Cashed out Clunkers

Angelo Van Bogart |

While on vacation, I swung through a couple dealerships to scout out the “gross-polluting clunkers” that were traded in for $3,500-4,500 during the cash for clunkers program. I didn’t spot the 1997 Aston Martin DB7 Volante, 1998 BMW Z3, 1984 Buick Riviera convertible or the ultra-desirable 1987 Buick GNX that appeared on the government’s list of “clunkers” that were traded in. Such cars were exactly what my were fears were: some pretty desirable cars such as these went to the scrap heap in the sky: 19 1985 Buick Riviera convertibles, 240 rear-wheel-drive Monte Carlos from the 1980s and countless Cutlasses built on the same platform and other cars that will make you scratch your head (including the three 1987 Excalibur phaetons). Also, it’s worth noting that the intercooled turbo Buick GNX was clumped among 10 other ASC products from 1987 states as “unlisted” models; what were those other ASC cars? Were there more GNXes among those “clunked,” but the sales people was just too lazy to complete all of the blanks, or just didn’t know what they were receiving?

I did, however, see one of the 1,021 1992-’96  Buick Roadmaster station wagons (a car appearing in good condition and loaded, so you know there was an LT1 under the hood) and one of the 978 1992-’96 Roadmaster sedans traded in under the program.

What I also saw were some very good-looking trucks that looked like they could carry many more loads of lumber, yard supplies and furniture. But not anymore. There was also a sharp-looking late-1990s Cadillac Seville with the desirable red pearl metallic paint (an additional $500 when new) just as my dad was shopping for such a car.

My brother, who recently graduated from high school, just started a job at White Bear Dodge in the Twin Cities and has seen the process for destroying the engines of clunkers. As he explained it, the oil is drained from the vehicles in the parking lot. They are then driven without oil into the area for clunkers where the engine-destroying formula is poured into the crankcase. Within a few seconds of running, the engines quickly seize in an anti-climatic moment.

The good news is, these cars will soon be available for parts, as long as you don’t need an engine!

View the list of clunkers traded in here.

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