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Category: 1990s

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

GM’s Cadillac Division introduced the ultra-swanky Eldorado as a 1953 model, and the Biarritz name was first used on the Eldorado convertible three years later. After that, Eldorado Biarritzes in various forms were built intermittently through the following decades. The end finally came for the Biarritz in 1991, when the last eleventh-generation Eldorados rolled off the Hamtramck line. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found at a self-service yard near Denver, Colorado.

Biarritz is a resort city on the Atlantic coast in France’s Basque Country, just the sort of place where a high-living oil heiress might have flaunted her new Eldo during the late 1950s. The Biarritz title was used to designate Eldorado convertibles through 1964, then got dropped until its revival as the name of a gloriously rococo trim level for 1976.

For me, the definitive Eldorado Biarritz is the 1979-1985 version, with its stainless-steel roof panel inspired by the one on the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. When Robert De Niro as pink-suited Ace Rothstein falls victim to a bomb in his car in the 1995 film “Casino,” that car is a 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.

The Eldorado got a radical downsizing for the 1986 model year and its next-to-last generation, losing 16 inches of overall length and a corresponding portion of general bulk. The Biarritz version stuck around, but with no stainless-steel roof. 

The 1991 Biarritz package did get you two-tone paint, “Tampico” carpeting, birdseye maple wood on the dash and console plus 10-way power front bucket seats.

Also included were “wire wheel discs” aka faux-wire-wheel hubcaps.

The padded landau roof with slick-looking integrated opera lamps also went onto the 1991 Eldorado Biarritz.

All 1986-1991 Eldorados got a full digital instrument cluster.

This generation of Eldorado never got the DOHC Northstar engine. Instead, all were powered by a member of the Cadillac High Technology pushrod V8. The Northstar went into final-generation Eldorados from 1993 through the end in 2002.

This is the 4.9-liter HT engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 275 pound-feet. If you want to enrage engine-name purists you should call it the “HT4900” within their hearing range. Earlier versions displaced 4.1 and 4.5 liters, with 1991 being the first year for the 4.9.

When this car was new, no manual transmission had been available in a new Cadillac since the last three-pedal Cimarrons were built as 1988 models. The gearbox in this car is a four-speed automatic.

The final year for the Cadillac Eldorado was 2002, after which it was replaced by the CTS coupe. The 1986-1991 eleventh-gen Eldos ended up being the smallest of all the generations.

This one had an MSRP of $34,425, or about $80,326 in 2024 dollars. That was a bit cheaper than the cost of the similarly sized 1991 BMW 525i, which listed at $34,900 ($81,434 after inflation). Meanwhile, the costliest Cadillac of 1991, the Allanté hardtop convertible, cost $61,450 ($143,384 today).

Winner of the 1990 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award!

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Junkyard Gem: 1999 Suzuki Vitara JX 4WD four-door

Toyota and Honda enjoyed lucrative American sales success with the RAV4 and CR-V compact crossovers, which went on sale here for the 1996 and 1997 model years, respectively. Suzuki offered its first-generation Escudo/Vitara here (as the Sidekick, in addition to being sold by GM with Geo Tracker badging), but its 1980s design had become embarrassingly dated by the middle 1990s. Something had to be done; that turned out to be the second-generation Vitara, which appeared here as a 1999 model. Here’s a first-year example, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

The first Suzuki-made car model sold new in the United States was the first-generation Cultus, sold here by GM with Chevrolet Sprint badges beginning in 1985 (this after more than 20 years of Suzuki motorcycles arriving at our shores). The Suzuki Jimny showed up the following year (as the Suzuki Samurai), with more and more Suzuki-badged models showing up during the 1990s.

As an affiliate of the far-flung GM Empire, Suzuki products sold in the United States became more Daewoo-ized during the 2000s, but there were always some genuine Suzukis available all the way through the final Kizashis and Grand Vitaras.

The Vitara was available in the United States through the 2003 model year, while the more powerful and generally grander Grand Vitara was sold here all the way until American Suzuki Motors filed for bankruptcy and gave up on highway-legal four-wheelers after 2013. You can still buy new Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs to this day, of course.

This is a top-trim-level four-door JX+ with four-wheel-drive, so its MSRP was $17,999 (about $34,406 in 2024 dollars). That compares favorably with the similarly equipped 1999 Honda CR-V ($20,450, or $39,091 today) and 1999 Toyota RAV4 ($18,198 today).

The Grand Vitara for ’99 came with V6 power under the hood, while the regular Vitara made do with 1.6- and 2.0-liter straight-fours. This is the 2.0-liter, rated at 127 horsepower and 134 pound-feet.

A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment, but the original buyer of this car bought the automatic. Unlike the car-based CR-V and RAV4, the 1999-2003 Vitara had a truck-style frame and true four-wheel-drive instead of an idiot-proof all-wheel-drive system.

Collectible? Probably not, but still an interesting piece of Suzuki automotive history.

American Suzuki Motors didn’t seem willing to spend money to do TV commercials for the not-so-grand regular Vitara, so we’ll watch one for its JDM sibling instead.

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Junkyard Gem: 1993 Ford Escort LX Wagon

The original North American Ford Escort was based (somewhat loosely) on its European cousin and was sold from the 1981 through 1990 model years. After that, the mighty Ford Empire turned to its Japanese ally, Mazda, for the Escort’s platform and that’s where it remained until the final ZX2 Escort coupes were sold here as 2003 models. I’ve neglected those early Mazda-based Escorts in this series up until now, so here’s one found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

The U.S.-market Escort was available in wagon form from 1981 through 1999 model years. For 1993, the Escort wagon came only with the LX trim level and its MSRP was $10,367 (about $22,795 in 2024 dollars). It appears that this one started out at a dealership just outside of Kansas City.

A 1993 non-wagon Escort buyer getting the LX-E or GT models got a 1.8-liter DOHC Mazda four-cylinder rated at 127 horsepower, while all the other American Escorts that year came with this 1.9-liter Ford CVH and its 88 horses.

Wagons deserve manual transmissions, and that’s what this car has. A four-speed automatic was available in several option packages or as a standalone purchase for $732 ($1,610 after inflation).

This car was a platform sibling to the Mazda 323 aka Protegé, which made it a close cousin to the 1991-1994 Mercury Capri. Its Mercury-badged twin was the Tracer.

Station wagons were on their way out of favor with American consumers in 1993, nearly a decade after the first Chrysler minivans and Jeep XJ Cherokees appeared, two years after the debut of the Ford Explorer and the model year of the first Jeep Grand Cherokees. Three years later, the Toyota RAV4 showed up in the United States, followed by the Honda CR-V a year after that, ensuring that Escort-sized wagons didn’t have much longer to live on showroom floors.

This deeply offensive bumper sticker was the creation of the late Frank T. Kostecki, an Ohio fur trapper and businessman who owned Kosky’s Trading Post in Sullivan and offered a full line of stickers promoting the consumption of roadkill possum.

Ford still hadn’t gone to six-digit odometers on the Escort by the time this one was built, so we can’t know its final mileage total.

Your friendly Northwest Ford dealer would toss in air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and a luggage rack at no extra cost!

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Junkyard Gem: 1998 Cadillac DeVille Tuxedo Collection

Cadillac began using the de Ville name (which means about the same thing as “town car” but is more French and thus classier) in the late 1940s, becoming a model name in its own right for the 1959 model year. The seventh generation of the Cadillac de Ville was sold for the 1994 through 1999 model years, and many of these cars received dealer-installed aftermarket packages to increase their general opulence. Here’s one of those cars, with the E&G Classics “Tuxedo Collection” treatment applied, found in a South Carolina car graveyard a few rows away from a Toyota Avalon with nearly a million miles on its odometer.

Cadillac went through many variations of this model name over the decades, including de Ville, De Ville, DeVille and Deville. For most of the 1959-1993 period, the two-doors were named some version of “Coupe de Ville” while the “Sedan de Ville” name went on four-doors. The two-door was dropped after 1993 and eventually the model ended up being simply the DeVille. After the DeVille name itself got the axe in 2005, production of what amounted to the same car continued with DTS badging through 2011.

The 1994-1999 DeVille lived on the same platform as the front-wheel-drive Seville, after a decade of being a cousin to the Buick Park Avenue and Oldsmobile 98. It weighed just a hair over two tons.

For 1994 and 1995, the DeVille was powered by the 4.9-liter version of the pushrod Cadillac High Technology V8 engine, then received the DOHC Northstar V8 until the final DTSs were sold as 2011 models. This one is a 4.6-liter rated at 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet.

Padded roofs, landau or otherwise, had fallen out of mainstream car-shopper favor by the late 1990s, and even the Brougham name had been dumped by Cadillac by that time (as far as I can tell, the final Brougham-badged car available in the world was the early-2000s Nissan Cedric VIP Brougham). That’s where Cadillac dealers stepped in, and Washington D.C.-area-based E&G Classics provided a Tuxedo Collection by E&G kit for those dealers to install.

E&G wasn’t the only outfit providing such services for dealers selling seventh-generation Cadillac DeVilles; I found a 1995 Sedan DeVille St. Tropez Edition, featuring non-padded landau roof and special badging, a few months ago in Denver.

Both today’s Junkyard Gem and the St. Tropez DeVille were sold out of Don Massey’s mighty Cadillac empire.

The E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille got this body-color grille.

The heyday of the full padded vinyl roof for Detroit was the 1970s, and owners of the E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille were able to flaunt their style in true 1979 fashion.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The average age of Cadillac buyers plummeted the following model year, when the Yukon Denali-derived Escalade hit showrooms.

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Junkyard Gem: 1998 Plymouth Voyager Expresso

For the 1994 Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler brought a Neon-based concept car that looked like something families would drive around the Mars Base in the year 2094. This was the Plymouth Expresso, and you’d never have guessed that the Plymouth Division itself would be terminated just seven years later while gazing at its whimsical shape. As often happens with concept cars, the Expresso’s design itself was a dead end (though some claim it influenced the later Chrysler PT Cruiser), but its name survived… on an option package.

As the 1990s began, Chrysler felt Plymouth remained relevant despite few American car shoppers understanding that the brand was supposed to live below Dodge in the company’s prestige hierarchy. The PT Cruiser originally was planned as a Plymouth, and the Prowler really did start out bearing the badging of the Chrysler division named after a brand of twine popular with 1920s farmers.

The first use of the Expresso name on a Plymouth came in the 1996 model year, when Plymouth Neon and Breeze buyers could get the Expresso Package for $375 (about $762 in 2024 dollars). The reviewer for Edmunds was scathing about “a new transparently-named Expresso package aimed at so-called Generation X buyers who supposedly spend all their time slacking off at the Coffee Plantation sipping java.” By 1998, every single Plymouth model except the Prowler could be Expresso-ized.

Expressos got these rad badges (see: Mercury Tracer Trio), body-colored trim and a halfway decent AM/FM/cassette radio. As a member of Generation X who had just hit age 30 at the time, I had no urge to trade in my 1965 Impala or 1985 CRX for a Plymouth Expresso, but my reaction may have been atypical (it wasn’t).

Under the pitiless rule of DaimlerChrysler, the Plymouth Division suffered indignity after indignity during the late 1990s. Even before the axe fell on Plymouth’s outstretched neck, the Voyager was snatched away and given Chrysler badging. The Prowler stayed a Plymouth through 2001, then spent a single overlooked year as a Chrysler.

As you can see, this Junkyard Gem is more about the Expresso Package and the decline of Plymouth than the Voyager itself, because sometimes junkyard automotive history works that way.

The Voyager was the cheapest of all the Chrysler minivans for 1998, which made it a very strong deal for the money despite the depressingly forced-cheerful Expresso badges. The MSRP for the base 1998 Voyager was $17,995, or about $34,915 in 2024 dollars; its Dodge Caravan sibling started at $20,535 ($39,843 after inflation).

This generation of Chrysler minivan (the third) was sold in the United States for the 1996 through 2000 model years. European minivan shoppers could buy them with Chrysler Voyager and, later on, Lancia Voyager badging.

Get up to $1,000 cash back! Hurry, before Plymouth itself disappears.

Wait, make that up to $2,145 back in “total values.”

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Junkyard Gem: 1997 Cadillac Catera

GM’s Cadillac Division was having a tough time in the early 1990s, with an onslaught of Lexuses and Infinitis pouring across the Pacific to steal their younger customers while high-end German manufacturers picked off their older customers. Flying an S-Class-priced model between assembly lines in Turin and Hamtramck hadn’t worked out, so why not look to the European outposts of the far-flung GM Empire for the next Cadillac? That’s how the Catera was born, and I have found a rare first-year example in a North Carolina car graveyard.

Across the Atlantic, GM’s Opel and Vauxhall were doing good business with prosperous European car buyers by selling them the sleek rear-wheel-drive Omega B (whose platform also lived beneath the Holden VT Commodore in Australia). Here was a genuine German design that competed with success against BMW and Audi on their home turf!

So, the Omega B was Americanized and renamed the Catera. Opel wasn’t a completely unknown brand to Americans at the time, since its cars were sold here with their own badging through Buick dealerships from the middle 1950s through the late 1970s (for a much shorter period, American Pontiac dealers attempted to sell Vauxhalls). Even after that, plenty of Opel DNA showed up in the products of U.S.-market GM divisions.

The Catera was by far the most affordable Cadillac for 1997, with an MSRP starting at $29,995 (about $59,113 in 2024 dollars). Being a genuine German car, it looked much more convincingly European than the DeVille ($36,995), Eldorado ($37,995) and Seville ($39,995).

Inspired by the ducks on the Cadillac emblem (they were really supposed to be martlets, mythical birds with no feet and occasionally lacking beaks), Cadillac’s marketers went after youthful car shoppers with a whimsical animated duck named Ziggy. For the 21st century, the birds were removed from the Cadillac emblem in order to attract California buyers under 45 years of age.

As we all know, the Catera flopped hard in the marketplace. What sold well in Europe turned out not to translate so well in in North America, especially when bearing the badges of such a historically prestigious brand.

The Catera’s engine was a 54-degree 3.0-liter V6 rated at 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet.

Just as had been the case with its predecessor, the Allanté, no manual transmission was available.

Americans tend to not maintain their cars as meticulously as their European counterparts, and they drive much longer distances in harsher weather conditions on worse roads, so the Catera proved much less reliable than its Omega counterparts across the ocean.

A Holden-ized version of the Catera’s chassis returned to our shores in 2004, underpinning the Pontiac GTO. This means that LS swaps into Cateras shouldn’t be too difficult…

After 2001, the Catera was gone. However, the suits at Cadillac had learned by then that pasting their badges on the GMC Yukon Denali was like having a license to print money. Rappers were rhyming about the new Cadillac truck, and the under-80 crowd flocked to Cadillac showrooms. During the 2000s, new Cadillac car models (some using members of the Catera’s 54° V6 engine family) continued the Cadillac revival, and the shameful memories of Ziggy faded.

But the junkyard never forgets, so let’s watch some more Catera commercials.

Hey, Cindy Crawford listened to Ziggy the Duck!

Ziggy also worked as a personal trainer.

Isn’t it time you took a test drive?

Wait, Opel says it should survive 10,000 miles of abuse in Arizona.

Those Omega owners sure have fun.

The Vauxhall version had 69 billion possibilities in its security codes, and it was pronounced “OH-muh-guh.”

Just the thing to drive around a surreal desert.

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Junkyard Gem: 1990 Geo Prizm GSi

GM created the Geo brand in order to sell vehicles built and/or designed by its Japanese partners: Suzuki, Isuzu and Toyota. The Geo Prizm was sibling to Toyota’s E90 Sprinter and built at the NUMMI plant in California from the 1990 through 1997 model years (after which it became a Chevrolet through 2002). For 1990 through 1992, a high-performance version of the Prizm called the GSi was available, and I’ve found a rare hatchback version in a Colorado wrecking yard.

Though the Prizm was based on the Corolla-related JDM Toyota Sprinter, it was mechanically identical to same-year Corollas then being sold in the United States (and built on the same assembly line in Fremont). The powertrain in the Prizm GSi is what was bolted into the same-year U.S.-market Corolla GT-S.

In this case, that means a “red top” 4A-GE DOHC 1.6-liter straight-four, rated at 130 horsepower.

A five-speed manual was base equipment, but this car has the optional four-speed automatic.

The hatchback Prizm, which was based on the JDM Sprinter Cielo, was built for just the 1990 and 1991 model years. I’ve found a few Prism GSi notchback sedans during my junkyard travels, but this is the first hatchback version.

NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated) in the San Francisco Bay Area was GM’s Fremont Assembly plant from 1963 through 1982 prior to becoming a joint Toyota-GM venture in 1984. NUMMI shut down in 2010 after the final Corolla was built there, after which it became the Tesla Factory. I had a warehouse job during the summer of 1989 that involved delivering paint filters to NUMMI, so perhaps I hauled the filters that strained the paint that went on this very car.

This one is well-equipped, with air conditioning and a decent-for-1990 AM/FM/cassette deck boasting Dolby, digital tuning and auto-reverse.

It traveled just short of 175,000 miles during its career, which is pretty good for a car of its era but not very impressive compared to some of the extreme-high-mile junkyard Toyotas I’ve documented. Members of the Corolla family, being cheaper than Camrys, Avalons, Previas and so forth, tend to get thrown away before reaching 300,000 miles (though I’ve found a 322k-mile 1990 Prizm, a 315k-mile 1991 Corolla wagon and a 311k-mile 1996 Corolla sedan in boneyards).

Starting with the 1993 model year, the Prizm became an E100 Sprinter and the GSi version got the axe.

More power than the Civic, a better warranty than the Corolla, cheaper than the BMW 3 Series.

Oldsmobile hired Leonard Nimoy to pitch its futuristic machinery, but Geo got Harlan Ellison.

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Junkyard Gem: 1992 Volkswagen EuroVan CL

Volkswagen is once again in the van-selling business in the United States, after a best-forgotten period of attempting to sell rebadged Chrysler minivans plus the occasional teasing of vans that we never got here. The last gasp for the good old VW Transporter aka VW Bus here was the fourth-generation model, known in North America as the EuroVan and sold from the 1992 through 2003 model years. Here’s a first-year EuroVan, found in a Denver-area knacker’s yard recently.

The EuroVan had to compete against increasingly popular SUVs plus a huge range of affordable minivans from Detroit and Japan, so not many made it to our shores and they are quite rare in junkyards today. I find quite a few third-generation Transporters (aka Vanagons) during my junkyard travels, as well as the occasional second-generation model, but years go by between EuroVan sightings.

This one was built for new sale in Canada. I find Canadian-market cars in United States junkyards regularly, including a 1985 Peugeot 505, a 1991 Honda Civic, a 1997 Acura EL and a 2004 Acura EL. It’s legal for a Canadian- or Mexican-registered vehicles to drive in the United States for one year, after which it must return home or get proper registration in the United States. Since 1992 is well before the 25-year federal importation limit, this van might have been imported legally after 2017.

The instrument cluster was gone, so I didn’t see the telltale km/h speedometer, but the transmission type suggested that the original buyer of this van purchased it across the border. EuroVans with five-speed manual transmissions were sold in the United States, but few bought them.

The engine is a 2.5-liter gasoline-burning straight-five, rated at 109 horsepower. Since this van scales in at just under two tons, it would have been firmly within the tradition of excruciatingly slow VW Transporters.

It’s never a good sign for junkyard engine shoppers when you see spare engine parts inside the vehicle.

EuroVan sales in the United States continued through 2003, and these vans still have their devoted zealots enthusiasts in the United States today. There are two of them that park on the street in my Denver neighborhood, though I’m sure those Transporters don’t impress the owners of the half-dozen Vanagon Syncros who also live within a few blocks.

It’s definitely not a minivan, according to VWoA’s marketers.

Nothing mini about it!

When you do some serious begetting, you require something bigger than a Passat.

VW never gave up on the Transporter for Europe.

Just the thing for hard work.

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Junkyard Gem: 1995 Kia Sephia

Kia is a well-established brand in the United States today, with Kias seen all over our roads. The Kia brand only showed up here just about 30 years ago, though, and the very first ones were Sephia sedans. Here’s one of those now-rare cars, found in a Denver-area self-service car graveyard recently.

I’d been looking for a discarded 1994-1996 Sephia for years, but they were cheap and disposable cars and most got crushed long ago; the second-generation (1997-2003) models are much easier to find today. Then I got a tip from Mason, the knowledgeable aficionado of unappreciated Centennial State iron who runs the excellent Unloved Cars of Colorado Instagram account, about a Sephia with a 1994 build date in a local boneyard. He’d seen a listing for this car a bit earlier when it was up for sale on Facebook Marketplace and saved screenshots. Yes, a running, driving car with not-so-expired tags and just a few minor problems wouldn’t sell even with such a low price tag! What’s wrong with the world?

The build tag shows that it rolled out of the Hwaseong plant in August 1994, which was six months after four dealerships in Portland, Oregon, began selling the Sephia. Other Kia dealerships opened up elsewhere in the Western United States later that year, and today’s Junkyard Gem was sold during that period. Those of you who know old Fords might notice that the build tag sticker on the driver’s door is nearly identical to those applied to Dearborn machinery from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, and there’s a good reason for that.

Kia Motors got started in the car business by license-building vehicles in South Korea for other companies, mostly Mazdas but also Peugeots and Fiats. Then Ford partnered with Kia to build an Americanized version of the Kia Pride, itself based on the Mazda 121, which was sold here as the Ford Festiva for the 1988 through 1993 model years (and, after the Pride entered its second generation, as the 1994-1997 Ford Aspire).

Here’s the build tag for a 1990 Festiva, which uses exactly the same sticker as the ones that went onto 1990s Kias. Why re-invent the wheel decal, even if Ford’s DSO codes are totally meaningless on a Kia?

The Kia was joined by the Sportage mini-SUV later in 1995. Then Kia Motors declared bankruptcy in 1997 and was gobbled up by the Hyundai Motor Company in 1998. After that, Kias became increasingly Hyundized.

How cheap was this car? It’s a base-model RS with manual transmission, so its MSRP would have been $8,495 (about $17,722 in 2024 dollars). The 1995 Hyundai Elantra sedan started at $10,199 ($21,277 after inflation), while the base Saturn SL sedan (which almost nobody bought) could be had for as little as $9,995 ($20,951 today).

This SOHC 16-valve engine sure looks like a member of the Mazda B family, and that’s exactly what it is. Displacement is 1.8 liters, output was 125 horsepower and 108 pound-feet.

An automatic transmission added $950 ($1,982 today) to the cost of the 1995 Sephia, so the original purchaser of this car stuck with the base five-on-the-floor manual.

Air conditioning? Not for 850 bucks, thanks very much (that’s 1,773 of today’s bucks).

There’s a 1997 Air Force Academy parking sticker on the bumper, so it would seem that this car has lived all or most of its life in Colorado.

Phil Long Kia in Colorado Springs is still in business today.

It’s not a gem in the sense that it was a great car (though the case can be made that it was a pretty good value for the money when it was new), but it’s a gem of automotive history for sure.

Why not take on the Honda Civic right off the bat? The cheapest possible Civic sedan for 1995 was the DX, which had an MSRP of $11,980 (about $24,992 today). Of course, 1990s Hondas tended to last for many, many, many, many miles, but it’s best to aim high when you’re a newcomer.

This commercial is a blatant ripoff (or homage, if you prefer) of the famous 1969 AMC Rebel “Driving School” ad, right down to the horn-rim glasses on the instructor.

The Sephia’s home-market TV commercials got screaming engines and macho voiceovers. Seh-PEE-yah!

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Junkyard Gem: 1999 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

When Chevrolet introduced the Camaro for the 1967 model year, Pontiac got its own version at the same time (in contrast to Mercury, which had to wait a few years to start selling Mustang-sibling Cougars). This was the Firebird, which stayed in production until both it and the Camaro were discontinued after the 2002 model year. Today’s Junkyard Gem is a base Firebird coupe from the final fourth generation, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

These days, first- and second-generation (1967-1969 and 1970-1981) Firebirds are all but impossible to find in the big self-service wrecking yards, while the 1982-1992 third-generation cars still show up from time to time. Those looking for discarded 1994-2002 Firebirds have a somewhat easier time, though sales numbers were never great compared to those of the earlier cars.

The fourth-generation Camaros and Firebirds were very quick with V8 engines, but the base powerplants in the cheaper versions were always V6s. For 1996 through 2002, that engine was the good old 3.8-liter Buick pushrod V6, with ancestry extending all the way back to the 215-cubic-inch aluminum V8 that had its debut in 1961. That’s what’s in this car.

This one was rated at a pretty strong 200 horsepower and 225 pound-feet, which was more powerful than the beefiest optional V8s available in the 1982-1984 Firebirds. If you bought a 1999 Formula or Trans Am, you got a genuine 5.7-liter LS V8, rated at 305 (320 with Ram Air) horsepower and 335 pound-feet.

A five-speed manual was standard equipment in the 1999 Firebird with V6 (buyers of the V8-equipped cars could choose between a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic), and that’s what’s in this car.

This car has the optional T-top roof.

The MSRP for this car was $18,250, or about $34,828 in 2024 dollars.

The V6 version didn’t get much advertising time on TV.

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