Toyota Century V12, Chrysler Airflow, Harley-Davidson V-Rod: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

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Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you all know, I have an affliction with drooling over and buying too many cars. And unlike my friend and editor David, I can’t seem to get rid of them. But hey, as an upshot, I have a list of cars to always show you, dear reader.

I have a hankering to buy something made in a far off land, and some of that desire will show in this week’s list. I’m glad I have an important life event coming up that’s sucking up nearly all of my extra money.

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.

1997 MGF – $9,100

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Facebook Marketplace

This is the second MGF that I’ve seen for sale in the past year and it’s been taking a lot to stop me from picking one of them up.

The MGF was introduced in 1995 and was touted as the first all-new MG since 1962. And with that many years of advancement came neat changes. The engine was moved back to a mid-rear arrangement, the car rode on a hydrolastic suspension and it even got electric power steering.

What is a hydrolastic suspension? Instead of separate springs and dampers you get space-saving displacers filled with fluid. Here’s an explanation:

Designed by Alex Moulton, this unique suspension system uses hydraulic displacer units filled with water and what is effectively antifreeze. Lines run between the front and rear displacer units; when one wheel hits a bump, the liquid raises the other end to reduce pitch. This system totally replaces the conventional springs and shock absorbers found on most cars.

One of the benefits of a system like this is reduced roll.

Power comes from a 1.8-liter four making 120 HP pushed to a manual. This one appears to be in great shape and is mostly original. It’s $9,100 on Facebook Marketplace in Lansdale, Pennsylvania with 67,000 miles.

1993 Nissan 300ZX Convertible – $9,995

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Car Zone

Much of the world is well into a blazing hot summer. It’s so hot that airport runways are melting, even. But when you aren’t getting baked by the sun, it’s a good time to have a convertible.

Here’s a sports car that looks so good and drives so well that as Duncan Imports notes, Car and Driver put the Z32 on its top ten best imports list for seven consecutive years. It’s been called a return to form after Nissan’s Z-cars became closer to grand tourers than sports cars. And, it’s the perfect kind of car if Radwood style is your thing.

Under the red paint and bra is a 3.0-liter V6 producing 222 HP delivered to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual. It’s $9,995 by Car Zone in Denver, Colorado with 126,644 miles.

1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen – $55,900

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Vintage Motor Cars

Here’s a car that’s cool, but often given the credit that it doesn’t deserve. Mercedes-Benz describes the creation of the Benz Patent Motorwagen like this:

“On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz submitted the patent for a three-wheeled vehicle with gas engine to the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin. It had the number “DRP 37435”. The patent specification for the world’s first vehicle with an internal combustion engine and electric ignition is regarded today as the birth certificate of the automobile.”

However, as our Jason Torchinsky points out (and what will be a rare instance of me swearing) this is bullshit. Jewish inventor Siegfried Marcus beat Benz with working gasoline cars in 1864 and 1875. And yes, Marcus was using internal combustion engines. [Editor’s Note: Also, the Cugnot Steam Drag of 1769 deserves “first automobile” props if we’re talking cars overall, not just gasoline, ICE cars. – JT] He was accepted as the father of the car, too, until WWII rolled around. Torchinsky has long been working on a project to explain why he was written out of the history books with Daimler and Benz in his place.

Alright, with that out of way, let’s check this thing out. This isn’t the original car, but an exact replica. Bentley Engineering in the UK built 175 of these for North American Mercedes-Benz dealerships to display. A number of these have ended up in private hands and they are the closest that you can get to the real deal without stealing the real one.

The replica is built to the specs of the original, which means it has a 0.9 HP 954cc that could get you to around 10 mph. You aren’t going to be driving this to work, but it would be a really cool piece for a collection. It’ll also be great for Victorianwood, should a show like that be created. It’s $55,900 sold by Vintage Motor Cars in Solon, Ohio with 0 miles.

1953 International Harvester R-162 – Auction

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Hemmings

The International R-Series was introduced in 1953 as a replacement for the company’s L-Series. Like the trucks before them, the R-Series trucks were a full line from light duty pickups all of the way to heavy duty semis. R-Series trucks feature a more modern design from its predecessor and proudly feature International Harvester’s “man on a tractor” logo on the grille.

This R-162 is a medium duty truck that is said to have served with the Canadian Army before ending up in private hands. The olive green paint is gone and in its place is a deep blue. The truck has been through a restoration and looks clean inside and out.

The truck was originally powered by a International Harvester Silver Diamond 240, a 3.9-liter straight six rated for 131 HP. The SD240 in this one is not original, but is said to have been rebuilt 1,000 miles ago. It’s up for auction on Hemmings with bidding at $4,500 with 5 days to go.

1937 Chrysler Airflow Eight – $27,900

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Klemme Klassic Kars

The Chrysler Airflow is a vehicle that is famous today for being far ahead of its time. See, in 1934, Chrysler unveiled a car with a streamlined, aerodynamic design that bucked the trends of the day. The Airflow saw testing in a wind tunnel and utilized a very early example of a unitized body construction. While not the first unibody, Chrysler was one of the early players in reducing weight with unitized construction. The Airflow’s engineers even placed an importance on weight distribution. There was more, as the Airflow had a push-button overdrive and even assisted hydraulic brakes.

Unfortunately, Chrysler’s work was perhaps a bit too far ahead of its time. While oh so many cars are streamlined with unibodies and good weight distribution today, car buyers back then found the Airflow too much. It lasted just four years on the marketplace before getting pulled.

This Airflow Eight appears to be in good condition with a 5.3-liter straight eight making 130 horses and connected to a three-speed manual. It’s $27,900 at Klemme Klassic Kars in Davenport, Iowa.

[Author’s edit: An earlier version of this story ended this section with “And yes, I’m aware of what that abbreviates to.” The intent was not to say that the dealership had any affiliation with a hate group, but an attempt to deter jokesters from pointing it out. This apparently didn’t work as intended. I apologize for that.]

1997 Toyota Century V12 – $19,500

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Facebook Marketplace

Many luxury cars have to announce their presence with a loud exhaust, flashy paint, or striking looks. A Toyota Century announces its presence with grace. The Century is a seemingly ageless limo that has gone through just a few generations in its over a half of a century on this planet. Heck, the first-generation Century was in production from 1967 all of the way to 1997, its design only receiving small updates along the way.

Toyota says that the Century was launched in 1967 as a replacement for the Crown Eight. And while other Japanese luxury cars copied American style, Toyota intentionally built the Century to be conservative. The name isn’t random, either. It’s a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda. In the end, Toyota created an opulent sedan that has a commanding presence despite quite restrained looks.

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Facebook Marketplace

This 1997 is a second-generation Century. Keeping with tradition, it’s an evolution of the original design that looks a tad more current. Inside, there’s practically miles of wood and leather. And don’t think that its age means you don’t get modern luxury, check out this list of features:

All power amenities work flawlessly. one touch windows, rear tv, rear heated, reclining, massage seats, vanity mirrors, rear A/C / heat.

Oh, and it has a 276 HP 5.0-liter V12. The goal here is less speed, but incredible smoothness. Toyota’s V12 is the kind of engine that could balance a coin on its end. It’s $19,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Des Moines, Iowa with 105,000 miles.

1992 Lotus Elan – $9,500

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Facebook Marketplace

Lotus is known for its history of simple, lightweight, and striking sports cars. Many of the company’s vehicles are coveted even decades after their release. Less popular is the Elan, a car that has the looks, but for some, may not live up to the badge on the hood.

Lotus helpfully describes the Elan’s history on its site. The original Elan started production in 1962. It was a tiny and lightweight roadster with a front engine and rear-wheel-drive. It’s a car that managed to have a 1,500 lb weight with a full independent suspension, disc brakes, and razor sharp steering. The original Elan is a car loved by reviewers and by owners to this day.

General Motors found itself at the helm of Lotus in 1986 and it was decided that the company needed a new small car. The new Elan was born, and it brought some interesting ideas with it. Lotus figured that it would attract younger customers with a front engine, front-wheel-drive layout. The idea, according to Lotus, would be to tap into the market of hot hatches. Power comes from a 1.6 Isuzu four making 130 HP.

Unfortunately, Lotus missed the mark, and sold just 4,665 of them before pulling the plug after 6 years of production. Weirdly, the car did go on to live for a few additional years being sold by Kia.

This Elan in Paterson, New Jersey has some paint problems, but it’s described as being in otherwise good condition. It’s $9,500 on Facebook Marketplace.

2003 Harley-Davidson V-Rod – $5,500

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Facebook Marketplace

In 2001, Harley-Davidson did something that few expected. The Motor Company, known for its motorcycles that look and ride like the past, introduced something of a technological feat. The VRSC (also known as V-Rod) is a muscle bike that is a departure from normal Harley fare. It starts with a hydroformed tube frame covered in anodized aluminum bodywork. That tank isn’t a real tank, but an airbox. Fuel is stored under the seat. And under that airbox dummy tank is something special. The Motor Company partnered up with none other than Porsche to develop the V-twin.

Car and Driver notes that the Revolution engine bolted to the frame started with the bones of the VR 1000 racing engine. It’s a 60-degree V-twin that’s liquid cooled with four valves per cylinder and overhead cams. The result is 115 horsepower from the 1,131cc engine.

The V-Rod was killed off in 2017, but you can grab this one today for $5,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Lansing, Michigan. It has a custom paintjob and 24,000 miles.

2014 Cadillac ELR – $24,580

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Champion Chevrolet

The Cadillac ELR is one of the rare cases when a concept that tugs on your heart gets put into production. In this case, the ELR started life as the Converj concept in 2009. Production was on and off again as GM went bankrupt and got restructured, but eventually it did launch at the 2013 North American International Auto Show.

For $75,000, or more than twice the cost of a Chevy Volt, you got a car that looked like the future and had some tech to back it up. This was a car available with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, active shutters, and other features that you’ll now find in common everyday cars.

Under the hood is a 1.4-liter EcoFLEX LUU four making 84 HP. That combines with an electric motor and a 16.5-kWh battery pack to make a total of 217 HP. But as AutoGuide explains, that’s only technically the total output. Under just electric power you can go 37 miles with up to 157 HP. Add the gas engine and you can go 340 miles and have up to 181 HP. That translates to a 60 mph sprint in just under 9 seconds, or not as fast as it looks.

Still, I’d buy the heck out of one if I had the cash. It’s $24,580 at Champion Chevrolet in Avon, Indiana with 91,170 miles.

That’s it for this week, thanks for reading!

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65 Responses

  1. 99% sure that I’ve seen that MGF at least a couple of times at local shows over the past few years. Didn’t get a chance to chat with the owner either time, but I hope the car remains in the area. Very cool, and I’d drive it or the Elan M100 any day.

  2. The MG-F would be a fun conversation piece that sometimes would actually take you places. Tempting.

    I thought that 300ZX were escalating so that seems kinda cheap. The convertible version is a bit cumbersome designwise so I’ll hold my Radwood urges for a coupe.

    Wow, that is cheap for a Patentwagen. A limited re-issue was made by Benz some years ago and they used to trade around $100k.

    The I-H truck is a smokin’ deal, if you can figure out what to do with it and where to store it. Maybe that explains the price.

    The Century is probably way better than a Phaeton but it is still a super complicated luxury barge that no one can fix.

    The FWD Lotus Elan is an attractive well-built car. The Lotus pixie dust ensured that it handled well but a repaint is expensive and I have an irrational bias against some places. NJ is one of them.

    I love the V-Rod. I still do not understand how it failed. Not a big fan of the custom green paint.

    And the ELR, Volt efficiency and practicality with some Cadillac style and exclusivity. That is a winning combination but holy cow, that price is a shocker.

    1. That price is a shocker. Some people think rarity automatically increases the value of something.

      In some cases, cars are rare because people didn’t want them when new (and still may not).

    2. “The MG-F would be a fun conversation piece that sometimes would actually take you places. Tempting.”

      It’d take you to the post office to pick up the catering pack of head gaskets you had me send over from the UK.

    3. The Harvester will sell for more than that; there are five days left on the auction at time of posting. Online auctions frequently don’t heat up until the very end, when the punters who are really interested start to show their cards. Five days out, it’s just lowballers hoping for the remote off-chance that they might score the deal of the century.

  3. I like to think that in addition to Porsche’s overt influence, there was a fair amount of Erik Buell’s covert in the V-Rod too, lowering the center of gravity by relocating the fuel supply downward/rearward.

    Like to think HD didn’t see his time with it as a total wash.

  4. Damn it, I wish I didn’t know that Harley existed. I’ve been thinking about buying a V-Rod for more than a few years now.

    Now I’m going to obsess over it, consider how easily I could afford it, wait too long to decide that I really want it, and get really sad when it’s gone.

    Thanks a lot!

    1. If you want it and you *truly* can easily afford it, just buy the dang thing. That’s what happened to me with my Miata, and I have no regrets. Everybody should be able to have a toy or two, and it’s not like you’re dumping millions and millions into a megayacht when you could be curing malaria instead. It’s a few thousand bucks, and if you get tired of it you can probably make a few thousand bucks selling it. Go for it and have fun!

      1. Replying to my own reply (edit button, please?):

        Think of it this way: *someone* is going to buy that bike. Why shouldn’t it be you? Why do you have be one of the ones who wants it, but doesn’t pull the trigger? PULL THAT TRIGGER!

  5. Ordinarily, anytime a Lotus is on a list like this, I would happily plunk down for it. But this one is front wheel drive. So no. And that International is just SO well done. Just look at the paint. Imma give it the nod as my preferred on this list. You always need a flatbed truck for SOMETHING.

  6. The Toyota Century is on my short list of replacements for the Caddy if something were to happen to it.

    I liked that car before it was featured on Umbrella Academy, not a hipster thing I just knew of it’s existence.

  7. Great article, but please enhance it by omitting the Klemme Klassic Kar aside. Maybe a person named Klemme decided to sell old cars and that’s the name of the dealership. I am really doubting seriously that there is any other motivation behind the name. No one with a brain says, “Hey, the dealer name is reminiscent of the Invisible Empire of the South. That’s where I’m doing business!” And having lived in Kansas in the military, I didn’t see much evidence of either Klan activity or membership. This kind of aside doesn’t belong on The Autopian but maybe has a place on a political commentary site instead? Have a great automotive day!

    1. Hello! That short sentence wasn’t claiming that Klemme is involved with that hate group in any sort of way.

      It was literally a case of me thinking that someone is likely to crack a joke about what the dealership’s name abbreviates to, so I thought to just get that out of the way before it happens. Clearly, the idea didn’t work out the way I thought it would in my head. I apologize and have issued an edit!

      1. Dunno, they’ve been in business for over fifty years & most likely have had that brought to their attention more than once so it’s indeed very much a conscious choice of theirs to retain such nomenclature. Companies can & do change their names. Heck, for example, Jaguar was originally named SS but the company’s board chose to change the name in the wake of WWII. So it’s a little hard to be charitable & give that particularly alliterative company the benefit of the doubt.

    1. I’ll take an airflow with a side of IH truck please! Not that I was ever particularly in love with the Airflow styling but as a long time Mopar fan I love the history surrounding these. The IH is just beautiful, love the color and I’m a sucker for trucks of this era.

    1. I’ve looked at them a few times over the years and am surprised every time. I guess someone is buying them at these prices. I thought I could get a nice Volt for a few bucks more, not twice as much.

  8. What a collection today! I love so many of them!

    – Since I started getting into cars as a kid in the ’90s, I am a sucker for jelly bean-shaped autos, and that MG just looks like it belongs in a candy jar.

    – The Z is rad as hell, too, and also tickles my nostalgia bone. I can cosplay as GI Joe while my girlfriend cosplays as Barbie, and we can reenact the famous “Toys” TV commercial (even though the ad uses the arguably radder T-top car). https://youtu.be/L8QKK5IDSXE I’d probably want to remove the bra, though… and get rid of that black thing on the front bumper 😉

    – I’d love to just get a look at a Toyota Century in person. There are so many unique touches that you just don’t find on other vehicles. I’d prefer the wool seats over leather, but just the fact that it’s stateside is pretty cool.

    – I don’t know anything about motorcycles, but the paint job on that Harley is cool. What did these bikes go for when new? I always associate Harleys with being expensive (well, after I associate them with being loud), so it was a little surprising to me to see one in the mid-4-figures.

    – And the ELR! Oh, how I love the ELR! I briefly peeked at them when they were new as I was in the market for a new car at the time, but quickly walked away when I saw just how far out of my price range they were. I love coupes, I appreciate luxury touches, and I am open to electrification. The ELR is pretty much the ideal car for me… but not at the price it was offered when new. Now I’d worry about support for it because it’s an uncommon car with unique technology. If something goes wrong, I’d be concerned that my local Caddy dealer wouldn’t want to touch it. But if Cadillac or another car company were to release a car like that when I next need a new car, I would eagerly jump on it.

  9. As technical note The MG-F uses the later Hydragas system with nitrogen filled displacers https://www.aronline.co.uk/cars/mg-cars/mgftf/technical-hydragas-explained/
    The Century is an awesome car but definitely best with wool upholstery. The V-Rod is technically interesting but still not to my Cafe racer and street fighter taste. Buell could have done interesting things with that engine. I’d also go for the International although I prefer the Loadstar. Good thing I’m broke and have to drive the one I’m with.

  10. V-Rod. It deserved a better fate from The Motor Company…

    However, as an extension of the Buell Blast concept, I thought HD should have sold a single cylinder version of the V-Rod. For riders New Into Motorcycling. Call it the Nim-Rod.

    Yes, I crack myself up…

  11. “Oh, and it has a 276 HP 5.0-liter V12. The goal here is less speed, but incredible smoothness. Toyota’s V12 is the kind of engine that could balance a coin on its end.”

    Sounds amazing, I wonder if it would fit in the engine bay of my Miata.

  12. Hey folks, I’m out in Germany this week (David, when are you coming to Heidenheim an der Brenz?) so probably not much in the way of snark. Partly because yesterday when it was 103F, I was inside buildings that were even hotter. And then when I recovered enough to go get coffee, I got caught in a severe thunderstorm. So yeah. I’m kinda verklempt, despite eating enough schweinmedallions mit zweibelsauce and spätzle to put a lesser soul into a food coma for a week.

    And honestly, this entire week’s crop of cars can only be described as “ho-ho-holy shit, I’m laughing so much because you have got to be joking with these prices.” The V-Rod, I could maybe see at $5500. Maybe. But the thing is, I can get one without the impossible-to-repair paint job for less. Like… $4000-4500. They were not popular new, and still aren’t really.
    Lotus Elan? Look, when they sold it to Hyundai/Kia, the quality improved. That’s all I need to say there.
    Cadillac ELR with near to 100k miles? That’s an extra zero on the price, because the $3000 XLR tail lights make every part on those look fucking CHEAP. It WILL REQUIRE the HV battery very soon. Cost to you? NINE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND SIX DOLLARS plus freight. That’s without labor, which is over 10 hours. And if you need to do the regenerator system at the same time? Backordered into 2024.
    The MGF is a firm maybe. If it’s SPECIFICALLY what you’re looking for, I’d say yes. If any aspect isn’t on your wishlist, it’s on the higher side – not unreasonably so, mind – so a bit of patience will get you your exact dream MGF for about that money. It’s not a bad car and it’s not a bad price, but only if it’s exactly what you seek and you’re prepared for massive repair bills.
    The 300ZX drop-top is not a Twin Turbo and is asking fair-good condition 300ZX TT money. Fuck no. I’m sorry but just no. You can do better. (If you are serious about wanting a 300ZX TT in reasonable shape for reasonable cash, I do offer locating and evaluation services. Inquire within.)
    What the fuck are you even going to do with a Motorwagen if you aren’t a museum?
    The International’s just… no. I’m sorry but it is not going to go for $4500 and it is going to go for more than comps. To be fair, it is worth more than most comps with a high quality restoration. But that also means you should expect the hammer to drop above $30,000, and above $40k if it’s graded as concours.
    Airflow’s just overpriced – comps are low to mid 20’s.
    And $20k for a Toyota Century. A 1997 Toyota Century. Yeah, no, this is pure flipper shit. Canada, you can get a 16 year old Century for $20k. Do I really need to elaborate further? Okay, how about the fact that I can get one with half the miles dropped at Bremerhaven for $6k less? (Yes, it’s a Grade R, but was repaired correctly.) I can buy one already in Germany for $14k.

    1. Oh, and super related because we don’t have an edit button yet.

      I have seen every forbidden fruit Smart this week. At least twice. Including a Roadster, a forfour, and a Crossblade. Sorry, I was nowhere near quick enough to get a picture of the Crossblade. Plus I was distracted by the Renault Twinzy behind the Opel Corsa OPC.

  13. Great list! That Airflow and the Crown are my favorites, although neither one are anywhere close to my price range. Back when I bought the Volt in 2016 the 2014 ELRs weren’t much higher priced than what you found. I was hoping to eventually upgrade to one, but since they never did really dip under $20k and GM discontinued the drivetrain, it’s unlikely that’s ever going to happen.

  14. Buy the IH truck & the Benz, load the latter on the former, and steal all the eyeballs at your local C&C.

    Honestly, if I had to buy just one of these to daily, it would likely be the Airflow. Always liked the Machine Modern/Art Deco touches. And I covet distinct/pontoon fenders.

  15. I’ll take the Benz, it’s perfect for when my wife wants to go visit her mother across the country without telling me. She even has a list of apothecary shops where she can buy fuel!

  16. The MGF does not have a Hydrolastic suspension but instead features its successor, the Hydragas system. Yes, the first is spelled with an “o” and the second with an “a” and yes, both are capitalized.

    Both rely on the same Hydrolastic fluid (essentially water and antifreeze) but, in addtion to that, a Hydrolastic displacer uses a rubber spring whereas a Hydragas displacer uses compressed nitrogen separated from the fluid by a diaphragm.

    I’ve owned an MG Metro 1300 with Hydragas and currently own an Austin Allegro 3 with Hydragas. It works well until it doesn’t.

    1. I had a Rover stamped (so probably nicked from a dealer) Hydragas pump that I got in a box of tools about fifteen years ago. Advertised it on every forum I could think of as a freebie, couldn’t give it away.
      I still get DMs on some of those forums (and then an email alert telling me I have a DM) asking if I still have it.
      It’s amazing how demand for these things changes.

    2. “A Hydrolastic displacer uses a rubber spring whereas a Hydragas displacer uses compressed nitrogen separated from the fluid by a diaphragm.”

      Sounds like they replaced something simple and durable which will fail gradually and gracefully with something complicated that wants to break itself, and which will do so suddenly and without warning.

      “It works well until it doesn’t.”

      Called it.

    1. No front seat “passengers” in these, strictly for the help. If Mr Watanabe had a long morning of meet and greet at the factory opening and wants to put his feet up, you’re walking to the nearest metro line back to the office and damn well liking it.

  17. God, I want a Century sooooo much. You can pick them up (WITH wool seats!) up for about 10-15 grand over her in the UK. I search eBay and Autotrader periodically for them, then tell myself not to be so fucking stupid. Still, tho.

      1. Depending on where Gilbert is in the UK it’s a decent sized vehicle to store and park, and fuel prices are even more ruinous. They’re gorgeous though and if they are going for £10,000 plus surely there’ll be someone happy to buy it off him after he enjoys it for a while.

        Quite a few of these have made it to New Zealand, they seem popular with people who want something impressive and a little mafia-sinister without paying the swingeing prices of big square American luxury sedans.

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