Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know by now, I have an affliction with searching for, drooling over, and eventually buying cars. And unlike my friend and editor David, I seemingly never get rid of them. As a result of my habits, I have amassed a huge list of cars for sale clogging up my hard drive and my saved list on Facebook Marketplace.
Normally, I do nothing with this list but wish that I had purchased that Volkswagen Phaeton W12 instead of another Passat TDI wagon. Sometimes I make half-baked plans to buy something far away. Much of this is hardly productive, but I’ve found another use my list, and it’s sharing it with you, dear reader. So buckle up!
I’ll warn you right away, some of these may be downright stupid or crappy cars. Some of them are questionably modified. Some of them may be suspiciously cheap. And some, unfortunately, may be a bit too expensive for many enthusiasts. But it’s ok to window shop! So let’s take a peek under the covers of my long list of the cars and motorcycles that I’ve been pining for lately.
2000 Honda Insight – $4,800
If you want a car that scores phenomenal fuel economy, you don’t have to buy new and you don’t have to buy a hacked up Geo Metro, either. Over 20 years ago, Honda released a car that is rated to get 49 mpg in city and a whopping 61 mpg on the highway. The first-generation Honda Insight is so good at sipping on fuel that it held the EPA crown of “Most Efficient EPA-Certified Vehicle – Gasoline” from 2000 to 2015. It took the 2016 Toyota Prius Eco to unseat it, and it only did so with an EPA combined rating of 56 mpg vs. the Insight’s 53 combined mpg. But the Insight still bested the Prius on the highway by 8 mpg, a feat it still achieves today.
How did Honda do it? The Insight features a lightweight aluminum structure and some pretty radical aerodynamics. This is a car that weighed roughly the same as a Smart Fortwo despite the vehicle’s hybrid equipment. It also sacrificed on practicality. A Prius seats four, while you’re getting just two in the Insight.
The Insight can also do something that many other hybrids can’t, and it’s continue to drive after the high voltage battery bites the dust. Other hybrids use the HV battery to power the motor generator to start the ICE, but an Insight can run on just its engine alone.
Weirdly, searching on sites like CarGurus, Auto Trader, CarFax and similar sites usually yields zero results for a first-gen. That leaves enthusiast sites and Facebook or Craigslist.
Here’s an Insight that doesn’t have a million miles, comes in a fun enough color, and yep, has a manual transmission. It’s $4,800 on Facebook Marketplace in Liberty, Missouri with 158,000 miles.
2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe – $20,900
Here’s a car so rare that it’s rarer than a Ferrari F40. That’s not hyperbole. The targa coupe version of the Solstice went on sale in 2009, selling just 1,266 copies. Meanwhile, there are 1,311 F40s out there.
The Solstice is one of those awesome cars to come from the brain of legendary auto exec Bob Lutz. One of Lutz’s dreams was to create an affordable, rear-wheel-drive American roadster. When Lutz took the helm at GM, he finally took his chance to realize the dream. The General’s engineers created the Kappa platform, and riding on it is a handful of low-slung roadsters. It launched with the Pontiac Solstice, a curvaceous drop-top sports car that was America’s answer to the Miata. It robbed GM’s part bins with engines form the Chevy Cobalt, reverse lights from the GMC Envoy, a transmission from the Chevy Colorado, and more. But the end result is something that looks gorgeous even today.
Saturn got the Sky, Daewoo got the G2X and Opel had the GT. Spanish automaker Tauro even used the Kappa platform for a V8-powered sports car. Towards the end of Solstice production, Pontiac decided that the Solstice needed a hardtop, and created a fastback out of its roadster.
Being a coupe would be cool enough, but this one has a treat under the hood. There’s a 2.0-liter Ecotec LNF turbo in there. That gives you 260 hp and 260 lb-ft torque to the rear wheels through a manual transmission. The seller’s asking $28,900 for it with 42,800 miles. This same car could be had for half of the price with a fabric roof, so it’s definitely for the person who really wants a coupe.
1971 Honda CT90 Trail 90 – $2,250
The Honda CT90 Trail 90 traces its roots back to the venerable Super Cub. Honda notes that back in 1960, a dealership noticed that a ton of Honda 50 sales were going to people who lived out in the mountains, and not cities. This gave the dealer the idea to put knobby tires and a different sprocket on the motorcycles and sell them as trail bikes.
This was successful enough that the dealer pitched the idea to American Honda, and in 1961 the CA100T Trail 50 was available for sale.
The little motorcycle got improvements over the years. Eventually, it became its own model instead of being a Super Cub with off-road bits. The off-road motorcycle gained a reduction gear, telescopic fork, a heavy duty cargo rack, and a high exhaust and intake to prevent water ingestion.
These little motorcycles remain popular today, and it’s no surprise that old ones like this one even get restored. This 1971 model is said to have gone through a total nut and bolt restoration and repaint. Sadly, the original engine didn’t make the final cut and now there’s a Lifan 125cc single in there. That makes 7.5 HP, or about what the original engine made. It’s $2,250 on Facebook Marketplace in Bloomington, Illinois.
1969 Austin-Healey Sprite – $8,500
As MotorTrend writes, when the Sprite launched in 1958, it was intended to be a low-cost roadster for the masses. It featured a semi-monocoque construction where the panels were stressed members and like the Solstice on this list, it robbed parts bins. In this case, the Sprite got parts from the British Motor Corporation.
The Sprite that you see here is the fourth iteration of the Sprite. [Editor’s Note: These ones were essentially re-badged MG Midgets – JT] These had improvements over previous Sprites like a folding top that was attached to the car and reverse lights. Older cars had tops that detached and had to be stowed.
Power comes from a 1.3-liter four that was shared with the Mini Cooper S, but it’s making less power here. You get 65 hp compared to the Mini’s 76 hp, which sounds like nothing, but it’s moving a body that comes in at just 1,574 pounds. This one looks real clean, and the seller claims it’s from California. It’s $8,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Asbury Park, New Jersey with 47,000 miles.
1991 Honda Cub EZ90 – $4,500
As car enthusiast site Silodrome notes, the EZ90 was an off-road motorcycle that was designed to be as easy to live with as possible. We’re talking about a motorcycle with an automatic transmission, a sealed drive chain, an electric starter and a low seat. These were designed so that you just hopped on them, twisted the throttle, and had the time of your life. It was one of a number of motorcycles that Honda designed to be easy for owners, another would be the PC800 and the ADV150.
Honda didn’t stop with just making the scooter equivalent of a dirt bike, but it also wrapped it up in futuristic plastics. This looks like the motorcycle that an astronaut might ride on the Moon. Unfortunately, it’s not road legal, so don’t expect to take this motorcycle and its 90cc two stroke single down the road. Or at least, not without first adding equipment like lights and mirrors.
This EZ90 presents in pretty good shape and its up for grabs for $4,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Sodus, New York.
1993 Daihatsu Atrai Cruise – $9,000
One of the most absurd driving experiences that you can have is behind the wheel of a kei van. Imagine driving a Smart Fortwo, but higher off of the ground on narrower tires and from a seating position not unlike a city bus. Yep, it’s awful…but it’s so awful that it comes back around to being fun.
But that’s only part of what makes a kei van great. You get tons of visibility, surprisingly decent room for four people, and in the case of vans like this Atrai Cruise, you can get them with seats that turn into beds and a mostly glass roof.
If you’re wondering what an Atrai is, it’s the van version of the Daihatsu Hijet kei truck. This 1993 is a seventh-generation model and it features a 660cc three making 64 HP transmitted through a manual transmission. A huge bonus with going with this van is fuel injection. Popular competition from this era used complicated carburetors, but you aren’t getting that with this.
It’s $9,000 in Pleasanton, California on Facebook Marketplace. Unfortunately, you may not be able to register this in Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and Georgia.
1941 Packard One-Twenty – $50,000
Canada’s Globe and Mail news notes that the One-Twenty was Packard’s saving grace in 1935. While Packard outsold the competition, it was still a luxury marque when in a time when money was tight. In an effort to survive, Packard pivoted to mass-produced vehicles aimed at the competitive mid-price luxury car market. It worked, and Packard survived the Great Depression.
This One-Twenty is in the vehicle’s short second-generation. These are different from previous One-Twenty models with a column shifter, transmissions with synchros, and an overdrive gear that was advertised to reduce engine speed by 27.8 percent. Packard also marketed the new One-Twenty as being more richly appointed than the first-generation.
Power comes from a 3.6-liter straight eight making 120 hp. This one looks to be in exceptionally good shape and the seller says that the current owner has had it since the late 1970s. It’s $50,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Carrollton, Ohio with 61,755 miles.
2002 Isuzu VehiCROSS – $4,100
The VehiCROSS is one of those oddities from Isuzu’s final U.S. struggle. And while it may be known best for its wild style, it was also pretty technologically advanced. Sure, it had the same running gear as other SUVs in Isuzu’s line, but it was in the suspension and four-wheel-drive system where the VehiCROSS shined.
The suspension features monotube shocks with external heat-expansion chambers. Isuzu marketed these shocks as nearly impossible to overheat while providing extra damping over regular shocks. You’ll find shocks like these on all sorts of off-roaders today, but as Isuzu notes, they were more for racing back then.
This was complemented with an advanced 4×4 system that used 12 input sensors and a software map to try to detect slippage before it occurred. When the system did, it sends power to the front axle to rectify the slipping. And of course, you got a low range as well.
While the VehiCROSS is rare and properly weird, they haven’t become collectible. Thus, you can get this one for $4,100 on Facebook Marketplace in Menominee, Michigan with 196,000 miles.
1964 Chevrolet C10 Deluxe – $67,998
This last one is pricey, but it was so gorgeous to see in person. If I just randomly had nearly 70 large laying around I would have purchased it (or the looker next to it) right then and there.
The first-generation Chevy C/K line of trucks replaced their Task Force predecessors. Much like the Ford trucks of the era, General Motors gave pickup buyers more comfort options and a style that isn’t all work. Cabs got a little bit bigger with larger windows, too. And in case you were wondering, the “C” denotes two-wheel-drive trucks while “K” trucks have four-wheel-drive.
This Deluxe truck features power steering, power brakes, air-conditioning, an automatic transmission, and 4.6-liter V8. While the truck has been restored a bit and painted in a fantastic turquoise, these options are said to be factory. That engine should be making 160 HP.
The statements about the exterior being almost perfect are amazingly pretty accurate; the paint really does have a glass finish and I didn’t see any rust, either. At least to my eye, someone did a good job with this truck. It’s for sale at the Volo Auto Museum for $67,998.
That’s it for this week, folks! Thanks for tuning in, and I hope you enjoyed the week’s picks.