Those of you who read my posts about easy Honda speedometer replacement and hellish Ford window regulator replacement know my oft-repeated rants about German over-complexity, Detroit quality corner-cutting, and Japanese cheap-but-well-thought-out engineering. Where do I get my facts? The junkyard!
To be honest with y'all, I was disappointed by the lack of venom in the comments and emails about the Honda and Ford repair posts; oh, sure, we had some readers claiming I was full of shit because their (insert name of American vehicle here) has been as dependable as death and/or taxes, or that their (insert name of German vehicle here) was really as simple and durable as an AK-47, but where were the statistics? The facts? Still, it's safe to assume that most members of the Silent Majority think we just pull these judgments out of our asses here at El Jalop, when in fact we're all about the science! So, in the interest of science, I've recruited Ghost Ride The Whip Box designer, VW Rabbit sedan 24 Hours Of LeMons racer, '76 Audi Fox driver, and all-around junkyard dog Casadelshawn to help with the first episode in the Junkyard Nightmare Build Quality Challenge series, and we hit an East Bay self-service junkyard to get you the objective truth!
Here's how the JNBQC works: we hit the junkyard and pick one apiece German, Japanese, and American vehicle, from the same era and originally priced within spittin' distance of one another, and we perform the same common junkyard-parts-extraction job on each. No shop manuals, no oddball tools, nothing special; just our regular junkyard toolboxes and our Cro-Magnon-style approach to Field Expedient Parts Removal. Then we analyze the pain-in-the-assness, otherwise known as the PITA Quotient™, of the operation and rate the relevant factors. Today we're going with a simple task: door panel removal on early-90s entry-level luxury sedans. Got it? Let's get started!
First up is this 1991 Audi 80. The non-Quattro 80 listed for $21,050, and I was expecting some serious Teutonic Complexity Hell on this thing, I tell you what. Click the first image below to see what happened.
Car shoppers in 1991 could buy a brand-new Lexus ES250 for $21,300. Did the Japanese automotive industry's love for weird electronic gadgetry make for horrifyingly complicated door panel removal? Click the first image below to find out.
The 1993 Buick LeSabre Limited had a list price of $21,735, making it the most expensive car of our group, but early-90s-recession inflation made it worth $20,486 in 1991 dollars. How does Detroit stack up next to the Germans and Japanese? Only one way to know- click the image below!