Hello Autopians! Welcome to a new weekly series determined to hook your peepers onto some fantastic vehicles! If you’ve read any of my previous work, then you’re well aware that I spend way too much time on the internet looking at cars and motorcycles that I desperately want. Sometimes I buy them and sometimes I don’t.
Every week, I have a massive list of cars that I’ve lusted for at least once. And lately, I’ve been seeing some of these cars in person, just to have myself blown away. For something a little different, there will be weeks where there will be a central theme, too.
I’ll warn you right away, some of these may be downright stupid or crappy cars. Some of them are questionably modified. Some of them may be suspiciously cheap. And some, unfortunately, may be a bit too expensive for many enthusiasts. But it’s ok to window shop! So let’s take a peek under the covers of my long list of the cars and motorcycles that I’ve been pining for lately.
1988 Nissan Stanza Wagon – $3,950
This funky wagon, named the Prairie in Japan, hit its home market in 1981 before spreading its wings throughout the world. When it landed in America in 1986, it was called the Multi in Canada and the Stanza Wagon here in the States. Despite the name, this is a different car than the Stanza hatchback and sedan. But it does share the same powertrain as those cars.
Power comes from a fuel-injected 2.0-liter CA20E inline-four making 97 hp. That’s mated to a manual transmission. And it’s built like a tiny minivan with sliding doors and an open floorplan.
1964 GAZ-21 Volga – $29,500
This Volga GAZ-21 was built in the Soviet Union and hails from Ukraine. News publication Radio Free Europe describes the GAZ-21 as the first Soviet car to rival the tech seen in the western world. The car, called Volga, would have styling inspired by American cars, a cigarette lighter, heater, radio, reclining front seat, and windshield washer. Some of those were options on American cars back in those days.
The car sat high on an independent front suspension and rear live axle. And given the rough environments of the Soviet Union, that suspension was built to take a beating while the body had some rust protection.
This GAZ-21 is the third and final revision before the car was replaced with the GAZ-24. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter inline four making 75 horses and it’s shifted through a glorious three-speed on-the-tree! And this one is special, as it is said to have been disassembled and restored. It’s made the trip over from Ukraine to the United States and now currently resides in Tennessee. You can have it for $29,500 in Spring Hill, Tennessee with about 59,000 miles on Facebook Marketplace.
1994 Geo Tracker 12A Rotary Swap – $8,000
Here’s a vehicle that seems all kinds of silly. What you’re looking at is nominally a Geo Tracker, a fantastic little off-roader built from a joint venture between General Motors of Canada and Suzuki. Normally, a Tracker is a bit of an off-road sleeper with its tiny size, short wheelbase, and great visibility. And you can even take its top off for even more fun.
But this Tracker is different, a lot different. Some people love to cram rotary engines into various vehicles. I can’t blame them, as there’s something novel about a piston-free rotary spinning to the high heavens. I’ve watched rotary-powered rally cars absolutely kill it on HooptieX time trials and even lay down burnouts from time to time. But I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a weirder platform for a rotary swap.
This Tracker sports a Mazda 12A two-rotor. The ad suggests that the engine is a 1984, probably coming from an RX-7. Not much information is given about the build, but the pictures show what looks to be a decent job. It has a manual transmission and what appears to be some massive sound system. A 12A from an RX-7 is normally good for 100 hp, or about what the Tracker made stock. I especially like the lack of doors; it has a real “death kart” vibe.
This wacky build is up for $8,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
1964 Studebaker Cruiser – $6,000
The Studebaker Cruiser is an evolution of the third-generation Lark sedan. As Curbside Classic notes, by 1963, Studebaker had phased out the Lark name, instead going for Challenger, Commander, Daytona and Cruiser to denote trim lines. The Cruiser was meant to be the luxury barge of the Lark lineup. It had full carpeting, a plush interior, and had a V8 as standard. And this fantastic design? It was the work of renowned industrial designer Brooks Stevens. Yep, the same guy who designed the Wienermobile and the Western Flyer RV.
There’s a 4.2-liter V8 under the hood making 180 horsepower. That’s matched two a two-speed automatic. It’s an attractive $6,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Barboursville, West Virginia with 52,000 miles.
1994 Honda Beat – $10,999
The cute little Honda Beat was the last car given the green light by Honda founder Soichiro Honda before his death. These Pininfarina-designed convertibles are properly rad with a rear midship three cylinder engine, zebra pattern seats, and the direct, mechanical driving experience that Honda offered in the 1990s. At least to me, these cars feel like a baby NSX, and with a custom exhaust that 656cc triple will sing like a Triumph motorcycle.
To this day my Honda Beat is easily one of the most fun cars that I’ve ever driven. And if you ball on a budget, this is about as close you can get to the NSX given today’s car prices.
This Beat is pretty neat for its green hue that wasn’t featured on older cars like my own Beat. That paint appears to shine all over and is accompanied by a roof in good condition. Perhaps most important, but the zebra seats are in great shape. I’m learning the hard way how hard it is to find those seats in good shape, but the buyer of those won’t have to worry about that.
It’s $10,999 on Facebook Marketplace in Las Vegas, Nevada with 21,000 miles.
2004 Avanti – $54,998
What you’re looking at here is not some weird kit car, but a sort of successor to the gorgeous Studebaker Avanti. I got to see this one in person!
In 1962, Studebaker launched the Avanti as a halo car for its brand. As MotorTrend notes, at the time Studebaker was nearly on the ropes after its merger with Packard failed to bear fruit. Company president Sherwood H. Egbert decided that to save Studebaker the company needed to go all-in.
Studebaker hired Raymond Loewy and his team–Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews, and John Ebstein–to design an aerodynamic form that bucked the 1950s’ auto design trends. The result was something with minimal chrome and would have looked at home on a track. It was curvaceous, too, requiring exterior panels to be molded in fiberglass. The original was a beautiful failure. The company planned on selling 20,000 units per year, yet by the time Studebaker’s South Bend, Indiana plant closed in December 1963 the company managed to produce just 4,643 of them.
The Avanti wouldn’t die with Studebaker, and it would be revived over and over again through the decades by subsequent owners. What you see here is only the latest Avanti. As Autoweek notes, Michael E. Kelly bought the Avanti Motor Corporation in 1986, sold it two years later, then bought it back in 2001. The new Millennium Avantis first rode on the General Motors F-body platform before becoming rebodied Ford Mustangs.
One of these cars landed at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. The listing is a bit confusing. The car’s model year is 2004, but the listing says that it’s one of eight built in 2005. A poster inside of the car claims that it’s a prototype that rolled across the Chicago Auto Show floor in 2004. Meanwhile, the Avanti Owners Association International says that 46 were built in 2005. Whatever year this car really is, it’s certainly one of the rarest modern Ford Mustangs. It’s $54,998 with 2,530 miles.
1986 Bremen Sebring – $31,998
The Bremen Sebring is the brainchild of Al Hildebrand, a U.S. distributor for the Sterling VW Beetle-based kit car and the Puma GT. The Sebring is the result of Hildebrand setting out to make a better Sterling kit than the ones he was selling.
Changes over the original Sterling include pop-up headlights, a revised front fascia, and a different canopy.
It’s estimated that about 1,500 of these are out there.
A plaque that I saw sitting inside of this car says that it’s powered by a 2.0-liter flat four making 175 to 200 hp. It breathes and drinks through Weber carburetors. This one is also at the Volo Auto Museum for $31,998
[Editor’s Note: It’s also very much still on a Beetle pan, as those funny ball-topped heater controls give away.]
1968 Zündapp KS 100 – $4,800
Zündapp was founded in 1917 as a manufacturer of detonators before expanding into building motorcycles. It even built the Janus microcar in the 1950s when tiny were the popular way to get people mobile in post-WWII Europe.
The KS 100 was a small-bore scrambler. Its 98cc two-stroke delivers 8.2 horses to the rear wheel, perfect for a pint-sized adventurer. Zündapp touted its high ground clearance, long wheelbase, and acceleration.
This particular KS 100 is cool enough for a vintage bike, but according to a certificate that comes with the machine, it was owned by the late John Young. Young–who passed in February of this year–was a winning enduro racer in the 1960s and 1970s, capturing a number of National Enduros. It also sounds like he was a true gearhead through and through. So, it’s a pretty bike with some history.
His KS 100 is being sold by Morrie’s Place Cycle in Ringwood, Illinois, for $4,800.
2003 Buell Firebolt XB9R – $4,500
A Buell won’t win you many straight-line races, but these motorcycles are built with innovative engineering and handle like nothing else. Fuel is stored in the frame and oil in the swingarm. This allows what is traditionally the fuel tank to be an airbox. Brakes are suspended in their wheels. And the engines–sourced from Harley-Davidson Sportsters–have that signature Harley exhaust note while making respectable power.
These motorcycles will lean over into a curve even if you just think about it, and their styling certainly sets them apart. This Firebolt is noted to have new fork seals and a custom exhaust. It’s $4,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Piscataway, New Jersey with 21,000 miles.
Thanks for browsing this week, folks! If you have a car that you want me to feature, or if you just want to chat about anything, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.