing a successor that looked just as beautiful.


This ended up being the XJ-S, which was based on the chassis of the XJ sedan and debuted as a 1976 model in the United States. Production continued through 1996.


These cars were mean-looking, powerful and packed with English wood-and-leather luxury, but they were also temperamental and costly to repair. I’ve documented quite a few discarded XJ-Ss during my junkyard travels.


This is a DOHC 5.3-liter engine, known as the HE for its improved combustion chambers and rated at 262 horsepower and 290 pound-feet. This was serious power for a year in which a new Corvette’s engine made 230 horses and the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC coupe chugged along with a 184hp V8.


A three-speed ZF automatic was the only transmission available in this car.


The MSRP was an even $36,000, which amounts to something like $107,170 in 2024 dollars. That compared favorably to other European luxury coupes; the 1985 BMW 635CSi was $41,315 ($122,993 after inflation), the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC listed at $57,100 ($169,985 today) and the Porsche 928S cost $50,000 ($18,848 now). Detroit offered the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz coupe for $24,850 ($73,977) and the Lincoln Mark VII Bill Blass Edition for $26,659 ($79,363).


The XJ-S was notorious for expensive-to-fix electrical and mechanical problems, so it’s a struggle for third or fourth owners to keep theirs in driving condition. Some give up on the V12 and swap in small-block Chevrolet V8s.


The gauge cluster in this one was purchased by a junkyard shopper before I arrived, so I couldn’t get a final odometer reading. It appears to have been reset in 1987, anyway.

Here is V12 power wrapped in soft leather, paneled in rare wood, equipped in complete luxury.

A blending of art and machine.

British Leyland was so proud of the XJ-S that it opened this iconic TV commercial with a mid-1970s Playboy Bunny climbing into one.



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Junkyard Gem: 1986 AMC Eagle Sedan


The American Motors Corporation’s Eagle was the first production car sold in the United States with what we’d now describe as a true all-wheel-drive system, beating Audi’s Quattro-equipped cars to showrooms. During the Eagle’s run through the 1980 through 1988 model years, the wagon version was by far the biggest seller and nearly all the discarded examples I find during my junkyard travels are wagons. Today, though, we’ve got a four-door Eagle sedan, found in a northeastern Colorado self-service yard recently.

For 1980, the Eagle was based on the AMC Concord and came in sedan, coupe and wagon form. The following year saw the addition of Eagles based on the smaller AMC Spirit, which expanded the lineup to include the Eagle Kammback sedan and the sporty Eagle SX/4. By 1984, only the wagon and sedan remained.

Only 1,274 Eagle sedans were built for the 1986 model year, with sedan sales dropping below 500 for 1987. Chrysler kept building Eagle wagons after buying American Motors in 1987, creating a new division using the Eagle name for 1988. That meant that final-year Eagle wagons were Eagle Eagles, legally speaking (though they kept all their AMC badging for that year).

Even though American Motors had owned Jeep for nearly a decade when it began design work on the Eagle, the drivetrain in this car isn’t just lifted straight across from the Jeep parts bin.

There’s a center viscous coupling between the front and rear axles and no truck-style low-range gear selector. Starting with the 1981 Eagles, the driver could use a simple electrical switch to choose rear-wheel-drive and save fuel.

But if you wanted to stay in four-wheel-drive mode at all times, no problem. Try driving a 1986 4WD-equipped Subaru or Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon for long distances on dry pavement in four-wheel-drive mode and you’d tear up the tires or worse (Subaru and Toyota introduced their new AWD systems to the North American market for the 1987 and 1988 model years, respectively).

Of course, Audi would sell you a 4000CS Quattro sedan with no-driver-brains-required AWD that year for $17,800 ($51,008 in 2024 dollars), and Volkswagen added the Syncro-equipped Quantum for the following year. The 1986 Eagle sedan had an MSRP of just $10,719, or $30,716 after inflation.

This particular car probably cost a lot more than that, what with all the pricey options. The power door locks were $189 ($542 now), for example.

The air conditioning cost $795 ($2,278 today), while this top-of-the-line four-speaker AM/FM/cassette audio system with digital tuning had a price tag of $447 ($1,281 now).

AMC and GM 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines were available in earlier Eagles, but the 258-cubic-inch (4.2-liter) AMC straight-six was the only Eagle powerplant choice for the 1985 through 1988 model years.

A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment; this car has the optional three-speed automatic. The price: $379, or $1,086 in 2024 money.

American Motors used these door tags for decade after decade.

This car was sold at Spearfish Motors in South Dakota, which still exists today but now sells just GMCs, Cadillacs and Hummers.

It’s in nice condition with a decent interior and no rust to speak of, but nobody was willing to rescue it before it came to this sad fate.

It leaves the world of ordinary cars behind.

AMC didn’t give much advertising screen time to the Eagle sedan.



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Junkyard Gem: 1983 Ford Bronco


Ford built the Bronco from the 1966 through 1996 model years, after which it was replaced by the Expedition and its four doors. Then came 2021, when a brand-new Bronco appeared to do sales battle with the Jeep Wrangler. Broncos from the first couple of decades of production are junkyard rarities today, and the few that do show up in the boneyards tend to be mangled beyond recognition or picked clean within days of arrival. That made this ’83, found in a Denver-area yard, an extra-special Junkyard Gem.

The first-generation (1966-1977) Bronco was built on its own bespoke chassis with a very short 92″ wheelbase, just an inch longer than that of the little MGB sports car. For 1978, the Bronco moved to a shortened version of the F-Series truck chassis, becoming much bigger in every dimension and gaining more than 1,500 pounds in the process. The Bronco remained a member of the F-Series family all the way through the end of production in 1996, getting updates paralleling those of F-100/F-150 generations.

This one is a member of the third Bronco generation, built from the 1980 through 1986 model years.

The door tag tells us that it was built in December of 1982 at Ford’s Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, and that it was sold new via the sales office in Seattle, Washington.

The base engine in the 1983 Bronco was the 300-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) straight-six, a sturdy truck-only plant rated at 115 horsepower and 223 pound-feet in this application. 302 and 351 (5.0- and 5.8-liter) Windsor V8s were available as options.

The base transmission in the 1983 Bronco was a four-on-the-floor manual, which could be equipped with an overdrive top gear for $78 extra ($250 in 2024 dollars). That’s what’s in this truck.

The F-Series-based Bronco became more comfortable (alongside its pickup siblings) as the generations went by, but the third-generation version was a noisy, rough-riding real truck that would be considered intolerably crude by modern SUV standards.

This one didn’t get built with many options, but it did get the extra-cost rear window defroster with this afterthought of a switch.

Air conditioning? Not at $729 ($2,337 after inflation). Just open the windows!

The MSRP for the base ’83 Bronco was $10,589, or about $33,948 in today’s dollars.

Just to confuse everybody, Ford began selling a compact SUV based on the Ranger for the 1984 model year, calling it the Bronco II. This was in keeping with the tradition established when full-sized LTDs were sold alongside Torino-based LTD IIs during the mid-to-late 1970s. Since the current Bronco is based on the Ranger platform, that makes it more the spiritual descendant of the Bronco II than of the F-Series-based 1980-1996 Bronco.

Perhaps delivering the new Ford trucks via helicopter assault while “Ride of the Valkyries” plays was in poor taste, just six years after the Fall of Saigon and two years after “Apocalypse Now” hit theaters.

You won’t believe the deals on new ’83s at National Ford Truck Week!



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Junkyard Gem: 1989 Ford Ranger Just Do It Edition


Let’s say you’ve got a beater yard truck at work and it’s sitting right next to several cans of red and white latex paint plus brushes, and you and your coworkers are bored. What do you do? I suspect that those were the conditions that let to the Nike-themed customization job on today’s Junkyard Gem, found in a self-service yard in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The light bar on the roof plus a couple of cheap UHF antennas indicate that this truck worked for its living, maybe at construction sites or a big industrial facility. 

The odometer is a five-digit unit, so we can’t know how many miles it traveled during its career. I’m guessing the final total was above 200,000.

The build tag say the original color for this truck was “Twilight Blue Metallic.” That was before it received a thick slathering of red house paint, applied with a brush.

Then white house paint was used to apply the Nike “Just Do It” theme. Nike began using “Just Do It” in 1988, after a writer at the company’s ad agency was inspired by the last words of about-to-be-executed murderer, Gary Gilmore.

Some real dedication went into this paint job.

The treatment extends into the interior.

The color-matched Car-Freshner Little Tree air fresheners are a nice touch.

Don’t forget the wheels!

The build tag says this truck was built at Louisville Assembly in November of 1988, and that it’s a short-wheelbase rear-wheel-drive Styleside.

It has the good old 2.3-liter “Pinto” four-cylinder engine, rated at 100 horsepower and 133 pound-feet.

The transmission is the base five-speed manual.

The first-generation Ranger replaced the Mazda-built Courier, with production beginning for the 1983 model year and continuing through 1992. The second-generation 1993 Ranger kept the original chassis but its body became less influenced by that of its F-Series big brother.

Another work truck heads to the crusher.

Canada’s best-selling compact truck!

Dogs were meant to lie in the sun and sleep.

Related video:



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Junkyard Gem: 1987 Ford Mustang LX Hatchback


With the introduction of the new Fox-platform Mustang for the 1979 model year, the Pinto-derived Mustang II was shown the door and a new era of Mustang performance began. Mustangs with ever-more-powerful V8s and turbocharged four-bangers hit the streets, rappers sang their praises and hot-rodded Ford ponies took over the drag strips. The thing is, we often forget that the Mustang also remained faithful to its origins as a sporty-looking yet economical commuter car during the Fox era, which means that plenty were sold with gas-sipping base engines and penny-pinching price tags. Here’s one of those cars, found in a North Carolina self-service knacker’s yard recently.

In 1987, the Mustang was available as a notchback two-door sedan, as a convertible and as a three-door hatchback. Except for 1979 and 1980, the hatchback always outsold the notchback during the 1979-1993 Fox era (in which more than 2.5 million Mustangs were sold).

The base engine in the 1987 Mustang LX was the 2.3-liter “Pinto” four-cylinder, rated at 90 horsepower and 130 pound-feet, and that’s what we have here.

The 1987 Mustang GT came with a 5.0-liter V8 making 225 horses and 300 pound-feet. Those wishing to get a lightweight sleeper Mustang that year could buy the LX notchback and order it with the V8 and affiliated components, which added $1,885 ($5,294 in 2024 dollars) to the car’s $8,043 sticker price ($22,591 after inflation).

The LX hatchback cost a bit more than the trunk-equipped ’87 Mustang, with an MSRP of $8,474 ($23,801 in today’s money). But this car has some costly options that pushed the price quite a bit higher, as we’ll see.

First, there’s the four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, which added $515 to the out-the-door cost ($1,447 now). There’s also air conditioning, which added between $788 and $1,028 depending on the package ($2,213 to $2,887 today). 

This car also has the nice cast aluminum wheels, which came with the V8 engine package and don’t seem to have been a factory option for 2.3-equipped cars. We can assume that these were swapped on after purchase.

The center caps were inside.

It’s in reasonably good condition for a 37-year-old car, much better than the majority of Fox Mustangs I find during my junkyard travels. Stuffing a Windsor V8 and manual transmission into one of these cars is an easy and relatively cheap project, but nobody intercepted this car during its route to the crusher. I think a hot-rodded Fox LTD or Cougar would be more fun, personally.

1987 was the model year for the Fox Mustang’s big facelift, which got rid of the old sealed-beam “four-eyes” headlights and added a grille much like the ones on Tauruses and Thunderbirds. The final year for the Fox Mustang was 1993, unless you consider the Fox-derived 1994-2004 SN95 Mustangs to be genuine Foxes.

Ford didn’t bother to make many TV commercials pitching the Mustang LX, instead focusing on the flashier GT. I was a broke college student in 1987 and a new Mustang was far out of my reach, but at least I owned a sporty Ford fastback with Windsor V8 and screaming Competition Orange paint at the time.



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Junkyard Gem: 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity Wagon


The beginning of the end for station wagons arrived as the second half of the 1980s dawned, thanks to Chrysler’s introduction of its game-changing minivans and AMC’s introduction of the even more influential XJ Jeep Cherokee (both as 1984 models), but few noticed at first. At that time, GM’s Chevrolet Division still offered wagons in three different sizes: the Cavalier, Celebrity and Caprice Classic; today’s Junkyard Gem is an example of the middle type, found in a Denver self-service yard recently.

The Celebrity was based on GM’s front-wheel-drive A Platform, which was derived from the X Platform that underpinned the Chevrolet Citation and its kin. It was built from the 1982 through 1990 model years and was a huge success with well over 2 million sold. The Celebrity has all but disappeared from streets and car graveyards by now, so this is a rare opportunity to follow up the base-model ’87 Celebrity sedan we saw a few years ago with a loaded longroof version.

The Celebrity’s near-identical siblings were the Buick Century, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera/Cruiser and Pontiac 6000.

I have some personal and not-so-pleasant family experience with the Celebrity. My parents were patriotic Midwesterners who chose Detroit machinery (with a couple of notable exceptions) to drive from the time I was brought home from the hospital in a 1956 Olds 88 after my birth until I was off at college during the middle 1980s. They’d had an unpleasant experience with a 1979 Ford Granada, writing it off to simple bad luck, but then my dad decided to trade in his 1978 Pontiac Bonneville on a new Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport sedan (above is the only surviving photo of that car, shot past the snout of my now-legendary 1965 Impala sedan). That car was an across-the-board lemon, failing repeatedly under warranty and then even more repeatedly later on, and it drove my parents into the waiting arms of Toyota and Mazda, from which they never returned to Detroit iron.

That said, my family’s Celebrity experience wasn’t universal, and there are still devoted Celebrity enthusiasts to this day. That becomes relevant when telling the tale of today’s Junkyard Gem, because it will lead us to a heartwarming junkyard happy ending.

This car’s interior was just beautiful, leading me to believe that the 43,977 miles showing on its five-digit odometer represented the actual mileage. What a waste of nice interior parts, I thought, but then I remembered that I knew a Celebrity wagon owner!

Yes, the same married couple of Denver-area 24 Hours of Lemons racers who compete with a Chevy Vega and bought a 1990 Dodge Omni for their 16-year-old (because it’s a cool old car that, amazingly, came with a peace-of-mind-providing driver’s-side airbag) picked up a Celebrity station wagon to drive in the Route 66 Lemons Rally last month. Since my tip about a junked 1988 Plymouth Horizon led them to a bonanza of Omni parts, I let them know about the super-clean Celebrity in a nearby boneyard.

As it turned out, they had too many weird hoopties in their stable and had just sold their rally Celebrity to an enthusiast in Iowa who owns several nicely restored Celebrities. He would be flying out to Denver to pick up his wagon and was elated to learn of a nearly-impossible-to-find parts donor in a Mile High junkyard.

After picking up his new ride, he drove the 10 minutes over to U-Pull-&-Pay and harvested all these Celebrity goodies to take home.

As an added bonus, he found the original build sheet under the rear seat and sent a photo. Look at all those expensive options!

As the build sheet states, this car was built at the Oklahoma City plant and then sold new at Osborn Chevrolet on South Havana Street in Aurora (now Celebration Chevrolet at the same location). You can get incredible Korean food in that neighborhood today, by the way.

The base engine in the Celebrity was the 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-cylinder, but this car has the optional high-output 2.8-liter V6 and its 125 horses/160 pound-feet. A 4.3-liter diesel V6 (which was an Oldsmobile design not related to the Chevrolet 4.3-liter V6) was available for the 1985 through 1986 model years, but had been dropped by the time this car was built.

The HO 2.8 got multi-port fuel injection, while the ordinary 112hp 2.8 had a two-barrel carburetor.

For 1986, Celebrity buyers could get a four-on-the-floor manual transmission as base equipment with cars built with Iron Duke or carbureted 2.8 engines (almost none did), but the HO 2.8 cars got this four-speed automatic. Just to confuse matters, the Iron Duked ’86 Celebrity could be purchased with a three-speed automatic.

This AM/FM/cassette radio with auto-reverse and Dolby noise reduction is serious audio hardware for a low-priced American car of the middle 1980s. Celebrity buyers for 1986 got nothing as standard audio equipment, as in the only tunes you’d get in the car were the ones you sang yourself; this unit (which was the second-to-the-top radio option for the 1986 Celebrity) cost a cool $319, or about $909 in 2024 dollars. You really needed it, however, if you wanted to do justice to the hits of the era.

Junkyard employees generally don’t have time to futz with malfunctioning GM hood latches when it comes time to yank the battery and drain all the fluids, so they’ll take this kind of drastic prybar action to open a hood quickly. That’s a shame, because this car’s body was in good shape when it arrived here.

Interestingly for a Detroit wagon with so many options, this one doesn’t seem to have the rear-facing “wayback” seat.

It will be crushed soon, but at least many of its parts went to a good home.

The Celebrity sedan was replaced by the Lumina, with the Lumina APV minivan taking over midsize family-hauling duties. The very last new Chevrolet station wagon available in the United States was the longroof version of the 1996 Caprice.

Drive today’s Chevy. Live today’s Chevy.

The roomiest front-drive wagons in America.





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