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Category: Ford

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: 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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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: 2003 Ford Focus ZTS Centennial Edition

The very first car produced by the Ford Motor Company was the 1903 Model A. 100 years later, Ford decided to build some special Centennial Edition cars and trucks. Ford shoppers could get five Centennial Edition models for 2003: the Taurus, Mustang, Explorer, F-250/F-350 and Focus. All were painted black, the only color available for the 1914-1925 Model T. I’ve been searching for a Centennial Edition Ford over many years of junkyard exploration and finally found this Focus in a Denver-area yard.

Some junkyard visitor before me pried off the special fender and decklid badges, but the “two-tone signature Centennial Leather” seats were still there.

Sadly, the special Centennial Edition key chain, hardcover edition of “The Ford Century” book, wristwatch and letter from Bill Ford weren’t inside the car.

This Junkyard Gem is in rough shape, so here’s what it looked like in the sales brochure. The only previous Focus in this series was an ’02 Mach Audio, so we were overdue.

While the Centennial Edition Mustang was available in either coupe or convertible form, all the Centennial Edition Foci were ZTS sedans.

4,000 each of the Centennial Edition Taurus and Explorer were built, with only 3,000 apiece for the Focus, Mustang and F-Series.

100 years is quite a milestone for a car company, but plenty of special-edition cars for other production anniversaries have been built and I’ve documented many of them in car graveyards. There’s the 50th Anniversary Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight (commemorating a half-century of the 88 model), the XC Edition Oldsmobile Ciera (commemorating 90 years of Oldsmobile), the 40th Anniversary Pontiac Grand Prix, the 30th Anniversary Pontiac Grand Am, the 10th Anniversary Black Red Edition Datsun 280ZX, the 50th Anniversary Nissan 300ZX (commemorating 50 years of Nissan), the 25th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro, the 30th Anniversary Mercury Cougar and many more. It’s too bad Studebaker isn’t around anymore, because 2040 will be the 300th anniversary of the first horse-drawn wagon built by Peter Stutenbecker in the British Province of Maryland.

This being a ZTS, the top-grade 2003 Focus sedan available in the United States, it has the 130-horsepower DOHC Zetec engine.

Its 1903 predecessor had a clutchless two-speed planetary transmission to go with its two-cylinder pushrod boxer engine, but this car has a more modern five-speed manual.

The Focus remained in American Ford showrooms through 2018, then got the axe because “silhouettes are changing.” You can still buy a new Focus elsewhere in the world, though; it’s built on the same platform as the current Maverick.

When some hooptie early-1980s GM sedan tries to spray your new black Focus with no-doubt-contaminated washer fluid, you know what to do.

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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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From decay to dazzling: Ford restores grandeur to Detroit train station

DETROIT — The once-blighted monolithic Michigan Central Station — for decades a symbol of Detroit’s decline — has new life following a massive six-year, multimillion-dollar renovation to create a hub for mobility projects in the rebirth of the Motor City.

The windowless, hulking, scavenger-ravaged structure that ominously shadowed the city’s Corktown neighborhood is now home to Ford Motor Co. and the centerpiece of a sprawling 30-acre (12-hectare) mobility innovation district.

The old train station’s first tenant, Google’s Code Next Detroit computer science education program, is expected to move in by late June. Grand opening ceremonies include an outdoor concert on Thursday, with tours for the public starting Friday.

“The train station … it is perhaps the most powerful story in Michigan of the power of historic renovation,” Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Sandy Baruah said. “To turn something that was blight into something that is hugely attractive and is an anchor as opposed to a deficit is huge.”

The restoration effort — part of the automaker’s more than $900 million project to create a place where new transportation and mobility ideas are nurtured and developed — was just as massive as the size of the more than century-old, 500,000-square-foot building.

In numbers:

  • More than 3,100 workers spent about 1.7 million hours of labor on the station and its surrounding public spaces.
  • 29,000 Gustavino tiles were restored in its Grand Hall.
  • 8.6 million miles of new grout was laid across the 21,000-square-foot ceiling.
  • 8 million bricks, 23,000 square feet of marble flooring and 90,000 square feet of decorative plaster were restored or replicated.
  • 3.5 million gallons of water was pumped from the basement.
  • Installation of 300 miles of electrical cable and wiring and 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) of plumbing.

“It was always my hope that this project would be a catalyst for moving the city and our industry together into the future,” Bill Ford, the automaker’s executive chair and great-grandson of its legendary founder, Henry Ford, told The Associated Press last week. “It’s always the future. We’re just getting started, now. Took a long time for us to get here and a lot of hard work and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point.”

The train station’s history reflects the city’s fortunes during its heyday as the world’s car capital and later misfortunes as thousands of autoworkers and other residents fled Detroit for life in the suburbs.

Michigan Central Railroad started purchasing land around 1908 in Corktown, the city’s oldest neighborhood, for the new train station, according to HistoricDetroit.org. The depot opened in late 1913. But as traveling by train gave way to commuter air travel and as more Americans chose to use the nation’s interstates, the numbers of people coming through Michigan Central steadily dropped.

The last train pulled out in 1988, and for years after the building fell into disrepair, neglect and abandonment. It became a destination for the curious and urban adventurers seeking out such places. Other buildings in Detroit, particularly factories, suffered the same or similar fate, but due to Michigan Central’s size it became a symbol of the city’s decline.

Redevelopment by its former owner never materialized. Then in 2018, Ford announced it was buying the 18-story building and adjacent structures as part of its plans for a more than 1 million square foot campus focusing on autonomous vehicles.

“There’s a lot of innovation going on here,” said Jim Farley, Ford chief executive. “Very much the future of the company is going to be housed here and on the campus. It represents our future revenues.”

The project is expected to bring with it thousands of tech-related jobs. Restaurants, new hotels and other service-industry businesses already are moving into and near Corktown.

In December, state officials announced three proposed housing development efforts intended to meet housing needs around Michigan Central and the innovation district.

Michigan Central and several other efforts around Detroit are expected to accelerate southeastern Michigan’s innovation economy, said Baruah, who added that the building and the surrounding campus will help draw the best and most innovative minds to the area.

“It’s really an attraction play. It’s about talent,” he said.

The reopening of the train station also comes as Detroit apparently has turned the corner from national joke to national attraction. Nearly a decade from exiting its embarrassing bankruptcy, the motor city has stabilized its finances, improved city services, staunched the population losses that saw more than a million people leave since the 1950s, and made inroads in cleaning up blight across its 139 square miles.

Detroit now is a destination for conventions and meetings. Last month, Detroit set an attendance record for the NFL draft after more than 775,000 fans poured into downtown last month for the three-day event.

The buzz about Detroit “is very different nationally,” Bill Ford said.

“I think when people see a project like this it’ll really put an exclamation on that,” he added. “And when we’re trying to recruit people from around the country and around the world, wouldn’t you say to them then, ’Come to Detroit and let me show you where you can work and play and live, and also live affordably.’”

The significance of Michigan Central’s rebirth is not lost on Mayor Mike Duggan, whose administration has guided Detroit back to respectability since the city’s 2014 exit from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

“I’ve been waiting 40 years for this day and so have all long-time to Detroiters, so it’s going to be very special,” Duggan said last week. “It’ll be a very emotional day.”

“The abandoned train station was the national symbol of Detroit’s decline and bankruptcy,” he explained. “It was on the cover of Time magazine under the headline ‘bankruptcy.’ So the fact that not only has the city come back, but that the train station has come back in such a spectacular way and the place where we’re going to be designing the automobiles of the future. It’s now about the future, not about the past.”

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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: 1995 Mazda B4000 LE Cab Plus

Starting in 1972, Ford began selling Mazda Proceed pickups with Courier badges in the United States. At the same time, Mazda was selling the same trucks here as the B-Series. Then the Ranger replaced the Courier in 1983, while the B-Series remained available in North America through 1993. For 1994, the Mazda/Ford pickup world got flipped on its head, with a Mazda-ized Ranger taking over the B-Series name here. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of the early Ford-built Mazda pickups, found in a North Carolina car graveyard recently.

The precedent for slapping Mazda badges on U.S.-market Ford trucks began with the 1991 model year, when the brand-new Explorer went on sale as the Mazda Navajo. During the 1990s, plenty of Mazda-derived Ford and Mercury models were being sold here, including the Ford Festiva, Ford Probe, Ford Escort, Mercury Tracer and Mercury Capri, so it made sense to deepen the relationship by moving some Dearborn iron in the other direction.

But still, some in Hiroshima must have been saddened by the replacement of the proud B-Series with Ford products.

The four digits after the B in B-Series model designations referred to engine displacement in cubic centimeters, with the 1971 B1600 beginning that tradition. This truck being a B4000, it has the 4.0-liter version of the pushrod Cologne V6 engine. Output was 160 horsepower and 225 pound-feet. B2300s and B3000s were available as well.

The first appearance of the Cologne V6 in new cars sold in the United States was in the 1969 Capri, which was sold through Mercury dealers here but never given Mercury badging. The SOHC version of the Cologne 4.0 was bolted into various new U.S.-market Fords all the way through the early 2010s.

This truck is the most expensive rear-wheel-drive Mazda B-Series available for the 1995 model year, with the long wheelbase, the biggest engine, the top LE trim level and the extended Cab Plus.

Its MSRP was $16,035, or about $33,322 in 2024 dollars.

It’s in pretty good condition, with just over 100,000 miles on the clock.

The final model year for the Ranger-based Mazda B-Series pickups in the United States was 2009.

“I think I’ve shoveled more species of manure than anyone in the country.”

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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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