Home » Packard Convertible, Nissan Be-1, Honda Today And Motocompo Scooter: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

Packard Convertible, Nissan Be-1, Honda Today And Motocompo Scooter: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness


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

This week, I’ve returned to my roots a bit and none of today’s picks have a six-figure price tag. In fact, everything here will have a list price under $50,000. Yet, there will be plenty of sweet rides to drive home in.

Here’s what I’m looking at this week!

1970 Chrysler 300 – $24,900

1970 Chrysler 300 Convertible
Classic Auto Mall

The first Chrysler 300, built in 1955, got its name from the 331 cubic inch V8 under the hood that made 300 gross horsepower. Chrysler claimed this car to be America’s most powerful production car, and it set a record at Daytona after it hit 127.580 mph, or 7 mph faster than the nearest non-Chrysler.

Given its $4,109 price (more than the day’s Corvette), it was nicknamed “The Banker’s Hotrod.” And these cars lived up to that nickname, too, as they found success on NASCAR circuits. The next year, Chrysler would introduce the first of the “Letter Series” with the 300B. The Letter Series represented luxury, performance, and exclusivity. These cars fizzled out in 1965 with the 300L, however, you could still buy a different kind of 300.

Between 1962 and 1971, the 300 Sport Series offered buyers a more affordable sport and luxury experience to the Letter Series cars. In 1969, the Sport Series got a fuselage-like streamlined design. This represented the last generation of the Sport Series, which ended in 1971. The 300 name would make a brief return as a trim level for the 1979 Cordoba.

Power in this convertible comes from a 440 cubic inch V8 making 350 gross horsepower reaching the rear wheels through an automatic transmission. This one has 112,030 miles on the odometer, but the engine is said to have been rebuilt at 86,000 miles. The car got a new suspension at that time and a new convertible top at 90,000 miles. The car presents well but apparently has some rust. It’s $24,900 at Classic Auto Mall Inc in Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

1932 Rockne Model 65 – $14,500

Hemmings Seller

The Antique Studebaker Club gives a short and sweet history on Rockne, Studebaker’s short-lived inexpensive sub-brand.

Rockne Motors Corp. was a wholly-owned Studebaker subsidiary; it and the 1932 and 1933 Rockne automobiles and trucks it produced were named in honor and in memory of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. Rockne had been employed part-time by Studebaker giving promotional and motivational talks to its dealers; he was killed in a commercial airplane crash in March 1931 just before he was to assume an expanded role in those endeavors.

Yep, Rockne existed for just a blip of time and it was discontinued as the Great Depression took down so many other businesses. Yet, the company did manage to crank out about 23,201 units. The Rockne Model 65 rides on a 110-inch wheelbase, it sports a 190 cubic inch six making 66 HP.

This one is said to have 80 percent of its original interior and no rust. It’s $14,500 in Canandaigua, New York with 44,000 miles.

1991 Honda Today + 1981 Motocompo Scooter – $16,500

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Facebook Seller

Kei cars are a wonderful thing that you don’t see much of in America. We got little cuties like the Subaru 360, Smart Fortwo, and Suzuki Samurai, but we missed out on greats like the Suzuki Cappuccino, Autozam AZ-1, and Honda Beat. Another car that we didn’t get is the Honda Today. This little car is notable for being a practical hatch that’s tiny enough to park in a motorcycle space. As our friends at the Lane Motor Museum explain, the Today gets its engine from the Acty kei truck and it was advertised showing actresses enjoying carefree lives with their tiny cars.

Power comes from a 656cc triple making 41 HP and driving the front wheels through a manual transmission. This particular example is said to have just 19,000 miles and no rust.

The Today comes with another sweet trick, and its trunk is the perfect size to fit a Honda Motocompo scooter.

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Facebook Seller

Produced from 1981 to 1983, the Motocompo is a novel 50cc scooter that folds into something shaped like a briefcase. Honda made 53,369 of these 2.5-HP two-stroke scooters and you can occasionally find them paired with a Honda Today or with a Honda City. Or, you can buy one all by itself and put it into whatever you want.

The move I would do is pick up this $10,000 1991 Honda Today from Facebook Marketplace in Durham, North Carolina then snag this 1981 Motocompo for $6,500 from a seller in Union City, New Jersey.

2008 Volkswagen Eos VR6 – $8,399

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Best Auto of Manassas

According to Volkswagen, when the Eos launched in 2006 it was the first car in the world with a five-piece, coupe, sliding, and convertible roof. Basically, when the roof was closed, you had a coupe. Then you had the option of opening a sliding glass panel as a sunroof. Or if you really wanted, you could open the whole roof and enjoy a convertible.

The Eos was Volkswagen’s first coupe since the death of the Corrado in 1995 while technically also being the successor to the Golf Cabriolet. Volkswagen says the roof takes 25 seconds to complete its process of opening or closing. The automaker says that 231,863 Eos left the production line between 2006 and 2015.

When I was blasting around Florida before covering the 2023 Florida RV SuperShow, an Eos blew by me making the distinctive sound of a Volkswagen VR engine. Here in America, you’ll commonly find an Eos with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four making 200 HP and 207 lb-ft torque. Yes, in a way, these are sorta convertible GTIs. That’s cool enough, but for a short time between 2006 and 2008 you could get your Eos with a 3.2-liter VR6 making 250 HP and 235 lb-ft torque.

As a result, this is a cute little convertible that scampers to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. That’s just a touch slower than a Golf R32, which has the same engine but not the snazzy roof. I feel tempted to buy one of these. This one is $8,399 by Best Auto of Manassas in Manassas, Virginia with 114,000 miles.

2005 Buell Lightning XB12S – $5,500

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Facebook Seller

My favorite of Buell Motorcycle Company’s old lineup is the Lightning. The Lightning was a part of Buell’s XB series, developed after the financial failure that was the Blast. XB bikes were intended to be competitive with Japanese sportbikes on performance and price. However, Harley-Davidson reportedly meddled with the XB’s development like it did before with the Blast. Buell envisioned three powertrains. There’d be a 984cc engine meant to fight 600cc sportbikes, a 1300cc to roughly 1350cc for higher performance and a flat-out nutty turbocharged version that would make 150 HP.

Buell made a proof-of-concept of this turbo model featuring an Aerocharger attached to a 1200cc engine. This turbo setup reportedly had little lag and the bike “straightened your arms like a Hayabusa.”

Unfortunately for Buell, Harley-Davidson once again made him work with a Sportster engine and reportedly limited the changes that Buell could make to the engine. Harley also failed to secure a deal with Aerocharger, instead trying and failing to make its own turbo system.

Despite the interference and the crazy cost overruns, Buell made a lineup of distinctive and reliable motorcycles. To this day, my Lightning is my favorite motorcycle. I mean, it’s a streetfighter with the beating heart of a Harley and delightful handling! Sure, a 600cc sportbike from Japan could smoke me, but I don’t care.

This 2005 Buell Lightning XB12S looks to be in good condition and it has just 7,000 miles, too. It has a 1203cc V-twin making 92 HP and 84 lb-ft torque. It’s $5,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Valparaiso, Indiana.

1988 Nissan Be-1 – $8,500

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Facebook Seller

Here’s one of the awesome cars to come out of Nissan’s famous Pike factory. The other cars to come out of this factory were the Pao, S-Cargo, and Figaro, making up what are known as the Pike cars. Jason owns a Pao and friend of the site Gary Duncan has literally dozens of Figaros in his collection. I’ll let Nissan take it from here:

“Be-1” was exhibited as reference at the 26th Tokyo Motor Show in 1985. Its concept was “Coziness-oriented Car.” The car body was based on the first generation March K10, but its styling and interior reminded people of good old cars. The name come from “Plan B-1”.
When the model was rolled out with a production limit of 10,000 in January 1987, more than 10,000 orders were made, and buyers were decided by lottery. Be-1 triggered the production of Nissan Pike Car Series of PAO and FIGARO. The meaning of the word “pike” was “edgy”, and pike cars were highly unique cars that were manufactured in limited volume.

How limited are we talking about here? 10,000 units. The Be-1 comes with a 1.0-liter four making 51 HP matched to a three-speed automatic. This one looks clean and mods are limited to lowering springs and tasteful wheels that match the car’s white accents. It’s $8,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Berne, Indiana with 69,601 miles, nice.

Listing courtesy of Obscure Cars For Sale.

2001 Volkswagen EuroVan MV Weekender – $28,500

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Craigslist Seller

The Volkswagen Transporter T4 originally hit the road in 1992, ditching Volkswagen’s previous T3’s rear engine and rear-wheel-drive layout for a front engine and front-wheel-drive. When this modern interpretation of Volkswagen’s classic vans reached America in 1993, Volkswagen christened it the EuroVan. EuroVan buyers had the choice between getting a regular three-row passenger van with the CL or GL, or they could have opted for a neat little camper van with the MultiVan.

In this configuration, the second row consists of two rear-facing bucket seats. Those overlook a small center space where a table pops out. Going even higher, the MultiVan Weekender adds a pop-up roof tent with its own bed, a refrigerator, and window screens.

I don’t normally feature vehicles with a shopping list of mods, but I think this MultiVan Weekender is pretty neat. It sports its factory equipment plus a lift kit, a GoWesty Swing-Away System, a full-size spare tire, rally-style lights, GoWesty mattress, and so much more. This seems to be pretty much a turn-key EuroVan camper, which is awesome!

I should note that EuroVans are notorious for transmission issues. It’s also a 22-year-old Volkswagen, so it won’t be the most reliable thing out there. But it’s something different for someone looking for the vanlife thing. It’s $28,500 on Craigslist in Norton, Massachusetts with 153,072 miles.

H/T Arthur!

1954 Packard Convertible – $39,900

Harwood Motors

As classic car seller Bonhams writes, a problem that Packard had in the early 1950s was that its entry level and higher models didn’t have much to distinguish them. In 1952, president James Nance sought to fix that by separating the lower and higher lines visually and in prestige. This meant a rebirth of the Clipper name on the lowest Packards and the elegant Patrician as the top of the line. Things got a little weird in 1954, and I’ll let Bonhams explain:

For 1954, Packard lines were further differentiated. The Clipper, while retaining the family grille, received entirely new rear fenders and was offered in three subseries to compete in the mid-priced market. There were three true Packard lines, the Cavalier, offered only as an upper-mid-price sedan, and the Patrician and Henney Custom line at the top of the catalog. In between was the 5431 series, called simply “Packard.” It comprised three body styles, a Pacific two-door hardtop, the Caribbean Custom convertible distinctively modified by Mitchell-Bentley Corporation, and a standard convertible, body style 5479. Just 863 of these convertibles were built.

What you’re looking at is one of these 5479 chassis convertibles. This isn’t as high as the Caribbean, but it’s still really pretty. The selling dealership claims an older repaint, a new interior, and some restored pieces. Under the hood is a 359 cubic inch straight eight making 212 horses. It’s $39,900 by Harwood Motors in Macedonia, Ohio with 63,362 miles.

2001 Gillig Low Floor – $4,000

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Facebook Seller

Transit buses are a sometimes overlooked base for a bus project. I love the transit bus as a platform because, unlike a school bus, these often ride low to the ground, have lifts built right in to haul heavy toys, have air-conditioners, and they’re sometimes geared for the highway.

Gillig’s history goes back to 1890, when the Gillig brothers started a carriage and wagon shop in San Francisco. Their company — aptly named Gillig Brothers — expanded quickly into car bodies and various commercial vehicles. The company even built a car top that was designed to enclose a convertible in minutes time. The car didn’t even need to stop for the top to work.

Gillig Brothers diversified its line when released its first school bus in 1932. Since Gillig’s other products weren’t performing well at the time the company shifted its focus to transit. The company continues to build all sorts of buses today, long after its founders’ deaths.

According to a press release captured by the Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board, the Gillig Low Floor was developed with rental car company Hertz to make ‘the bus of the future.’ Originally called the H2000LF, the bus sports a floor just 14 inches off of the ground. Gillig says that these buses have an aluminum alloy structure and weighs “two full-size Ford Tauruses” less than its predecessor. Hertz says that the lower floor is great for a courtesy shuttle bus so people of limited mobility and those carrying luggage don’t have a staircase to climb.

This 2001 Gillig Low Floor ran on the Decatur Public Transit System here in Illinois. It’s a 29-footer powered by an 8.3-liter Cummins ISC straight-six diesel backed by an Allison transmission. The seller doesn’t specify gearing or exact powertrain configuration. It’s $4,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Decatur, Illinois.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading!

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30 Responses

  1. I also love the idea of a transit bus for an RV conversion – availability, pricing, super low floor, etc – but my wife says the school bus is much cuter, so I’ve been outvoted 1-1 for the future project. What can you do.

  2. That Eurovan is ridiculously overpriced, but that’s what the market is for these. I wish the Today and Motocompo were a set but roll your is still viable
    Transit busses are definitely a good platform for conversions. The Car Wizard has an occasional series on upgrading and converting his former rental car shuttle bus, which may be an even better platform because of the mid mounted door.

    1. The Packard trick is to “stand a nickel on edge while it’s running”. If the motor is tuned properly, it works. There are many much cheaper ways to get a buttery Packard straight 8.

      The Packard I’d prefer is an old “bathtub body” Packard between 1948 and 1950. I doubt I’ll be able to afford a good condition Packard convertible of any era. They’re just too desirable.

      The sedans and coupes are often surprisingly cheap. You can get a really nice runner for under $15,000. Packards are definitely one of those cars I always look around for, but I have yet to buy one.

  3. I briefly drove a JW1 Today many years ago…unfortunately it was a bit too small to carry the Motocompo. We eventually got it in, in a slight angle with the cowling touching the glass, but the trunk lid didn’t close! But with some modifications I bet it’ll work!

    I’ve never driven a City, but apparently it’s slightly larger?

    1. Interesting! I’ve seen a JW1 with a Motocompo in the back. It was tight, but a fit with the hatch shut. I now wonder if there was a modification that I didn’t see to make it fit.

    1. It’s too bad. I am not a water-cooled VW fan and never have been, but I gotta say, that is one handsome Campmobile. If it had a reliable drivetrain and no electrical gremlins I’d be tempted.

  4. I saw the Decatur bus on FB a few days ago and all I could think to wonder is whether even gutting it would get that ADM smell out of it. Nobody wants to camp in the smelly bus.

  5. If you have nothing else to do this weekend, the game is on and by game I mean the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction. It’s fun for me to see what they’re running and what they bring. So far for me the thing I can’t understand is a ’67 Nova station wagon..283 Powerglide 2 speed. Excellent condition – restored – totally base model. $49,000.

  6. In regards to that Packard – I’d sure like to be man people ask. The Rockne I had never heard of would be cool to have as well – that’s my “what I learned today” part of this article. And, rounding out my favorites from this list would be the big-as-a-whale ’70 Chrysler. I think I’d much rather give $24K for that than $47K for the new Charger my dad just bought.

  7. oooh, I’ll take the Chrysler! And the Motocompo, too – just put it in the trunk.

    You know what? I’ll take the Be-1 as well. Yep, in the trunk.

  8. Berne, IN is in the middle of Indiana Amish country. The thought of all 51hp of that Nissan Be-1 struggling to overtake a horse and buggy is hilarious.

  9. I’d love that Chrysler, but I think if you said you can have 1 car here, but you can’t sell it to buy another, I’d take the Be-1. It’s a looker.

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