Home » Eight Is Enough: Lancia, VW, Chrysler, Porsche, Corvair, Siata, Ranger, Nissan

Eight Is Enough: Lancia, VW, Chrysler, Porsche, Corvair, Siata, Ranger, Nissan

Sbsd 2 16 2024
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Good morning, and happy Friday to all those who celebrate. Today we’re trying something a little different for our end-of-the-week showdown: complete and utter bedlam. For the first time ever, you’ll be able to vote on any car featured this week, so there can be no complaining that your favorite didn’t make the cut.

But even though I’m giving every car a participation trophy today, we still need to crown a winner from yesterday, and it looks like the Beige Ranger galloped off with an easy win. I’m a little surprised, actually; from the comments I was pretty sure it was going to go the other way.

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As many of you said, there really isn’t a bad choice here. Both of these are capable, pleasant little machines that will earn their keep for years to come. Typically I’d lean towards the Nissan; historically I’ve had really good luck with Nissan trucks. But that Ranger is so freaking clean, especially inside, that it makes for a tough choice. I think this one would require test drives for me to settle on a winner.

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Right; let’s get into it, then. Eight cars enter; one car leaves. Who runs Bartertown? I guess we’ll see. I’ll limit myself to one photo and a quick one-paragraph recap to keep this from getting too unruly.

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1978 Lancia Beta Zagato – $3,000

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Ah, the siren’s call of a cheap Italian sports car. Many have heard it, few have succumbed to it, fewer still have lived to tell the tale. Rust, electrical gremlins, and catastrophic timing belt failures are just some of the potential pitfalls of Italian car ownership. This faded blue Lancia runs, according to the seller, but isn’t drivable for some mysterious reason. My money is on brakes or clutch. Still, if you are fated to have your heart and bank account broken by an Italian car, as I fear I am some day, there are worse places to start.

1983 Volkswagen Quantum hatchback – $2,000

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What is it about a rare failed version of a car more commonly seen in other styles that is so appealing? That shooting-brake version of the Geo Storm comes to mind, or the two-door Jetta, or this Quantum fastback. It stands to reason that if such cars had been appealing when they were new, they would have sold more, and wouldn’t seem so special. Whatever the reason, what we have here is a good-running example of a Volkswagen from back when they made good cars. And it is a handsome machine, with hints of Alfa GTV and Saab 900 in the rear styling.

1976 Chrysler Newport – $2,450

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Best smile when you say “malaise era,” son. Chrysler took their sweet time downsizing their gigantic highway cruisers, and while they may have been shadows of their former selves performance-wise, these big tanks still sold like hotcakes. This one has plenty of problems, mostly electrical, likely stemming either from it getting stolen or someone losing the keys. But you can’t keep a good big-block down, so it still runs and drives just fine. That interior, though – yikes. Let’s just hope the Love Shack doesn’t have valet parking.

1978 Porsche 928 – $4,500

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“Cheap” and “Porsche” don’t usually go together. Or if they do, their friend “running” is likely nowhere to be seen. This little red number, however, promises to be all three: a cheap running Porsche. And not just running, but a veteran of quite a few Mojave desert crossings. If the seller is to be believed, you could hop in this car and drive it just about anywhere. Of course, we all know that with a car like this, the purchase price is just the beginning. Luckily, it includes half a spare car in parts.

1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo – $4,950

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“Unsafe at any speed” wasn’t originally meant to include completely stopped, I don’t think. But in the case of this derelict-for-nineteen-years Corvair, better make sure your tetanus shot is up to date. The seller says it only has “a little rust,” but that argument, much like this car’s cowl and rear quarters, is full of holes. It’s all fixable, and it may even be worth it considering the car’s rare mechanical specification, but you’re probably better off finding a less rusty example and swapping some parts over to it. It won’t be original, of course, but original is overrated. A non-original driver is better than a numbers-matching wreck any day.

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1969 Siata Spring – $4,000

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Most of you turned up your noses at this little amusement-park-refugee of a car, but I kinda like it. Yes, it’s homely and awkward, but so is Steve Buscemi, and we like him. Besides, it’s a genuine handmade Italian exotic, one of only 3500 or so made. It has been sitting for ages, but it’s based on humble Fiat 850 mechanicals that aren’t hard to find. If it were me, I’d ditch the cheesy wire wheels, plop it on some Campagnolo-style alloys, and hot-rod the little 843 cc engine. See if I couldn’t move it away from the “badly-done MGTD kit car” look a bit.

1992 Ford Ranger XLT – $2,799

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Ford’s pint-sized pickup is still a favorite of gardeners and security patrols, even two decades after the last one rolled out of the Saint Paul assembly plant. These things just won’t die. The last time I was getting gravel for a landscaping project, I saw a Ranger just about like this being massively overloaded with pavers, to the point of sitting down on the bump stops. Yet somehow, it lumbered out of the parking lot and down the road. The little 2.3 liter four may not be a powerhouse, but it is capable of hundreds of thousands of miles. This one is just broken-in.

1995 Nissan D21 Hardbody – $3,250

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But mini-trucks aren’t just about heavy loads. There’s an element of style to consider as well, and Nissan’s trucks have never been short on style. This one screams 1990s, with its big teal swooshes down the side, and good honest steel wheels. It has such luxurious mini-truck options as power steering and a rear bumper. (Yes, rear bumpers used to be optional on trucks.) It even has air conditioning! And if my own Nissan 720 pickup and D21 Pathfinder experiences are anything to go by, this one has a lot of life left in it too.

Whew! Did you get all that? Eight vehicles, wildly different in size, form factor, purpose, and condition, but not too far off in price. How will you choose? By color, I suppose, or coolest-sounding name, or price per pound. Or just throw them all in a randomizer and let fate decide. You’ve got all weekend to figure it out. See you Monday!

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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FloridaNative
FloridaNative
4 months ago

No brainer for me! The one that starts with a 9 and has a boot full of spare parts!

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
4 months ago

I voted Nissan yesterday, and I stuck with my vote today. That little truck just speaks to me, and I dig the camper shell.

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago

My Ranger wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t vote for his older brother.

Baja_Engineer
Baja_Engineer
4 months ago

I voted 928 based on seller’s claims (cheap, running and overall good condition).
Ranger and Hardbody would be fighting for 2nd place (my parents owned both trucks when I was growing up so it’s a toss up)

BTW. Where did you get about the last compact Ranger rolling off 2 decades ago? St Paul closed shop at the end of 2011 back when the Ranger was still considered a compact truck

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
4 months ago

Nissan truck for the win! I want it

SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
4 months ago

I am sticking with my dream of a K20 swap for the Lancia.

SedanStick
SedanStick
4 months ago

I’d take the Porsche if forced. I had a friend who had what he claimed was the US highest mileage 928. He bought it new and drove it over 900K miles. Drove from southern FL to northern Canada twice a year for many years. Always took it to the dealer for service (he was rich) and when it came in, all the shop boys would gather ’round to ooh and aah. If a 928 can last that long, I’d take that form this list.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
4 months ago

Irrational vote for the Porsche 928 for me. I’ve always liked them even though the Porsche 911 purists hate them.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

I voted Rangerbecause I now need a cheap vehicle. Hey Mark can we spend next week in central western PA around ebensburg? I just might be buying one of the shitboxes. Cheap reliable can drive a stick. Good enough for a DD.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

It’s a pretty good buy. Shit, that ranger and some yard sale garden tools is basically a business for under 3 grand if someone needed it to be. Hard to go wrong, really.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Yes but too far away. So next week Shitbox around Ebensburg pa. I need a new car.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Ah, I get you. Crowdsourcing your beater could be a good column in and of itself, mark you. How about it editors? ‘Find Me a Shitbox!’ is your new eyeball magnet! Now, who’s gonna write it?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

No I need to buy a car for DD. HELP ME. THIS IS LIKE WHAT CAR SHOULD I BUY FROM THE OLD SITE. Anybody need vehicroosvparts?

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

That’s what I was trying to say, aye; they should do it, and have you be the inaugural recipient of shitbox recommendations. I’ve just gotten back from the bar tho, so I didn’t express it very well…

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Now i regert not waiting. Typo intended

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I threw in a good word for you. I believe in the magic powers of the editors.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Well thanks for the good wishes. But smart or not just bought one today. Now it’s was it a good deal or a crap deal? 2007 Toyota Camry 4 cylinders over 200,000 miles from a new car dealer $3,000 out the door. It didn’t have a dashboard Christmas tree but a chandelier. A Google search told me all lights were connected to one maintenance and possibly a repair job. No mechanic on Saturday I gave the Obdii scan from auto zone and they plummeted from $4,000 asking price. So how did I do?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

VSC maintenance required plugs and coils. TPS low tire pressure, and traction control.

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

I like it! Please start with Mr. Sarcastic. Help a fellow out.

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
4 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

This is a good point, and may present a little glimmer of salvation for those of us who feel locked in to a high-stress, empty-vessel job. “Yard sale garden tools” can do wonders in so many ways.

Gubbin
Gubbin
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Well, here’s a Nissan Xterra for $3,000. I’ve never seen a regional Craigslist with so few cars for sale.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Gubbin

Gonna check the Exterra out only seeing 1 pick

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Gubbin

Thanks it looked good but couldn’t get a response from seller.

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Thank you Mark! 🙂

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Gene1969

Found one but thanks.

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Congratulations! Enjoy it!

Myk El
Myk El
4 months ago

Went with the wholly irrational Lancia.

D-dub
D-dub
4 months ago

A nearly-pristine pickup with a 7 foot bed for less than $3000? It wins against one challenger, and it wins against seven.

Last edited 4 months ago by D-dub
Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
4 months ago

It may be Friday, there may be eight to choose from, but….
There’s still no substitute…

TheNewt
TheNewt
4 months ago

An old German car or an old Italian car. Smart decision between the two would be the Porsche, but I really love the look of the Lancia. I agree with Amberturnsignalsare better that one of the trucks are the smart way to go but the brain and the heart aren’t always in synch.

JDE
JDE
4 months ago

this really boils down to what you would want or need one of these vehicles for, I don’t, for example, need a daily driver or a truck, so in my hierarchy the car I choose is going to be a weekend toy at best. the running V8 porsche ticks a lot of the boxes, though the Lancia and Corvair would be a much tighter battle for first if they were in a bit better shape.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
4 months ago

Surprisingly easy choice for me: Lancia. First, I think it simply looks fantastic, and if I’m going to have a project car, I want one that’s special (either personally, like a family connection, or generally, bc it’s unusual).

But second, I don’t find any of the other choices compelling. Sure, the pickups are functional, but I get by fine with my wagon for hauling. I voted for the 928 the other day, but I don’t *really* want that to be the Porsche that I pour effort into. And none of the others are tempting (well, the Corvair is, but I agree the rust is too scary).

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
4 months ago

If Miata is always the answer, Ranger is always the answer for trucks.

JDE
JDE
4 months ago
Reply to  ColoradoFX4

Meh, the Mazda versions maybe, not so much the pinto with a box.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
4 months ago
Reply to  JDE

Do you mean the Mazda versions of the Ranger?

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  JDE

You’d rather have the 4.0 SOHC that has BMW aspirations?

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago

Love the chaos! Can we do this every week?

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
4 months ago

Ranger.

I had an ’83, red w/ white smoothies, V-6, 4-speed. My girlfriend at the time thought of herself as a high-class princess: 14th-generation American I was told. She lived on Park Avenue in someone else’s apartment, did not drive, etc.

I was recovering from a bad motorcyle crash (Loudon, NH) when we met, and one of our early dates was a trip to an AAMMR race in Pocono as spectators. My right hand was in a cast (metacarpal frac.). so I let her do some of the shifting. She was almost squealing with delight.

The next week we talked on the phone and I asked her what she wanted to do, “I would really like to drive around in that little truck.”

So this one’s for her.

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  XLEJim700

Please tell me you bought one of the Johnny Lightning 1983-84 Ford Rangers from their Classic Gold Collection. (1/64th scale) You definitely deserve to own one.

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
4 months ago
Reply to  Gene1969

Thank you Gene, I missed that one. I was a huge Aurora HO gauge kid, and only lightly involved with Johnny Lightning–my loss.

I still have my HO Model Motoring manual and catalogue in the top drawer of my basement desk. This was probably from a set I received circa 1965!

Good times.

Gene1969
Gene1969
4 months ago
Reply to  XLEJim700

That’s fantastic! Trains are a hobby that scales perfectly to any budget. I enjoyed my N model.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
4 months ago

That Lancia is calling to me like Lorelei but the 928 is where the smart money goes.

Well actually, either of yesterday’s trucks is probably where the smart money goes, but this is probably the least bankrupty way of owning a functional Porsche. For a day or two at least.

Wezel Boy
Wezel Boy
4 months ago

I’d go with the Lancia if I had the money to do an EV conversion.

Otter
Otter
4 months ago

You’re going to have to put work into any of these, and what do you want to have when that work is done? Be honest, it’s the 928.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
4 months ago

Truck, truck truck, truck! Now Ranger or Nissan. I’ll stay with the Nissan. AC, more power and power steering. Although, I’ take that Ranger too and maybe the desert Porsche.

I would seriously buy one of those today, consequences of the spouse’s reaction be damned! Now who’s good at keeping secrets? (opens Craigslist…)

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
4 months ago

A big turn off with the Siata for me was the fact that the latest pictures anyone could be arsed to take were from 2007. That was 17 years ago! You or someone you love has a damn smartphone. Figure it out.

James Carson
James Carson
4 months ago

Came down to Ranger vs Hardbody. I’m going with the Hardbody.

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