Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, working with cars has been a blessing and a curse for me. I have a problem with searching for and ultimately owning too many vehicles. I’m currently sitting on 20 of them (I think?) and I’m already searching for another. The advantage of this is that I have a huge list of cars to share with you.
This week I’m trying to distract myself from buying something with a V12 by looking at an American imported car, a car-turned-pickup truck, and a whole lot of yee haw from a Corvette. Seriously, someone stop me from buying a lifted Corvette.
As usual, some of these may be downright asinine or crappy cars. I also don’t discriminate when it comes to pricing, modifications, and condition. If a car is too expensive, at least we can still stare at it, right?
So join me in looking at some fun cars, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles.
1946 Hudson Super Six Pickup – Auction
Hemmings notes that this little pickup truck is a bit of a rare oddity. It’s essentially a second-generation Hudson Commodore, but where the rest of the car would be is a pickup truck bed. This is not a custom job, but an example of a car-like pickup truck years before the famed El Camino and Ranchero. With that said, Hudson isn’t the first to make a pickup out of a car. Studebaker had a car-based pickup (the fantastic Coupe Express) a decade earlier. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track one down.
At any rate, this truck is one of 3,104 built in 1946 and one out of about 30,000 pickups and commercial trucks that Hudson made throughout its entire run. It had a total frame-off restoration and in getting restored the 6-volt electrical system was retained. Power comes from a 212 cubic-inch L-head inline-six making 100 horses. That drives a truck described as being in concours shape. And, the pictures sure seem to back it up. Though, I love how the ad says that the engine produces exactly the same amount of smoke that it did when it originally left the factory.
[Editor’s Note: The L-head refers to the path that the charge air takes after it’s entered the intake valves and as it’s heading out the exhaust valves. In an L-head engine, a piston pulls the intake charge in from the intake valve on the top of the engine’s deck (the valves are in the engine instead of the head; the head is just a flat lid — hence “flathead”), then pulls that intake charge over and down. The piston’s exhaust stroke pushes the exhaust up and over again to the exhaust valve right next to the intake valve. The path, when viewed from the front of the engine, is the shape of an “L.” An “F-Head” engine has one valve in the head, and a “T-head” has a valve on each side of the bore. Here’s a diagram. -DT]
This is probably the closest you’ll get to buying one of these brand new, and it’s currently up for auction on Hemmings, with bidding at $20,000 with ten days to go.
1946 Fairmont M14E Light Railway Inspection Car – $5,000
Before the popularization of road vehicles that could ride on rails (hi-rails, they’re called), railroad work crews and track inspectors often got to the job site aboard these small motorized railcars. You can still find some of these in use today, getting workers and equipment to job sites. But many have retired from service. What happens to them after they’re done with railroad duty? They sometimes fall into the hands of train enthusiasts.
According to a group for enthusiast operators of maintenance of way equipment, North American Railcar Operators Association, these are often called speeders. With top speeds of about 30 mph, they aren’t actually fast, but the nickname refers to them being faster than handcars. NARCOA hosts gatherings of train enthusiasts who take their speeders on scenic excursions, so you can actually drive this thing.
Fairmont Railway Motors was one company that constructed maintenance of way equipment for railroads. This M14E was built as an inspection car and comes powered by a two stroke hit & miss single. An archived brochure claims 5 to 8 horsepower for this engine. This one runs and drives and is said to be NARCOA compliant.
It’s $5,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Jewett City, Connecticut.
1996 Ford Taurus Wagon – $11,995
Here’s a different kind of JDM import. This Ford Taurus wagon was built in America, shipped to then sold in Japan, and now is freshly back in America as of this year. Indeed, it’s similar to the Taurus that you can buy here, but it’s right-hand-drive. It also has Mercury Sable headlights and other small changes for the Japanese market. Another difference between a U.S. market Taurus and a Japanese one is that the parking brake is hand-operated rather than foot-operated.
The 1996 Ford Taurus was a radical departure from its predecessor. The first and second-generations of the Taurus were smooth, aerodynamic, and a bit conservative. The third-generation tossed that in the trash and went all-in on an elliptical shape style. I mean, there are ovals everywhere, including the dashboard. Unfortunately, Ford’s big move still generates scorn today with people who feel that the ovals were a bit too much.
Me? I think these are pretty cool. And this one, with its JDM body kit and three-spoke wheels, is even more fantastic. It comes with a 3.0-liter Duratec 30 V6 making 200 horses and sending them through an automatic transmission. It’s $11,995 on Facebook Marketplace in Athens, Tennessee with roughly 80,000 miles. Ad courtesy of Obscure Cars For Sale.
1954 Willys Aero-Lark – $10,000
After World War II, Willys-Overland hit the market running. In its lineup were the Willys CJ, Pickup, and Wagon, which sold in impressive numbers. Hemmings notes that in 1948 Willys built 135,528 vehicles and made a $6.5 million profit. But the company wanted even more. In 1952, this meant the release of a regular passenger car, the Willys Aero (it’s worth noting that Willys had gotten its start building passenger cars in the early 1900s up until WWII). It featured a unitized construction and a low 2,562-pound curb weight. It had similar dimensions as a 1960s compact, but years earlier. This 1954 example was made after Kaiser purchased Willys in 1953. Aero production originally ended in 1955 before production shifted to Brazil in 1960.
This Aero-Lark is said to be in completely original condition with 55,000 miles. Power comes from a L6-161 Lightning making 75 horses. It’s $10,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Middleville, Michigan.
1999 Chevrolet Corvette Z71 – $8,500
I know what you’re about to say, “Mercedes! There isn’t a Corvette Z71!” You are correct, but this glorious creation up in Fithian, Illinois is about the closest that you’re going to get. I saw this ad when it first got listed and I still haven’t stopped laughing about it.
The Corvette C5 brought the American sports car’s design into the modern day. Gone was rad 1980s wedge, in was the gentle swoops and curves that defined the ‘Vette for much of the 2000s. As Motor Trend reports, GM made some changes in the development of the C5. It decided to do market research to see what buyers wanted. GM found out that Corvette customers didn’t want something that looked Italian but still had good quality and speed.
In the end, the C5 used 1,500 fewer parts than the departed C4 while employing new techniques like hydroformed steel. It was longer, wider, and continued the Corvette’s tradition of inexpensive speed.
But you know what the Corvette didn’t have? An off-road version. That’s where one man near me, Caleb Hodshire, comes in. He took a 5.7-liter LS1 V8-equipped Corvette, lifted the suspension four inches, trimmed the fenders, added spacers, and wrapped it up in 33-inch all-terrain tires. The end result is 345 horses of tire burning, creek crossing fun. Also, I feel that you need to listen to this song to drive this:
If you’re like me and you’re absolutely in love, you can grab it for $8,500 on Facebook Marketplace with 154,000 miles.
1974 Condor A350 – $4,500
If you’ve never heard of Condor before, auction house Bonhams has a neat and short history on the brand:
Originally a clock and bicycle maker located in the city of Courfaivre, in the Jura region of Switzerland, Condor turned to motorcycle manufacture in 1901. The company used a wide variety of proprietary engines over the years – Zedel, Universal, MAG, Villiers and Ducati to name but five – and was the principal supplier of motorcycles to the Swiss Army from 1939 onwards.
The engine saddled in the frame is a 336cc unit from the era’s Ducati Scrambler. In the Duc, it’s rated at 24 HP. However, this military version has seen its compression lowered so that it can run on low-quality fuel. As a result, it’s making 16.6 HP here. Production ended in 1978 when the factory itself closed, with about 3,000 copies made. According to Rider Magazine, these are so reliable that they remained in service as late as 2001.
This A350 has been a mechanical restoration. It still has the patina of an old bike, but it runs well enough that it starts on the first kick. For $4,500 on Facebook marketplace in Los Angeles, California you also get the original toolkit and manual.
1967 Fiat 500 Jolly – $47,500
The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum describes this little car like so:
Italy’s location on the Mediterranean Sea meant innumerable beachfront cities and resorts. There was a brisk trade in beach buggy conversions of regular cars by the many specialist coachbuilders throughout Italy at the time. One such specialist was Ghia (now owned by Ford), who created the Jolly conversions on Fiat’s 500, 600, Multipla and Giardiniera platforms.
Known at home a La Spiaggina, a word difficult to translate but something like “beach-ette”, the Fiat beach-buggy was marketed worldwide as the Jolly, meaning “joker” in Italian, but also meaning something light, fun, funny and pretty in several languages.
The car was quite expensive ($1760.00 compared to $998.00 for a standard 500) and was bought by the rich and famous (Aristotle Onassis, Yul Brynner) as yacht tenders, golf carts and estate runabouts. As a result, most surviving examples have covered low mileages only.
True to the museum’s word, this example’s original engine has traveled just a short 4,000 miles. The car’s been restored, but weirdly, the seller says that it hasn’t been driven in America.
Well, someone would change that. It’s powered by a 499.5 cc Fiat two-cylinder making 18 horses, so your beach cruise will be nice and leisurely. You can get it for $47,500 on Hemmings in Southampton, New York.
1991 Mosler Consulier GTP Targa – $65,000
Telling the story of Warren Mosler in a bite-sized MMM snapshot is difficult, but I’ll give you the highlights. Mosler is not just a man who made his own cars, but an economist and someone who has run for office a lot. He’s run for everything from President (2009) to Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (2018). One of his proposals was for a national speed limit of 30 mph. The idea was that making everyone drive slow would curb emissions and make driving suck so much that everyone would take public transportation.
But before those days, Mosler made some distinctive sports cars. In 1985, he founded Consulier Industries. That year, it released the Consulier GTP, a sports car following a different formula than usual. It sports a composite monocoque and a carbon-kevlar body. Located in a mid-rear arrangement is a Chrysler 2.2-liter Turbo II four from the Dodge Omni GLH-S and pumping out 174 HP. Consulier advertised these cars as weighing in at 2,050 pounds with a zero to 60 mph acceleration time of under five seconds.
On the track, the Consulier won IMSA races before IMSA allegedly gave it a weight penalty before banning it. On the street, it struggled to find sales. Mosler offered $25,000 to anyone who could beat the Consulier GTP. Car and Driver took on the challenge, beating a Consulier GTP with a stock 1991 Corvette. That started a back and forth between the two, with Mosler claiming that the Consulier was worn out.
In the end, some 83 of these are believed to exist, with just 10 of them being targas like this one. This Consulier has about 38,000 miles and some wear. The Recaro buckets inside are cracking and torn and the body has big paint chips. Still, it’s a rare beast, and the seller wants $65,000 for it on Facebook Marketplace out of Scottsville, Kentucky.
1938 Oldsmobile Eight – $21,750
The Oldsmobile Series L, also known as the Oldsmobile Eight, launched in 1932 with a 240 cubic inch straight eight that produced 87 horses. As production continued, the car’s design gained some streamlining touches. By 1938, the engine grew to a 257 with power growing to 110 HP with it. Oldsmobile advertised the Eight and its Six sibling as giving drivers a high performance, thrilling drive with ample safety features for the day. Advertisements talked of doors with weather seals and bodies with soundproofing.
This Eight is said to be restored, and it seems to be wearing the restoration job well. It’s $21,750 at Country Classic Cars in Staunton, Illinois.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.