Home » Brabham BT21B, Renault Sport Spider, Alfa Romeo Montreal: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

Brabham BT21B, Renault Sport Spider, Alfa Romeo Montreal: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness


Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, I love picking up dirt-cheap cars and motorcycles and then telling you lovely readers about the dumb things that I do with them. Since I’m shopping all of the time, I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale. Here’s what I’ve been obsessed with lately.

This week, I’ve decided to hunt down some dream cars along with my normal fare. A number of the cars here may be worthy of a bedroom poster or perhaps a new wallpaper on a computer. One of these cars isn’t even road legal and I will warn you right from the jump, a few of these are absurdly expensive. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with window shopping.

Here’s what I’m looking at this week!

1949 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe – $26,000

Hemmings Seller

In 1949, Chevrolet overhauled its lineup, updating its vehicles to a modern post-World War II look featuring design elements like pontoon fenders. The marque sold Special and Deluxe models of vehicles in a variety of body styles. Of those, you could get them in Fleetline or Styleline. Deluxe models represented the higher end of Chevrolet and prices varied based on body style or options.

For 1949, Chevrolet advertised Deluxe models as having a series nameplate on front fenders, stainless steel moldings and trim, rear wheel covers on coupes and wagons, striped cloth seats, a light for the glovebox, a clock, an ashtray, and a cigarette lighter. Chevy touted the vehicle’s good ventilation that made the car “breathe.”

This 1949 Styleline Deluxe coupe comes with a 1960s-era 283 cubic inch small block V8. It’s not said where this engine comes from or what power it’s making, though outputs ranged from 170 HP to 315 HP depending on the configuration. And remember those are gross HP numbers. The engine’s connected to a TH350 automatic. It’s unclear if this car has been restored, but it presents in what appears to be good condition. It’s $26,000 from the seller in Plant City, Florida.

1991 BMW 850i – $21,800

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Facebook Seller

As Motor Trend writes, in the 1970s and 1980s, BMW made it big on vehicles like the E30 3 Series, E28 5 Series, and the E24 6 Series. Customers piled into dealerships and BMW found itself flush with cash. With those successes under its belt, the automaker set its sights on grand tourer royalty, and in doing so, BMW would create the most advanced vehicle it had built by that point.

BMW arrived at the 1989 International Motor Show in Germany with its successor to the E24 6 Series. The E31 8 Series sported a wedge design penned by Klaus Kapitza with a front end inspired by the M1. The coupe wasn’t just grand in its appearance, but in its technology as well. BMW says that the E31 offered drivers such tech as an optional self-steering rear axle, variable-speed power steering, stability control, and an electronic damper control. Further, the E31 was the first BMW to achieve a coefficient of drag of less than 0.3 and the first to have a system for the control systems to network with each other.

The headline feature is a 5.0-liter V12 that makes 296 HP and 332 lb-ft torque. This particular BMW 850i is notable because it has a six-speed manual. It has 169,500 miles on the odometer and is said to be in good condition. It’s $21,800 from a seller in Rochester, New York.

1998 Renault Sport Spider – $39,995

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Craigslist Seller

The Renault Sport Spider is a rare car coming from one of the wildest eras in Renault’s history. I get excited every time I see one for sale in America.

As Renault explains, in the 1990s, Renault was enjoying its time in the spotlight after Williams-Renault Formula 1 cars racked up wins and podium finishes. The company decided to capitalize on its fame by releasing a range of sporty cars. The Spider traces its roots to a concept car. The Laguna Roadster concept was presented at the 1990 Paris Motor Show and like the Spider, the Laguna featured a striking design that didn’t have a roof or a real windshield, just a wind deflector.

Renault originally planned to make a fun track car, but later, Renault decided to make the vehicle road legal. Renault Sport teamed up with French engineering firm Nogaro Technologies to make the roadster happen. The body is plastic draped over an aluminum chassis. Renault says that aluminum strengthens the vehicle while cutting weight to 2,050 pounds. Mounted behind the open cabin is a 2.0-liter F7R engine borrowed from the Clio Williams and Mégane Coupe. It’s pushing 150 horsepower to rear wheels through a five-speed manual. This was good for a zero to 60 mph sprint in 6.7 seconds.

This 1998 Renault Sport Spider is for sale by Speed Works NW for $39,995 in Kirkland, Washington with 12,703 miles.

Hat tip to mdharrell!

1982 Mercedes-Benz 300TD Manual Swap – $8,500

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Facebook Marketplace

The W123 is a classic and famous Benz with fans all over the world. Production started in 1976 and by the end in 1986, Mercedes-Benz put 2,696,915 of them on the road. They aren’t just fabled for their vintage looks and solid build, but for incredible longevity. Back in 2021, I wrote about one of these with 782,000 miles on its diesel engine and the car still looked gorgeous. I owned a W123 240D once and took it on an off-road adventure, and even that total pile of crap couldn’t be stopped.

One disappointing factoid is that if you wanted your W123 in turbodiesel wagon form, Mercedes wouldn’t sell it to you with a manual transmission. That means getting stuck with an automatic that in my experience is best described as “meh.” Well, I have great news, because this 300TD wagon sports a four-speed manual transmission from a 300D. Whoever did the conversion used OEM parts for the swap, so it should drive as if it rolled out of the factory as a manual. And yes, this beautiful wagon has rear-facing seats.

Power comes from a 3.0-liter straight five turbodiesel making 125 HP and 181 lb-ft torque. It’s $8,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Amarillo, Texas with 210,000 miles.

2005 Triumph Rocket III – $5,000

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Facebook Seller

According to motorcycle publication Motorcycle Cruiser, the Triumph Rocket III was a motorcycle conceived in and built for American riders. The project launched in 1998 after Triumph Product Range Manager Ross Clifford noticed that big cruisers sold well in America. Triumph wanted its own entry into this lucrative market. Triumph wanted to beat the competition, which at the time was ruled by Harley-Davidson and Honda’s Gold Wing. In its mission, Triumph first started off with a 1400cc engine before growing it to 1500cc, 2000cc, before finally landing on a massive 2.3-liter triple. The motorcycle maker also briefly flirted with a futuristic design before settling on something more traditional.

At its 2004 launch, the Triumph Rocket III had the largest engine of any mass-produced motorcycle, a distinction it held until 2019, when the Triumph Rocket 3 sequel took the crown. The Rocket III flexed a ton of muscles, too. Its engine produced 140 HP and 147 lb-ft torque, and 90 percent of that torque was available at just 2,000 RPM.

This bike has always remained in a sort of niche, and that means that you can find older ones for cheap. This 2005 has a small tank dent (one that I bet could be easily pulled) and 17,439 miles for $5,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

1972 Alfa Romeo Montreal – $80,158

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Here’s a car that’s both famous and rare. Alfa Romeo says that just 3,925 Montreals were built, and the company has even provided a story about it:

Mike Nichols’ film “The Graduate”, which was released in 1967, celebrated the Spider Duetto as one of the most desirable cars in the United States and worldwide, because it encapsulated the spirit of freedom that pervaded those years. It was a golden age for Alfa Romeo, which became a global icon of cool. The Milanese automaker’s popularity did not escape the organisers of EXPO 1967, the theme of which was “Man and His World”. Alfa was asked to build a car that represented the ultimate incarnation of motoring at the time.

However, the Universal Exposition was only nine months away and the company’s elation at being selected for this honour was tempered by the pressure of having to create an exceptional car in record time. Producing a car completely from scratch was out of the question, so the Giulia Sprint GT was chosen as a base and Carrozzeria Bertone was commissioned to style the bodywork.

In Bertone’s workshop, 29-year-old Marcello Gandini designed an elegant, low and streamlined coupé. The two concept cars – which are now called the Alfa Romeo Montreal Expo – were exhibited at the entrance to the Universal Exposition, in the pavilion entitled “Man the Producer”.

The extraordinary success of the two concept cars at the 1967 Expo convinced the Alfa Romeo management to create a coupé very similar to the Bertone prototype, but with upgraded mechanicals including a powerful V8 engine from the 33 Stradale.

The Montreal hit the Geneva International Motor Show in March 1970 and was produced until 1977. Alfa Romeo blames the oil crisis for the car’s failure to sell more units. This Montreal is said to have just 12,432 miles. There’s a 2.6-liter V8 mounted up front making 197 horses, delivered to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual. It’s GBP 66,610, or about $80,098 by ChromeCars in Laasdorf, Germany.

1966 Brabham BT21B – $75,000

Race-Cars.com Seller

Have you ever wanted to drive a vintage open-wheel formula race car? Well, here’s your chance! Sadly, this 1966 Brabham BT21B is not road legal, though, I’m sure some basic modifications will allow it to get plates in some states. However, even if you cannot take it onto the road, you’re getting a vehicle that was built to compete in US Formula B.

This racer is the work of Motor Racing Developments, Ltd. According to British racing history site British Racecar, Motor Racing Developments opened as a partnership between Australian racer Jack Brabham and British-Australian engineer Ron Tauranac. Brabham was a Royal Australian Air Force flight mechanic who used his skills to run a workshop before getting into racing midget cars in 1948. If you didn’t already know, I’ll explain, midget racing was an affordable form of racing featuring small vehicles often built by the racer. The cars looked like off-road go-karts and they raced on tracks built in baseball parks, fairgrounds, dog tracks, or really anywhere a track could fit. Tauranac was a racer, too, and both built racing vehicles.

Brabham would pick up a Formula One World Championship win in 1959 behind the wheel of a Cooper T51. In 1960, Tauranac began the development of the first Motor Racing Developments in secret while Brabham continued racing, picking up another championship win that year. Soon, Motor Racing Developments found itself constructing Formula Junior cars and Brabham’s Formula One racer. Brabham would take home another championship win in 1966 behind the wheel of a Brabham BT19.

The car that you’re looking at here was originally built to compete in Formula 3. Tauranac constructed cars for the Junior classes and the company was reportedly a leader in the segment in sales and race wins. An evolution the BT18, the BT21 came with a shallower spaceframe than the BT18, but was stiffer. It also sports a wider track and smaller body. This one is a BT21B, which features 3×7 front wheels and 13×9 rear wheels. It’s said to have gotten a full restoration, a new Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine, a rebuilt Hewland Mk9 five-speed, and a whole list of other new goodies. The car made 193 HP on a dyno.

It’s $75,000 from the seller in Bay City, Michigan. Hat tip to Opposite-Lock!

2013 Scion FR-S – $11,495

Mega Auto Outlet

Toyota and Subaru excited enthusiasts in 2011 when the pair unveiled two rear-wheel-drive sports cars that would soon hit the market. Toyota had been teasing concepts for a new sports car since 2007. Its idea was the idea of then Toyota VP Akio Toyoda who had a big idea for the future. As AutoGuide reports:

Shortly after Toyoda took the helm, [Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada] was assigned to a planning division set up for the project. After studying what everyone else was doing, (seeing the use of turbochargers, all-wheel drive and high grip tires), Toyota decided to move in the opposite direction, instead opting to build a sports car that harkens back to the roots of machines like the AE86 – from which the GT86 gets its name. It occurred to Tada san that an ideal powerplant would be a boxer engine, due to its low center of gravity. Toyota had an historical precedent for the use of a boxer engine in the Sports 800, built from 1965 to 1969. Toyota also just so happened to have access to such engines through a recent purchase of shares in Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, and a shared project could help foster relations between the two rival automakers.

Toyota presented the concept to Subaru, and the latter dismissed the idea because it didn’t fit with the brand’s love of all-wheel-drive. Allegedly, Subaru also didn’t think that Toyota could build a sports car. While it’s not known exactly how, Toyota eventually convinced Subaru to get on board and the rest is history.

It’s hard to find these both in good condition and mostly stock. So many of these seem to be getting beaten to within an inch of their lives, but I think I found a good one. This 2013 Scion FR-S appears to be mostly stock with 122,972 miles on its odometer and a manual transmission. It’s $11,495 by Mega Auto Outlet in Stafford, Virginia.

2006 Ford F-650 – $46,000

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Facebook Seller

Commercial trucks have long been a part of Ford’s history. When the original F-Series made its debut for the 1948 model year, the lightest truck was the half-ton F-1 and the line soared all of the way up to the massive F-7 and F-8 medium-duty commercial trucks. The F-8 boasted a gross combined vehicle weight rating of 41,000 pounds and a gross vehicle weight rating of 22,000 pounds. The line would later grow to include the even beefier F-9. Ford would continue to develop these trucks over the years and they’d find use as semi-tractors, straight trucks, fire engines, flatbeds, dump trucks, grain trucks, and more.

The Ford F-650 arrived on the scene in 2000, replacing the previous generation F-600. Like its predecessors, the F-650 was meant to be a reliable and tough workhorse for businesses. In 2006, Ford advertised the truck’s three different diesel engine options and 21 different power ratings, including up to 300 HP, 860 lb-ft torque and backed by an Allison automatic or manuals from Eaton or Spicer. Unlike with the GMC TopKick C4500 Monroe, there wasn’t a factory pickup truck version, but that hasn’t stopped awesome custom builds like this one.

This 2006 F-650 appears to have the best Cummins engine available for the year, which was a 5.9-liter straight six making 275 HP and 660 lb-ft torque. It’s backed by an Allison automatic and presents in decent condition. It’s $46,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Elgin, Illinois with 105,000 miles.

That’s it for this week, thank you for reading!

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13 Responses

  1. “Have you ever wanted to drive a vintage open-wheel formula race car? ” yes, since forever, thanks for asking.. Maybe because I’m a child of the 60-70s but this always give me the fizzies.

  2. The issue with manual-swapping a turbo 123 in the states that the readily available gearboxes are from NA cars. The most common is from the 240D and the ratios do not match the power band of the turbo engine very well at all. I wanted 3 pedals in my 85 300TD, but got talked out of it by a guy who had done it to his 84. He put almost 1500 miles/week on his on a delivery route and said that the gearing was way too steep* for the more powerful (110 Teutonic horses, baby!) turbo engine: he’d gotten to the point where he usually started off in 2nd and was in 4th by 35-40. Said he wished he’d never done it. The correct way would be to get a Euro-spec transmission, but that would have cost me something like 1500 bucks 14 years ago so I dropped the idea.

    I don’t know the ratios in the non-turbo 300D (they’re a bit rare), so this box may be better

    *the rearend in the TDs has a numerically higher ratio than the Ds, SDs, & SDLs for hauling capability

  3. I once sold a rusted hulk of a ’77 240D/4-speed for $99 on eBay to a fellow who hauled an empty trailer from Georgia to Michigan just to get the bits for a manual swap.

  4. Jack Brabham. Such a cool story. Only man to win a F1 title in a car bearing his own name. And with an engine derived from an Oldsmobile V8 to boot.

    Not the fastest but just knew how to win.

  5. “Hat tip to mdharrell!”

    Oh, great, now people may begin to suspect that I occasionally spend time looking for unusual cars on Craigslist.

  6. Love the Renault! Though I love most quirky French cars. Not sure it’s worth $40k, but at least that example has the windshield! If I remember right those were optional on them.

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