Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, working with cars is a dream, and through it, I’ve amassed a collection of unreliable nightmare cars and write fun stories. I’m always on a search for my next vehicle, even if I don’t really need one. Since I’m shopping for cars all of the time, I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale. So what better than to share them with you!
This week, we have some more gorgeous classics, an underrated modern sports car, and even a fan favorite.
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 neat trucks from the past and present.
1956 Jaguar Mark I – $23,900
Here’s a classic car with bright red paint and some presence. The Jaguar Mark I (or MKI) marks a notable point in the marque’s history. Birthed from Project Utah, the Mark I was Jaguar’s first unibody vehicle. One of the development problems was figuring out how to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. While NVH on a body on frame design might be reduced with insulating materials between body and chassis, Jaguar had to find other ways for its unibody.
For the Mark I, one way NVH was reduced was through mounting the front suspension–consisting of double wishbones, coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar–on a separate subframe. The rear suspension used a version of the D-Type’s design which had elliptic leaf springs with rubber bushings.
The 2.4 liter Mark I made its debut in 1955, followed by a 3.4 Liter version in 1957. This 1956 Mark I is a 2.4-liter model. It’s an older restoration and is noted to have a lot of recent work from carburetors to braking system and ignition. That engine should be making 112 HP. It’s $23,900 on Facebook Marketplace in Costa Mesa, California.
2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP – $9,000
In 2002, Bob Lutz drove a sleek roadster onto the stage at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The crowd cheered at the vehicle before their eyes. This car—the Pontiac Solstice concept—was the realization of a dream Lutz had held for much of his automotive career. The executive told the captivated public that “the North American market is ripe for an affordable, pure roadster executed to top global standards on perceived quality, both inside and out.”
There was just one problem: General Motors didn’t have a compact front-engine, rear-drive platform. The General’s engineers rectified that with the Kappa platform. It’s a pretty advanced piece of engineering, with hydroformed frame rails and a double-walled driveshaft tunnel, not unlike a Corvette. To make the Solstice, engineers raided GM’s parts bin, grabbing components from across the automaker’s giant portfolio to create a two-seat sports car that called back to European roadsters of the ‘60s.
Out of the other end came the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Daewoo G2X, and Opel GT. Spanish automaker Tauro also used the Kappa platform to make the LS3-powered V8 Spider.
The fastest of GM’s Kappa cars come equipped with the 2.0-liter Ecotec LNF turbo four, and that’s what you get here. It’s making 260 HP and 260 lb-ft torque. And even better, it gets to the rear wheels through a manual transmission. I own the sister to this car, a Saturn Sky Red Line, and it’s a ball to drive.
This one is $9,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Crystal City, Missouri with 142,000 miles.
1989 Renault Alpine GTA Turbo – $24,900
Here’s a car that our Jason Torchinsky once called France’s answer to the Porsche 911. And in true French car fashion, this thing looks futuristic and weird. It’s a car that you can just sit and stare at. Once again, our friends at the Lane Motor Museum have a story about it!
The 4 cylinder Renault Alpine 310 was launched in 1972. Some consider the Alpine one of France’s best kept secrets–it was a more practical and cheaper alternative to the Porsche 911. The V6 engine, introduced in 1976, allowed the A310 to rival the best sports cars in Europe. With a mid-engine layout and fiberglass monocoque chassis, this car is very light (1800 pounds) and quite fast. It was hand-manufactured by Alpine in Dieppe, France, and marketed through Renault dealers. [The] lightweight 2+2 sports car made its debut as a luxurious replacement for the world-renowned rally winner, the Alpine A110. Jean Redele, the Alpine’s creator, raced the Renault 4CV. He believed he could be more competitive by replacing the steel body with a lightweight aerodynamic fiberglass body. Thus, the original Alpine was born.
In 1985, Renault redesigned the 310 series. This GTA is larger and more rounded. It has a 6 cylinder engine. This car is very light (1800 pounds) and quite fast. In this respect, it is very similar to its contemporary Lotus–light fiberglass bodies with a taut, sophisticated chassis, small lively engines, and beautiful coachwork. Though the Alpine-series automobiles were never officially sold in America by Renault, a few have made it to the United States. The Alpine Club of America currently knows of 21 cars in the U.S.
This one for sale by Duncan Imports doesn’t come with a description, but scroll through the photos and you’ll see that it’s indeed a turbo version with a manual transmission. It looks like it’s in good shape, though mileage is unknown due to an odometer change.
The 2,458cc V6 PRV engine is planted in a mid-rear arrangement and produces 200 HP. It can be yours for $24,900 at Duncan Imports.
1990 Moto Guzzi Le Mans – $4,900
Italy’s Moto Guzzi’s motorcycles always catch my eye for their iconic transverse-mounted V-twin engines that stick out of the sides of the frames that they’re mounted in. These bikes have loads of style and sometimes, interesting history. As enthusiast site Silodrome notes, the Moto Guzzi Le Mans has origins on the race track:
The Moto Guzzi Le Mans began life on the race track back in 1971 when Dutchman Jan Kampen decided to build a racing Moto Guzzi for the Zandvoort six-hour race. Kampen’s bike had the Moto Guzzi V-twin engine’s capacity increased to 810cc. As Kampen and Moto Guzzi engineer Lino Tonti were in regular communication with each other, the idea of an increased capacity performance Moto Guzzi inspired Tonti who got to work on a competition design of his own.
Tonti’s idea was to increase engine capacity to 844cc and he created a racing bike with that engine capacity and entered it into the 1971 Bol d’Or 24-hour at Le Mans. The Moto Guzzi led the race for the first 10 hours until a broken rocker slowed it down. Despite that failure the bike finished in a respectable third place – and Lino Tonti knew he was onto something.
Tonti then set out to create a successful racer that would eventually become a road bike. The concept for the racing machine was finalized in 1973, before going on to finish fifth in the Barcelona 24-hour that same year. Tonti then looked at putting it into production, but Moto Guzzi owner Alejandro de Tomaso put the project on hold in favor for the Benelli Six. But finally, the Le Mans entered production in 1976, and stole the hearts of motorcyclists.
This motorcycle is a Le Mans 1000. Launched in 1984, this was the fourth major update to the Le Mans. These featured engines increased from 844cc to 949cc. And while previous Le Mans machines were more cafe racer style, this is more of a tourer. Claimed power is 81 HP. It’s $4,900 on Facebook Marketplace in New Paltz, New York with 60,000 miles.
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth – $9,500
The Fiat 500 Abarth is a reader favorite, and it’s easy to see why with its cute looks, raspy exhaust, and pint-sized punch. I’ve featured some of these over the course of Dopest Cars, and it hit me that I never actually featured the story of Abarth. Thanks to our friends at the Lane Motor Museum, here’s a short version:
Carlo (Karl) Abarth selected the scorpion emblem to represent his high-performing, powerfully tuned, sports cars. Abarth vehicles were small and agile, dangerously fast and did exceptionally well in competitive racing. He also developed sports car tuning kits in collaboration with Fiat that offered affordability, enjoyment, and broadened his patronage. The Fiat Abarth 695 “esse esse” (SS) was the top of that scorpion-brand.
After a career racing motorcycles, Carlo Abarth founded Abarth & Co SpA with Guido Scagliarini in 1949. The Cisitalia-Abarth 204A sports car was one of the first vehicles they produced, known to be an impressive racetrack performer. Due to the economic demands of racing, Abarth began focusing his attention on mechanical components that added power to mass-produced cars—mainly Fiats. Abarth tuning kits included exhausts, manifolds, valves, and steering-column mounted gear levers among others.
In 1958, Abarth signed an agreement with Fiat to take semi-completed car bodies for preparing with his custom components.
When the new Fiat 500 came out in 2007, Fiat’s Abarth division was quick to spice things up. Americans finally got to enjoy the cute hot hatch in 2012. Power comes from a 1.4-liter turbocharged four making 160 HP and punching it out to the front wheels from a manual. This is a car that’s only marginally larger than a Smart Fortwo that’s capable of hitting 60 mph in under 7 seconds with the right driver. So, a ball of fun.
This 2013 has just 75,000 miles and looks pretty good inside and out. It’s $9,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Crown Point, Indiana.
1954 Chevrolet Bel Air – $29,000
This Bel Air caught my attention with its paint and reeled me in with its low stance and white walls. This Bel Air comes a year before the start of the famous “Tri-Five” Chevrolets, but I think this might be even better. The Volo Auto Museum tells the Bel Air story like this:
An icon of its time, one of the most sought-after classic vehicles, a charming car with luxury engraved in its character.
The Chevrolet Bel Air debuted in 1950 and enchanted people for the next 25 years. With its classic look, two-toned paint jobs, big steering wheels, chrome detailing, convertibles, V8 engines and hardtops, the Chevy Bel Air had people falling in love. Chevrolet designed iconic full-size, muscle, sedan and station wagon models under the Bel Air nomenclature that evolved over time with different body styles and features.
Even now, collectors and classic car enthusiasts seek out the Chevy Bel Air. The first generation Bel Air reigned from 1950 to 1954. The name “Bel Air” came from the famous city of Los Angeles and became almost as recognizable, if not more so than, its namesake.
The first produced Bel Airs in 1950 were only available in the DeLuxe trim level, which was premium. The two-door hardtop models from 1950 to 1952 hit the market under the Bel Air name to differentiate them from the Styleline and Fleetline models produced by Chevrolet. The first produced classics cost about $1,700 with an independent front suspension that was referred to as “knee action.”
With overwhelming success, the rise of the Chevy Bel Airs within the first few years was surprising, considering previous models with similar details and characteristics failed to intrigue consumers.
The 1954 model got a new grille and changed taillights. This one is believed to be in largely original condition, but has a few subtle mods. The car has been lowered, and the fender spears appear to come from a 1955 model. The original springs come with the car if you don’t want it lowered, but I dig the dropped look. It has a power seat and power window, both are said to work. And the paint is apparently in good shape, a buff away from being even better.
Power comes from a 235.5 cubic-inch straight six making 115 HP. It’s $29,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. The car is believed to have 29,000 miles, but the mileage isn’t confirmed.
2004 GMC TopKick C4500 – $35,900
Every once in a while I feature a medium duty commercial truck that someone converted into a pickup. Those are cool, but you know what’s better? A medium duty pickup straight from the factory.
For decades, the GMC TopKick and Chevrolet Kodiak served commercial operators all over America. If you were a kid in the 1990s, perhaps you rode aboard a school bus with that familiar GMC badge up front. And until recent years, if you rented the biggest U-Hauls you got to command one of these for yourself. I was one of those kids, and I still remember my school bus driver hitting an intersection in such a way that launched the kids sitting in the back out of their seats. My family used to move a lot (at one point once a year) and I’ve lost track of how many U-Haul branded TopKicks that I’ve ridden in and eventually driven.
So I have a soft spot for these trucks.
In 2003, General Motors released the third and final generation of the GMC TopKick and Chevy Kodiak. The medium duty truck space was hot at the time with Freightliner’s M2 and International’s DuraStar putting up fierce competition. Ford was in the game, too, with its medium duty F-Series trucks, which were developed jointly with Navistar.
While these trucks were generally for commercial use, the manufacturers noticed a niche of people converting commercial trucks into massive pickups. Navistar and General Motors jumped into the market, offering commercial truck-based pickups right from the factory. The International Extreme Truck (XT) series launched in 2004, and GM stepped up to bat with its own commercial pickup, the GMC TopKick C4500 by Monroe Truck Equipment.
As Car & Driver writes, these trucks rolled out of GM’s factory in Michigan and down the road into Monroe Truck Equipment’s factory in Flint. Monroe, Wisconsin-based Monroe Truck Equipment then converts the work truck into something a bit more lavish. Monroe’s additions involve thick carpet, fake wood trim, and leather air-ride truck seats, sort of like what my RTS bus has or what an over the road trucker would have. And oh, Monroe also adds on a pickup bed that flows perfectly with the TopKick’s lines.
It doesn’t end there, as options included DVD players, a power bench, a power tonneau cover, a hitch camera, chrome accessories, and more. Both the GM medium duty pickups and the International medium duty pickups were meant for the sorts of buyers who thought that a Hummer just wasn’t big or outrageous enough. Car & Driver quoted a price of around $70,000 for a basic version with the price climbing above $90,000 depending on what you throw inside.
Power comes from a 6.6-liter LLY Duramax making 300 HP and 520 lb-ft torque, and that’s driving the rear wheels. This one is noted to have the air-ride seats and air suspension, as well as the aforementioned power options. It’s $35,900 on Facebook Marketplace in Joplin, Missouri with 100,000 miles.
1989 Merkur XR4Ti – $6,500
Here’s a car that Autopian Publisher Matt Hardigree has personal experience with. In fact, Matt bought the XR4Ti featured in arguably the best of the many versions of American Top Gear. He bought it from none other than Rutledge Wood for $550.
As the story goes, Bob Lutz was the head of Ford Europe, and came up with an idea for how Ford could compete with European imports. At the time, the Ford Sierra, the new replacement for the Taunus and Cortina, was successful. And soon, there was a hot version with the Sierra XR4i. As Motor Trend writes, the Sierra seemed enticing with its 2.8-liter, 150 HP Cologne V6, 130 mph top speed, and crazy double rear wing. And the Cosworth version even had a successful career in Group A.
For Lutz, this car was the perfect answer to imports like the BMW 3-Series, and the Merkur (German for mercury) was born.
Just bringing over the Sierra wasn’t going to work, as the V6 would need to be nerfed for emissions regulations. A V8 was considered, but ultimately, the Merkur ended up with the 2.3-liter Lima turbocharged four. The end result was 175 HP, or more than its European Sierra counterpart. And this little car was hot, with Motor Trend getting it to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds. Ford expected Lincoln-Mercury dealerships to sell 16,000 to 20,000 Merkurs a year, but total sales were nothing like that. Ford sold 42,372 of them over four years, less than Ford’s expectation.
This 1989 XR4Ti has a ton of miles with 251,500 on the odometer, but looks to be in rather good shape. It has a manual transmission, too! It’s $6,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Mt Laurel, New Jersey. Listing courtesy of Obscure Cars for Sale.
1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring – $37,754
Here’s an import from Japan that’s a bit different than you’d expect. Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG works with BMW to create customized and tuned high-performance versions of BMWs. Alpina cars add more that you won’t get in any regular BMW, and sometimes fill niches that BMW itself doesn’t. As Japan auction agents Japan Car Direct explain, the Alpina B6 2.8 Touring is a limited edition model produced for Japan. 276 units were made with 136 of them being left-hand-drive. This is about the closest that you’ll get to an E36 M3 wagon.
Under the hood is a 2.8-liter straight six with custom heads, cams and pistons. It makes 240 HP and delivers that power through a manual transmission. This one, number 40, appears to be in good shape and has about 69,939 miles on its odometer. It’s $37,754 from Duncan Imports.
That’s it for this week. Thank you for reading!
I have a Born Free Class C RV. If you aren’t familiar with them, they’re fiberglass, have rollbars, strange styling and were built by a small mom and pop outfit until their unfortunate demise in 2016. If Demuro did RV’s he would have quirks and features out the ass with these things. Anyhow, 90% of them are based on econoline chassis, but every once in a while a Topkick shows up. They look basically the same but everything is kind of swollen to match the bigger chassis. I’m sure my econoline based rig is a better idea, but I get a pang of jealousy whenever one of those Topkick’s ends up for sale. What if I made the better choice, but not the AWESOMER choice.
Seeing the Soltice here is humbling because I felt it was a home run when launched…thanks for the nostalgia, Mercedes.
it was, it did something Pontiac was needing for a long time, it got people talking about them, it was too little too late and 2008-2010 were tough time financially. honestly I don’t hear near as many bad things about them as I would have expected. the Mini’s are all over the board as far as quality, but honestly I rarely hear much bad about these little convertible coupes.
Ive looked at that Alpine on Duncan’s website no less than 3 dozen times in the last few months, i want it so bad, but its not in the cards.
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth – $9,500
Nope. All the nope. Ask an Abarth owner how much they’ve spent on major engine repairs. Or just engines. No I’m not joking. 75,000 miles? No service history? Fuck. No.
2004 GMC TopKick C4500 – $35,900
These are specific trucks for specific buyers.
They made an absolute shitload of C4500 TopKicks – in chassis form. As dump trucks, tow trucks, box trucks, school buses, you get the idea. These ‘pickup’ versions weren’t even built by GMC. They’re upfitter bodies on C4500 chassis.
People who want a pickup truck bodied Class 6? Don’t really exist. Oh, And you can’t legally drive it. Because it’s not a pickup truck – it’s a Class 6 with air brakes and a 12,000lbs curb weight. You need a CDL.
“But it tows like crazy I bet!” No. It absolutely does not. It has the 6.6 Dirtymax, as mentioned. Which boils down to “you’d have to be an idiot to tow with this.” No, seriously. It’s 12,000lbs, and only makes 520ft/lbs. 0 to 60 takes more than 15 seconds, it’s governed to 75MPH, and all that for less than 8MPG unladen. Oh, and the maximum towing? 5,500lbs – these are 17,500GVWR.
But these days there’s apparently a bunch of men who misplaced their testicles so badly, even an H1 won-oh. I’m being told it’s not that they wouldn’t rather an H1, it’s that they can’t afford an H1. Still, you’d have to be a fool to buy one of these.
1989 Merkur XR4Ti – $6,500
If the body and interior check out, it’s a steal. You’d spend that much fixing both of those. Lima motor so really, if you can’t find parts, you didn’t look. And if you paid Toyota parts money, you got ripped off. They’re not that fast, they don’t handle very well, but they’re comfortable and they look good. You could do a lot worse as a Radwood ride.
1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring – $37,754
HAHAHAHHAHAA oh wait they’re serious LET ME LAUGH LOUDER.
Go watch M539 Restorations. Alpinas produced in the thousands are impossible to find parts for. One produced in the dozens? Just set the money on fire.
I think you’re a bit off on the TopKick and the airbrake situation. I just rented a 26′ truck from Penske to move 1,000 miles. Granted, it was an International chassis, but it was a heavy boi and had air brakes. Pretty sure that if I needed a CDL, Penske would have asked to see one.
Also, many states (I know Florida for sure) allow you to register any vehicle for personal use. Kenworth semi? Title it in your name, get the requisite insurance (which might be an issue) and drive away. Just don’t haul anything with it. 😉
you must be a limey, the XR4Ti is something only a brit expat could love, such a homely little turtle you got there.
I had an Abarth, purchased new. Fun little car when it worked, but it left me stranded more than once and I ditched it when the warranty was near ending. Parts were super cheap though, at least. Looks like even a whole new motor isn’t too pricey these days, though I imagine the swap’s pretty labor-intensive. Purchase price on that one feels high, but it’s probably in-line with the increases everything else has seen.
If the gvwr is under 26k, you don’t need a CDL to use the airbrakes.
Hey Mercedes, are you interested in reader submissions? I have an unreliable nightmare car/motorcycle contraption that could easily fill the spot of one of your five ForTwos.
You have my vote, would love to hear about this!
I owned a Fiat 500L, which came with that 1.4T from the Abarth as the only engine. The only difference was that it came without a few of the Abarth tuning bits and exhaust (all of which could be added to the 500L). Fun little engine, and even without the sport exhaust it had a better engine note than any 4-cylinder I’ve ever personally owned or been in. I can only imagine how much more fun it is in a car that’s much lighter than my 500L was. (The 500L was at one point considered one of the least-reliable cars sold in America; I never had one problem with it, and it handled better than any compact I’ve ever owned.)
I also owned several Saturns, and have always admired the XR4Ti, so this week’s MMM really spoke to me, haha. (Too bad this was the final version of the XR4Ti, which did not have the awesome biplane spoiler.)
FIL has the non turbo version of this solstice and its a blast. I have no clue why they didn’t take off.
1800 lbs? Like wait, the Alpine lighter than a Lotus Elise with almost 2x the power? That’s insaaane.
I’d love to drive something that light, but I’d be afraid to drive this one because everything from body panels to engine components is probably made of unobtanium.
I never understood why Ford went through the trouble (and cost) of creating split rear windows specifically for the XR4i/Merkur. The single rear windows from the regular 3 door Sierra looked so much cleaner, and likely were more practical. Perhaps they were going for a more aggressive look, but the Sierra Cosworth look plenty aggressive if you ask me. The XR4i just looks like it is awkwardly carrying a backpack.
The 3 door Sierra came out later than the XR4i and the press were much more favourable about its looks than the awkward XR4i. So I guess by the time the Cossie came Ford thought a) XR4i was pretty badly received so the differentiated window format won’t generate any goodwill and b) ker-ching we can save a few quid on a simpler window.
Mmmmm Boston Green E36 Alpina Wagon
That Bel Air is beautiful!!! I would buy it if I had 29K!
“Merkur” isn’t German for “mercury” (lower-case “m”, the element), but for “Mercury” (upper-case “M”, the god or the planet). The German word for “mercury” is “Quecksilber” (obviously cognate with “quicksilver”).
I had no idea that Alpine existed, but I love it. I am far too reasonable to own it, though. I’m making assumptions from the carbon fiber vinyl wrap on the dash that this car may not have been treated very well. I noticed ABS sensors in the photos and I pictured myself learning French to read old Alpine forum posts about troubleshooting 1980’s electronics on this thing.
I still want it, though.
French machines are not that hard to work on. Just remember: rightly loosy/lefty tighy and ground wires are not necessarily green. They might be blue or purple.
Source, a friend who maintained a few old Citroens.
Per Car and Driver the TopKick could “carry an astonishing 5000 pounds in the bed or tow 14,300 pounds”. So half the towing capacity as a 2021 GMC Sierra 3500 long box and about the same payload. The medium duty format has other benefits other than plain stats but it’s clear that todays trucks are just insane.
however the 04 Duramax was not ruined by the EGR system yet. this is the next to last version I believe.
A dream week for me. I so wanted an xr4ti in high school, but my dad bought a Taurus. Really a MkIII has always been at the top of my list for a saloon, but I would never say no to that MkI. and the Alpine GTA, it screams out to me as a 928 challenger, not a 911 challenger, but just oozes 80s version of cool.
That Renault seems suspiciously cheap. I’d expect more.
I’ve watched enough E539 Restorations to know how owning anything with an Alpina badge will end.
Yet somehow their siren song keeps leading me back into thinking it will be fine.
Okay… This isn’t the comment t I replied to. Yay mobile.
I knew a guy who had a nice Topkick truck. He had 3 corvettes, a few Camaros, a Honda Rune, no friends, 4 divorces, probably lacking something between his legs. The guy would try to peacock with vehicles, very sad. In all honesty I can see a ranch really needing the topkick pickup but thats about it, even then it looks like a 2wd version so you have to be smart.
I’ve seen a couple parked around a lake before. I assume they were used to tow a large-ish boat, but it’s also quite possible they were bought just to have the largest truck in the parking lot.
Speaking of cars in video games, Saints Row 2 had an obvious parody of the Topkick called the “Compensator,” driven by a hyper-machismo testosterone poisoned rival gang. It’s great for plowing through traffic but accelerates like a government procurement contract.
Hilariously enough, apart from the size it looks quaint and reserved compared to 2020’s-era pickup styling.
I really don’t know the market and couldn’t say if that’s a good deal on the Alpine, but I definitely have a weird attraction to those.
A neighbour had a Renault GTA (couldn’t use Alpine in the U.K. cos Talbot owned the rights to the name) and it was incredibly low and exotic. The clapping hands wipers were super cool. I can’t remember any other car he had (possibly he replaced it with an R129 Merc SL) but that GTA is tattooed on my brain.
Nothing quite says “2004” better than a company called “International Extreme Truck.”