Home » Callaway C12, Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Yamaha RD350: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

Callaway C12, Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Yamaha RD350: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness


Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, I love picking up dirt-cheap cars and motorcycles and 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’m obsessed with lately.

This week, you’re getting a double dose of car finds! As a twist for this round, I let my wife, Sheryl, pick four of the vehicles. While I love outlandish European cars and piles of junk that threaten to bankrupt you, Sheryl tends to gravitate toward cars that may outlast you. Well, maybe not the rotary truck in this list..

[Sheryl’s note: This week features not one but two of my all-time dream cars: the best-ever Trans Am, and the best-ever Z. As Mercy knows, I am a sucker for a great V6, and the 350Z has one of the best ever made.]

Here’s what I’m looking at this week!

2004 Volvo V70 R – $14,800

DLR Nordic

For many, buying a Volvo means getting a safe vehicle and loads of technology. Volvo is known for its square wagons and conservative style, but the automaker also has a spicy side. Today, you can see it with Polestar. Flip through Volvo’s past and you’ll see highlights like the 850 Turbo and those wild BTCC racers. There was also the 780 Bertone, too. Then there’s Volvo R. Launched in 1995 with the 850 T-5R, Volvo R was the automaker’s performance division.

In 2002, Volvo launched the S60 R and V70 R as its next entry into the performance car space, saying:

The new Volvo S60 R and Volvo V70 R are true performance cars. They are designed for the ultimate driving experience without compromising the intelligent functionality that is the hallmark of Volvo. “In the R car you can feel like a racing driver, but you don’t have to be one to control it”, says Hans Nilsson, Car Line Manager R, Volvo Car Corporation.

All previous R launches – from the first-ever introduction of the yellow T-5R in 1995 – have helped make driving pleasure an even stronger Volvo virtue. The mission of the new R concept is to give Volvo an even firmer presence in the “driving excitement” category.

Volvo touted the R’s three driving modes, which included a comfort mode which was said to make the car softer for urban environments, a sport mode for ordinary driving and winding roads, and an advanced sport mode that maximizes road holding. Volvo goes on to note that a S60 R or V70 R could be used on a track, and that the Four-C chassis system can adjust the shock absorbers for the environment the vehicle is being driven in.

Power comes from a 2.5-liter turbo five making 300 HP and driving all wheels through an automatic. It’s $14,800 from DLR Nordic in Portland, Oregon with 117,000 miles.

1975 Mazda REPU – $12,000

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Facebook Marketplace Seller

Here’s Sheryl’s first pick, and it combines her love for small pickups with her fascination with Mazda’s rotary witchcraft. Mazda used to have a wild obsession with rotaries. Sure, we all know about the RX-7 and RX-8, and perhaps some of you know about the RX-4 wagon. But that was just a slice of Mazda’s Wankel fever. There was also the Luce R130 Coupe, Mazda’s only front-wheel-drive rotary car, the Parkway Rotary 26, a rotary-powered bus, and the Mazda Rotary Pickup (REPU).

Mazda says that the REPU is a purely North American anomaly. As Curbside Classic writes, Mazda was riding high on its rotaries and was obsessed with putting a rotary in everything. I mean, I did say that Mazda tried a rotary bus! In 1974, Mazda also decided to make what would be the only production rotary pickup truck. And this wasn’t some funky Japanese Domestic Market import, either, as it was built specifically for Canada and the United States.

A 1.3-liter 13B four-barrel carbureted Wankel powered the REPU and it made 110 HP and 117 lb-ft torque. Unfortunately for Mazda, its timing was poor because the truck landed right in time for the energy crisis. Suddenly, the 16.5 mpg of this little pickup was a bad idea. Despite that, Mazda still sold 15,000 of them and says that most survive on the west coast.

This REPU is down in Texas and while it looks great, the listing gives us essentially no description. However, pictures show a clean engine bay, a clean interior, manuals, and more. It’s $12,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Dangerfield, Texas.

1973 Yamaha RD350 – $3,100

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Facebook Marketplace Seller

One of my dream motorcycles is the Yamaha RD350. This is a motorcycle that looks small and has a small engine but packs a punch. Perhaps Motorcyclist Magazine sums it best by saying: “Before we had any clue about the myriad dangers of triple cheeseburgers, saturated fat, unburned hydrocarbons and street-going two-strokes, there was the RD350. Dirty, foul-mouthed, deliciously quick and relatively affordable, it was (is?) a Giant Killer for the ages.”

Motorcyclist continues by describing why the RD350 is so revered by classic motorcycle enthusiasts. It’s a 350 with the power to make you smile and handle good enough to slay motorcycles with twice the displacement. Perhaps even better was the fact that such power and handling did come at a great expense. Back then, you could pay $3,000 for a Ducati 750SS or $1,995 for a Kawasaki Z-1. The Yamaha? It was just $908.

As Motorcyclist notes, the RD350 traces its roots to Yamaha’s first 350cc road bike, the 1967 YR1. Next came the R5 350 in 1970, and this was the machine that worked into the RD350. As Rider Magazine explains, Yamaha took the R5’s engine and added seven ports and reed-valve induction, a technology straight from motocross. This utilized a thin piece of metal between the carburetors and the cylinders that would open when exhaust gases flow out of the engine causing a vacuum, allowing more fuel and air to go in. Add in all of Yamaha’s changes, and you got a motorcycle that was advertised as making 39 HP that made 30 HP at the wheel and went fast so long as you kept the revs high. Cycle Magazine’s RD350 tester did a quarter mile in 14.12 seconds at 93.2 mph. Slower than a large triple or four, but fast enough to challenge things like a Corvette.

This RD350 looks in great shape. It’s $3,100 on Facebook Marketplace in Toledo, Ohio.

1936 Lincoln Zephyr – $27,000

Hemmings Seller

In the 1930s, Lincoln, like many companies of the day, had to change its strategies to survive the Great Depression. Ford describes what that meant for Lincoln:

Lincoln introduced the Zephyr to help stem its losses following the Great Depression, marking the brand’s transition from low-production, coach-built vehicles to mass-produced luxury at a more approachable price point. Zephyr’s streamlined design and unitized body and frame construction were advanced for the time. Optional features included an electric clock, leather upholstery and a matched luggage set by Louis Vuitton.

Later, design head Eugene T. Gregorie, who was in part responsible for the Zephyr, would take the Zephyr’s chassis and make the Continental.

This particular Zephyr has been painstakingly restored and the seller claims to have won a number of awards for the vehicle. The restoration included overhauling the V12, which includes the aluminum heads that it should have. Power comes from a 267 cubic inch L-Head V12 making 110 HP. It’s $27,000 on Hemmings in Bishopville, Maryland with 63,000 miles.

1950 Hudson Commodore Convertible – Auction

R&R Classic Cars

The Hudson Commodore was launched in 1941 and ran through three generations, ending in 1952. These represented the largest and most luxurious models that you could buy from Hudson. This 1950 model comes from the Commodore’s third generation and has a couple of interesting quirks in its history.

Third-generation Commodores feature Hudson’s novel “step-down” body. While not the first to try its hand at unitized construction, Hudson was an early adopter with its Monobuilt body. These vehicles featured a strong semi-unit body that utilized a perimeter frame. This frame was radical in that the frame rails actually came outside of the rear wheels and it was more integrated with the body. The design allowed Hudson bodies to sit lower, and as the step-down moniker suggests, occupants had to step down past the frame to get into the vehicle.

A 1948 Hudson Commodore serves as the donor vehicle of the ‘Sir Vival,’ the strangest safety car concept ever that’s currently in the hands of our friends at the Lane Motor Museum.

This 1950 Commodore features chrome & stainless trim, a maroon leather interior with a matching power convertible top, and a “super-matic drive” transmission. Additional luxuries come in the form of a radio with a clock, power windows, fender skirts, bumper guards, and more. Power comes from a 254 cubic inch straight eight making 128 HP.

R&R Classic Cars in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada plans to auction it at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 21-29.

1959 Ford P-Series Parcel Delivery – $25,000

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Facebook Marketplace Seller

Here’s the second of Sheryl’s finds. Ford trucks and parcel delivery have a long history. Delivery vehicles have been around for over a century and one notable point for Ford was when UPS bought its first Model T parcel delivery cars in 1913. As vehicle history site Coachbuilt writes, Ford had enjoyed a long history in the package delivery space, building trucks and vans for a competitive market. In 1953, Ford’s Parcel Delivery vans became the P-Series and offered customers a step van that Ford advertised as being designed for modern, low-cost speed-hauling.

The truck that we’re looking at here is a 1959, and this one was advertised to keep you ahead on savings and economy while reducing delivery times and increasing service efficiency. The 1959 P-Series would do that through a low loading floor, a cabover design with a tight turning radius, and engine options for power or fuel economy.

Listings for this truck call it a “P1” but Ford’s brochure says that models for 1959 were the P-350, P-400, P-500, and P-600. This one was custom-built, so perhaps it doesn’t perfectly fit in Ford’s spec, from a Mecum listing:

Initially, custom-built to serve the S.S. Aquarama, a 525-foot, 2,500-passenger ship that sailed between Cleveland and Detroit, the P-Series spent its early days ferrying luggage into and out of the ship’s cargo hold. Built with a lower roofline so that it would fit within the Aquarama, this P1 featured sizable access doors on both the left and right sides that allowed for easy luggage handling. According to the consignor, the Ford amassed just 149 miles during its tenure with the Aquarama. In 1963, the ship was docked upon the ship line’s closing, and the P-Series remained inside, along with everything else the ship owned. The van was eventually sold in 1993 to Terry Hawke, the grandson of Hawk Tool and Engineering’s founder, to transport and advertise the company’s Pony Cycles, and it was especially known throughout the Midwest for its attendance at various vintage car and bike shows.

The van houses a 223 cubic-inch six making 139 HP, driving dual rear wheels through a manual transmission. It recently sold at Mecum Auctions and now it’s for sale again. It’s $25,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Cary, Illinois with 17,000 miles.

1999 Callaway C12 – $150,000

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Facebook Marketplace Seller

As Callaway’s site reads, the company got its start in 1970, when Reeves Callaway was a successful professional race car driver but didn’t have the funds to keep going. Callaway became a driving instructor, learning the BMW 3-Series inside and out. He would later take a 320i home with the intent of upping its horsepower. It would be only the start of Callaway’s famed heritage of taking fast cars and making them even faster.

What you’re looking at here is a rare Callaway C12. Just 20 road cars were produced using a C5 Corvette as a base:

The Callaway C12 was originally created to win the GT2 class at Le Mans. In fact, a Callaway C12.R took the class pole position at Le Mans in 2001, beating Porsche, Ferrari and other world-class marques. Subsequently produced Callaway C12 road cars utilized much of the C12.R technology, but configured to present the driver with a refined sportscar with excellent road car manners.

Built in conjunction with the IVM Engineering Group of Germany, the C12 project was a combined effort of Callaway Cars (USA) and Callaway Competition (Germany). With styling provided by Callaway’s accomplished designer, Paul Deutschman, the C12 used the 1997-2004 Corvette platform as a donor vehicle, transforming an already-great car into a world beater. With the completely new body a full two meters wide to take advantage of Le Mans dimensional regulations, Callaway engineers developed the C12 coil-over suspension with its own unique control arm forgings and tuned, adjustable dampers. C12.R power was provided by highly tuned, naturally aspirated LS-series engines built by Callaway to Le Mans specs, while C12 road cars were powered by the SuperNatural version of the new LS-series Corvette engines.

The Callaway C12 puts out an estimated 440 HP down to the rear wheels by way of a tuned 5.7-liter LS1 V8 and a manual transmission. The seller says that this C12 is how it left Callaway and it’s allegedly the only one built as a fixed-roof coupe. It’s $150,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Twinsburg, Ohio with 4,500 miles.

1980 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Pace Car Edition – $24,997

1980 Pontiac Trans Am Pace Car Model
Waukesha’s Best Used Cars

I don’t think I’ve ever featured a Firebird of any kind before. But thanks to Sheryl, that changes today. Haynes–the company that makes the manuals sitting in your garage–says that the Firebird is one of the classic American pony cars designed to compete with the Ford Mustang alongside its Camaro sibling. From 1967 through 2002, the Firebird was sold under a variety of models with the Esprit, Formula, Ram Air, Sprint, and of course, the Trans Am. As Haynes writes, the Trans Am was the performance model that typically had the biggest or most powerful engines.

What you’re looking at here is a second-generation Firebird Trans Am. By the time that this Trans Am was built in 1980, tightening emissions regulations made the Firebird’s larger engines a thing of the past. At the start of the second generation in 1970, you could get your Firebird with a 400 cubic inch V8 making up to 370 HP. There was an even bigger 455 as well, but smog regulations and unleaded fuel cut it down to 325 HP.

In 1980, the Trans Am was selected as the Official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. Pontiac sold 5,700 Firebird Turbo Trans Am Pace Car Editions, and this is one of them. Ah yes, note how I said “Turbo” in there? Pontiac began experimentation with turbocharging and an option for Firebirds in 1980 was a turbocharged 301. The Pace Cars got the engine, as well as mirrored T-tops, the WS6 handling package, its own graphics, and more. A far cry from the beefy engines earlier in the generation, this made just 210 HP.

This Trans Am Pace Car Edition is a time capsule. It hasn’t ventured far from the dealership that sold it and you get all books and documentation, including the original factory invoice. It’s $24,997 at Waukesha’s Best Used Cars in Waukesha, Wisconsin with 56,059 miles.

2003 Nissan 350Z Coupe – $7,100

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Facebook Marketplace Seller

This Nissan represents one of Sheryl’s dream cars, and I think she found a good example! It comes in orange and looks to be mostly stock. The 350Z is the fifth generation of Nissan’s Z-car. After the Nissan 300ZX left our shores in 1996, the automaker sought to keep the magic alive by replicating the 240Z–the first-generation Z of the 1970s–in the modern day. Nissan has this to say about the 350Z:

The Nissan 350Z, a two-door, two-seater sports car, kicked off production for the fifth generation of Nissan Z-Cars 2002 and ended the 6-year production hiatus in the US. 350Z, with its’ sleek redesign of 240Z DNA, helped rejuvenate the Nissan market presence going into the latter half of the decade.

As Nissan notes, the automaker had a list of must-haves for the 350Z, and some of them were to directly tie the 350Z to the 240Z. This meant a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, six-cylinder engine, and a hatchback body. The automaker goes further to note that the headlights were inspired by the 240Z, as are the squared-off windows. Inside, the 240Z nods continue with three gauge pods.

I most remember the 350Z for its appearance in tuner-based racing games. And as a kid, I had a RadioShack XMods 350Z complete with working lights, underglow, and a body kit. The 350Z earned praise for its performance and feel, as well as a strong value. Power comes from a 3.5-liter VQ35 V6 making 287 HP.

It’s $7,100 on Facebook Marketplace in Riverside, California with 138,888 miles.

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend.

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29 Responses

  1. If anyone is going to buy a 350Z these days, there’s no question it needs be an 07-08 for the HR motor, as well as the Xenon headlights, revised bumper/hood, and LED tail lights (all in 06).

    Leave that slower, less handsome 03 behind. If you want orange, find an 07 Solar Orange Pearl. They look good enough to eat!

    1. I always preferred the Infinity 2 door versions. style just looked better. Also which HR motor, the late VQ35 without VVEL or the VQ37 with First year VVEL that is also now 15 years old?

      1. The G35’s did look great, but they were PIGS. They actually weighed more than the G35 sedan, as crazy as that is.

        The 350Z HR was still a VQ35. The VQ37 didn’t come into play until… the 370Z and the G37 (this was back when model names actually meant something). But the HR models cut about half a second off 0-60 and quarter mile times while having a more even powerband.

  2. I’d heard of the low mileage van on Aquarama probably 40 years ago or so, as it caught the eye of my gearhead father.
    My father, an architect, had been called to take a look at the ship, when it was docked at Sarnia, Ontario, with an eye to updating the accommodations. There was a group that intended to use use it for running between Cleveland, OH, USA and Port Stanley, ON, CA. IIRC it was a dream that failed due the huge amounts of asbestos insulation everywhere on the ship and the cost to deal with it.

    Last I heard it was tied up rotting away somewhere and was going to be towed overseas for salvage and I wondered what happened to the van, the ship didn’t interest me much. Now I know, thank you Sheryl and Mercedes, one less thing for me to wonder about. (-:

  3. I would love to have a Mazda pickup (or its cousin, the Ford Courier) of that vintage with the 4-cylinder engine and a 5MT. Simple mechanicals, decent mileage, and a low load height would be a nice combination.

    The RD350 looks immaculate, which makes it a steal at $3100 even if there is no title (the listing doesn’t mention it). However it has been for sale for four weeks: those weeks contained several holidays (and it’s not really motorcycle season for a lot of folks) but I’m surprised no one has snapped it up. Hmm.

    If I had time and resources, it would be fun to pick up the Z and replicate the Donut Media Low Car, complete with Plasti-dip finish.

    “That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend.”

    Was this meant to be published on Friday? 🙂 OTOH it’s Monday and I would not mind another weekend right about now.

    1. D’oh! It was supposed to be published on Friday. When a post goes up on a “wrong” day we usually change a few things to make it current. I think we missed the very last sentence!

    1. Ah youth. Volvo did sporty before boxy. Get me a 1900 volvo sportscar. That model was lovely and still in demand today. But i also love the boxy wagon. Someday a magnum engine in a boxy volvo. Maybe next week depending on tomorrows Mega millions numbers.

    1. I often wonder how many people buy six-figure cars from Facebook. And if so, does the transaction work as it does for the rest of us? Do they drive six hours with a briefcase full of cash just to get stood up? lol

      1. Yeah, caveat emptor, indeed. Right now there’s a lovely old Dodge motor home
        up for sale on Bring A Trailer with the seller being in Wyoming and in the comments on BaT people are reporting that someone is apparently trying to sell the same motor home while using the exact same photographs on the Knoxville, TN Craigslist. Good grief.

  4. Noooooo not the early RD350! Those are so old fashioned.Ergonomically challenged as well.
    The later LC version is the one to have.Not only better in every way, but light years better in a few areas.

  5. I have been a lifelong second-gen Firebird fanboy since 1977, since a certain movie got loaded up and went truckin’ through my brain. Best Trans Am ever? No, honey, no. This was the sad, emissions-hobbled, corporately poisoned last iteration of the design that made the Trans Am’s reputation, and other than either the novelty of a Pace Car or as a candidate for an engine swap, there’s absolutely no reason to buy a 1980-81 T/A.

    Acceptable answers for “best ever” would be: 1973 SD-455, featuring the very last new true fire-breathing muscle car engine of the era; 1970.5 Ram Air IV – split nose is best nose, fight me; 1977 Y82 S/E for Bandit vibes, with the other best front end of the second generation, the “mean look”; 1977-79 W72/WS6, with the last true Pontiac V8 and the first appearance of the WS6 handling/4-wheel disc brakes package.

    A 1980-81 Turbo Pace Car? Meh.

  6. Mercedes and Sheryl, you are kicking ass on these picks. The rotary pickup, RD 350, and the B king that was mentioned last week are on my bucket list.
    If you want an underrated deal on a quick bike the Suzuki 1200 Bandits are a steal. Lots of power and a more upright riding position than a true sport bike.
    In the early 2000’s I got into the older metric bikes because they were crazy cheap to the point of people giving them away just to get rid of them. Had multiple Honda CB’s and a few Suzuki two stroke GT’s.
    Got to ride a RE5 Wankel that my buddy owned before they got crazy expensive. It was an odd experience, not quick for the era but it was a smooth power without the vibration that other bikes had and very warm on the legs.
    I’m also in the minority that thinks the Nissan 6cyl is awesome.

  7. Was it someone here that bought the 350Z? (Just curious, not trying to buy it off of someone.)

    Also, I am seriously tempted by the Volvo. Hitting Portland isn’t out of the question and I could sell my Niro and have money left over for gas. Is that mode-adjustable suspension going to cause headaches down the road?

  8. I must strenuously disagree with Sheryl. Any V6 that makes the noise one of those makes is some kind of wrong.
    I have never heard any one of them with any sort of non-OEM exhaust that sounded good. Just loud.

    Maybe a rotary muffler would help matters, but I kinda doubt it.

    1. Oh, she knows that her desires in a car are…hmmm…we’ll say “controversial.” 🙂 Then again, I’m the weirdo hoarding five Smart Fortwos and an old bus, so I’m not far off.

      1. Agreed weird or not Sheryl has much better financial car tastes. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But really V6? Id prefer a Volvo 5 cyl.

    2. Let me know next time you’re in western MI. I’ve had more than one car-person think the startup burble is from a V8. The VQ can be a very raspy engine, but the right combination of aftermarket parts can do wonders.

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