A Treasure Trove of GemsResident junkyard adventurer Murilee Martin has discovered some pretty stunning abandoned automobiles scattered around America. And through his "Junkyard Gems" series, he always makes sure to bring back great photos and some fascinating history when he spies something good. He finds loads of these vehicles, too, so we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite finds from the last few years. In this slideshow, you'll find some of the most oddball, niche vehicles you've seen, along with a smattering of more famous classics.
1962 Plymouth Valiant"The Plymouth Valiant was built for the US market for the 1960 through 1976 model years (and until 1980 in Australia), and it proved to be a gigantic success for Chrysler during those years. The first generation of Valiant was built for 1960-62, on the sturdy and versatile Chrysler A Platform, and today's Junkyard Gem is a well-picked-over example in California." Read more.
1980 Porsche 928"The Porsche 928 was intended to be a replacement for the 911, but the all-too-familiar howls of outrage from Porsche zealots meant that the rear-engined car stayed in the lineup during the 928's entire 1978-1995 production run and to the present day. You hear a lot of talk these days about every example of the 928 being worth big bucks, no matter how trashed, but I still see quite a few in the cheap self-service wrecking yards of the American West. Here's an '80, found in a San Francisco Bay Area yard not long ago." Read more.
1977 Ford Mustang II Ghia"The first-generation Ford Mustang started out as a pretty small Falcon sibling, then put on bulk every year until the cartoonish 3000-pound-plus 1973 models. For the 1974 Mustang, Ford switched to the compact Pinto platform... which turned out to be excellent timing, what with the nightmare energy crisis of late 1973. The bad news was that the Mustang II was, well, a Pinto underneath." Read more.
1983 AMC Eagle"In Denver, you own a dog and a Subaru: it's the law. Go back a few decades, however, and Subarus were considered quirky little edge-case cars, rust-prone and far out of the mainstream. Back in the Malaise Era, if you wanted a vehicle that could get you through the Colorado snow and mountain grades and you wanted something a bit less truck-like than, say, an IHC Scout or Toyota Land Cruiser, you got an American Motors Eagle. Here's one that I spotted last week at a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard." Read more.
1982 Subaru BRAT
"Like the AMC Eagle, the Subaru BRAT was a big sales hit in Colorado, much more than in the rest of North America, and you still see plenty of examples of both vehicles on Colorado streets ... and in Colorado wrecking yards. Here's a 1982 BRAT with camper shell that made it to age 35 before being forcibly retired." Read more.