Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, I love picking up dirt-cheap cars, motorcycles, and campers, then telling you lovely readers about the dumb things that I do with them. I’m always looking for the next deal, but most of the time, I’m left empty-handed. At the same time, I love building a list of cars, trucks, and motorcycles that I would buy if I had the money to buy them.
Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness turns the long lists of vehicles I’d love to buy into something for you all to enjoy. Some of them are cheap and some of them are not. Some of the vehicles I find are purely window shopping for everyone but maybe Beau.
This week, I’ve challenged myself to find neat vehicles all for under $10,000. It’s a return to my roots of cheap stuff that doesn’t break the bank. As such, you will not find a single vehicle on this list above that. Yet, everything runs and I’ve even managed to snag some imports.
Here’s what I’m looking at this week!
1990 Dodge Ramcharger – $8,000
The 1970s saw a rise in large truck-based SUVs like the Chevrolet K5 Blazer, Ford Bronco, and the International Harvester Scout. These SUVs boasted style, practicality, and off-road prowess. Introduced in 1974 and riding on a shortened version of the Ram’s platform, the Dodge Ramcharger offered Mopar fans an off-roader with seating for up to six and up to 440 cubic inches of V8 power.
This Ramcharger comes from the SUV’s second generation. Notable changes include a permanently affixed welded-steel top and more rear legroom. Power comes from a 360 cubic inch fuel-injected V8 making 193 HP and 285 lb-ft torque. This goes through an automatic transmission to reach the rear wheels.
Sadly, this unit is not a 4×4. Normally, I’d search for the best version of a vehicle I could find. I’ve noticed that the vast majority of Ramchargers for sale for under $10,000 have cancerous rust problems. This one is said to have rust on its rear quarters, but it presents better inside and out than most in this price range. It’s $8,000 from the seller in Oswego, Kansas with 213,000 miles.
1950 Chevrolet Styleline Business Coupe – $9,500
As Hagerty writes, 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.”
Back in March, I showed you what $26,000 buys you with a cherry red 1949 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe. Today, we have a 1950 Chevrolet Styleline Business Coupe for less than half of that price. According to Hagerty, Business Coupe models represented the cheapest of the line and could be had for as little as $1,300 in 1950.
This Business Coupe is apparently an older restoration and there appear to be minor mods such as the rear bumper no longer being chrome. Power comes from a 216.5 cubic inch six making 92 HP and pushing it through a column-shift manual transmission. It’s $9,500 from the seller in Davison, Michigan.
2010 Jaguar XF Supercharged – $8,500
Here’s a way into a fast cat without breaking the bank. As Car and Driver reported in January 2007, Jaguar’s sales were falling, cash was bleeding out, and its then-owner, Ford, was considering selling the brand. Something had to change. In 2007, Director of Design Ian Callum worked with Head of Advanced Design Julian Thomson to create the C-XF concept car. That car was a preview for the big styling change to come for the brand.
Gone were Jag’s classic designs. Instead, the marque aimed for serious sex appeal. The production XF hit the road in September 2007. At the vehicle’s release, Jaguar said: “This is the beginning of a new era for Jaguar.” Later in the release, Jaguar said that the XF is the first of a new sedan design language for the brand and that it has a coupe-style roofline.
Original goals for the XF called for an aluminum spaceframe, but Jaguar had to work with the resources it had. Thus, the car rode on the Ford DEW98 platform that underpinned its S-Type predecessor. The Holy Grail XF is the Jaguar XF S Sportbrake, but you aren’t finding one of those for under $10,000.
Consider the XF Supercharged. Power comes from a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 good for 470 HP. Sadly, no manual transmission, but I’m not going to complain with a 4.3-second time to 60 mph. The seller of this one provides rather crummy pictures, but what we can see seems decent. Its title is also clean without reported accidents. You can get it for $8,500 from the seller in Erie, Colorado with 127,000 miles.
1974 DAF 66 Combi – $7,110 – $8,204
Here’s a weird classic car with the first mass-market CVT! I’ll let our friends at the Lane Motor Museum explain:
D.A.F. is a Dutch company that began in the late 1920s as a garage. After WWII, the company started manufacturing commercial vehicles. The economical situation and the success of D.A.F. trucks made it possible for Hub Van Doorne to realize his dream of producing a luxury car. He wanted to develop a car that was affordable by the average person. In 1958, the D.A.F. 600 was introduced. It was produced with a step-free variomatic transmission, a fully automatic system using a centrifugal clutch and v-belt drive with a limited-slip differential. With only a forward-and-reverse lever, the D.A.F. was one of the easiest cars to drive of its time.
The DAF 66 was introduced in 1972 as the successor to the DAF 55. This would be the last four-cylinder car to wear the DAF name. DAF 66 variations included a coupe, a sedan, and this, the Combi. Power comes from a 1.1-liter straight-four making 53 HP. The auction house notes that some rust repair is needed on the rear.
It’s expected to sell for between $7,110 – $8,204 when the hammer falls on the Classic, Sports Cars & Youngtimers te Eibergen auction on July 12 in the Netherlands.
1989 Honda Transalp XL600V – $5,000
The Honda Transalp is a motorcycle that is engineered for good road manners while also being able to take you anywhere you want to go. Honda called the motorcycle a “new concept touring bike” and while it wasn’t a new idea, it certainly predated the popularity of today’s sporty adventure bikes. It’s a bike designed to be capable off of the road, but comfortable on it, from Honda:
The XL600V TRANSALP, which debuted in 1986, was popularised as “a mid-size sports bike that offers all-round enjoyment from city to highway, from mountain passes to dirt roads, and as the first Honda dual-purpose bike to feature a fairing that enhances comfort at high speeds, it is a comfortable way to enjoy long tours on a grand scale”.
Compared to an Africa Twin, a Transalp is supposed to be smaller, a bit more road-friendly, and a bit softer. The Transalp has endured through four generations and while Americans currently cannot go to their Honda Powersports dealer to buy one, there is a Transalp on the way for the American market.
That said, you could buy one of the first Transalps right now. This 1989 model comes with a 583cc V-twin making 50 HP. The seller doesn’t say much other than calling the bike well-maintained and that it gets only ethanol-free fuel. It’s $5,000 from the seller in Vancouver, Washington with 37,500 miles.
1947 Nash 600 – $9,000
The Nash 600 often gets credited as being America’s first mass-produced unibody car. Now, it’s certainly not the absolute first unibody car, and depending on who you ask, the Nash wasn’t even the first American unibody car. The Lancia Lambda had a unibody nearly 20 years earlier and the Opel Olympia beat the Nash by a handful of years as well.
Before the Nash, there was the Chrysler Airflow, which as Mac’s Motor City Garage notes, used more modern construction techniques with metal stampings instead of hardwood braces. The occupants also rode lower as opposed to on top of the frame. But it technically wasn’t a unibody car. The service manual calls for a separate ladder-style chassis that bolted onto the bottom of the body. There was also the Lincoln Zephyr, which also had a frame, but it was welded on rather than bolted on.
In 1941, George Mason was president of the Nash Kelvinator Company, and the company’s founder, Charles W. Nash, was board chairman. Mason reportedly envisioned a midsize car with a lower price and a novel method of construction. Nash pinched Ted Ulrich of the Budd Company for development. At launch, Nash advertised the 600 as weighing 500 fewer pounds than a car with a frame and that you could drive the Nash some 600 miles on a 20-gallon tank of gas, the equivalent of 30 mpg. That 600-mile range claim is where this car gets its name.
This 1947 Nash 600 is powered by a 172.6 cubic inch flathead straight-six making 82 HP sending power to the rear wheels through a three-speed manual. It’s unclear if this engine is original or if it’s rebuilt, but the seller says the car is an older restoration. It’s $9,000 from the seller in Pompano Beach, Florida.
1991 Citroën BX14 TGE – $6,900
Despite my self-imposed price ceiling this week, I was able to find a sort of weird French import. The Citroën BX was an important car for the brand the incredibly successful car helped solidify its position in what it calls the upper-middle-class market. From Citroën:
Launched in 1978 under the codename “XB”, the Citroën BX project set out to create a modern, unconventional vehicle with an emphasis on innovation. BX was to be a transverse-engine vehicle, lightweight to ensure good acceleration and low fuel consumption to help with cost savings. Like all top-of-the-range Citroën cars of this era, the 5-door hatchback BX was fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension system to ensure comfort and impeccable road holding.
The first vehicle of the PSA era, BX was developed with the help of CAD (computer-aided design), state-of-the-art technology at the time, to help to perfect the design and dynamism of the car. Engines were taken from PSA group’s bank of powertrains, with powerful engines from its earliest release (62 bhp and 72 bhp 1360 cc, 90 bhp 1580 cc).
Citroën approached the famous Italian coachbuilder Bertone to design BX. The designer Marcello Gandini then proposed an original shape that stood out in the automotive landscape of the time. The cockpit was also striking, with a CX-inspired dashboard featuring characteristic equipment such as satellite controls on either side of the steering wheel and the backlit tachometer.
The selling dealer, Classic Auto Mall, says this Citroën BX14 TGE has the aforementioned hydropneumatic suspension with three settings. It’s said to be in working order. What doesn’t work is the radio. Apparently, there are a few electrical gremlins to track down that keep the air-conditioner and turn signals from working properly.
[Editor’s Note: Why is the hood badge upside down? – JT]
Aside from those problems, the car is said to present well. There is no rust and the interior looks similarly great. Power comes from a 1360cc four making 71 HP driving the front wheels through a manual transmission. It’s $6,900 from Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown, Pennsylvania with 113,000 miles.
1969 Wards Riverside 175 – $3,500
This adorable motorcycle is another two-wheeler from those times when you could buy a foreign bike with a domestic name slapped on it. During the 1950s, you could buy a Kaiser Henry J rebadged as an Allstate. Sears also rebadged Puch and Gilera motorcycles. Well, Sears wasn’t the only store schlepping rebadged captive import motorcycles. Montgomery Ward had its own rebadging going on. During the 1950s, the retailer sold Motobecane mopeds and during the 1960s, Montgomery Ward took Italian Benelli motorcycles and rebranded them as Wards Riverside. Basically, Sears and Wards were willing to sell you just about anything if they thought you would buy it.
Here’s a quick primer on Benelli, which exists today as a brand under the umbrella of China’s Qianjiang Motor Group, itself a brand of Geely:
The story of Benelli Motorcycles goes back to just past the turn of the 20th century. Six brothers, one story. Six men for a legend to become reality. It was the spring of 1911 when Teresa Benelli, widowed, invested all her family’s money to establish a workshop, hoping to ensure a stable job for her six sons, Giuseppe, Giovanni, Filippo, Francesco, Domenico and Antonio “Tonino” Benelli. At the beginning it was only a service garage, where spare parts for cars and motorcycles were made. But the six Benelli brothers had a much higher ambition, building motorcycles. Eight years later, in 1919, the first engine was born, a two stroke 75cc applied to a bicycle frame, but this did not produce satisfying results. In December 1921 the first real Benelli motorcycle appeared, the “Velomotore”, 98cc two stroke lightweight bike presented in two models, Touring and Sport (125cc), followed in 1923 by a 147 cc version. This is the version Tonino Benelli started to win races on, which made the Pesaro company renown throughout Europe.
Power comes from a 175cc two-stroke single. I could not find exact power numbers, but the 125cc version was advertised as making 6.5 HP, so I’d expect this guy to be closer to the 10 HP range. This Riverside 175 was restored 15 years ago and has ridden only 100 miles since. The bike has largely been a showpiece. It does run and ride but apparently may need a little carb cleaning to be back to prime shape. It’s $3,500 from the seller in Charleston, South Carolina.
2008 Volkswagen Golf R32 – $7,990
My recent piece about the triumphant return of the Volkswagen VR6 engine has me thinking about the raucous Golf R32. Unfortunately, finding one of these for under $10,000 miles and in decent enough shape was a challenge. I found plenty of very rusty R32s, practical piles of R32s with salvage titles, and many more R32s with modifications that would make them impossible to register in some states.
Thus, I’ve landed on an R32 that isn’t perfect, but hopefully won’t immediate cost you a ton of money. This R32 has 190,199 miles and a CarFax that indicates minor front end damage 8 years ago, but it comes with a clean title, some service history, and at least visually, it’s not destroyed.
Volkswagen says what originally birthed the R32 was its engineers envisioning a model that performed even better than a Golf GTI. Those engineers then drew from the company’s rallying efforts to create the R32. Produced globally starting in 2005 (late 2007 for North America), this car comes from the Mk 5 generation of the Golf. Power from its 3.2-liter VR6 is 250 HP, and power reaches all four wheels through DSG automatic.
Sadly, subsequent R models would lose Volkswagen’s famous VR6. So, if you want that engine in a Golf package with all-wheel-drive without doing it yourself, a Golf R32 is probably the ticket. As Volkswagen says, it’s good for a sprint to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds, but you can have it only with the DSG.
Aside from the decent exterior, I chose this R32 because it’s one of just a few I found without a blown apart seat bolster, so it seems someone tried taking care of it. This car is $7,990 from Drive CLE in Willoughby, Ohio.
That’s it for this week, thank you for reading!
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