Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, working with cars is a blessing and a curse for me. I probably have a problem with buying too many vehicles. But hey, almost all of them run, so I have that going for me. One advantage of this – aside from being able to drive a Smart one day and a bus the next – is that I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale to share with you.
This week I’m back on my kick of cheap V12s and there are two of them this time around. There are also a couple of imports and a big GM bus.
I often search the entire country for a good balance of price and vehicle condition. But sometimes, some really cool cars end up for sale with really high prices. It’s disappointing, of course, but there’s nothing wrong with window shopping and dreaming.
So join me in looking at some fun cars, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles.
2018 Vanderhall Venice – $24,000
Vanderhall Motor Works was founded in 2010 by Steve Hall, a designer who toiled away at designing a three-wheeled car for five years before offering them to the public. As Dupont Registry writes, Hall’s first prototypes looked a bit bonkers and handled chaotically. They didn’t even have reverse gears, either. But over time, the design was worked from something that looked like it came out of Grand Theft Auto to what you see today.
Vanderhall’s design language is a mix of retro and futuristic, where their trikes replicate a vintage racer with modern touches. The mix of old and new continues in the cockpit, where you steer it from a wooden wheel and flip toggle switches, but it has power steering and Bluetooth. And under that hood is a front-wheel-drive powertrain featuring a 1.4-liter turbocharged four from a Chevy Cruze making 200 HP.
If you’re as much in love as I am, then you can grab it for $24,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania.
1978 Subaru BRAT – $7,000
As MotorTrend writes, the BRAT (Bi-Drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter) was Subaru’s response to then increasing demand for small Japanese trucks. To make a BRAT, Subaru took the platform of the Leone and ironed it out into a little part-time AWD truck. Unfortunately for Subaru and other foreign makes, the Chicken Tax threatened a 25 percent import tariff. Subaru’s solution? It put sweet jump seats in the bed, technically making it a passenger vehicle and not a truck.
But that’s fine, because those rear seats make for a wild time when you’re riding in the back while off-roading.
This BRAT isn’t concours quality, but it does appear to be one of the cleanest in the nation for under $10,000. It has custom bumpers and its red paint has been replaced with white. But it looks to be all there, including the jump seats. A 1.6-liter boxer four is under the hood making 67 HP. The seller notes that a road trip in this is torturous as top speed is 70 mph.
It’s $7,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Chelsea, Michigan with 96,500 miles. Ad courtesy of Obscure Cars for Sale.
1964 Volkswagen Berry C-Cab Mini-T Buggy – $12,500
As our Jason Torchinsky can readily tell you, the old Volkswagen Beetle wasn’t just a people’s car, but a platform for all kinds of custom jobs and other vehicles. There are lots of buggies out there powered by air-cooled VW hearts. One buggy kit was the Berry Mini-T Buggy, and it meshed VW parts with a cute fiberglass body that evoked the look of a Ford Model T C-Cab truck while scoring that vintage hot rod style.
As UltraVW writes, the Berry Mini-T Buggy kit was launched in 1969 by Dick Berry and his son. Manufactured at Berry Plasti-Glass in Pismo Beach, California, the father-son team drew from their experience from making body panels for race cars including the Ford GT40. Berry Mini-T Buggy kits are actually made from two parts, but are bonded together and appear as one. A year later, Berry expanded on the idea with the C-Cab Mini-T, which added the awesome top and cargo area that you see today.
The seller for this one doesn’t say anything about the engine, but does mention that the frame has little rust and that it runs and drives. It’s $7,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Dayton, Ohio with 30,000 miles.
2001 Nova Bus RTS-06 – $6,500
For some reason I have a hankering to buy a second bus. I’m not sure if that is a worse or a better thought than buying a Volkswagen Phaeton W12. But, my lists of vehicles for sale contain buses that have filled my nightly dreams for years. This 2001 Nova Bus RTS-06 seems like a good pick. It appears to be the same bus as my 2002 Nova (I wouldn’t be surprised if it also came from Texas A&M University, too) but repainted and the transit seats were removed a long time ago.
The Rapid Transit Series (RTS) is General Motors’ successor to the famed New Look transit bus. Back in 1970, the United States Urban Mass Transportation Administration launched the Transbus program to reverse declining bus ridership while advancing bus technology. GM’s entrant was the innovative Rapid Transit Experimental. This three-axle beast featured plastic body panels, a gas turbine engine, and a funky then ultra-modern interior. The GMC Truck and Coach Division eventually pulled out of the Transbus program, but it had a backup plan to develop the RTX into the buses that we know today.
Not all of the advancements were lost on the way to production. The gas turbines were left in the past, but the stainless steel unitized body built in five-foot sections stuck around. So did the plastic skin and acrylic windows.
GM built the RTS-II from 1977 to 1987, before passing the torch to Transportation Manufacturing Corporation. TMC kept things going until 1994, when Nova Bus took over. Nova produced its version of the RTS until 2002, when the bus passed to Millennium Transit Services in 2002. That means that this 2001 is one of the last of the Novas, like mine.
Power comes from a Detroit Diesel Series 50. It’s an 8.5-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel making 250 horsepower and 735 lb-ft torque transmitted through a five-speed ZF 5HP592C push-button automatic. This is a TAMU bus like mine, and that means it’s geared for higher speed. You’ll enjoy a top speed of about 70 mph and roughly 7.5 mpg on the highway. And you do it from a piece of transit history.
The seller in Hitchcock, Texas has a pair of them for $6,500 each. That’s actually more than a few grand cheaper than the last TAMU buses sold at auction and just a little more than I paid for mine. Be sure to take a long enough test drive to determine if it has overheating, injector, or oil pressure problems.
1996 Mitsubishi Chariot Resort Runner GT – $12,000
Originally launched in 1983, the Mitsubishi Chariot was originally not much more than a quirky people carrier. North America saw the first-generation as the Dodge/Plymouth Colt Vista and the Eagle Vista Wagon. We got the second-generation, too, as the Mitsubishi Expo. What we didn’t get was the hot version, the Mitsubishi Chariot Resort Runner GT. And thus, this is a JDM import.
That may be a clump of words, but the car itself was fantastic. For starters, it has a giant bubble moonroof. It also has a manual transmission and all-wheel-drive. Oh, and the engine comes from the Lancer Evolution I and Galant VR-4. In this application the 2.0-liter 4G63 is making 244 horses. This is a three-row, 7 person MPV that hits 60 mph in under 7 seconds and races on to a top speed of 140 mph.
This one appears to me in very clean condition for $12,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Alpine, New Jersey.
2017 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L – $9,995
Originally launched in 1988, The Honda XRV650 Africa Twin was a road legal dual-sport inspired by the company’s NXR-750 Dakar Rally racer. Honda’s NXR bikes won the Dakar four consecutive times, cementing the brand’s popularity in the sport. And the Africa Twin didn’t just look the part, as in 1989, 18 privateer riders finished the Dakar on lightly modified Africa Twins. Developments continued on the motorcycle until it was discontinued in 2003.
Not to let BMW, Triumph, and Ducati have all of the fun in the off-road market, Honda brought back the Africa Twin in 2016. The new Africa Twin comes with a 998cc parallel twin making about 94 HP. A truly modern machine, an Africa Twin features riding modes, throttle-by-wire, and other ride control options. You could even get it with a DCT, if that’s your thing.
This Africa Twin keeps the motorcycle manual transmission and is said to be in good condition. It’s on Facebook Marketplace for $9,995 in Pittsburg, Kansas with 23,000 miles.
1983 Datsun 280ZX Turbo – $18,995
In 1969, Datsun won the hearts of enthusiasts after it put the 240Z into production. As MotorTrend notes, it was a response to Toyota’s 2000GT. And that affordable sports car was only the start of a famed nameplate that remains on sale today. The Z car’s design and goals have varied over the years, and for a moment in time the Z was more of a grand tourer than a pure sports car.
One of those GT-style cars was the second-generation, the 280ZX. The second-gen Z car was a bit larger, more luxurious, and heavier than its predecessor. Its MacPherson strut front and semi-trailing arm rear made it more comfortable, and a little less sharp.
However, it wasn’t all comfort. The car was aerodynamic and four discs brought stopping power. And in 1981, Datsun released the 280ZX Turbo. Under the hood is a 2.8-liter turbo six making 180 hp and 203 lb-ft torque. That combines with a manual transmission and T-tops to make for what should be a fun driving experience. With a zero to 60 mph time of around 7.4 seconds, it has decent acceleration for a car of its day.
This one is notable for having original paint and a clean interior. It looks like it’s seen good care over its 86,067-mile life. It’s $18,995 on Auto Trader in Clinton, North Carolina.
1948 Lincoln Continental – $30,000
The Lincoln Continental has a history of style and elegance. I love the way that these look, including the rare Coach Door Edition owned by Beau. Ford itself is proud enough about the Continental to have written some history about it.
While the Ford Motor Company was known more for dependable transportation and the power of the V-8 engine than stylistic automobile design, Edsel wanted Lincoln to be different. In 1932, Edsel met Bob Gregorie, whose background had actually been designing yachts until the depression drove him to find work in the Detroit auto industry. Edsel, Gregorie and John Crawford, Edsel’s executive assistant and shopmaster formed a three-person design team for the Ford Motor Company and Lincoln. The inspiration of the Continental began with a trip by Edsel and Eleanor Ford to Europe in 1938. Edsel was impressed by the design and elegance of the European automobiles he saw. When he returned from the trip, he challenged Gregorie to work with him to create a new and stylish Lincoln.
The team began with the existing Lincoln Zephyr chassis as its basis. Gregorie designed a special convertible coupe (or cabriolet, keeping with our European theme). The drawings were ready by October 1938 with a 10th scale clay model shortly thereafter. The car became a passion point for Edsel Ford as he stopped by the design studio daily to monitor the progress and offer suggestions. Gregorie later said of Edsel Ford “He had the vision. I did the work of translating his vision into workable designs.” In one instance, Gregorie wanted to hide the spare tire in the trunk, but Edsel insisted in keeping it mounted to the rear of the car to reinforce the image of a low speedy automobile. The car had that look because special panels were added to lengthen the hood by 12 inches while four inches were removed from the body to lower the car. The low, sleek Continental design was born.
The Continental launched in late 1939 as the Lincoln-Zephyr Continental. Two years later, Zephyr would be dropped from the name and the car branded as the Lincoln Continental.
The car you see before you is a first-generation Continental, but with the first-generation’s post-World War II redesign. By this time, Edsel had passed away and Ford redesigned the vehicle with the help of industrial designer Raymond Loewy. Eventually, Ford decided that the hand-built Continental was in a market that didn’t have room for it, and ended production of the first-generation in 1948.
This Continental features hydraulic power windows, fog lights, fender skirts, bumper overriders, and more. Power comes from a 292-cubic inch V12 making 125 HP and 220 lb-ft torque. Shifting is achieved through a column-shifted three-speed. It’s also been through a complete restoration with what appears to be a documented history. It’s $30,000 on Hemmings in Los Angeles, California.
1999 Mercedes-Benz SL600 – $12,800
In 1999, this car sold new for at least $126,900, or $228,833 in today’s money. Today, this V12 drop-top coupe has depreciated to about a tenth of that price. Hemmings notes that between 1993 and 2002, there were 11,086 R129 SL600s built. Through the R129’s run these cars got features like electronically controlled damping, seat belts integrated into the seats, side airbags, and even a cellphone.
But the highlight of the show is that 6.0-liter V12. It makes 389 HP and 420 lb-ft torque, good for a 60 mph acceleration time of 5.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 155 mph.
This SL600 is said to have never seen snow and everything works. Of course, I should warn you that these old Mercs have hydraulic systems that will try to break you when they break. Still, when it works, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear. It’s $12,800 on Facebook Marketplace in Fort Wayne, Indiana with 91,000 miles.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.