Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, I love picking up dirt-cheap cars and motorcycles and then telling you lovely readers about the dumb things that I do with them. Since I’m shopping all of the time, I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale. Here’s what I’ve been obsessed with lately.
This week, we look at a sleek Volkswagen Beetle kit sports car, a Porsche likely from a tuner you’ve never heard of, and a car for land and water.
Here’s what I’m looking at this week!
1995 Nissan Largo Autech Highway Star – $12,500
Here’s a Japanese van with sweet ground effects and more than enough power for a road trip. The Nissan Largo is based on the first generation of the Nissan Serena van. Sold between 1992 and 1998, this van is a Serena with a new, wider body and more features. These were sold through Nissan Satio Stores.
A Largo Autech Highway Star is essentially a conversion van by Nissan-owned tuning house Autech. Here, the tuning house adds a body kit, two-tone paint, and interior improvements such as two-tone leather and microsuede seating surfaces. Features include lowering springs, four rear skylights, a tilting front sunroof, Dual zone front and rear climate control, seats that swivel and fold into beds, as well as power windows and locks.
Power comes from a 2.4-liter KA24DE four making 145 horsepower and 160 lb-ft torque driving the rear wheels through an automatic transmission. It’s $12,500 from the seller in Noblesville, Indiana with 134,722 miles.
1954 Ford Crestline Sunliner – $28,000
This classic convertible caught my attention not just because it looks like a fantastic cruiser, but just check out that color. If only I could have bought a Smart in that color!
Ford used the Sunliner name on full-sized convertibles in the 1950s and 1960s. It was first used on the 1952 Crestline. In 1952, Ford’s base model was the Mainline and the mid-range was the Customline, with Crestline topping the lineup. Victorias were hardtops, Skyliners had a transparent roof, while Sunliners were convertibles. In 1953, the Crestline gained power brakes. Looking at a brochure, Ford was big on bold colors in 1954 and this car is no exception.
In 1954, the largest engine was a Y-block 239 cubic inch V8 making 130 HP. This one has a 292 cubic inch V8 from 1956 rated at 200 HP. This engine is said to be freshly rebuilt and it drives with a rebuilt Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic. It’s $28,000 from the seller in Seattle, Washington with 60,000 miles.
1975 Cimbria Kit Car – $12,000
Our Jason Torchinsky tells me that there was a time when there were practically endless Beetle-based kit cars on the market. Here’s another, and I adore the way it looks. It’s called a Cimbria SS, and kit car blog Rare Component Cars explains its story:
In 1978, Joe Palumbo started the Amore Car company in Milwaukee, WI. Their product, the Cimbria, was the result of his passion. With styling derived from Richard Oakes’ Nova (aka. Sterling), gullwing doors, and a versatile package, it was sold successfully for almost a decade.
The Cimbria was originally designed to bolt to a full length VW Beetle floorpan, but later a custom chassis was made to accept donors from Corvair & Pinto to Porsche. The only required modification to the VW donor pan was lowering the steering box.
Amore claimed the car could be built in 120 hours. The kit came in a basic package for use with VW parts and a deluxe kit, pre-assembled with only the drivetrain left for the owner to mount on the custom chassis.
Said another way, the Cimbria kit car was based on two other designs. The design evolved over the years until it went out of production sometime in the mid-1980s. Palumbo continued to experiment with kit cars and today, you can access his website through the Wayback Machine and check out his wacky ideas. He even pitched the idea of a hybrid sports car in 2007!
This Cimbria appears to have been modernized with what appears to be motorcycle mirrors, a rearview camera, LED lights, and a new interior. Power comes from a 1600cc air-cooled VW engine that’s bolted to a manual transmission. It’s $12,000 from the seller in Childersburg, Alabama.
2011 Ducati Diavel – $7,500
In 2010, Ducati did something that stunned motorcyclists around the world. The brand, known for its sportbikes that are effectively rolling art pieces, unveiled a cruiser. In fact, the Diavel was Ducati’s second-ever cruiser. The first was the Ducati Indiana, which ran from 1986 to 1990.
This motorcycle was initially led by Pierre Terblanche, a design chief with the Ducati 998 and Ducati 999 on his resume. Terblanche hired freelance designer Glynn Kerr to pen the motorcycle. Apparently, when the prototype was rolled out, an engineer said in Bolognese “Evil, just like the devil!” The idea stuck, and the motorcycle got the name “Diavel,” or “devil” in the dialect.
So, what do you get with the devil’s cruiser? Bolted to the frame is a 1198cc Testastretta L-twin making 162 HP and 94 lb-ft torque. Motorcycle News describes the ride as very fast and happy to corner. This Diavel is $7,500 from the seller in Kennesaw, Georgia with 17,000 miles.
1979 Porsche 911SC “Strosek” Cabriolet – $50,000
Here’s a custom Porsche 911 that is believed to come from tuner Vittorio Strosek Autodesign. Strosek Autodesign was founded by Vittorio Strosek in 1982. The company is located in Utting am Ammersee, near Munich. Strosek is a car designer and reportedly learned his trade from famed German designer Luigi Colani. Colani is known for his rounded designs and you can see them reflected in Strosek’s designs.
Strosek is known for his work on Porsches but if you check out his portfolio, he’s had his hand in designing custom Nissans and Lamborghinis. He also notes work with OEMs like Volkswagen, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, and McLaren.
As far as this car goes, here’s its reported story:
Beginning life as a standard California-spec 1979 Porsche 911SC Targa, this originally Black-painted example was reportedly brought to Bob Anzianos Bad Boy Customs of Los Angeles during the early 1990s for the full Strosek body conversion we see today. Sporting unique Lavender Blue Metallic paint over a blue and beige interior, the custom build also included signature Strosek headlights, wide fenders, integrated air scoops, a rear wing, Targa-top delete, upgraded exhaust, and deep-dish Borbet wheels.
Unfortunately, no documentation was saved from the customization, so the authenticity of the alleged Strosek parts is unknown. Also unfortunate is the fact that the car has sat for so long that it now needs a little refreshing. The seller notes that the tires are very old and that the engine leaks. It’s also unclear if the roof has been repaired since its appearance on two auction sites in 2022. Power comes from a 3.0-liter flat-six making 172 horsepower and 189 lb-ft torque.
It failed to sell in both auctions. Today, the seller wants $50,000 for it. The car is in San Diego, California with 114,000 miles.
2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – $31,335
Despite the lack of pony cars in my fleet, I have a soft spot for this generation of GT500. To this day, I remember watching the scene in I Am Legend where Will Smith hoons one of these through an abandoned New York City. Like other bucket list cars, this GT500 even made appearances in the racing games that I played as a teenager. Here’s what Ford has to say:
After 40 years, racing legend Carroll Shelby and the Ford Mustang are back together with the introduction of the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500.
The collaboration between Shelby and Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) is yielding an instant collector’s Mustang that builds 475 horsepower in its 5.4-liter supercharged V-8.
A modern interpretation of the Shelby Mustang of the 1960s, the Ford Shelby GT500 uses advanced engineering to attain the performance that made the original GT500 the king of the road.
True to the original GT500, it will be available both as a coupe and as a convertible when it goes on sale in the summer of 2006. “When Carroll was developing the original GT350 and GT500, he wanted to build the most powerful, most capable Mustangs of his day,” says Hau Thai-Tang, director, Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team. “Our goal was to build the most powerful, most capable Mustang ever.”
Power comes from a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 making 500 HP and 480 lb-ft torque lighting up the rear wheels through a manual transmission. This one doesn’t have a roof, which trades some stiffness for a glorious engine note. It’s $31,335 by Auto Group of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky with 35,720 miles.
2004 Gibbs Aquada – $164,337
Here’s a car that will be forbidden fruit for most Americans. The Gibbs Aquada is a modern attempt to combine a car with a boat into one package.
The Aquada story starts in 1995 when Alan Gibbs designed an amphibious catamaran. Gibbs found that his amphibious catamaran’s wheels would get stuck in mud, swamping the watercraft once the tide came in. This made Gibbs begin to consider the weight of his amphibian. He reached out to his neighbor, Terry Roycroft, who was a former marine engineer. As it happened, Roycroft was also tinkering with an idea for a car that could transform into a speedboat. Roycroft had been working on the idea since the 1980s and developed a wheel retraction system and a special powertrain for what he called the “Sealander.” For Roycroft, the Sealander solved a problem of getting from Manukau Heads, New Zealand, to Auckland. This took him an hour and thirty minutes by car, but 30 minutes by boat. So, what if your car and your boat were the same?
In 1996, Roycroft sold the rights to the Sealander’s technology to Gibbs, who then spent many more years perfecting it, filing over 300 patents along the way. In 2003, Gibbs unveiled the Aquada, calling the vehicle the “Worlds first High Speed Amphibian.” The Aquada can drive over 100 mph on land and when it goes into water, the wheel retraction system tucks the wheels into the car, reducing drag enough to allow the car to travel over 30 mph on water.
Power comes from a 2.5-liter Rover K Series V6 from the Land Rover Freelander. This is making 175 HP and drives the rear wheels. The vehicle was unveiled in 2003 and in 2004, Richard Branson set a record in an Aquada for crossing the English Channel in 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 6 seconds. Gibbs apparently thought that it was going to sell 4,000 of these and it even eyed the U.S. market, but just 45 were ever made and sold for a price of £150,000.
If you want this one, it’s $164,337 from Metropole Classics in Druten, Netherlands with 6,122 miles.
1969 Chevrolet Chevy-Van G10 – $15,000
The Chevy-Van was introduced in 1964 as the successor to Chevrolet’s Corvair-based vans. Meant to compete with the Ford Econoline and Dodge A100, these vans placed their engines up front, but retained a cab forward design. This van comes from the second generation of Chevy-Van, which boasted a tough construction to “work long, hard hours and keep your operating costs at a minimum.” Chevy touted the van’s welded unibody build and rust protection as allowing it to take a beating. The brand also noted tapered leaf springs front and rear as offering a comfortable ride.
What I love the most is the looks. These look like a van ripped straight out of a cartoon. This van benefits from new paint, a rebuilt engine, and a digitized instrument cluster. The seller notes that the door cards and rear bench need installing, but those parts come with it. In 1969, two sixes were available: a 230 cubic inch six making 115 HP (net) and a 250 six making 120 HP (net). The seller doesn’t say which engine is under the doghouse. It’s $15,000 from the seller in Lynnwood, Washington.
2013 Audi TT RS – $28,800
In 2009, Audi celebrated what it called an important milestone in company history. Audi was reaching 30 years since it released a five-cylinder engine. The year 2009 marked another milestone for Audi as it marked the launch of the Audi TT RS, the top end of the Audi TT sporting a five-cylinder engine. From Audi:
Sporty five-cylinder gasoline engines have a long legacy at Audi. The most famous is arguably the turbocharged 2.1-liter engine in the Audi Quattro. The first version, which was launched in 1980, offered an impressive 147 kW (200 bhp). And the Sport Quattro from 1984, directly inspired by motorsport, delivered a whopping 225 kW (306 bhp). For 25 years, turbochargers and quattro have been a dynamic formula for success.
The Audi TT RS is the first classic sports car in the Audi RS family. Like the RS 4 and the RS 6, the Audi TT RS was developed by quattro GmbH as a pure, no-holds-barred driving machine. A new six-speed manual transmission conveys the engine’s tremendous power, and permits easy and precise operation thanks to a specially designed shift lever boasting particularly short shift travel. The transmission’s defining characteristics are a high efficiency ratio and a sportily narrow spread of the gear ratios.
The TT RS is notable for being the first Audi RS model to be built outside of the Audi Sport GmbH factory in Neckarsulm. Instead, the TT RS was built alongside the regular TT in Győr, Hungary. This is a second-generation Audi TT, known as the 8J. Much of the body, as well as the chassis, is made of cast, extruded, or stamped aluminum. Steel is used elsewhere.
Power comes from a 2.5-liter turbo five making 360 HP and 343 lb-ft torque hitting all four wheels through a manual transmission. According to Edmunds, these race to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, or faster than an Audi R8 V8. This one is $28,800 from the dealer in Arlington, Massachusetts with 114,000 miles.
That’s it for this week, thank you for reading!
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That Strosek is super cool. Would absolutely love it. At that price if genuine it would be a no brainer. Got a magazine in maybe the late 80s when I was just a boy that was full of these (and a Strosek 928) and other “1000SEL” type stuff. Stuck with me ever since.
I worked for one of Gibbs’ suppliers and have been to their development facility in Auburn Hills, MI years ago. Our components were going into the ‘Quadski’ (ATV / Jetski combo).
Interesting idea, but the Aquada was about $80k at the time. It’s not worth that as a car or a boat. Back then you could buy a new Miata, used pickup truck and a newish boat and trailer for that price.
the number of people for whom an a $150k amphibious car that is only useful in calm water is a better solution than a $30k boat (parked at your dock on your private island) and a $30k car (parked at the boat club where you rent a slip near your work) can be counted on the fingers of one finger.
for $60k you have both a better boat and a better car.
still cool though, and if one came on the market for $10k 10/10 would hoon.
Wtf did they do to that poor Porsche
Hot DANG. The Aquada is a BIG WANT.
I thought those headlights on the Aquada looked familiar … Holy Crap, those are NB1 (1999-2000) Miata headlights!
They’re a dead ringer!
Came here for the Aquada, gotta love attempts like this. But honestly, all are fine examples except for the Porsche. Love that green and used to hang with a friend who had a van quite similar. Cruising was a blast.
Oh wow that Chevy van is awesome. Amazing what a sweet 2 tone paint job can do.
I really want to park that van on my front lawn.
(Mercedes, please ignore this comment)
Found David Tracy’s secret account
Mercedes, you need to talk Beau into buying that Sunliner. It’s Autopian aqua color!
God that Porsche is a crime worthy of The Hague…and $50,000 for an alleged tuner version with no documentation and six figure mileage? For what’s essentially a bootleg 993? Certified crack pipe. I get that the Porsche Tax is no joke but this Pimp My Ride ass example is worth maybe half of that on a good day. No wonder it didn’t sell at auction.
Mannnnn that GT500 is temping at that price and has the correct transmission. When it comes to cars like this I don’t even care about rigidity-let me drop the top and hear that V8 sing. I’ve actually toyed with the idea of a decent example of a manual V8 S197 drop top as a pure weekend car and this sure would fit that bill. It won’t carve corners like a Miata or something but the smiles on demand of a drop top V8 could make me forget about precision driving pretty quickly.
Find a straight road, downshift, and let all the blood flow away from your brain and directly to your junk. Return to monke, if only for a moment. Although Mustangs remained LSD-less until the S550s right? I wouldn’t advise launching this from a standstill out of cars and coffee…but once your already rolling I’m sure it’s fine.
I’ve recently been lusting after the idea of a ZL1 convertible. That will almost certainly never be feasible as a daily but as a weekend fun car 15-30k or so can find you a pretty nice V8 pony car with a roof that goes down and a stick. I tried to sell the wife on a red post mid cycle refresh S197 GT convertible a few months ago. It was listed for $15,000ish locally, had less than 50k miles, 3 pedals, and a squeaky clean Carfax. She wasn’t into the idea of me driving over and paying cash for it so we can finally have a weekend car but she’ll warm up eventually 😉
That Diavel is a stunner – wow. And 162hp… *makes rationalizing noises*
I believe that journey was the inspiration for the Top Gear challenge that saw the boys building boats out of vehicles. Clarkson’s Toyota pickup with the outboard motor (the Toy-Bota) was the only one that sort of worked, so they took it across the Channel. They didn’t get within shouting distance of Branson’s time and they missed Calais but they did get to France.
Love the green on that Sunliner.
The 2013 TT RS is a great car and one of the last good Audi manuals (I would know, I own one). But there’s probably better examples of it out there. With over 100k I would hope it got quite a few things replaced, starting with the suspension (the magnetic suspension is basically a wear item).
Agreed. Price seems a bit high for the age and mileage.
Mercedes, based on the recent collections you have put in front of us, I am nominating you as the hardest working journalist here.
I am inclined to agree – really good stuff. [thumbs_up_emoji]
And she is definitely working smarter than the Food Fighters. 🙂
She really does have a special skill for finding the most amazing vehicles.
Looking at that Porsche’s headlights, all I see is Maz Katana when she lowers her glasses. Or Hans Moleman. Or Mr. McGoo.
The Strosek seems cheap if real, I worked on some of those kits in the late 80s early 90s and they were well made- there were knockoffs though and those ranged from okay to” oh lord was this made by Trabant”
Oh man, the Aquada! Give it five more years and import it on the 25-year rule…
A little more background on their US aspirations, and the problems inherent in trying to meet two different sets of vehicular regulations at once. As far as I understand it, US marine rules have a limit on how hot an enclosed engine room can be, and the EPA-mandatory catalytic converter was going to be a prohibitive problem without an exemption, which the Coast Guard didn’t want to grant. Also, Gibbs couldn’t solve the issue of how to not have the airbags deploy when smacking over a big wave, and none of the airbag manufacturers were going to even touch a system with a selectable operation function, due to liability.
Gibbs did however successfully bring to market the Quadski, which was a combination ATV/PWC that used a BMW motorcycle 4 cylinder. The website gives the impression they are still selling them but I’m not so sure. Not sure how many they made but I found six for sale in a quick search and they are NOT cheap. Such is the price of being able to wow people as you drive your ATV right into the lake.
Quick question (since you seem to know a bit more on the car than I do and I wasn’t able to find a satisfactory answer online): Is the Aquada Rear or Front Engined?
Pretty sure it was rear engined as I don’t think the hydrodynamics work the other way.
That van is beautiful. I love the double doors on the side.