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.
Many Americans have already gotten back their tax refunds or, if they’re slackers like me, they’ll be getting it soon. I’m salivating over a new motorcycle to buy or maybe a weird car to add to the fleet. No, I shouldn’t do that. Today, we look at more rare cars and motorcycles for sale and this time, some are actually affordable!
Here’s what I’m looking at this week!
1980 Dodge B200 Conversion Van – $36,300
I’ve been getting into groovy custom vans lately, and I think this Dodge B200 is probably the most ridiculous. It’s like a strip club in a van.
As the folks of Allpar write, Dodge B-platform vans launched in 1970 and were a leap forward from their A-van predecessor. These vans were made to have less wind resistance for better fuel economy and a quieter cabin. Their interiors were also designed for more comfort and the suspension took on a front coil spring design. This van comes from the second generation, which launched in 1979. The new vans saw the Sportsman wagon reclassified as a truck to help Chrysler meet CAFE standards. Changes include a raised hoodline and revised headlights. A CB radio was an option.
This van is far from stock. It’s being sold by the Museum of Automotive Icons and the museum provides this description:
“Its airbrushed medieval-fantasy-themed exterior sets it apart from others, and the interior is just as outrageous with a full-length bar, numerous insulated ice bins, richly textured bench seats that line the entire driver’s side and rear of the van, dual flatscreen TVs, dual air conditioning units, and LED and fiber optic lighting. Its massive sound system rounds out the multimedia functions, making this Dodge the ultimate party machine.
Its paint looks very good with extremely detailed professional airbrushed artwork on the exterior panels featuring fully armored knights, horses, castles, wizards, and mysterious orbs.”
So, yeah, it’s a six-wheeled van with a mural on it and the interior of a limo. Big Boys Coach Builders is said to have done the interior, which also features an updated steering wheel that doesn’t really look the part. Sadly, the tag axle is not powered, but this van is still righteous if that’s what the kids still say. Power comes from a 360 cubic inch V8 making 173 HP coupled to an automatic. It’s $36,300 from the Museum of Automotive Icons, Inc. in Manhattan, Kansas.
1960 Singer Gazelle Convertible – $18,790
Here’s a stylish classic car that’s waiting for you to import from Scotland. This green and cream convertible has some history, as described by the Coventry Transport Museum:
The Rootes Group took over the Singer car company in 1956. The first car introduced following the take-over was the Singer Gazelle Series 1. The Series V appeared in 1963.
The Gazelle is basically a Hillman Minx with a slightly different body style and engine. The Minx was the backbone of Rootes Group production and most of their cars in the 1950s and early 1960s were ‘badge engineered’ variations of the Minx.
Singer was placed above Hillman in the lineup as a sort of mid-tier brand. Think of it as like Oldsmobile! If this car looks sort of American, you wouldn’t be far off. Rootes Group reportedly reached out Raymond Loewy, a designer famous for Studebaker designs like the Hawk.
Power comes from a 1497cc straight-four making 56 HP paired with a four-speed manual with manual overdrive. This car seems to present in good condition and the seller has added a more modern radio that looks period correct. It’s the equivalent of $18,790 from the seller in Sanquhar, Scotland.
1988 Nissan Pulsar NX Sportbak – $3,500
Here’s a rare instance of a car that had flexible practicality through some modular parts. In fact, this is a car that you could technically call a coupe, a convertible, a T-top, and a wagon all at the same time.
The Pulsar launched in 1978 as the Datsun Pulsar or Datsun 310 if you’re here in America. We got a three-door hatch, a five-door hatch, and a coupe. The first generation was short, lasting until just 1982. This car is a third generation, which launched in 1986. Starting in the 1987 model year, the Pulsar got a pretty weird configuration called the EXA, or NX if you’re in America.
Nissan pitched the car like this to American buyers:
It’s a whole new way to drive. Nissan Pulsar NX. It’s a sports car when you want one. A sport wagon when you need one. A convertible with lift out T-top when the sun’s shining. A state of mind and exciting driving you won’t find anywhere else. Turns weekday driving into a weekend feeling.
The car was basically all of that in part thanks to its somewhat modular rear end. Depending on how you’re feeling, you could drive the car as a notchback. If you need the space, you could remove the notchback and replace it with the Sportbak attachment, which basically turned the car into a wagon. Power comes from a 1.6-liter four making 90 HP. That’s mated to a four-speed automatic.
It’s $3,500 from the seller in Whitakers, North Carolina with 87,907 miles.
1934 DeSoto Airflow – $45,000 Or Best Offer
The Chrysler Airflow is famous for being advanced for its time. In 1934, Chrysler unveiled a car with a streamlined, aerodynamic design that bucked the trends of the day. Chrysler tested the Airflow in a wind tunnel and utilized an early version of unitized body construction. While not the first unibody, Chrysler was an early player in reducing weight with unitized construction. The Airflow’s engineers even placed importance on weight distribution. The Airflow boasted features like a push-button overdrive and assisted hydraulic brakes.
Unfortunately, Chrysler’s work was perhaps a bit too far ahead of its time. While many of today’s cars are unibody streamliners, car buyers back then found the Airflow too much. It lasted just four years on the marketplace before getting pulled.
What you’re looking at here is Chrysler’s stablemate, the DeSoto Airflow. DeSoto existed as Chrysler’s brand to fight the likes of Hudson, Pontiac, and Studebaker. This one is said to have been “all restored.” It’s powered by a 241.5 cubic inch straight six making 100 HP. You can get it from the seller for $45,000 or best offer from the seller in Toledo, Ohio.
1954 Norton Model 7 Dominator – $8,792
As WebBikeWorld writes, in the late 1940s there was a parallel twin race in the UK. Triumph released its parallel twin and other British manufacturers followed. At the Earl’s Court Show, London, in November 1948, Norton unveiled the Model 7, also known as the Model 7 Dominator. It was Norton’s first-ever twin and the first in what would become a famous line of Dominator motorcycles for Norton. The Model 7’s engine features a 2-main bearing crankshaft with its rod journals set at 360 degrees. In this configuration, both pistons rise and fall together.
Swing arms hadn’t taken off by that time, so the Model 7 originally featured a rigid frame with a plunger-type suspension. By 1953, Norton figured it out and the Model 7 gained the swing arm that motorcyclists of today will be more familiar with. This motorcycle’s 492cc twin makes about 29 HP.
This motorcycle is said to have come from a private collection, where it spent much of its life on display. Thus, it has just 1,220 miles. It’s $8,792 from Bramley Motor Cars in the United Kingdom.
2002 Pontiac SLP Trans Am Firehawk – Auction
Here’s a special version of the Pontiac Trans Am that adds some firepower under the hood. As Street Muscle Magazine writes, in 1991, Street Legal Performance (SLP) joined forces with Pontiac for a performance option on Firebird Formulas. The SLP Firehawk got a 350 cubic inch L98 V8 with modifications like cylinder head porting for a result of 360 HP and 390 lb-ft torque.
When the fourth-generation Firebird launched in 1993, SLP continued its relationship with Pontiac to provide that extra grunt. In the final year of production, 2002, the SLP Trans Am Firehawk sported a 5.7-liter LS1 V8. This engine is making 335 HP, or 345 HP if it has the “Blackwing” intake. The seller does not say if it has the intake. That’s a modest bump over the 2002 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am WS6, which made 325 HP.
That power reaches the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and you should be able to hit 60 mph in under 5 seconds in this. It’s reported that just 1,300 of these were made in 2002. If you want the car, it rolls across the auction block at Raleigh Classic Car Auctions on June 3.
1985 Renault R5 Turbo 2 Evolution – Inquire
What you’re looking at here is one of a handful of homologation road cars built so that Renault could enter its R5 Maxi Turbo into Group B rally competition. I’ll let the Lane Motor Museum explain:
In 1972, Renault brought out, a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 3-door hatchback called the Renault 5. By the time the original 5 was replaced in 1984, nearly 5.5 million had been made. In 1978, a remarkable version of the 5 was announced—the 5 Turbo. The body was made of light alloy rather than steel and the hood and fender flares in fiberglass. The engine was mounted behind the driver and took up all the space between the seat backs and rear hatch, and a switch was made from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. To make room for the engine, the Renault 5 Turbo’s rear track was 10” wider than the standard car’s. Even so, to save space, the rear suspension had to be upgraded, which added benefit of improving the car’s handling.
Seeking to lower production costs but not suffer from a loss of performance, in 1983 Renault pared down the Turbo into what would become the Turbo 2. The Turbo 2 version was introduced using stock Renault 5 parts replacing many of light alloy components in the original 5 Turbo version. The 5 Turbo was intended as a rally car and was one of Renault’s most successful but it was also a popular road-legal car. Around 250 units of the Turbo 2 were imported to the US market.
Renault also took the Turbo 2 and formed it into the Evolution. It’s said that there are just 200 of these Turbo 2 Evolution models out there. Upgrades from a regular Turbo 2 include the four-cylinder engine getting an increased stroke for a 1,432cc displacement (up from 1397cc), new cylinder heads, a 2.4mm head gasket, new crankshaft, new pistons, rings, rocker adjustments, wastegate shims, and more. These are mid-engine and rear-wheel-drive, though I could not find exact power figures. The best estimate I’ve found is 170 to 175 HP. That’s directed through a manual transmission.
If you’re interested, reach out to the dealership, Motikon, in Sweden to get its price.
2002 BMW 525iT Manual – $8,500
One of my favorite additions to my shared fleet is the 2001 BMW 525iAT that I purchased from our Daydreaming Designer, the Bishop. This is a sedan that nets 30 mpg on the highway, feels comfortable like I’m driving a recliner, and grips the road like a terrified child latches onto their mother. It is, in essence, the perfect cheap daily driver.
If there’s anything I would change, it’s the transmission. The automatic is a smooth unit, sure, and it works just great for my wife, who does not drive manual (yet). For me? I’d rather take the manual, but those seem to be hard to find in good condition. This one is all the way out in New York, far from my grasp.
As BMW Blog writes, development on the E39 started in 1989. Back then, the vehicle was known internally as the “Entwicklung 39.” Joji Nagashima penned what would become the design chosen by BMW in 1992, and locked in by then-new BMW design head Chris Bangle. When the E39 was released at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show, it appeared to be more evolution than revolution when compared to its predecessor. The E39 took the late 1980s design of the E34 and smoothed it out into something still conservative, yet elegant and timeless. The E39 still looks like a stunner today, even 27 years after its initial release.
Here in America, this car was the base model 5-Series, with a base price of $35,400 for a sedan with a manual transmission. Opting for the wagon body means $37,200 before options. That straight six is pumping out 184 horsepower and 175 lb-ft torque. In this case, you get to enhance the experience by rowing your own gears with its five-speed manual transmission.
This 525iT appears to be in good shape and it’s said to have an M-Sport interior. It’s $8,500 from the seller in Hollis, New York with 201,000 miles.
1964 Honda Dream CA77 – $3,300
Here’s a classic motorcycle with vintage style and Honda reliability. Yesterday, I said that I get a lot of motorcycle history from the National Motorcycle Museum. This is one of the machines you can learn about from the museum. Heck, you might be able to buy the museum’s Honda Dream CA77 in September. If you don’t want to wait that long, here’s this one.
From the National Motorcycle Museum:
The first officially imported Hondas came to America in 1959 and included “dry sump” 250cc Dreams, the model CA76. By 1961 the 305cc wet sump model with electric starting, the CA77, had arrived and became popular almost instantly.
After experimenting with a few versions of 250cc parallel twin overhead cam engines in the late 1950’s Honda locked onto a unit construction ball and roller bearing OHC design in 1961 that would be made by the tens of thousands in several versions until the CB350 arrived in 1968. The Super Hawk, Scrambler and Dream were Honda’s biggest bikes in this era until the DOHC CB450 came along in 1965.
Simple to manufacture and distinctive in the Honda Dream’s design are the pressed steel leading link fork, frame and swingarm in what some refer to as “pagoda styling” along with 16 inch wheels typically shod in whitewall tires. Fully sprung seats came in red, blue and black not necessarily matching the bike’s body paint. Dreams had enclosed chains, 12 volt electrics, square headlights, decent tool and patch kits plus available options like saddlebags and fender guards.
The museum goes on to note that one big feature about the Honda was the fact that it had an electric starter. Many British bikes required you to kick them into life and Harley-Davidson didn’t even add starters to its big bikes until 1965. Honda had electric start on motorcycles in America in 1961. That’s just another example of Honda’s long history of making motorcycles easier to ride.
There isn’t much of a description with this Dream, but it’s painted in a lovely blue and shows 2,528 miles on its odometer. It’s $3,300 from the seller in Ludington, Michigan.
That’s it for this week, thank you for reading!
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