Home » Datsun 280ZX Turbo, Lincoln Continental, Mitsubishi Chariot Resort Runner GT: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

Datsun 280ZX Turbo, Lincoln Continental, Mitsubishi Chariot Resort Runner GT: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness


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

Facebook Marketplace

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

Facebook Marketplace

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

Facebook Marketplace

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

Facebook Marketplace

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

Facebook Marketplace

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

Facebook Marketplace


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

Auto Trader

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

Facebook Marketplace

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.

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49 Responses

  1. I’m pretty sure that the driver of that Lincoln is legally obligated to wear a pinstripe suit and a fedora. Carrying a Thompson in a violin case is still optional, though.

    1. I feel like I already missed bottom pricing of that generation SL. I’d probably skip the 600 because I can’t imagine the V-12 makes maintenance any cheaper, but the SL500 should have plenty of power for cruising with the top down.

  2. I can’t stress enough how amazing those RTS-series buses looked to young me at the time. They instantly made every other bus look like ancient technology (which was honestly not far off the mark). Los Angeles RTD (now Metro) adopted them at the beginning of the 1980s, although it took a good number of years for them to modernize the entire fleet. In fact, by the late 80s RTD were already cycling-out the GM buses in favor of Neoplan buses (which stayed in the fleet for over 10 years despite supposed build quality issues).

    Regardless, even now the RTS buses don’t look particularly outdated in terms of aesthetics. That was one solid design.

    1. They were using Neoplans as early as 1984. One appears on the cover of RTD’s special route map/schedule for the 1984 Olympics, which is especially surprising since GM was an Olympic sponsor.

  3. That might be the best example of an all original unrestored 280ZX in existence. Something about the proportions always appealed to me more than the 240. In the early 1980’s, teenage me thought the 280ZX was the most beautiful car ever made. Middle aged me is still enthralled by it.

      1. I remember, as a kid in the late ’70s in Phoenix, getting excited when my bus would come into view and it was one of the new RTS series buses. They had excellent air conditioning and “modern” blue, plastic seats, unlike the older buses that had black vinyl and lousy a/c. The only thing cooler was the “bendy” buses.

        1. RTS-01 and 02 series had weaker A/C, those are the early “slantbacks”. The squared-off rear was to accommodate a larger A/C compressor, which retrofitted to the early models but required the updated squareback rear piece. Chittenden County Transit Authority (Burlington, VT) ran the slantbacks with the original setup until they were retired, I assume Phoenix went for the a/c upgrade.

  4. That Vanderhall is like a poor (but still able to throw 24-large around on a toy car) man’s version of the Morgan three-wheeler, and I am here for it!

    Any time I see that type of Benz at the end, I think of that scene in the Ace Ventura movie where he’s tracking down all of the football players to see whose ring is missing a diamond. Ace gets himself flipped off by one of the players who’s driving one of those.
    I remember watching that scene as a kid and thinking: That car doesn’t look flashy or ostentatious; it just looks NICE!
    The styling has really aged well, and I think it still looks nice.

      1. They are very, very fun. Just as a service I’ll mention why I ended up swapping it out for something a bit more traditional:
        – The transmission. It’s a vanilla 6 speed slushbox and the optional paddles are mere suggestions. Plus getting a “fun vehicle” did remind me of how much I missed rowing my own gears.
        – It will accommodate a tall guy (I’m 6’6″) but up to a point, after the second time I pinched a back nerve after a long ride I started looking at alternatives.
        – The one dealer who ran them near the SF bay area called it quits and the nearest one was 3 1/2 hours away. If I wanted to have the thing serviced by someone who knew the vehicles it was going to be a mess.

        Other than that it’s what it looks like and it’s noisy and quick and has shitloads of grip so even with FWD (twice the traction than the alternative) it’s very close to the pure roadster experience/driving a legal kart on the public roads.

        I honestly think they’d be quite a bit more successful than they are if more folks knew about them, and you could do worse than test drive one so my free advice —worth what you paid for it— is to go ask them for one for a week ????

        1. What did you buy to replace the Vanderhall? You mentioned swapping it out for something more traditional; I was curious if you found something more civilized that is as fun to drive.

    1. – I assume it wasn’t a daily driver; what was the ideal use case for it? What was the most improbable place you took it?
      – What’s the dumbest thing someone’s said/asked about it while at a gas station?
      – Can you track it? What’s the top speed you achieved?
      – Do the muscles in your face cramp up from smiling so much just by looking at it, or do you have to drive it to reach that point?

      1. – It was mostly a weekend rider up the mountain roads. The most improbably thing I did with it was picking it up in February 2020 in UT and driving it to San Jose. Leaving Death Valley by night and the freeway from St. George to Las Vegas were the two scariest moments, leaving Salt Lake City with a few snowflakes falling the coldest.

        – I don’t remember anyone asking anything dumb enough to stand out, mostly they had no idea what it was. You definitely get asked about it a lot though.

        – Did not track it, and it’s the kind of vehicle you’ll need to talk with the track before joining in to a track day as it’s not quite a motorcycle nor a car so the folks running the place often don’t know what to do about it. I got it to 110mph at a few points and the machinery definitely could go for much more, but it’s a vehicle that will give you the fear of God after a certain speed.

        – Even if I got rid of it eventually it never stopped being a blast to drive in the right circumstances. A twisty mountain road 30-50mph is probably the optimal, and there’s quite a few around where I live.

  5. Usually I just read about your great finds, Mercedes for education and fun. But that SL600 is nearby and affordable. I suppose a google search is in order but what’s the deal with hydraulics when the system breaks? Parts availability, cost to repair or both? That’s one sweet car and I think it would be the only one at cars and coffee.

  6. I liked the Mitsu Expo and flat LOVED the Galant VR-4 when they were new, so even knowing that spares for the Chariot would probably be as scare as, say, Tatra parts, I’d be in on this. The Lincoln is a no-brainer choice, though I prefer the prewar front-end design.

    These two would probably cost less than 50,000 miles’-worth of maintenance on the M-B. And for me, deliver just as much driving pleasure.

    1. Make that “…spares for the Chariot would be SCARCE.”

      Please add me to the long, long list of those imploring management to add an “edit” feature. Pronto.

    1. the real achilles heal is the GM 1.4 turbo. So many issues with that mill. But for a beach cruiser or motorcycle replacement the Miata is a chick car that fails miserably.

  7. First time ever I’ve seen a SL with roll bar up!
    Can they do that (while not rolled over)?
    Or is there something terribly wrong with just this car?

    1. It goes up or down with a push of a button on the dash, or when you wheels are not in contact with the pavement anymore. I guess the feature is to add an extra feeling of security when your pushing the car.

  8. It must be noted that, even at the time, the 280zx was perceived (slightly) as the beginning of the end for the Z-car line that had been so beloved in 1970.

    Heavier, more expensive and less compelling. The Z’s essence really started to drip away with the ZX

  9. That Vanderhall looks like a hoot. But why oh why did they go with an automatic? The 2nd gen 1.4T was certified with both manual and automatic transmissions just like the 1st gen. Although the manual likely still needs a fluid swap to Amsoil to help it shift better. The 1st gens certainly did.

    1. So I once had the chance to ask an engineer from the company and what I was told is that they were using a ton of GM parts to save development costs (basically those are running a Chevy spark engine _and_ wiring harness inside) and the manual transmissions that came with those internals were… not fun, since they were meant for econoboxes.

      Finding alternate parts and making them work seemed like too much of a cost for doubtful benefit so they didn’t go for it.

  10. A friend owned a basket-case VR-4 and that thing was a hoot, so the Resort Runner wins it for me today.

    Mercedes, you should totally buy another bus. Since these are already missing their seats, you could keep your 2002 as a complete piece of transit history and convert a 2001 into an RV without any guilt!

  11. Re: that blue z. I can tell everyone that its for sure a fake listing. It’s been up months now. On everal occasions I’ve contacted the alleged seller. Each time I get the same answer…. it was just sold last week. Why it’s allowed to stay up is an autotrader mystery. Give it a shot. I’m sure you just missed it!

    1. I worked part-time from my apartment and earned $30,030. After losing my previous business, I quickly became exhausted. Fortunately, swe I discovered this jobs online, and as a result, I was able to start earning money from home right away. Anyone can accomplish this elite career and increase their internet income by….
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    2. Huh, that’s weird. Maybe it sold and the seller doesn’t know how to take down the ad? I’m not sure of the angle of a scam that’s just telling people that a vehicle sold the week before.

    1. Me too. I really do miss the insane variety of VW kits to be seen in the ‘70s. If I were to pick only one of these, it’d probably be the Mitsubishi because of the legendary unkillable Colt Vista the guys of CarTalk were always on about. That or the BRAT-but the BRAT would need a WRX re-power: those 1.6s were too slow even for me

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