Ah, Friday again – and time for another Junkyard Outtake! It’s a great day to be a CC reader, but a bad day to be an inoperable Saab, BMW, Audi, Volvo, or Mercedes.
This week, we venture off the U-Pull’s beaten paths, and head into the vast uncharted wilderness known as the Import Section – a place where anything goes, and everything’s for sale (provided it unbolts… sorry, no torches allowed).
Let’s see what surprises await!
Last week I was in need of some cheap tires for a car I was working on. And since rubber is an equal-opportunity commodity, I decided to see if some good ones were hiding on any of these foreign cars.
Be aware, my vehicular expertise pertains almost exclusively to GM products, so I may well be overlooking things. If you see something I missed, know that it’s not intentional – and please jump down to the Comments section and point it out for the benefit of all.
Okay, now… let’s get to it!
Let’s start off with a bang – a fitting contrast to this 9-5’s days of service, which likely ended with a whimper.
No body damage. Which do you suppose got it – sludge, head gasket, or failed transmission?
Judging by the driver’s seat, I’d say this one put down plenty of miles before arriving here.
This little red Beemer once had a lot going for it – bright color, two doors, three pedals, and a six cylinder good for 160hp. But now? Not so much.
Off with its head!
Too bad. Especially considering that it’s not falling-apart rusty, I bet some ChumpCar team would have been all over it. (There’s actually a participating track up in Brainerd, just a couple hours north of this yard.)
All-wheel drive may get you moving on snowy roads, but it won’t make you stop any quicker. Just ask this A8’s former owner.
That looks like all kinds of not-fun to work on.
Dummy lights. Can you ever have enough?
Window! Wait, that’s not a window – that’s a piece of plastic sheeting coated in silver spray-paint.
Pretty basic interior.
No turbo here.
Chalk up one more 9000 sighting.
I’m a bit surprised to see a flash of red still greeting me under this hood. Aren’t direct ignition cassettes still a “money” part?
No surprises here… tan leather and an auto-tragic transaxle.
At least it still has one of its trademark three-spoke alloy wheels.
Better make that two of its trademark alloy wheels.
What is this – Junk Your Silver Audi day?
This A4 was only a few rows away from its bigger sibling.
Junkyard intake. Straight body. Not good signs, mechanically speaking.
If this one’s leather is any indication, it lived a full life prior to whatever issue took it down.
I noticed this insignia on the wheel. Is that like finding an “M” on a BMW, or just standard badging?
What’s better than one rusted-out Volvo wagon?
No Two rusted-out Volvo wagons!
At least this one still has all its glass.
Backwards on the stinger… niiiice. (Remember when I said it had all its glass? Looks like I stand corrected.)
True to form, this wagon has covered over 328,000 miles.
Bang! Another Saab.
Turbo? What turbo?
Another one with cracking leather an an automatic. Looks like someone took a gamble on the SID – the only interior part that’s been sold so far.
Too bad so few of these first-gen 9-3s make it to old age, what with the sludge epidemic… this one’s top, front clip, and other normally sought-after parts are in great shape.
Our tour ends with this diesel Benz, a ’79 300D that was manually two-toned with a rattle can by a former owner. I would have shot more of it, but someone was hard at work under its hood.
Next week’s Junkyard Outtake will take us back to the Back Forty for more old iron. What section will we do next? Check back and find out!
That badge on the A4’s wheel signifies it to be one fitted with the Sport Package, so nothing too special (I think it consisted of the 3 spoke wheel, sports seats, firmed up suspension, and the bigger alloys).
Spot the early Saturn SL behind the “imports” sign.
… and another next to the convertible Saab.
I’d hazard a guess the A4 was done in by a failed automatic transmission. The ZF 5 speed was used in a variety of high end cars and rebuilt units cost more than a complete B5 A4 in working condition. Not sure about the Audi, but the VW version had “lifetime” transmission fluid. VAG’s definition of “lifetime” was 100,000 miles, give or take 20k.
I think that’s a ’96 or ’97 A4 and the Sport wheel was a standalone option. Those seats look like the regular bolsters and the 5-spokes were the standard fitment in the beginning for the 2.8 V6 with quattro (12 valve, not the later 30 valve). In ’98 I think the sport package got 7-spoke wheels and then it was changed again with the facelift for 2000 (10-spoke sport wheels).
Either way it’s a great wheel, my 95.5 S6 had one, and it did feel nicer than the 4-spoke on my ’93 S4.
I love your junkyard outtakes, Keith. Wandering through junkyards is really one of life’s great pleasures.
Seeing Saabs like these always remind of that Seinfeld episode with the obsessive mechanic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEsERIcTeB4
That red BMW 325 brings back memories of the huge crush I had on these about 1984-85. Too far out of my price range at the time, unfortunately.
Is that first silver Audi an A8? Those things have scared me ever since I got a case where one was in a moderate collision. The cost of repairs was absolutely eye-popping (like $40K kind of eye-popping). A co-worker’s A6 was ridiculous enough in repair costs, I cannot imagine trying to keep one of these on the road.
Are those really Saturns in the foreign section? I thought I counted 3 – one next to the opening car, one next to the Volvo 240 and one next to the Saab vert. If a GM division counted for a “furrin car” in Minnesota, then poor Saturn had no hope from the beginning.
Yes, all the Saturns are kept in the foreign section at this yard… always have been. I never understood that, either. (Geos live in the foreign department, too, but that one’s understandable given their Suzuki roots.)
Nice tour, Keith. Too bad cars have changed over to electronic odometers, part of the interesting and useful info is going away. How do you determine how many miles are on the trans, head, etc. if you are looking in a U-Pull with no key or battery, or if the car is missing wiring to allow display to appear?
You generally don’t. At that point, you’re looking for clues and taking an educated guess based on wear.
However, there are two tricks I like to use:
1) Look for an oil change sticker. So easy, yet so many people don’t notice.
2) Carfax it. During those times of year when I’m most likely to be attending salvage auctions, I buy monthly access to a vehicle history report service. With smartphone in hand, I can look up any VIN I want – including junkyard cars. Gotta get my money’s worth somehow 🙂
How much does the monthly CARFAX subscription run?
I don’t know about carfax but autocheck.com is $50.00/month.
Good tips! Everything seems like it has to be more difficult these days. Thanks!
You can get a rough estimate of mileage from looking at the wear on the brake pedal. The condition of the upholstery on the driver’s seat is another giveaway, although some brands hold up much better than others. An older Mercedes with MBTex seats will look just about the same at 500k as it does at 50k.
Old Audis and BMWs are ridiculously cheap to buy here and you are seeing why right here the beemer might have had a good cylinder head quite a prize for one of those, and Audis just stop expensively at any given moment.
I’m pretty sure I’ve ridden in that particular 300D
Also, Saturn… The official car of Minnesotans who didn’t want a St. Paul built Ranger.
We are just now reaching the point where you can step out of your house and *not* see a Saturn chug by.
Maybe in the Cities. Up north here, they’re still a common sight, don’t ‘cha know. (Though most of them by now are lacking exhaust and have at least one bashed plastic body panel.)
Now that the majority of the final Grand Ams have passed on, I can attest Saturns are THE Twin Cities Cockroach of the Road™
(Plastic doesn’t rust is my theory, and I’m sticking to it)
Ironically, I can relate. Growing up, the neighbors across the street bought His and Hers “pairs” of cars throughout my growing up. One day the Dodge Shadows disappeared and along came two Saturn SL sedans. They never had anything but Saturns from then on for as long as I grew up at home.
I’ve met several people that did the “his and hers” Saturn thing. One of my customers at my last job drove a pristine blue 2000ish SL1 auto and the husband had filthy silver 1998ish SL2 stick, both purchased new and still chugging along.
My personal favorite was a couple I worked with years ago. The husband was legally blind so the wife did all the driving in her 1992 SC1 manual that they purchased new. At 300,000 miles the thing still looked brand new, goofy 90’s vinyl ‘graphics’ and all. I offered to buy it and she responded with “Over my dead body!” I saw them tooling around in it as recently as last year, so its probably going strong yet.
Jerry Lundagaard should have sold Saturns, haha.
I wonder if that Volvo station wagon was repurposed as a van. I saw another Volvo with a similar cover over the back windows over the summer which belonged to a handyman. So many Saabs, I once remember hearing that some of the charities that take donated cars don’t accept them.
Let me chime in about the Volvos, since I’m a longtime enthusiast of the Swedish chariots.
The first wagon is a 1990 740 GL. The second wagon is a 1991 240.
Okay I’ll describe the cars in-depth.
The first wagon, the 1990 740 GL, doesn’t have that much rust on it because Volvo built those cars to such a very high standard that every crevice on that body was sealed, galvanized and undercoated. I can distinguish a ’90 from a ’91 (the year of my own 740) because the ’90 was the first year to have a restyled front end that consisted of composite headlights and a new plastic grille. It was also the only year to combine said new front end with the 1985-era interior. Volvo redesigned the instrument cluster and dashboard for 1991. That ’90 also has HVAC controls that are slider-style levers – in ’91, the HVAC controls were changed to rotary-style. The exterior door handles are chrome because that’s what all the 700 Series cars (except for Turbo models) came with from the beginning – for ’91, the handles became black, Turbo-style. The pictured wagon has the proven B230F “red-block” 4-cylinder engine, displacing 2.3 liters and producing 114 hp at 5800 rpm, and 136 lb.-ft. of torque at 2750 rpm.
The second wagon, the 1991 240, is in that yard because either the transmission or rear end is bad. There’s only so many miles that an Aisin-Warner 70 automatic and Dana rear end can travel without causing a problem. The previous top-line 240 trim level, the DL, was dropped for ’91, leaving the base and limited-production SE wagon as the only trims available. Power windows also became standard that year. I can tell that is a ’91 model because of the speedometer – the 55-mph line is marked in red. For ’92-’93, the line became white, like the rest of the speedometer markings, because the U.S. government had repealed the old 55 mph law enacted during the Carter administration. Upon closer examination of the interior, I saw that the a/c switch is the rocker-type pushbutton style – that switch denotes a 240 made between ’91 and ’93. Volvo installed a larger, more powerful a/c system borrowed from GM for the later 240s. 1990 and prior 240s used a rotary-type control to turn on the a/c, which was weaker and much less efficient.
Hope this answers any questions concerning the two Volvos.
I’m impressed that most of these cars seem to have quite high mileage, but are relatively body rot free. With the exception of the Volvo 240 wagon, and the green Saab 9000, of course. The others look quite impressive, including their paint and interiors.
I enjoyed and appreciated this. Thank you Keith!
So much I could salvage from that 9-3: HVAC controls, rear lamps (nice upgrade), chrome handles. Then it would be the indicators, would be cool to have the US market ones down here (although VicRoads may not agree with that)