Scrapheap Challenge

How well do you know your scrap?

Image: the author

Today’s puzzle is to identify the eighteen numbered cars in the photo above. Some are simple, but others are fiendishly tricky. The photo is high-resolution, which will allow you to enlarge it for closer examination.

Good luck!

The answers will be published in a few days.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

51 thoughts on “Scrapheap Challenge”

  1. Good morning Daniel,
    Reporting back with a rip in my left trouser leg, a skinned knuckle or two and a greasy stain of uncertain origin on my shoulder – here is my list:

    1) Opel Kadett E / Vauxhall Astra (facelift)
    2) ?
    3) VW Golf II
    4) Opel Kadett D
    5) Fiat Uno (facelift)
    6) Suzuki Swift (SA) 3 door
    7) BMW 5 series (E28)
    8) Mercedes-Benz W201 (?)
    9) Mercedes-Benz W124 estate
    10) Ford Sierra
    11) Volvo 480
    12) Renault Clio I
    13) ?
    14) Nissan Micra K10
    15) Ford Fiesta I (facelift)
    16) Fiat Uno 3 door hatch (facelift) (?)
    17) Volkswagen Polo “Steilheck”
    18) Mitsubishi Colt (1987-1991)

  2. Great quiz, thank you Daniel.

    My guesses where they differ from above:

    Number 2, Mazda 323
    Number 6, Mazda 121
    Number 8, Peugeot 309

    No. 13 is a puzzler, the bumper moulding does ring a (distant) bell in my mind though

  3. Good morning. A guess the car scrapheap challenge during a Christmas break is just the ticket for me to venture out into the comment section for the first time.
    First of all, thank you for the terrific reading that all of the contributors provide every day – joyously read, every morning, without fail.
    Anyway, here goes with my answers. It was fun trying, regardless of how many are correct:

    1. Astra MK2, or similar aged Opel Kadett.
    2. Mazda 323f.
    3. Golf MK2.
    4. Opel Kadett – lovely colour.
    5. Facelifted Fiat Uno.
    6. 1988ish Suzuki Swift.
    7. 1982 to 1988 BMW 5 series.
    8. Peugeot 309.
    9. Mercedes TE W124.
    10. Ford Sierra.
    11. Volvo 480ES.
    12. First generation Renault Clio.
    13. Peugeot 405 estate.
    14. MK1 Nissan Micra.
    15. Fiesta 84-89 model.
    16. Facelifted Uno.
    17. Breadvan Polo.
    18. 1988 launched Mitsubishi Colt.

    The younger version of me would think I’d gone mad but, I’ll take home the Kadett from the top row please..

  4. Good morning all, and a particular welcome to Justin, a first-time commenter, and to Neil, our returning quiz competitor.

    I have to say I am hugely impressed by the knowledge and expertise of our readership in identifying some of the more obscure of the cars in the scrapheap. I had to do the same when I found the photo and one in particular took me a frustrating couple of hours of near-misses before I got it!

    I’ll hold back on confirming the answers for now, to give other readers the chance to play the game. In the meantime, do follow Justin’s lead and say which you would rescue from the scrapheap and why.

  5. Good morning, thank you for the great idea! The 3 is an old Golf, a mark 2 I believe, in red, five door, with these old trademark wheels that were so clever and practical but were not used in another car. The 9 is a MB W124 karavan in the dark red colour MB used on many MB cars, there was also a darker shade of this colour. The number 14 as the other people say is a Nissan Micra, it seemed to me that is a VW Golf, the giveaway being the position of the fuel cap on the left side of the vehicle, see the red Golf above in the pile of crushed cars. I am not sure. The 10 is a classic and beautiful Sierra, maybe the mark 1 model. The number 15 being another Ford from the beloved 80s, a Fiesta.

  6. Continue from above. The 18 is a Mitsubishi of late 80s, it was called Colt or Lancer in some markets, is is a 3 door, exactly like the picture submitted by goodog. This car here was popular as a 4 door. The 11 is an old Volvo, a 3 door sport model of the 80s, with pop up front headlamps. It is a car I have never seen. The 17 is a Polo, the long-side-glass version, I remember it from Daniel’s article. The 16 seems to be a Fiat Uno, mark 2, I see the fat rear door, but it is not sure. The 13 is totally unknown.

  7. Continue from above. The 7 and 8 totally unrecognisable. The 4 is an old Opel Kadett. The 5 is a Fiat Uno mark 2.

  8. I have many fond memories of going to scrap piles like this while working at a garage.

    Looking for a part that had a long lead time and was inexplicably expensive for a Micra that required an MOT pass that afternoon I would be sent off in the drizzle with a handful of tools to a scrap yard that was reasonably sure they had the part.

    The man in the mud and oil covered portashack with the large dogs would point me in the general direction and I would have to climb over the Polo and into the Micra while the Sierra above me creaked in the wind. I did not want to be a passenger in a Sierra let alone killed by one.

    Eventually I would extract myself and take the hard-won part back to the garage.

    It would be from a slightly earlier/later model and wouldn’t fit the car. It was, naturally, my fault.

  9. Final part. The 6 seemed initially to be a Peugeot 205 cabriolet, from the window line and the red stripe on the fenders, but the wheels are saying japanese car. The owner could have changed the wheels, but this is unlikely, so, I do not know what it is. The 2 seems to be a japanese car, from the wheels and side indicators. The 1 do not know, the key here is the shape of the mirror, as we see a very limited part of the car. Wow, very good idea, I therefore ask for more car puzzles.

  10. I would save three cars: the E28, the W124TE and the 480.

    The BMW because my dad got this as a loaner one day when his E30 went into service and he took me for a spin in it. Whenever he was on business trips he would take me along with him when time allowed. Fond memories. It also was a smart move from the dealer, because my dad traded his E30 for a 5 series. An E34, as the E28 was out of production by that time.

    The Benz because for me this is how I like my estate cars. I’d have mine with a straight six petrol.

    The Volvo as I have had a soft spot for it since the day it was launched. So different from the boxy saloons and estates. Made in the Netherlands, just like me as well. I just like the basic concept of this type of car. The Honda Accord Aerodeck, isn’t on this particular scrapheap, but I’d save that too.

  11. Great quiz!

    My submission for the mysterious number 13: a 1990s Ford Escort Estate/Wagon/Kombi (called Turnier in Germany, I don’t know about other markets)

    P.S.: I really like the Mitsubishi Colt. What a neat looking little car.

  12. Starting when I was around 14 years old until I was 17-18 I hopped on my bicycle at least once a week to a huge facility where discarded cars were ground up in a large, scary sounding apparatus- the resulting pieces then being separated into metal and the other stuff by means of a large magnet. Freerk, being Dutch like me, might be familiar with it as well: it was called Pametex and was located on The Hague’s industrial estate “De Binckhorst”.
    My main objective was to pry off any interesting badges, which I collected at the time next to car brochures, but it was also always interesting to see what new wrecks had been added since my last visit. Being young and naive at the time I was lucky never to have any accidents there as the wrecks were stacked sometimes more than ten high, but I did not let that stop me from climbing in and on the cars if I saw a badge I liked. I remember I almost had the complete set of badges that were on Fords of the early to mid seventies denoting their engine capacity. I had 1300,1600,1700V4,2000,2000V6,2300V6 and 2600V6 but never found that elusive 3000V6…. At one point the security at Pametex was (probably wisely) upped a few notches and it was no longer possible to freely get onto the premises.
    The drying up of a source of badges caused me to lose interest in them and concentrate solely on brochures….

    As for which cars I would save from this heap? The Volvo 480 partly for chauvinistic reasons but also because I regard it as one of the best designs of the 1980s. Next would be the BMW E28 because that was the car in which I traveled together with three co-students to my first press day ever, Geneva in 1987. Third would be the MItsubishi Colt because one of my best brochure collector friends who lived in the USA, who sadly died much too young, had one and I have many fond memories of driving around all the good car dealers spots for brochure hunting (he had a list in his head of what dealer of what make was good for brochures, and more importantly which were not- so we wouldn’t waste our time.

    1. Good afternoon, Bruno. I am familiar with de Binckhorst, but not with Pametex. I don’t live too far away these days, but I grew up in the north. If a younger version of me had a Pametex facility in the neighborhood I could see myself doing the same thing.

  13. On further investigation No.13 does seem to be a Mk5 Escort Estate.

    I have owned and driven quite a few of these cars, so my chosen one is…none of them thank you. Unless the 309 (if it is a 309) is a GTI, I miss that car!

    Boxing day morning is best spent looking at photos of 1990’s estate cars.

  14. Full disclosure: I peeked at some of the comments, which steered me towards the Swift and confirmed the Mazda. So here, with fill redundancy:

    1. Opel Kadett E
    2. Mazda 323 (F? I peeked at one of the comments)
    3. SsangYong Tivoli (oh fine, VW Golf II)
    4. Opel Kadett D
    5. Fiat Uno Facelift
    6. I bow to the superior knowledge of the other commenters and go for Suzuki Swift/Cultus (initial thought was Opel Corsa A, but the wheel arches are wrong)
    7. ?
    8. ?
    9. Mercedes W124 Estate
    10. Ford Sierra hatch pre-facelift
    11. Volvo 480
    12. Renault Clio I phase 2 (I only recognise the rear lights)
    13. ?
    14. Nissan Micra/putative Fiat Uno/Punto (although I always thought it looked like a shrunken proposal for the Golf II)
    15. Ford Fiesta Mk2 (shame the DLO isn’t visible, Daniel – I think MkII is how Ford itself designates it)
    16. Fiat Uno?
    17. VW Polo hatchback post-facelift
    18. Mitsubishi Colt Mk3 (one of those lovely late-‘eighties the-future-is-already-here designs)

    I would probably take home the 480 for the same reasons as Bruno and Freerk, or the Mazda. Although, if I were feeling Gallic, I might also go for the Clio. And thank you, Daniel.

    1. Upon reflection on the rejected Fiat design origins of the Micra: I know the Daewoo/Chevrolet Matiz is also a rejected Fiat design:

      (or, if I remember correctly it featured in one of Fiat’s design competitions based on the then-current cinquecento, competitions that Fiat organised regularly in the early ‘nineties).


      How many other small cars owe their existence to designs emanating from Fiat (either rejected, or in some other way related to Fiat)?

    2. On the subject of Fiat-inspired small cars, the K12 Micra is a creative and non-retro take on the 500; this is often overlooked because it’s not so obvious on the more common 5-door bodystyle, but the 3-door even has extra-wide doors to better replicate the proportions of the original – and the homage continues inside:

    3. That’s great, thanks! I never noticed that. Its predecessor (K11) had more of a Mini vibe:

      As did the more-or-less concurrent Daihatsu Cuore (an example of which is still working very hard around my neighbourhood).

    4. Indeed, the K11 Micra was designed with the exact same approach, and again that’s most obvious around the rear of the 3-door, the influence continues inside (though the instrument pod moved behind the driver) and they must also have used a somewhat later model as a reference:

      An interesting thing is that Nissan have retained the rounded door frames and rear windows of the originals as a means to channel the influences, give the cars character and even establish a family resemblance between the K11 and K12 (even more so in the 5-door versions) while for both Mini and Fiat the same area was one of the main things they modernized for their recreations.

    5. Fiat’s and Mini’s recreations are of course, very different beasts: the Micra and Cuore are a no-nonsense supermini and kei car given a little extra pizazz by referencing great cars from the past by entirely different companies. In the case of the Cuore, it’s a noticeable departure from the style of previous and subsequent models:

      The Mini and 500 are more or less modern cars with fronts and backs (and interiors) that are strongly retro. Both are also life-style-oriented with much less emphasis on practicality.

      In the case of the 500, that’s probably because it was co-developed with the Ford Ka (would that be the most inane Bond product placement ever?)

      (image: Internet Movie Cars Database)

    6. Good morning Tom. That early Cuore (the red example above) is a lovely piece of design. It always reminds me of the ADO88 prototype (but so much better resolved) that evolved into the Metro:

    7. Unlike the Fiesta Mk1 we’ve discussed before, I think the round lower edge of the windows doesn’t work well on the Metro (the production car or the prototype).

      The rounded edges of the windscreen are very detrimental to the futuristic vibe that the prototype you pictured tries to emit (more so than the production car). Otherwise, there are interesting details but I’ve always felt that the Metro was weakest around the A pillar. Something about the conjuction of lines there seems to sap the design of visual tension. Maybe the way the lower edge of the side window reaches the A pillar, and the very rounded edges of the windscreen contrasting with the very modern steep angle of the bonnet. The (to me) awkward angles and rounded edges are only highlighted by the side rubbing strip running mercilessly straight along the side. On the red Cuore from my previous comment, all those things work together a lot better around the A pillar. To me, anyway. Such a shame that the Metro never got the re-skin that its reworking into the Rover Metro/100 really warranted (image AROnline):

      You’re right: the Cuore did that kind of design very nicely. Even its predecessor had that lovely modern vibe that (especially Japanese) cars from that era could project:

    8. Hi Tom. Yes, you’ve nailed the big problem with the Metro, which was never rectified; the overly rounded and too-shallow windscreen, to which I would add the awkwardly positioned (too low) joint between the roof and A-pillar, highlighted by the manner in which drip-rail is terminated.

      The side DLO is fine to my eyes, but the windscreen always looked ‘wrong’ to me. I might play with it to see how it might have been done better.

    9. Hi Tom. Right, here’s the Metro with a deeper windscreen with reduced radius corners and a revised drip-rail. Original first for comparison:

      And a GIF animation of the changes:

    10. Hi Daniel, nice work, it really does tidy up the design. It’s also inconspicuous, which usually means it’s well executed. Side by side with the Cuore, you can tell that they are similar designs, even if the execution on the Daihatsu is a bit more neat and modern. Especially the treatment of the doors and the drip rail (although I think the Metro is an older design). You can also tell that “your” Metro stands up well, thanks to your changes. I don’t know whether it’s nostalgia or not that makes me think that the more old-fashioned detailing of the Metro gives it some Britishness (if a bit too much so in the production version), like a British science fiction show from the ‘seventies or ‘eighties gives me similar doubts: is it camp or characterful?

  15. The 2 has two tell tales. The wheels and the side bumper that has the turn indicator inside and not above it. Thanks to input from Tom V, really sharp eye, the 12 could be a Clio mark 1, the rear light cluster seems to match the Renault original, the red and grey combination is the trick. Thank you Tom V. This poor car is too badly thrashed to reveal more. The 13 remains still unknown, it could be what the others say, I wait for the editor’s opinion. I suggest to expand our quiz. There is a quite large white car just behind and below the Sierra, the front part of a blue car between the Sierra and the Mitsubishi, this forgotten green door above the Sierra, that does not seem to fit to any particular car in this picture. There is also a half wheel above the Polo that seems to point to a certain manufacturer.

    1. Hi gpant. I stopped identifying cars when I could no longer be certain of the answer, but please feel free to volunteer more suggestions!

      Incidentally, can anyone identify the green panel van from its tailgate and louvred rear quarter panel? That one has beaten me!

    2. Thanks gpant!

      I do stand corrected on the Clio I: it is a phase I. I thought the telltale red-grey lights were introduced at the facelift, but they were there all along. Renault really liked that style of taillight though:

      I don’t think they appeared much after going out of fashion in the ‘nineties until they reappeared on the BMW 3 series:

      I think 7 might indeed be a Sierra Saphire. The wheel gpant mentions rings a bell, but I can’t put my finger on the brand.

  16. My guesses as follows:
    1 Opel Kadett?
    2 Mazda 323 F
    3 VW Golf
    4 Opel Kadett (definitely, it says so on the back!)
    5 Fiat Uno
    6 Mazda 121 or its Kia equivalent.
    7 No idea
    8 Maybe a Ford Sierra 4dr??
    9 No idea (the colour says Opel, but it’s nothing from Opel’s product range that I recall)
    10 Ford Sierra
    11 Volvo 480
    12 The taillight suggests Renault Clio to me…
    13 Ford Escort Estate?
    14 K10 Micra
    15 Ford Fiesta
    16 Fiat Uno (again? Must have popular in the market this image is from!)
    17 VW Polo
    18 Mitsubishi Colt/Mirage thingy.

    The 323F is probably most deserving of rescue but I’ll go for the Sierra 5dr…

  17. Excellent work, everybody. There’s a bonus point for anybody who can identify the highly distinctive asymmetric-patterned steel wheel resting on no.17’s windscreen that gpant mentioned above.

    1. Hi Michael. I think you might be right:

      Nice work!

      I wonder why Ford made the holes in an asymmetric pattern, especially as the wheels were not meant to be seen. Perhaps they aligned with the design of a particular style of wheel cover?

    2. From launch that part of the wheel was visible on base and LX models. I suppose the idea was to impart more of a sense of movement to the wheel? Inside the Mk3 Fiesta there was a profusion of moulded diagonal lines (on the dashboard shelf, the speaker grills, etc.) so maybe the designers were simply on a diagonal binge…

    3. Aha, well remembered, Michael:

      One detail on that Fiesta that always puzzled me was the crease from below the door mirror to the tailgate. It always looked ‘wrong’ in the way it cut across the C-pillar. They softened it when the car was updated to become the Mk4:

  18. Is it just possible that the crease was introduced to make the Fiesta look a little less like the Peugeot 205 which Ford copied so closely?

    1. Very possibly, Robertas, although I always thought the Fiesta Mk3 was a bit clumsy in comparison with the sublime 205, which still looks perfect today:

      I would never have mixed them up back in the day!

    2. Did Ford also put that cheater panel into the trailing corner of the rear door window in order to further distinguish it from the 205? I hadn’t noticed it before, but it is completely unnecessary when the car already has fixed quarter window.

  19. Although I used to like going to scrapyards, especially in France, I have always felt a sense of sadness when I saw these abandoned vehicles. After all, they have once been the pride and joy of their owners – most of them anyway. They were undoubtedly cherished, polished, maintained and they can be seen in many photo albums – in a much better condition of course.
    And now, there they are on a scrap yard, abandoned, often incomplete, waiting for the end. If they could speak, they would undoubtedly be able to tell many interesting stories. But they cannot speak, and besides, would anyone listen?
    Yes, I am (relatively) old, nostalgic and sometimes sentimental. Sorry about that.

    1. Good morning Marc. I share your sadness for cars that have passed in a rather more personal way. In the UK one can check the annual MOT (statutory inspection) history of vehicles online by simply entering the registration number into a website. In idle moments I type in the numbers of cars I’ve formerly owned and always feel sad when another one’s MOT is no longer current, indicating that they have been taken off the road or scrapped.

      One of the longest surviving was our 1996 Land Rover Discovery, whose MOT expired in May this year after 25 years and 162k miles. My 1995 Mazda MX-5 is still going strong at 115k miles, as my 2002 Ford Ranger pick-up at 75k miles, albeit it with lots of chassis corrosion issues.

    2. Some of the best places to rummage around looking at old discarded vehicles and letting your imagination wander are the junkyards/salvage yards in the USA. Perhaps I should say “were” instead of “are” because increasing pressure for environmental reasons has caused many to crush and recycle the cars. Earlier this century I visited an absolutely huge one in the state of Indiana; for a car lover it is both exciting (you never know what you’ll find), enlightening, informative, romantic and relaxing. Should there be enough interest among the DTW readership I’ll be glad to publish an article (with more emphasis on the visuals than text) in due course. Please let me know!

  20. i don’t think no 13 is a ford escort, it doesn’t seem to have that rear bumper moulding. i would’ve guessed it’s a peugeot 405 or a lancia thema estate, but those don’t have those creases on the bumper either

  21. What is the reason of existence of a scrapheap? I have seen open field shops full with old, rusting cars, but they are not stacked one atop another. They are being used to take used parts and body panels. The cars left in the scrapheap are crushed so their body panels are deformed.

    1. Hi gpant. I would imagine that piling the wrecks into a heap is an efficient use of limited space. If they’re going to be crushed anyway, you might as well let gravity do some of the work for you!

  22. The K11 Micra doesn’t just have a ‘Mini vibe’, it even has 998 and 1275cc engine capacities.
    The proportions of the CG12DE engine in the 1.3 are within less than a millimetre of the A series:

    Nissan: 71 x 80.5
    BMC: 70.6 x 81.4

    The 998cc CG10DE has the same bore as the 1.3 but a shorter stroke: 71 x 63.0
    BMC achieved the same capacity with the 1100 bore and the stroke reduced to 3.0″: 64.58 x 76.2

    Of course, there’s no other similarity between the A series and the Nissan ‘Clean Green’ engine, which is all aluminium, with a five bearing crankshaft, and a DOHC 16 valve head.

  23. Hello all. Answers to the Scrapheap Challenge will be published tomorrow morning, along with Part 2 of the Festive Frolics quiz.

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