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Category: Chevrolet

National Corvette Museum’s newest exhibit commemorates the 2014 sinkhole


Ten years ago, a sinkhole made international news, but it wasn’t just some blank spot in a field that fell into the Earth. A 2014 sinkhole in Kentucky landed directly under the storied National Corvette Museum (NCM), the holy land for Chevy enthusiasts and a popular spot for special car deliveries and events. The museum has been repaired, and to commemorate the shocking event, it opened “Ground to Sky: The Sinkhole Reimagined,” an exhibit with some of the damaged cars and other items from the wreckage.

The natural disaster destroyed several priceless Corvettes, but the museum didn’t toss them away. Some of the exhibit’s most compelling offerings include a ZR-1 Spyder, a 1962 Corvette, and the 1.5 millionth Corvette built. There will also be the 2009 ZR-1 Blue Devil and the one-millionth car at the event.

“We are excited to open Ground to Sky: The Sinkhole Reimagined,” said NCM Board Chair Kaye Wagner. “This special exhibit allows us to reflect on the challenges we faced, and the tremendous progress we have achieved since then.”

Beyond the cars, the exhibit will also display the original sinkhole and the boulder that fell on a rare Corvette model. The museum also plans to detail its recovery efforts, including the process taken to repair the sinkhole and capital improvements made to the on-site restaurant and gallery. Visitors will also get an overview of the museum’s history before the sinkhole, and tickets come with admission to the Skydome, which overlooks the boulder.

If you’re hoping to make the exhibit part of your summer road trip or vacation plans, you have until September 15 to visit. Tickets aren’t super expensive, but the museum offers several upgrades that can push the price to well over $100, depending on the visitor’s selection. You can take a ride in a Corvette racing simulator for $15, and guided tours cost an extra $10.



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Best used trucks to buy in 2024


American car buyers have an almost unbelievable affinity for pickup trucks of all shapes and sizes. For just about as long as pretty much anyone reading this can likely remember, the best-selling vehicles overall in the United States have been trucks, led for 42 years by the Ford F-Series (it’s been the best-selling truck for 47 consecutive years), closely followed by competitors like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ram and GMC Sierra lineups. This being the case, it certainly won’t come as a surprise to see that the best-selling used vehicles in America are also trucks. But which used trucks are the best used trucks to buy in 2024?

iSeeCars, an online resource that bills itself as “a data-driven car search and research company” analyzed over 9.2 million used car sales from the past five model years (that would start in 2018 and end in 2022). After compiling all the numbers, the researchers calculated each vehicle model’s share of used car sales. You can see the list of the best-selling used pickup trucks down below, but before we get to that, let’s highlight some of the used truck buys in America.

Best used trucks to buy in 2024

 

Best used truck under $10,000: 2005-2011 Dodge and Ram Dakota

Dodge Dakota for sale

The Dodge Dakota, which in its final few years was known as the Ram Dakota, with its standard 3.7-liter V6 won’t win any drag races — the optional V8s offered more power, naturally — but a decent Dakota offers the ability to haul and tow for just about the lowest price point in America.

Best full-size truck under $10,000: 2008-2012 Nissan Titan

Nissan Titan for sale

If you need a larger truck than the Dodge Dakota or need to tow heavy loads, your best bet may be an older Nissan Titan with its 5.6-liter V8 engine.

Best used truck under $15,000: Any Toyota Tacoma (but check for rust)

Toyota Tacoma for sale

The Toyota Tacoma is known for reliability and durability. High resale value is another, as well as a cramped interior and below-average comfort, even for a truck. Still, Toyota’s compact Tacoma is likely to offer more years of trouble-free service than anything else in this price range. Expect to see a lot of Tacomas with comparatively high mileage.

Best used full-size truck under $15,000: 2013 or newer Ram 1500

Ram 1500 for sale

Look for a 2013 or newer Ram, and consider choosing the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 8-speed automatic combo over the V8 and six-speed auto. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is generally a reliable engine, but it’s thirsty and this budget doesn’t allow for a truck new enough to snag the desirable V8/8-speed automatic combination.

Best used pickup truck under $20,000: 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet Silverado for sale

The Chevy Silverado is slightly more affordable than its competitor from Ford, which went to a lightweight aluminum body for the 2015 model year. GM’s V8 engine options are all very solid and have well-earned reputations for durability. The Toyota Tundra is also a solid choice, but it’s not easy to find nice options in this price range.

Best used pickup truck under $25,000: 2015-2019 Ford F-150

Ford F-150 for sale

Look for a 2015 or later Ford F-150 to take advantage of the lighter weight and great capability offered by the aluminum-intensive construction Ford switched to starting that year. Budget buyers should look for an XLT model, and Ford’s base V6 and optional 5.0-liter V8 engines are both solid choices. In fact, the F-150 with the V8 engine offers impressive payload and towing capabilities that match what heavy duty buyers were looking for just a decade or so previously.

Best used compact pickup truck under $25,000: 2016-2019 Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma for sale

A redesign of the Toyota Tacoma for the 2016 model year brought about welcome changes to the best-selling compact truck, but it’s still less refined and less comfortable than most of its competition.

Best car-like used pickup truck under $25,000: 2017-2019 Honda Ridgeline

Honda Ridgeline for sale

The Honda Ridgeline’s car-like ride and handling come courtesy of a car-like unibody design. It can’t tow like a proper full-size pickup truck, but it’s more efficient and more comfortable for daily use.

 

Best-selling used trucks over the past five years

  1. Ford F-150: 21.9% of all used truck sales
  2. Chevrolet Silverado: 17.7% of all used truck sales
  3. Ram 1500: 14.0% of all used truck sales
  4. Toyota Tacoma: 9.1% of all used truck sales
  5. GMC Sierra: 8.1% of all used truck sales

No real surprises there. The Ford F-Series is the best-selling new nameplate, and the light-duty Ford F-150 is the best-selling used vehicle overall. Ford’s popular truck takes top honors as the best-selling used vehicle in 34 out of the 50 states in America. In second spot is the Chevy Silverado (below left), which, for what it’s worth, is the best-seller in the state of Iowa.

It is interesting to note that the Ram 1500 (below right) actually fell behind the Chevrolet Equinox crossover on the overall chart that includes all vehicle types. Chevy’s compact crossover barely edged out the fullsize Ram truck for third-place when all vehicle styles were included, but the numbers were so close between the ‘ute and the pickup that they both claimed roughly 2.1% of the overall market.

“Trucks have been so dominant in the U.S. market for so long that it’s strange to see the Ram lose its top-three ranking, even to an SUV as popular as the Chevrolet Equinox,” said Karl Brauer, iSeeCars Executive Analyst, who goes on to offer a reasonable explanation. “This shift reflects the jump in gas prices during 2023, which led many consumers to move away from large trucks and SUVs and into smaller, more fuel-efficient models.”

The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling midsize pickup truck in America, easily outselling its larger sibling, the Toyota Tundra (a truck that doesn’t even crack the top 20 overall). As well as the Tacoma sells, however, it is outsold on the used market by well-known nameplates like the Toyota Camry, RAV4 and Corolla, Honda Civic and CR-V, Ford Explorer and Escape, and the Nissan Rogue and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In fifth spot on the used trucks list and 17th overall, the GMC Sierra is almost identical to the Chevrolet Silverado underneath its skin, with similar powertrains and interior technology. Combining the sales of the Silverado and Sierra would put General Motors in the top light-duty used truck position by manufacturer, ahead of Ford.

Trucks that don’t appear on the list include fullsize models like the aforementioned Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan, as well as mid-size nameplates like the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator and Nissan Frontier. The resurgence of the compact truck market, which currently consists of the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, means we could see some smaller trucks crack their way onto the list in the coming years.



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Junkyard Gem: 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 4-Door Sedan


Recently, we took a look at a solid late-production Chevy Corvair coupe in a Denver junkyard, and some readers couldn’t believe that anybody would throw away such a rare classic. Hold onto your hats, Corvair fans, because eight Corvairs just showed up in the inventory of a yard in Colorado Springs. Because we just saw a coupe from the final couple of years of Corvair production, I’ve selected an early four-door sedan from the eightsome to follow it in this series.

U-Pull-&-Pay got the model years wrong for most of these cars in their system, probably because deciphering serial numbers and build tags from the pre-17-digit-VIN era requires manufacturer-specific knowledge. All eight of these Corvairs are coupes and post sedans; none are hardtop sedans, wagons, pickups, convertibles or vans.

Corvair production came to about 2 million from the 1960 through 1969 model years, and there are still plenty of project Corvairs sitting in garages and driveways, so they’re not particularly hard to find in American wrecking yards nowadays. I’ll run across two or three per year during my junkyard explorations, but finding this many at once at a U-Pull facility is a new experience for me.

The U-Pull-&-Pay employees I asked about these cars told me that a man brought them all in at once and told them that he had quite a few more Corvairs. I’m guessing that this is the result of a Corvair enthusiast with a storage lot purging unneeded parts cars.

The Corvair, with an air-cooled rear-mounted engine, was a radical design by the Detroit standards of its era and remains the most controversial American car ever made. Sales peaked in the 1961 and 1962 model years, began a gradual decline after that, then collapsed in 1966. Production continued through 1969, but by then hardly anyone was paying attention. Perhaps you blame Ralph Nader, or GM’s clumsy attempts to squash Ralph Nader, or the government regulations inspired by Ralph Nader, or the comfortingly traditional Chevy II/Nova, or even the Renault Caravelle.

I recommend that you read Aaron Severson’s exhaustively researched and annotated Corvair history — which begins with the development of a small-car concept at GM during World War II — in order to get the full story.

This car was built during at the Oakland Assembly plant in California, where production of the Chevrolet Four-Ninety kicked off in 1916. Oakland Assembly shut down in 1963, to be replaced by Fremont Assembly (which became NUMMI in 1984 and is now the Tesla Factory) about 25 miles to the southeast. The site of Oakland Assembly is  Eastmont Town Center today.

The engine is a 145-cubic-inch (2.4-liter) air-cooled pushrod boxer-six with dual carburetors and the distinctive “around-the-corner” fan belt system that looked funky but worked well. Horsepower was 80 if you got the three- or four-speed manual transmission and 84 on cars equipped with the two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission.

This car does have the Powerglide, which was shifted via a little lever under the dash, to the left of the radio.

The optional AM-only radio was a $57 option, which comes to about $596 in 2024 dollars (and was worth it in order to listen to the top hits of 1962 on a scratchy mono dash speaker). Note the scary triangle-in-a-circle Civil Defense symbols at 640 and 1240 kHz; those indicated the CONELRAD stations that would give instructions in case Tupolev Tu-95s were on their way bearing thermonuclear bombs.

Below the AM radio is a Pace CB-143 23-channel CB radio of mid-1970s vintage. This unit was sold around the time that C.W. McCall’s CB-centric song “Convoy” was #1 in the music charts. By the way, you can download free MP3s of C.W.’s advice to truckers crossing the Rockies on Interstate 70 — called out via mile marker — via his website.

It appears that about three decades have passed since this car last saw regular use, based on this 1992 West Coast Gas magnetic dash calendar. Just by chance, the 1992 and 2024 calendars are the same, including the leap day in February, so a junkyard shopper who gets this one would find its remaining months relevant for current use.

The 700 was the mid-grade Corvair in 1962, sandwiched between the base 500 and the sporty Monza 900. The MSRP for today’s Junkyard Gem with automatic transmission would have been $2,268, or about $23,704 after inflation. A 1963 Ford Falcon Futura sedan with two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic started at $2,377 ($24,843 in today’s money), but it was a bigger car with a real coolant-fed heater.

At some point, the owner of this car proudly belonged to both the Pikes Peak Corvair Club and the Corvair Society of America.

This “VAIRFIGNEWTEN” sticker must be some Corvair Society inside joke from decades past.

Worth restoring? There’s very little rust-through plus you’d find a lot of parts donors nearby, but I think it would take at least $20,000 to turn this into a $15,000 car.

Claws at trails through the glue-like ooze of Withlacoochie Swamp! Do you think the Falcon (or Valiant) could have handled that?



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Junkyard Gem: Customized 1994 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LS Sedan


Customized Impalas and their Caprice siblings go back to the earliest models, and it’s inevitable that some of these machines will end up among the rows at your local Ewe Pullet. Today’s Junkyard Gem is such a car, a final-generation Caprice found in a Denver-area boneyard recently.

The very first Caprices were top-trim-level full-sized Chevrolets for the 1966 model year, pushing the Impala into the second tier on the big Chevy prestige pyramid (the Chevy Biscayne was the most affordable version in North America until being discontinued — in Canada — after 1975). The squared-off predecessor to the 1991-1996 Bubble aka Whale Caprice, known as the Box Caprice, was introduced as a 1977 model and continued in production all the way through 1990.

These cars were seen as throwbacks in their day, but plenty of Americans during the 1990s still wanted traditional big Detroit sedans with V8 engines, rear-wheel-drive and a generous helping of affordable cloth-and-vinyl luxury inside. These cars sold quite well to police departments, though Ford’s Crown Victoria Police Interceptor won the American cop-car long game.

Unlike the 1977-1990 Caprices, the 1991-1996 cars weren’t available in the United States with straight-six engines. In fact, all of the 1991-1996 Caprices had standard V8 power (except for the 1992-1993 9C6 versions, sold for taxi use only, which got 4.3-liter V6s).

This car was built with a 4.3-liter engine, but it’s the L99 small-block V8 that was the base engine for the 1994-1996 Caprice. In fact, it was used only in those Caprices. The 200-horse L99 looks just like the 5.7-liter small-block Chevrolet V8s that went into millions of other GM cars during the 1990s, so there’s no telling at a glance if this is the original one or a swap. Just to confuse parts-counter employees for decades to come, the Chevrolet 4.3-liter V6 was based on an earlier version of the small-block Chevrolet V8, and Oldsmobile offered a diesel 4.3 V6 that was three-quarters of the Olds 350 V8.

This car started out life with white paint but received a vivid teal re-spray at some point. Teal is a popular color in the SLAB and scraper worlds.

Most of the interior is gone by now, but we can see that the dash and door panels were given the teal treatment as well.

The flame job draws inspiration from the customs of early-1960s Los Angeles.

The hood is an aftermarket fiberglass unit from Glasstek in Illinois. You can still buy this cowl-induction hood today, for $764.48.

It appears that a minor engine-compartment fire singed this one.

The door handles have been shaved, another Southern California customization touch first popularized during the 1950s. My own chopped-and-lowered 1969 Toyota Corona coupe has shaved door handles, as is proper for a SoCal machine with a genuine Carson top.

Don’t want anyone to read the VIN on your dash? Glue a couple of pennies over the all-important sequence number!

Built in Texas by Texans.

After 1996, SUVs and the Lumina LTZ replaced the Caprice (and its Impala SS sibling) in Chevrolet showrooms in the United States. The Caprice name stayed alive elsewhere in the world, however, going on Holden-built sedans through the late 2010s. Sadly, those cars were badged as Chevrolet SSs and Pontiac G8s here.

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

Related video:



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Junkyard Gem: 2003 Chevrolet Tracker


When General Motors created the Geo brand to sell vehicles designed and — in some cases — built by Japanese partners, the first four models were introduced for the 1989 model year: the Metro (Suzuki Cultus), Prizm (Toyota Sprinter), Spectrum (Isuzu Gemini) and Tracker (Suzuki Sidekick). Geo got the axe in 1997, with the Metro, Prizm and Tracker becoming Chevrolets. Of those, the Tracker survived the longest, with U.S.-market sales continuing into 2004. Here’s an example of a very late Tracker, found in a North Carolina car graveyard recently.

The 1989-1997 first-generation Trackers were based on the Suzuki Sidekick, while the 1998-2004 Trackers had the Suzuki Vitaras (not to be confused with the much grander Grand Vitaras) as their siblings.

Production of these trucks for the South American market (as the Chevrolet Vitara) continued in Ecuador all the way through 2014. The Tracker name has also gone onto some versions of the Chevrolet Trax around the world.

This one is a base four-door hard top/rear-wheel-drive model, which had an MSRP of $17,330. That’s about $29,789 in 2024 dollars.

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

The engine is a Suzuki 2.0-liter straight-four rated at 127 horsepower and 134 pound-feet.

A five-speed manual was base equipment, but very few American vehicle shoppers wanted three pedals by the middle 2000s. This truck has the Aisin four-speed automatic.

We like it loud.

It appears that someone associated with this truck graduated from Julius L. Chambers High School last year.

In the United States, the Tracker was replaced by the Saturn Vue.

If Tracker can handle (unspecified Middle Eastern country), it can survive the jungle back home.

Siempre contigo.



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At a New York school, Soap Box Derby racing is on the curriculum


One wouldn’t ordinarily consider the Bronx as part of the country’s racing heartland. But in the insular, yet passionate, universe that revolves around soapbox cars, these neighborhoods in the northeast part of the rugged borough have become a fulcrum for soapbox competition.

With the help of a recent New York Times story about the teens and pre-teens who build their own vehicles to compete — they hope — in July’s Soap Box Derby World Championship in Akron, Ohio, racing on four small wheels has become an ultimate quest.

Times reporter Bernard Mokam centered his piece in the parking lot of Public School 111 in the Baychester neighborhood, where one recent morning about 30 soapbox derby teams, competitive elementary and middle schoolers and their teachers, assembled to continue the chase for the championship. This year, more than 50 racers from 31 schools are competing.

The event this summer, officially known as the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship, attracts nearly 400 contestants from around the world. There are more than a hundred cities where drivers vie for the title of “local champion” and the opportunity to race in Akron on this track:

All of the local races and rallies are posted on the organization’s site here. “Race Week” in Akron runs from Sunday, July 14, to Saturday, July 20. Specific information about those days, the scheduled activities and tickets can be found here.

Racing by gravity — which is what soap boxes do — dates backs to kids tossing go-karts down hills in the 1930s. Myron Scott of the Dayton Daily News, who photographed a group of young men with their homemade rides, sensed a publicity opportunity back then and eventually convinced the Chevrolet brand to sponsor a nationwide competition.

The first All-American Soap Box Derby race was held on August 19, 1934, watched by a crowd estimated at 45,000; boys from 34 cities competed in the all-day affair. Robert Turner of Muncie, Indiana, piloting a car riding on bare metal wheels with no bearings, was crowned the first All-American Champion. In 1975, Karren Stead won the World Championship, the first of many girls who would go on to claim the title, although girls had been racing in the derby for decades.

This year marks the 86th running of the race, and kids and teens ages 7 to 20 are eligible to drive in one of three divisions, decided by age.

Back in the Bronx, racing wasn’t just about the sport, the Times said, but was also “a manifestation of the science curriculum in District 11 — one of a handful of New York City districts that have turned to soapbox to engage pupils and ultimately get them excited about going to, and being in, school.”

Expenses can be high. Each soapbox car costs $1,800, which includes basic parts and related race fees. The schools in the Bronx also contribute to help pay for the winners’ trips to the championship race.

Following the team during a race, the Times found fifth-grader Jayden Trapp of P.S. 68, who faced off at the top of the hill against Valentina Ross. “In last year’s race,” the story said, “she lost in the final heat, missing out on a chance to represent P.S. 83 in Akron, Ohio. She was determined not to let that happen again. ‘You have this guilt built inside of you,’ said Valentina, a 13-year-old from the Morris Park neighborhood.”

Alas, it was not to be. The lights went green. “It was close, but Jayden outpaced Valentina, who said she was disappointed but not angry. Jayden’s burgundy soapbox car went on to victory, and this July, he will get a chance to race for the championship in Akron.”



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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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Junkyard Gem: 2014 Chevrolet Impala Limited


What does a car company do when it introduces a completely revised new generation of a vehicle even while fleet sales of its predecessor remain strong? In the case of 21st-century General Motors, you keep making both versions. That’s what GM did when the tenth-generation Chevrolet Impala had its debut as a 2014 model, continuing to build the ninth-generation Impala for fleet-only sales through 2016 and calling it the Impala Limited. Here’s one of those not-so-rare-but-still-interesting machines, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

This 2016 Chevrolet police-vehicle brochure photograph shows the Impala Limited on the left and the regular Impala on the right. The steel wheels on the Limited look better than alloys on a cop car, in my opinion.

The tenth-generation Impala had moved from the aging W Platform to the global Epsilon II platform, making it a sibling to such machines as the Opel Insignia and Saab 9-5. It was built for the 2016 through 2020 model years, making it the final Impala. That was quite a run for a model dating back to 1958.

This car is a good old W-Body, a chassis design dating back to the 1988 Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

That meant that the 2014-2016 Impala Limited was a bit shorter and much less roomy inside than the Epsilon-based 2014-2020 Impalas, but so what? Fleet mechanics had been working on W-Bodies for many years and knew them well, plus there was plenty of production capacity available.

GM had taken a similar route with the Chevrolet Classic a decade earlier; the Malibu moved over to the Epsilon platform for 2004 (making it sibling to the Saab 9-3 and Saturn Aura), while the N-Body version remained in production for fleet-only sales through 2006.

The engine in this car is a 3.6-liter High Feature DOHC V6 with variable valve timing, rated at an impressive 302 horsepower and 262 pound-feet. These cars were quick thanks to their curb weight of just over 3,600 pounds.

The only transmission available was a six-speed automatic. In fact, the final model year for a manual transmission in a U.S.-market production Impala was 1973 (when a three-speed column-shift manual was base equipment on six-cylinder cars).

I was traveling and renting cars all over the country during the Impala Limited’s heyday, in my role as wise and respected Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court, and every Lemons staffer preferred the ninth-generation Impala to all other rental options during the 2006-2016 period. Even when poorly maintained, these cars always run pretty well, plus they came with decent audio systems and plenty of engine power. In fact, we often held drag races between various rental cars on the long straights at road-race tracks; here I am officiating at a race between a rental Maxima and a rental Impala Limited at GingerMan Raceway in Michigan (the Limited won, as it nearly always did).

I always appreciated the AUX input jack in the Impala Limited’s radio when I rented these cars; this very useful feature was still fairly difficult to find in rental-spec cars during the middle 2010s.

The tenth-generation Impala was bigger inside than the Limited and rode more quietly, but I was disappointed when the ninth-gen cars departed rental fleets.

I haven’t documented any first-generation Impalas in junkyards, but I have photographed used-up examples of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh generations (including Bel Airs, Biscaynes, Caprices and other members of the Impala family).

Clinkscales Chevrolet in South Carolina had deals on ninth-gen Impalas for you!

It was a whole new animal.



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