Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Junkyard Build Quality Challenge, Door Panel Edition: USA vs Germany vs Japan!

Illustration for article titled Junkyard Build Quality Challenge, Door Panel Edition: USA vs Germany vs Japan!

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!

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Junkyard Build Quality Challenge, Door Panel Edition: USA vs Germany vs Japan!
Advertisement

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!

Illustration for article titled Junkyard Build Quality Challenge, Door Panel Edition: USA vs Germany vs Japan!

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!

Advertisement

1991 Audi 80


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.

Advertisement


Advertisement

1991 Lexus ES250


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.

Advertisement


Advertisement

1993 Buick LeSabre Limited


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!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

manwich
Manwich - now Keto-Friendly

Great article.

Not entirely surprised that the Buick lost... it had the most toys for the buck of all three.

And more toys means added complexity and more stuff to break.