Home » Kaiser Darrin, TVR Griffith, Fiat Panda 4×4 Sisley: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

Kaiser Darrin, TVR Griffith, Fiat Panda 4×4 Sisley: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness


Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, I love picking up dirt-cheap cars and motorcycles and 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’m obsessed with lately.

Now that I’m finally feeling better from weeks of sickness, I want to take a motorcycle ride. In a cruel twist, my part of Illinois is currently getting blasted by snowy weather. And next week we’re going to drop into negative temperatures. Oh, come on! I guess I’m staying inside and looking at some cars.

Here’s what I’m looking at this week!

1950 Dodge B-4-D126 – $21,500

1950 Dodge B 4 D126
Classic Auto Mall

I’ve highlighted a number of Ford and Chevrolet trucks in this series, but looking back, not too many Dodge trucks. I will change that today with another sweet classic truck, but in Dodge flavor. Sold from 1948 to 1953, the Dodge B series trucks replaced the automaker’s prewar trucks. B series trucks were available in a range of body styles from pickups and flatbeds to panel trucks and even a woody wagon. Dodge called them “Job-Rated” trucks for their durability and the cab was marketed as a “pilot-house” for its good visibility.

This B-4 has been restored and is said to run and drive well. Under the hood is a 218 cubic inch L-head inline six making 96 HP. That feeds the rear wheels through a four-speed manual. It’s $21,500 from Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

1990 Nissan Pulsar GTI-R – $15,000

Screenshot (140)
Facebook Marketplace

The Nissan Pulsar was first produced starting in 1978. Here in America, you’re probably most familiar with the Nissan Pulsar NX, which is based on the third-generation Pulsar. That little funky car was somewhat modular, offering a single body style with multiple panels to change the vehicle up. The ’80s were a weird time.

Once the hangover from that decade was over, Nissan took the Pulsar rallying. The automaker took the fourth-generation Pulsar and souped it up for the World Rally Championship’s Group A competition. Under homologation rules, Nissan had to build roadgoing versions of its racer, and according to Bonhams, Nissan cranked out 14,600 GTI-R examples. It never took home a WRC title, but these road cars are still pretty awesome. Power comes from a 2.0-liter SR20DET turbo four making 227 HP and 209 lb-ft torque, delivered to all four wheels. That’s good for a 60-mph sprint in 5.4 seconds.

This one looks to be in good shape, with what appears to be minor cosmetic work needed to make it perfect. It’s $15,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Byron Center, Michigan with 60,273 miles.

1990 Fiat Panda 4×4 Sisley – $6,995

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Facebook Marketplace

Are you looking for a four-wheel-drive vehicle but are not really interested in a truck or SUV? Well, this cute Fiat Panda is an option. Unlike many imports, I’ve noticed that Pandas stay cheap, so you can get your import fix without going bankrupt!

Our friends at the Lane Motor Museum have a little story about these cars:

The Fiat Panda was introduced in 1980, and was meant to be a city car for the masses; simpler but in the spirit of Citroën’s 2CV. It was a no-frills utility vehicle designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. Giugiaro compared the Panda to a pair of jeans – simple, practical, and without frills. For practicality, it featured cheap, flat panes of glass, removeable and washable seat and door panel covers, and a multi-configurable, removable rear seat. The base model had a modest 2 cylinder 652cc engine that drove the front wheels.

In June 1983 Fiat introduced the 4×4 Panda, developed by the Austrian company Steyr-Puch. It was the first small, transverse-engined production car to have 4-wheel drive. The Panda 4×4 had a larger engine than the standard Panda, and a 5-speed gearbox with a very low first gear for off-road use.

The first-generation Panda is such a tank that it was in production for 23 years. And getting a Sisley like this one got you a Panda with a bit more kit. You get a velour interior, an Alcantara headliner, an inclinometer, headlight washers, and more. This one is said to come from Italy and is rust-free. Power comes from a 965cc four making 48 HP. It’s $6,995 on Facebook Marketplace in Denver, Pennsylvania.

Hat tip to martywit!

2000 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage – $28,500

Hemmings Seller

Here’s a chance to own an inexpensive modern Aston Martin and it’s a beaut, Clark! Oh, and did I say it has a V12? Aston Martin provides a story for these gorgeous machines:

By the early 1990s it was obvious Aston Martin would need to increase production in order to survive. Victor Gauntlett suggested that a new, smaller Aston Martin should be built alongside the big V8 Astons, a car that could be sold in all markets and that would be less expensive. The advent of the Ford Motor Company and the appointment of the late Walter Hayes as Chief Executive of Aston Martin not only provided new funding, but brought with it access to some of the best vehicle engineering facilities in the world.

The new design, code named NPX, was styled by Ian Callum and engineered in conjunction with Tom Walkinshaws TWR group. Aston Martin revealed the DB7 at the Geneva Motorshow in 1993, with production starting in 1994 at a new factory in Bloxham, near Banbury in Oxfordshire.

In 1999, Aston Martin would unleash the Vantage into the world. These replaced the six-cylinder engines found in the original DB7s with a 5.9-liter V12 making a blazing 420 HP and 400 lb-ft torque. And that’s what you’re getting here. That engine is driving the rear wheels through an automatic transmission, and it’s a convertible, so you don’t have a hard roof blocking your ears from that sweet soundtrack.

This one is said to be a one-owner car from California. It’s $28,500 on Hemmings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with 83,000 miles.

1992 Suzuki GSX1100G – $1,500

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Facebook Marketplace

The Suzuki GSX1100G was a short-lived anomaly in motorcycle history. Have you ever wanted the power of a replica race motorcycle, but in a far more relaxed package? As Cycle World wrote back in 1991, that’s pretty much what you got with a Suzuki GSX1100G.

Cycle World explains that the engine is essentially the one from a GSX-R1100 sportbike, but with notable changes like a secondary balancer shaft, different rocker arms, different cams, and a few other small changes. These changes make the engine a bit better suited to a standard-style motorcycle. But more than that, it also offered that power in a simple package, like the motorcycles of decades past.

Another departure from the GSX-R1100 is a shaft drive. Cycle World concluded that it was a good all-rounder, while Rider Magazine says that you could spend all day on this machine, racking up hundreds of miles.

Power comes from a 1127cc inline-four making 98 HP. That’s good for a top speed of around 140 mph if you can find a straight enough road. This 1992 example is said to run well, but will need a carburetor synchronization. It’s $1,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Franklin Park, Illinois with 18,833 miles.

1957 Volvo 445 Duett – $32,900

1957 Volvo 445 Duett
GR Auto Gallery

The Duett holds a place in Volvo’s history as being the predecessor to the brand’s famous wagons that we all know and love today. I’ll let Volvo explain:

In 1953, the famous Duett (variant DH) was introduced, based on the PV445, the bare chassis version of the PV444. This became legendary, and is the ancestor of today’s exclusive, comfortable, safe and powerful Volvo estate cars. From 1949 to 1953, the PV445 had formed the base for pickups, vans, estate cars and a few beautiful convertibles. None of these were built by Volvo; rather, they were built by independent coachwork firms.

The P210 Duett was the continuation of the PV445. The model designation was changed in the autumn of 1960, when the car was given the same curved windscreen and new dashboard which had been used in the PV544 since August 1958. The production of the Duett chassis for special versions ceased in 1962. Over the years, people’s interest in building special versions had declined and the cost had skyrocketed at the same time. However, the P210 was still available as a van or a more flexible estate.

The P210 Duett was a car that was sold primarily on the Nordic markets. The last car in this series was built in February 1969.

Power in this 1957 Duett comes from a 2.0-liter four making 115 HP, driving the rear wheels through a four-speed manual. This particular example is believed to be a former California car, and to speak about how it drives, the selling dealership says that it was driven for over three and a half hours on the highway at 70 mph to the dealership.

For $32,900, you get the vehicle, plus a thick stack of maintenance records. It’s for sale by GR Auto Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan with 9,726 miles.

1954 Kaiser Darrin – $129,998

1954 Kaiser Darrin
Volo Cars

The Kaiser Darrin holds an interesting spot in automotive history. While the Chevrolet Corvette beat the Darrin to market as America’s first production convertible fiberglass sports car, the Darrin was actually shown to the public before the Corvette. As Hemmings writes, the Darrin made its appearance at the 1952 Petersen Los Angeles Motorama, two months before the Corvette made its debut in New York City.

Formed in July 1945, Kaiser-Frazer combined the strengths of shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser and auto executive Joseph W. Frazer. As Hemmings notes, Kaiser-Frazer saw early success in providing vehicles across a range of price points, but by 1949 the Big Three’s competition started hurting Kaiser-Frazer sales. While the automaker struggled, designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin thought that the automaker’s path forward was an American sports car. Darrin spent his free time building this car on the chassis of a Kaiser Henry J two-door economy sedan. Darrin–a prior part owner of a Paris coachbuilding firm–came up with a wild sports car that had a three-position top and doors that didn’t swing open but slid on a track.

Kaiser reportedly wasn’t pleased about the vehicle and chastised Darrin for developing a vehicle without permission. However, Kaiser’s wife loved the vehicle, and eventually, Kaiser’s mind was changed. In 1953, Kaiser-Darrin bought Willys-Overland and a year later, the Kaiser Darrin (or Kaiser Darrin 161) was born.

Production Darrins have a 161 cubic inch Willys F-head six making 90 HP and a curb weight of just 2,175 pounds. The Darrin had respectable performance but was ultimately more expensive and slower than its Corvette competition. Kaiser Motors was also in a poor financial state at the time, and Hemmings notes that perhaps buyers didn’t want to buy a vehicle from what appeared to be a dying brand. Just 435 were constructed for a single year, and Kaiser had so much trouble selling them that they just sat at the factory.

This 1954 Kaiser Darrin is being offered by the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois for $129,998 and is said to have been restored to new condition.

2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Cabriolet – $24,990

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Hemmings Seller

We’re not done with high power in pretty packages for amounts of money within reach for some enthusiasts. As Mercedes-Benz explains, first the SLK (R 170) came in 1996, then the CLK (208) came the year later, marking winds of change within the automaker. Mercedes says that the CLK was about breaking into new segments and attracting new buyers. The CLK was targeted at younger car buyers and joined the A-Class and M-Class in the brand’s worldwide product expansion. This was also right around the time that the first Smart City Coupes (later named the Fortwo) would hit the road.

This particular CLK is in the second-generation (209), which made its debut in 2003. And what’s special about this one is that AMG has had its way with it, creating a drop-top with a thunderous soundtrack. Car and Driver’s review of the CLK63 paints this vehicle as a wild animal. It drifts, it challenges you to push the throttle further, and it’ll do it with a soundtrack having you beg for more.

This car had an MSRP of $92,575 before options. Today, it’s just $24,990. It’s for sale in Milford, Connecticut with 83,000 miles on Hemmings.

1992 TVR Griffith – $44,995

Screenshot (144)
Facebook Marketplace

Toward the end of the 1980s, TVR’s wedge-shaped Tasmin sports cars nearing their limits of development. The newer TVR S Series was beginning to outsell the Tasmin, and TVR decided it was time for something new. And what TVR produced would put TVR, as some said, into the performance car big leagues. The TVR Griffith made its debut at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show and according to the TVR Club UK, was such a hit that orders came in every eight minutes. And who can blame these people? TVR packaged a 4.0-liter Rover V8 making 240 HP under a curvaceous body.

The UK’s RAC (basically their version of AAA) has this to say about the Griffith:

The Griffith embodied all of the innovation, design flair and sheer bloody-mindedness that TVR has come to stand for. Ferociously quick and hairy of chest, the Griffith is a car that doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Although TVR boss Peter Wheeler won’t thank us for reminding him, TVRs of the early nineties had a mixed reputation for reliability, but there are legions of Griffith owners who can attest to miles of trouble-free motoring.

Despite its fearsome reputation, the Griffith can easily be driven around using the vast torque the V8 engine generates. In this mode, it’s a relaxed, if loud cruiser. That would be wasting the huge performance that’s on offer, and with a rest to sixty time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 167mph, a Griffith 500 will want to party. Unleashing that power is at first terrifying, then exhilarating and finally ends up being addictive. The Griffith will goad you into prodding that accelerator pedal into the carpet, listening to that fantastic bellow and watching the bonnet rise like a powerboat as the rear tyres struggle to deploy the sheer grunt.

This 1992 Griffith has seen a total nut and bolt restoration from top to bottom. The restoration included upgrades from headlights and wiring to Cerbera calipers and more. The car is currently located in the UK, but the seller’s $44,995 asking price includes shipping, fees, and taxes to an east coast port.

That’s it for this week, thank you for reading!

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32 Responses

  1. Wow, nice lineup this week. Feeling cooped up & snowed in, maybe? I mean, you’ve got 4 convertibles in here, and three are honest GTs. Always liked the Darrin, too-good story and a disappearing door.

  2. It’s a good thing that DB7 is in Florida, because otherwise it would just ruin me. The siren song of a low-mileage, one-owner, Callum-designed droptop Aston with a V12 for under 30 grand would be too much to resist. It’s green, even. I am only human, after all.

    The cost to keep it, though. I’d never survive. Someone needs to snap that thing up and give it the life it deserves.

  3. I’d never heard of them before I stumbled across a Darrin at a little car show once (shout out to Superdawgs!). It had a Cadillac motor but otherwise looked like the one at Volo. It’s super-cool and the doors disappearing into the fenders is a great parlor trick.

  4. Not sure if I’m annoyed or relieved that that Panda is on the other side of the country from me right now.
    At that price I could be making a stupid/brilliant decision with my meager savings.
    The yellow.
    The simplicity.
    The canoe seat stitching.
    The 4×4 for winter.
    I’m currently ready to send one of my three vehicles out to pasture for something different. Been hunting for a 1st gen manual RAV4 in good condition but I think that Panda marks similar boxes with the added benefit of being ducking weird.

  5. I remember seeing a Darrin in that mint green color at a Carlisle show once. My dad pointed at it and told me that car had my name. Ever since then, I have always looked at them in fondness. Cool car.

        1. Might have been the “Old Place” I saw it first, I love that it looks so close to the real Mk VIII so there’s the extra surprise when the door disappears!

  6. The early and mid 2000s were an amazing era of Aston design, which is saying something considering all they do is crank out gorgeous cars. This DB7 is, in fact, a beaut, and the Vanquish has always been a favorite of mine due to how ubiquitous it was. It was in video games, movies, and all over car publications when I was a kid. Plus has there ever been a cooler car name? Vanquish just sounds so badass.

    Now they’re at the bottom of their depreciation curve and shockingly affordable. As tempted as I am I can’t even begin to imagine what taking one on would be like. There isn’t much out there that’s going to be more of a hassle than a 20 year old British V12. While I could afford to get one in the driveway, I’d imagine the maintenance and inevitable repair bills would be absolutely dizzying.

    Apparently the V8 Vantage is a lot less of a headache, but it’s also a much less special car…and its comparatively easy going nature has kept it from depreciating as hard as these. In my area decent examples of the Vantage usually run in the 50-70 range, whereas DB7s of decent mileage pop up in the 20s and low 30s fairly regularly.

    They’re cool cars for sure. Not what I’d spend my money on personally, but I do love them.

  7. former 1953 Kaiser owner here. I wish I still had it, if nothing else for its visual shock value. Nothing else in that era came close.

    We had a family friend in Kelseyville, California who had one of these Darrins in aqua green back in the late 60s and early 70’s. Even then it stood out as a unique car, and I often wonder whatever happened to it. The owner is no doubt log since gone, but I have no idea who would have it now.

    Funny thing, Two nights ago we happened on a cheesy film noir movie that had a Darrin in it. Called Female Jungle, it was Jayne Mansfield’s film debut. It also starred John Carradine as a gossip columnist, and the Kaiser was his ride. Fast forward to 22:15 and you’ll see it.

    This is the only movie I’ve ever seen with a Darrin in it, maybe someone can add more information if other films showed one. . The movie reportedly took 6 days to shoot and it shows it.

    So that’s my contribution of useless information for the day!

    1. Check out the Internet Movie Car Database. http://www.imcdb.org/
      A great resource for obscure cars found in movies, including background cars.
      Not every move is included as it appears to have been started by someone in Europe with a high interest in heavy trucks and busses.

  8. Two cars from my youth. I’ve actually opened the doors and sat in a Kaiser Darrin, along with an Isetta in Malcolm Pray’s garage. I also still have a Sisley sweater from 1987 when they were a slightly upscale Benetton, and there was a Benetton every other block on Fifth Avenue in NYC. I probably have a copy of Car with a print ad for the Panda Sisley and maybe even a brochure. I’d love it as replacement town car and dirt road car but again, wrong side of the country and not good for 6 hour road trips.
    The Suzuki could be a good UJM, if it really just needs tuning and the Dodge truck and the Volvo Duett seem like they will end up as toys on an estate or hobby farm.

  9. I’ve never understood the grille on the Kaiser Darrin. To me, it makes the car look like a metallic parakeet. A more aggressive grille like that of a contemporary Austin-Healey, Corvette, or various Italian cars would have done the styling a favor.

  10. Whoa, that Panda 4×4 is an absolute steal!
    I strongly believe the 1st gen 4×4 prices will only go up from here on out.
    And they tend to rust out very quickly, so fewer are left every day.
    Their drivetrain was designed by Steyr-Puch by the way, so in a way, it’s a mini G-wagen.
    Ok, maybe not, but Pandas are great!
    It’s one of the few car models where there was both an aircooled and a liquid cooled engine available within the same generation.

  11. That Aston seems like a steal, but I would still be more than a little scared to buy it.

    The Kaiser Darrin-have a neighbor down the street, he has two cars always under wraps, never seen them out or uncovered. Couple months ago I was walking the dog and he stopped me to chat, some stuff related to my work, anyway after fifteen minutes of that he asked if I wanted to see the cars. I said sure of course. Two Kaiser Darrins, both pale yellow. He said worth about $120,000 or so, so consistent with the dealer price.

    I was kind of shocked that he wasn’t shocked that I knew what it was before the cover was more than a quarter of the way off.

    He doesn’t drive them at all, and I can’t imagine they are that exhilarating a ride anyway, more of a novelty factor than a thing else. Anyway, I am always amazed in this great big country how so many (like other commenters here) have come across rare, obscure cars like the KD.

  12. I forgot how much I like that TVR Griffith style, and TVR in general. The Speed 12 was an amazing lunatic machine, but the Griffith is smooooooth. With that, the Aston Martin DB7 AND the Pulsar I’m having serious Gran Turismo flashbacks, excellent.

  13. I saw the Darrin at Volo a few weeks ago. In person it seems like a sports car designed by Studio Ghibli.

    With the door open you realize how little structural rigidity it must have, as it looks like two car halves joined by a sheet of plywood.

  14. My family is from old Europe, and I remember the day I was visiting my Oma in her small town, walking down the street with her, and the Old Duke drove past. Now, royalty was abolished legally in 1918, but that doesn’t mean everyone didn’t KNOW who the Duke was. Anyway, she says, “oh, there’s the Duke!” and I think, oh, right, my aunt was nanny to his kids (I was off by a generation), and I look around for the Mercedes, the fancy car, the luxury limousine. Nope. Dude was in a 4×4 Panda. A truly filthy 4×4 Panda, because he’d been out in his forestry holdings and that was his car of choice.

    For whatever reason, I have loved that car ever since. If I didn’t live in the land of salt, up in Maine, I’d buy that thing in a heartbeat. It won’t survive 2 winters up here, so why bother.

  15. That Dodge is beautiful but un-driveable in modern traffic conditions. If you want to drive it as opposed to it being a museum piece, life the cab and tray and drop them on a nice plug and play modern frame with upgraded brakes and suspension and a modern drive train and drive the crap out of it every day. But keep the original frame and drivetrain to revert it to original if needed in the future.

  16. “1992 Suzuki GSX1100G – $1,500”


    “will need a carburetor synchronization”


    That’s code for “I don’t actually know what’s wrong with it” but for $1500 it would be a decent gamble.

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