DeSoto Fireflite, Mercury Cyclone, AMC Gremlin Convertible: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

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Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you all know, I have an affliction that involves drooling over and buying too many vehicles of all kinds. And unlike my friend and editor David, my collection just keeps building. But hey, you get a peek into what kind of cars I like because I keep a list of ads on my computer.

This week continues my hankering for something that I wish that I could drop money on, but being an adult (without extra space to park something) is holding me at bay. Oh heck, I did try to buy a Ford Bronco II today.

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.

1994 Toyota Crown Royal Saloon Wagon – $13,500

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Facebook Marketplace

In my articles about the new Toyota Crown, I noted that enthusiasts know the vehicle to be a bit of an understated luxury highway bomber. If you’re one of those people, or don’t know what I’m talking about, I have a treat for you!

Toyota says that the Crown’s legacy is that of innovation, and the eighth-generation is no exception. In the late 1980s you could get Crowns with an airbag, CD-ROM-based navigation, traction control, and electronically adjustable shocks.

This Royal Saloon comes in wagon flavor, and it has some pretty neat features of its own. You do get the airbag, as well as swiveling HVAC vents, dual-zone climate control, velour seats, and a mini fridge in the trunk. And to help block out the sun, you get a curtain for the sunroof.

Under the hood is a 2.5-liter 1JZ-GE making 180 horses and delivering it to the rear wheels through an automatic transmission. This example is said tot be in excellent condition and it looks the part. It’s $13,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Los Angeles, California with 66,400 miles.

1998 Alfa Romeo Spider – $16,000

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Facebook Marketplace

This Alfa Romeo Spider is a 1990s interpretation of a classic Italian roadster. Originally penned by Pininfarina’s Enrico Fumia and launched in 1995, the Type 916 Spider (and GTV coupe variant) have long polarized enthusiasts. But count me in as one of those who love this design.

Unlike previous iterations of Alfa Romeo’s famous Spider, this one is front-wheel-drive. It also has the smallest engine that was available during the 916’s run. Under the hood is a 1.8-liter Twin Spark four making 142 HP. It’s not as pretty or as powerful as the later V6 that was offered for these cars, but it does transmit the power via a manual transmission. Really, the highlight of this car is that fantastic yellow paint.

It’s $16,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Denver, Colorado with 40,115 miles. You might be wondering how it got here considering that these were never sold here and 1998 is not 25 years ago. Well, the VIN plate riveted to the vehicle and the sticker below it explain why it’s here. The sticker says that the car complies with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards while the plate features Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Who went through the work to legalize this car, we don’t know. But it appears to be legal, just somehow before its time.

1966 Mercury Comet Cyclone – $18,000

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Facebook Marketplace

As Hemmings notes, the Comet wasn’t originally supposed to be a Mercury, but an Edsel. However, it came a little too late and found itself orphaned by a discontinued brand. The car sold for two years as “Comet” before getting branded as the Mercury Comet. In 1964, the sporting Cyclone would arrive as an option for the Comet.

Under the hood of these early Cyclones was a 289 V8 making 210 HP and the cars shared the stable with the Ford Falcon.

In 1966, the Mercury Comet Cyclone grew a little and its stablemate was now the mid-sized Fairlane. Going bigger also meant more room for a bigger engine. Buyers now got a 390 V8 that made 265 HP with a two-barrel carburetor, 275 HP with a four-barrel, or in the GT version, 335 HP. Unfortunately, as Hagerty notes, these gorgeous Cyclones just didn’t have the staying power in the marketplace like the Dodge Challenger or Pontiac GTO did. In 1966, the year of this Cyclone, Mercury sold 24,164 Cyclones to Pontiac’s 96,944 GTOs.

But that doesn’t mean that these aren’t worth consideration. This Cyclone is said to have a new interior, but needs a dash pad. It’s painted in a bright yellow and comes with a 390 V8 connected to a C6 automatic transmission. The racing stripes and C6 suggest that this is a GT, but the seller doesn’t say. It’s $18,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Norco, California with 95,659 miles.

Audi S6 Quattro V10 – $7,000

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Facebook Marketplace

This Audi S6 Quattro looks like your everyday German executive sedan, but its harboring German V10 power under its hood. Audi’s “S” and “RS” cars are famous for pairing supercar-levels of power with Audi’s conservatively-styled fare. Audi World explains that after Audi made itself a serious motorsport contender with the Quattro, the company decided to trickle that racing development down to road cars. Quattro GmbH (later Audi Sport GmbH) was created and started churning out cars that enthusiasts adore today. The Audi RS2 Avant and the S4 are both good examples.

In this S6 you get a 5.2-liter V10 FSI engine crammed in there delivering 435 hp through a 40/60 rear-biased Quattro system. This engine can be found in Audi’s S8 with 15 more ponies and a version of it made it into the Audi R8 as well. Of course, a version was also used in the Lamborghini Gallardo.

In this case, you and a few of your best friends can enjoy that power in comfort. Road & Track’s testing showed this big car reaching 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. It’s $7,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Cortland, New York. Why is it so cheap? It has 195,000 miles.

2009 Harley-Davidson XR1200 – $5,500

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Facebook Marketplace

In 2019, Polaris’ Indian Motorcycle achieved something pretty incredible. Its then new FTR1200 wasn’t just a good bike, but it captured the hearts of many riders, including yours truly. I’d even call the FTR one of the best American motorcycles that you can buy right now. It’s an American motorcycle with the speed, handling, and looks to go up against even Italy’s darlings.

In a case of potentially bad timing, Harley-Davidson predicted the popularity of a flat-track racer-inspired motorcycle, but came out with one a decade too early. For the 2008 model year, the Motor Company released the XR1200. The bike was, at its heart, a Sportster. But it was better than any other Sporty on sale at the time.

Under the tank sits Harley’s Evolution V-twin that in this guise is making 91 HP. As Motorcyclist Magazine wrote, that made the speedy Sporty 20 HP more powerful than the Motor Company’s next best. And it wasn’t just fast, but a Harley that turned, too. The Motorcyclist review even noted that this engine is smoother and less noisy than in the other Sportsters.

Reviews loved the XR1200, but questioned why Harley took so long to make a race replica. And worse, why did Harley first sell these in Europe first, even though they’re replicas of famed American racing motorcycles? Yep, these bikes were first meant for Europe. Unfortunately, as our friends at RideApart note, it wasn’t a success and was killed off in 2013.

In 2022, what this means is that you can get what sounds like a really competent machine but not for a lot of money. This 2009 XR1200 appears to be stock with 36,859 miles. It’s $5,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Ashland, Kentucky.

1955 DeSoto Fireflite – $22,500

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Hemmings

DeSoto is one of many American brands that didn’t make it to the modern day, and as Hagerty writes, it even went from doing well to being discontinued in just three years.

In 1928, Walter P. Chrysler started DeSoto. The name comes from Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and the idea was to have the brand compete with the likes of Oldsmobile, Studebaker, and Hudson. As a side note, it’s sad to think that all of these brands are gone today.

Sales were great out of the gate, and at first DeSoto was made to be an upscale marque. When I found last week’s Chrysler Airflow, I was actually looking for a DeSoto AirStream. But alas, a good AirStream is crazy expensive and pretty rare.

The company’s good times roared through the 1950s, where in 1955 designer Virgil Exner gave DeSoto a look for the era. In were design elements like chrome and fins and DeSoto delivered.

During this time, DeSoto introduced the Fireflite, a full-size meant to sit at the top of the line. The 1955 Fireflite featured modern 1950s design and while it didn’t have huge fins, the car was covered in chrome, two-tone paint, and ornaments. Under the hood sits a 291 Firedome hemi V8 making 200 HP. In this example, it’s connected to an automatic, but not the fancy optional push-button auto. Hagerty notes that this car was so successful that it doubled DeSoto’s sales in its first year.

Unfortunately, DeSoto took one hit after another. Quality issues, a falling economy, stiff competition (even within Chrysler), and Chrysler’s future product plans were a bit too much. On November 30, 1960 the last DeSoto rolled off of the line.

This 1955 Fireflite calls back to a time when things were good for DeSoto. It has 47,663 miles and is said to be original, save for a “touched up” exterior. It’s $22,500 on Hemmings in Durango, Colorado.

1974 AMC Gremlin – Auction

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Facebook Marketplace

It’s not often that a car has me completely stumped about its history, but here we are. AMC’s compact Gremlin was meant to be an answer to the Ford Pinto, Volkswagen Beetle, and Chevrolet Vega. Famed designer Dick Teague sketched this car’s initial design during a flight and on an air sickness bag. It looks like a wagon that you don’t get the rest of until you pay off the loan.

AMC was so confident about this car that it went as far as to call it “the first American-built import”.

But this history is known, what seems to be missing is how this Gremlin came to be. This car started life as a Gremlin with the Levi’s interior package. This option didn’t fill the car with denim, but nylon upholstery that looks like denim. You also got denim jean-style rivets to complete the look. Out back is a continental spare tire.

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Facebook Marketplace

From there, someone cut this car’s roof off, and replaced it with a convertible top. But it’s not any normal convertible top, but one that looks like the kind of enclosures that you can get for boats. The boat theme continues with that extended platform for the spare tire, which almost looks like a swim platform. It also has boat-style graphics, and some sweet half-doors.

[Editor’s Note: I do not think this was an actual AMC concept. Maybe a dealer’s test of a possible conversion package or something like that. I’ve seen this car for sale before, a while ago, so I don’t think it’s flying off the lot. – JT]

The seller thinks that it was a concept car of some kind, but he, nor I, could find anything on this car. If you want it, you’ll have to come to the Kenosha Homecoming Car Show happening all of this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The car will be sold in an auction on Saturday at 4 PM Central Time.

2019 Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 – $8,000

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Facebook Marketplace

Husqvarna first teased the Vitpilen back in 2014. Powered by KTM engines, they looked like one of those concepts that would never see the light of day. But they did, and in 2018 you could come home with the flagship Vitpilen 701.

While the resulting motorcycle looks like a cafe racer from 50 years from now, but that actually wasn’t the goal. As Motorcyclist notes Husqvarna made these motorcycles to be minimalist and simple. But it has features like ABS and traction control, so it’s still a modern machine.

Power comes from a 693cc single thumper making 73 horses. It’s moving a machine that weighs in at 365 pounds. Based on these stats, this isn’t something you buy when you’re looking for speed. Rather, it’s for a good time while looking this great. This 2019 Vitpilen 701 comes with not much of a description, but it’s $8,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Louisville, Kentucky with 2,040 miles.

2002 Ford E-350 – $22,500

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Facebook Marketplace

So far as I can tell, this E-350 (or what Ford used to call the Econoline) is one-off. While I’ve been able to find other six-wheeled E-Series vans, none of them look like this. This looks ridiculous, and I’m all for it.

The seller here says that this van was professionally stretched four feet. Who did this conversion isn’t said, but it does look well-done. No photos or video are provided about what’s going on with the rear axles, but I suspect that this is still just rear-wheel-drive. There isn’t any differential up front for the front wheels and I bet that one of the rear axles is just a tag axle for the extra weight. I mean, this thing has an immense rear overhang.

The van appears to have seating for eight, with everyone getting their own bucket seat with loads of legroom. The interior is that of your average conversion van and even has a TV and conversion van windows. It’s just…much longer. Also onboard is a large cooler and a storage room out back. This room is apparently used to store folding chairs, a table, and a camping stove.

Under the hood is the famous Ford 7.3-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8, also known as the Navistar T444E. This stout engine was found in a variety of vehicles between 1994 and 2003 from school buses to these vans. That engine is making 215 HP 425 lb-ft torque here. It’s $22,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Normal, Illinois with 204,000 miles.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading.

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37 Responses

  1. I had never heard of the Vitpilen 701, but was struck by your comment about 73HP and 365 lbs (!!!) “isn’t something you buy when you’re looking for speed”, interesting, are we that jaded by 200HP bikes? How would we describe this power to weight ratio in a sports car? Perfect? Miata is “always the answer” but wait, the Husky’s 5lb/HP is almost 3x the Miata’s 13lb/HP)! Meanwhile the XR1200 is described as “fast” with just off the Husky at 6lb/HP.. The Husky is a really light motorcycle, so 73 HP seems prefect for what it’s for.. Imagine a Miata with 480HP or a BRZ/GT86 with 570 HP. That’s a super car..

  2. 195k on that S6? Some Cornell or Ithaca College administrator probably used it as a commuter. There are lots of twisty roads in that area to unleash the V10 on the way home. Their indy shop must have told them how much a 200k mile service would run, and a Model 3 Performance is the new hotness in that area.

    1. Saw invoices up to 15k EUR for a “regular” maintenance at 250.000 km. Ignition coils with crazy prices, even a complete driveshaft had to be inspected and replaced as part of a normal maintenance.

      But the growl on that thing when you accelerated flat-out…. My co-worker solded it in the end for fear of his driving licence.

    2. Maybe just Ithaca.
      Living in Cortland myself, there’s actually a lot more Model S & X’s here, to say nothing of counting any Tesla here on one hand anyways, I’ve seen like 3 Model S’s and one X here. Any 3 I’ve seen has been Ithaca or Syracuse, and Y’s only on 81.

  3. That S6 is a bad, bad, bad idea.

    And yet… ooh, I want it.

    Otherwise, the Husky is a good motorcycle for a good price. It’s a surprisingly rational, normal, good deal for an urban commuter or a fun bike.

    Like, it’s a surprisingly good, rational deal. What’s it doing here? Is it haunted?

    1. Not haunted, you’ll just need a few hours one afternoon to swap out the timing drive and water pump. Should be a 2-hour job, maybe three if you have a few beers along the way. No way this would escalate into a total shit-show or anything like that.

  4. Can’t a lot of information be found using a carfax? I don’t think concept cars have a regular production line vin. Also vin would say color engine convertible and a few other details. Or am I wrong? I bought my last car pre carfax.16 years of no car payments.

  5. OOooh, I’d SERIOUSLY consider that XR1200 if it was orange. I test rode one of these in Italy (!!) in 2008ish and it was FANTASTIC. Blew my mind that it was a Harley. It felt seriously fast and nimble, too.

  6. “I believe people have information on this car and are not giving it to me”
    I’m all about the Gremlin but this…and he doesn’t show it with the top up…and you have to be at the show in Kenosha to bid.
    It’d be a fun car though especially here at the Gulf Coast Beach.

  7. Two notes on this wonderful post.

    I think you meant to say Dodge Charger, not Challenger.

    The Chrysler Corp. pushbutton transmission didn’t debut until 1956. For ’55, you had a handle on the dash to the right of the steering column, which the first generation Corvairs use today, and the ancestor to modern minivan shifters.

    Also, DeSoto was planned before Walter Chrysler was able to buy Dodge, and when it was introduced, it originally slotted between Plymouth and Dodge, which had moved upmarket after John and Horace died – they even launched a short-lived straight eight in 1930, a year before Chrysler did! K.T. Keller soon got Dodge back to its lower mid-market roots and by 1933 DeSoto was firmly ensconced between Dodge and Chrysler on the Mopar brand ladder.

  8. I like any car with a Ford 390 V8, I’ve had good experiences with those engines. They’re built like tanks and will run crappily longer than most engines will run at all 🙂 Also DeSotos are cool, I’ve always wondered what they could’ve come up with if they survived to the muscle car era. They already had some notion of sportiness in the 50s with their Hemi V8s, 200 horsepower was nothing to scoff at back then.

  9. Dang it. You made me misty. My mother had a 66 Cyclone GT. It was a lighter shade of yellow. Reverse chrome wheels. She let me drive it to school now and again. I felt like a big shot.
    Hold up a picture of a Nightster to that XR1200. From the pegs forward the resemblance is startling.

  10. That Gremlin raises all sorts of questions. Given the stripes, I’d guess 1980s & cocaine. Not my style at all, but would be fun to cruise at the beach if you’re into that. Reminds me of the resort beach cars from the ‘60s-but that’s far from a Mini-Moke!
    I just wonder how flexible it is: bet you hear creaking when taking a driveway at an angle

  11. Most of the list was meh or interesting but not too much. Then I saw the van. That is the automotive craziness I need in my life.

    Time to ask the finance manager if I can get it, I know the answer is no. I just appreciate the “WTF is wrong with you” looks I receive.

  12. Normally I’m “down to Crown” but I hate the wheels on this example. Plus, I think I could probably bring one in myself for cheaper or from a JDM dealer stateside.

    That said, the convertible Gremlin is awesome, strange, and gives me a funny feeling in my tummy. I want it.

  13. I’m really tempted by that XR1200.

    Even more so due to the somewhat poignant timing of the model…it was out as the storied XR750 racing version was (unknowingly at the time) on its final legs as champ.

    Indian was plotting its return to the sport, and its FTR750 would soon consign the XR750 to history. There’s a successor, the XG750, but I can’t recall the last time one of them won.

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