Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, working with cars is a blessing and a curse for me. Just look at the 21 vehicles that I own that somehow haven’t bankrupted me. I’m still not really sure how that’s working. And since I’m shopping for cars all of the time, I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale to share with you.
In celebration of my wedding tomorrow, this list consists of cars, trucks and a motorcycle that I’d love to roll away in, with “Just Married” on the back. My wedding is at EAA’s museum and has a Top Gun theme, complete with aviator shades and Danger Zone. Of course, you’ll see pictures of what it’ll look like when I get them.
I 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 fantasy military hardware from the future.
1964 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz – $44,995
In the 1950s and 1960s, American luxury cars were as long as today’s SUVs and often featured sky-high fins and ornate trim. Cars of this era were loaded with chrome, bright paint, stunning beauty, and some of the latest tech. A good example of the era’s luxury is the Cadillac Eldorado. Launched in 1953, just 532 were made for the year and as the New York Times notes, Ike rode to his inauguration in one. The car was the work of designer Harley Earl from the LeMans Motorama concept car. And the name? It’s reported that it’s a reference to the mythical city of gold sought by Spanish explorers.
One thing’s for sure, the Eldorado quickly became a symbol of success. Stars bought them and Eldorados showed up in movies and music videos. If you owned an Eldorado, you made it.
Well-sorted early Eldorados are known to sell for well into the six figures, so you have to go newer to find cheaper examples. I found this 1964 Eldorado Biarritz to be an alluring example. The Biarritz name refers to a resort town on the coast of France. This isn’t as flashy as an earlier Eldorado, but it still has a long body and fins. It’s also imperfect, which explains the price.
The features list is long and includes auto-dimming lights, AM/FM radio with power antenna, and cornering lights. It’s noted to have no rust, but the paint (an older repaint) shows its age, including some fade. There’s also a dent on the driver door. Power comes from a 429 cubic-inch V8 making 340 gross horsepower. It’s $44,995 by WeBe Autos Consignment in Waterbury, Connecticut with 73,500 miles.
1996 Daihatsu Midget II – $11,200
Only 51 inches wide, the Daihatsu Midget can slice through tiny gaps in city traffic nearly as easily as a motorcycle can. These little trucks usually seat only a single person and were used in Japan as delivery vehicles. Squarely in Japan’s kei class their 660cc, 30.5 HP triples get the micro trucks to about 70 mph. And payload is a miniscule 330 pounds. They may not have a whole lot of utility here in America, but look at the thing!
This one comes in a fabulous teal color and just 11,500 miles on its odometer. It appears to be in exceptional condition, surviving without rust and paint that still shines. It’s $11,200 on Facebook Marketplace in Olympia, Washington.
2004 Chevrolet SSR – $16,800
Retro-modern design took the automotive landscape in the early 2000s. Cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Plymouth Prowler were generating headlines and were joined by the likes of the Volkswagen New Beetle and the Ford Thunderbird. General Motors didn’t want to lose out on the trend and put some of its own takes on the formula. The Chevrolet HHR hit the road as the General’s take on the PT. But sometimes forgotten is Chevy’s modern interpretation of its 1950s Advance Design pickups. Perhaps that’s in part because it was a sales flop, selling just 24,000 examples before GM pulled the plug in 2006.
The name means Super Sport Roadster and every time I see one I’m blown away that this isn’t some sort of concept car. Under the hood is a 5.3-liter V8 making 300 HP. That drives the rear wheels. Perhaps the strangest part is the fact that it rides on the GMT368 platform, a variant of the GMT360. That makes it a family member to the Oldsmobile Bravada, Chevy Trailblazer, and GMC Envoy. Like the Prowler, the SSR was criticized for having hot rod looks, but missing the mark on performance.
This SSR has caught my attention in two ways. One is with the glorious purple paint. The other is with that low price. I often see these for sale for $20,000, sometimes $30,000 or more. This seems reasonable. And barring any mechanical or title issues, it seems like a decent price. It’s $16,800 on Facebook Marketplace in Nashville, Tennessee with 77,589 miles.
1950 International L-122 – $16,900
Automotive historian Robert Tate writes that the International L series originally launched in 1949, replacing the KB series. These trucks were available in sizes as small as a pickup to as large as a semi truck, or from a 4,200 to 45,000-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. The options list included such features as a radio, clock, or electric wipers. Production was short, lasting until 1952 when L series trucks were replaced by R series trucks.
This L-122 was towards the lighter end of the range with a 6,200-pound GVWR. It’s said to be completely original, save for an electronic ignition for reliability. An International Silver Diamond 220 six is under the hood and should be producing 100 HP. The seller says that they got it in an estate sale and that until they picked the truck up, it spent 70 years of its life in the same county in Pennsylvania. It’s $16,900 on Hemmings in Gates Mills, Ohio with 64,000 miles.
1996 Fiat Barchetta – $15,497
Here is a car that was never sold in America, but many of them are coming of age to be able to be legally imported. The story of the Fiat Barchetta is probably best told through one of its designers, Andreas Zapatinas:
It was the best Christmas present.
The last working day of 1989 as I was walking through the corridors of FIATs Centro Stile, after exchanging the customary season wishes I heard Mr. Maioli shouting from his office: “..oh by the way Zapatinas, when we are back we start a spider”
What a SPIDER? this is a designer’s dream, I thought, after the FIAT coupe that was already more or less on its way there was the golden opportunity to design a spider.
This is the period of the FIAT Tipo-Tempra-Lancia Dedra-Alfa 155 etc. Cars with no emotional content. At my studio that was led by Chris Bangle we had some recent successes. The first was the Alfa 145, then we had almost won what was to be the Punto, then the Fiat Coupe.
We wanted to break away from the flat sided cars that the whole Italian car design industry was trapped and was definitely bleeding. The spider, as was initially called the project, was the opportunity to bring back the sculpture on the sheet metal. It was going to be a car that one would enjoy from seeing to touching.
Hand welded sheet metal pieces, unobtrusive door handles, the side glass would hide in the door, no moulding to burn your left arm as it rests on the door panel. No fixed side glass on the door, a super curved windshield. Endless hours of discussions over technical drawings in order to finalize a headlight cluster free of ugly openings and uncontrolled rubber moldings. “Island” cuts for the front hood and also for the trunk lid. Individual small rear lights, just like any thoroughbred car has.
Power comes from a 1.8-liter four making 128 hp and delivering it to the front wheels via a manual transmission. And underneath a Barchetta are essentially the bits from a Fiat Punto. The selling dealership says that this Barchetta actually came from Japan, and is said to run and drive well. It’s $15,497 at Track & Field Motors in Tampa, Florida with 37,400 miles.
2006 BMW R 1200 GS – $5,500
The BMW GS is an adventure motorcycle loved by riders all over the world. BMW Motorrad manages to hit that perfect mix of capability with comfort, technology, and funky looks. A new R 1250 GS will set you back at least $17,995. And while you can get a smaller GS for less money, going used can save you some cash on the big GS.
Motorrad says that the GS story starts in the late 1970s, when the company built a road legal enduro motorcycle. In 1980, development from BMW engineers led to the R 80 G/S dual sport. With the R 80 G/S, BMW saw itself building a motorcycle that you could use for touring and for off-roading, a formula not unlike what you see today.
From there, the GS would grow, getting more technology and more power along the way. The R 1200 GS made its debut in 2004, boasting improvements like 100 HP, a slightly bigger 1,170cc boxer twin, and a weight loss of 66 pounds from its predecessor. Features included CAN-bus engine electronics, shaft drive, Paralever swinging arm, ABS, and more. Don’t let this motorcycle’s 16 years of age fool you, it’s still thoroughly modern.
This one comes with extra equipment, including cases, two sets of tires, a bigger seat, and even a cup holder. It’s $5,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with 49,000 miles.
1976 NSU Ro-80 – $24,500
Here’s a car that I wasn’t even aware existed until recently. Sadly, this car has a similar story as other rotary-powered cars and motorcycles. This is another car with a history by our friends at the Lane Motor Museum, so I’ll let the museum hold the microphone:
The Ro-80 was a truly advanced front-wheel drive saloon. It combined the first commercially developed twin-rotor Wankel engine with front-wheel drive and semi-automatic transmission, a spacious interior, and a low-drag body shape. With its four wheel disc brakes and excellent suspension, the Ro-80 was praised as the car of the future and was named car of the year in 1968. Unfortunately, the Wankel engines were not durable and NSU warranty costs drove them out of business. The assembly plant ceased production of the Ro-80 in 1976, after Volkswagen’s 1969 purchase of Auto Union. NSU GMBH still exists, as a department serving under Audi Traditions GmbH.
Just 37,204 of these were built, and you can buy one of them here in America. Power comes from a 1990cc twin-rotor making 115 HP and driving the front wheels. This one has been restored and still looks great. It’s $24,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Tallmadge, Ohio with 50,000 miles.
1961 Renault 4CV Jolly – Best Offer
The Fiat 500 Jolly made just 18 horses from a 499.5cc Fiat two-cylinder, making driving one a leisurely affair. If you wanted your beach car to be a little larger and a little faster, Ghia had another open top buggy, this one based on the Renault 4CV.
As historical car dealership Hyman Ltd. explains, the 4CV’s story is that of looking towards the future, and defying orders. The 4CV was developed during Germany’s occupation of France during World War II. And at the time, Renault was under orders to build commercial and military vehicles. But looking to the future, Renault’s engineers believed that the occupation wouldn’t last. And when France comes out of the other side of the war, its people will need a set of wheels. While this was happening, Renault was under the direction of German engineer Wilhelm von Urach, who reportedly turned a blind eye on the project. The project was worked on in secrecy and eventually, the engineers were right about the occupation not lasting.
The 4CV was revealed to the public in 1946 and despite a rough economy, the little car was a hit. This humble car eventually caught the attention of Ghia, a company with a desire to build beach cars:
Most commonly seen on the Fiat 500 and 600, the concept of the Jolly beach car originated from the Italian coachbuilder Ghia, though others built their own variations on the theme. It is believed that Ghia’s boss, Gigi Segre, saw large taxi cabs being used on small resort islands and came up with the idea for a compact beach car that could be used by resorts and hotels, like a motorized rickshaw with an Italian flair. The Jolly (Italian for Joker) featured a stripped out body, no doors, wicker or plastic seats and a whimsical surrey top. The majority of Ghia Jollys were built on Fiat platforms, though a few were built using the Renault 4CV as a basis. The 4CV was a superior platform as it was larger in size than the Fiat, had a more powerful, rear-mounted engine and simply had a delightful look that was ideally suited to the happy, relaxed nature of a beach car.
It’s believed that as few as 50 of these were built, and that less than half of them survive. That makes this a pretty rare vehicle.
As mentioned before, the 4CV-based Jolly is more powerful than the Fiat version. It appears to sport an 845cc Billancourt lifted from a Dauphine. The seller says that it’s making 36 HP here, or double what the Fiat 500 Jolly would make. Its previous owner was interviewed earlier this year, and gave some history on the Renault. The car was owned by the same family for 54 years, and restored after it was found wrecked in Texas in 1968. Top speed is supposed to be around 65 mph, but the owner states that they’ve never taken it above 35 mph.
It is for sale for best offer by Cody’s Classic Cars in Stanley, Wisconsin with 15,747 miles.
2006 Volvo V70 R – $4,500
This next entry has a ton of miles, but with a price low enough to be enticing. Volvo has a long history of taking its practical sedans and wagons then hopping them up into fun driving machines. When the Volvo 850 T-5R was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1994, it was the brand’s most powerful car. The 850 Turbo was no slouch, either. And in 1996, Volvo produced another banger, the 850 R.
When this V70 R was built, V70 was in its second-generation. These wagons are a little less boxy than their predecessors but still distinctively Volvo. And the R packs a punch. Power comes from a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five making a healthy 300 HP and delivering it to all four wheels through an automatic and a Haldex-based AWD system. For comparison, the slowest V70 that year had a 2.4-liter inline five making 168 HP.
This one has gone far with 227,000 miles, but it presents well. It also doesn’t have a ton of mods, with the biggest one listed being a Hilton Stage 2 tune. It’s $4,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Washougal, Washington.
That’s it for this week. Thank you for reading!