Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, working with cars is a blessing and a curse for me. I definitely have a problem with buying too many vehicles. Just look at that BMW X5 that I bought for no logical reason. But hey, almost all of them run, so I have that going for me. One advantage of this is that I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale to share with you.
This week I’m bringing you some trucks, imports, and even the one kind of Smart that you’ll probably want to buy.
I often 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 commercial vehicles.
1992 GMC Rally Wagon 2500 – $10,000
Originally launched in 1964, the Chevrolet and GMC G-Series vans were a new type of van for General Motors. At the time, Chevrolet’s van buyers got to enjoy the Corvair-based Greenbrier. And truck buyers had the option of the sweet Loadside and Rampside.
These new vans had engines placed up front, but still in a forward control compact package. The vans stayed in that configuration through two generations until 1971, when General Motors released the third generation. These third-gen vans moved the engine further up front, and the shape of the van became a two-box design. These vans, which you might think are body-on-frame actually use a unibody, and enjoyed an incredible 25-year run until they were discontinued in 1996.
The van that you see here is a 1992 GMC Rally Wagon. GMC marketed the Rally Wagon as being a passenger wagon so huge that it’s the ultimate carpool vehicle. It also makes for a sweet custom, as you see here. I’m not the biggest fan of the wheels, but I’m so here for the flames and winged guitar. The interior has just two seats, which makes it a perfect blank canvas for whatever you want to do.
Power comes from a 5.7-liter V8 making 190 horses. That’s backed up by a 700r4 automatic to the rear wheels. It’s $10,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Grandville, Michigan with 150,000 miles.
2016 Smart Fortwo Pure – 5-Speed Manual – $7,900
When the Smart Fortwo arrived officially in America in 2008 in its second-generation, drivers had one major complaint. The car came with an automated-manual transmission. In this setup, you just put it into Drive and let the computer handle the shifting. However, Smart’s Getrag transmission is not unlike other single-clutch units of the day and delivered shifts slowly. Shifts could sometimes be measured in seconds, and the loss of acceleration during the vehicle’s shift can cause the car to dive.
Other cars had transmissions like this-the BMW SMG and Maserati’s Graziano MC-Shift come to mind-but the little Fortwo gained notoriety for its transmission behavior.
Smart would finally fix the transmission in its late 2015 release of the third-generation Fortwo in America. Third-Generation cars enjoy a number of improvements. It’s four inches wider for a more comfortable cabin. The 899cc three in the rear has a turbocharger, helping it achieve a decent output of 89 HP. And the choices of transmission are better, too. You could get a zippy dual-clutch automatic, or an honest three-pedal five-speed manual. Yep, a real manual in a Smart!
These cars seem to be pretty rare. Gasoline-powered third-generation Smarts were sold for just 2016 and 2017 in the United States, with just 9,282 of them sold. Smart never drilled those numbers down to vehicles with manual transmissions, but owners estimate that most are DCTs by a wide margin.
This little Fortwo is a Pure trim, which means that you miss out on a fancy interior color and a panoramic roof. It also means that you get steel wheels. It appears to be the cheapest manual for sale in the country at $7,900 on Facebook Marketplace in Middletown, New York with 145,000 miles. That little Smart is only just broken in!
1965 Ford Econoline Pickup – $19,995
The Ford Econoline was a van that supported workers, churches, schools and large families for decades. But for a short time Ford offered the van with an open deck as well. The result was a stubby pickup with a seven-foot bed. Like a Jeep FC, these have a counterweight to keep things shiny-side up. Of course, some of the truck’s competition came from within, as Ford still sold the F-100 and the Ranchero.
Unfortunately, the pickup version was a slow seller, as buyers flocked to the van more. Ford marketed the Econoline Pickup just for one generation.
In this one, power comes from a 144-cubic inch Falcon Six making 85 HP. I caught this little truck right as it was added to Streetside Classics’ inventory in Charlotte. Thus, it doesn’t have a description yet. But it does look to be pretty original. It’s $19,995 on Streetside Classics website.
1961 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible – $19,900
The Starfire was meant to compete in what was then a hot personal luxury coupe market. Aside from its jet-inspired looks it had a 394 cubic inch Rocket V8 churning out 330 HP and a big, comfortable interior. Hagerty describes its history like this:
The Starfire’s story stretches back to the 1953 GM Motorama show. More than 1.4 million people turned out to see GM’s latest dream cars, including the Buick Wildcat, Pontiac La Parisienne, and a prototype of the all-new Corvette. Oldsmobile, meanwhile, showed off a flashy, fiberglass-bodied turquoise convertible dubbed the Starfire. There aren’t many names cooler or more characteristically Jet-Age than “Starfire,” and the show car was indeed named after Lockheed’s F-94B Starfire all-weather fighter jet.
In 1961, the Starfire became a standalone model, available only as a convertible. Aimed at the Ford Thunderbird, the Super 88-based convertible featured bucket seats and aluminum trim all over. It looked fantastic and had power to back it up, but in 1961, Olds sold just 7,604 of them, falling behind its Thunderbird target. The addition of a coupe version in later years gave the Starfire a huge sales boost in the personal luxury coupe race.
This one is believed to be mostly original with 47,150 original miles and an original interior. The brakes have been converted to discs and it has been repainted to a different color. It’s $42,900 on Hemmings in Savannah, Georgia.
1996 Toyota Starlet Glanza V – $15,000
The seller of this little car is sort of underselling how neat it is.
The Toyota Starlet originally launched in 1973 and was aimed at a growing market of young car buyers. It remained a staple of Toyota’s small cars for years, being praised for its quietness and handling. Starting in 1986 and in the car’s third generation, Toyota started selling a high-performance version. The Starlet Turbo R and Turbo S came equipped with a 1.3-liter turbo four making 105 HP, paired to a semi-active suspension that allowed the driver to control suspension settings. That’s not a lot of power, but these were cars that weighed just 1,543-pounds at their lightest.
Toyota continued to offer a hot version of the Starlet through the fourth and fifth-generation. This Starlet Glanza V is a fifth-generation with the most powerful engine. Here, you’re still getting a 1.3-liter turbo four, but it’s making 138 HP here. That’s good to get the 2,094-pound car to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Plus, it just looks like a baby rally car.
This Glanza V appears to be in good shape, with some recent work done to the suspension. It’s $15,000 on Facebook Marketplace in New York City, New York.
2005 Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6 – $10,500
One of the coolest cars to wear the Chrysler badge in the aughts was largely a Mercedes-Benz underneath. A product of the infamous “merger of equals” between Chrysler and Daimler, it certainly had a far more distinctive look than any of its siblings from Germany. That car was the Chrysler Crossfire and the SRT-6 before you is the best version of that machine. Introduced at the North American International Auto Show as a concept, the production Crossfire is one of those cars that I think looks better in production form than concept.
There’s a Mercedes R170 SLK platform hiding underneath the metal. At the time, the platform was already a little outdated as Mercedes itself had already moved on to the newer R171. But Mercedes’ leftovers still made for a compelling Chrysler sports car.
Under the hood is a supercharged 3.2-liter V6 making 330 hp and 310 lb ft of torque. A car bearing the three-pointed star with this engine at the time would have an AMG badge on the back. This SRT-6 convertible has just 84,141 miles and looks to be in good shape. It’s $10,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Mesa, Arizona.
1998 GMC TopKick – $13,500
General Motors has a rich commercial vehicle history. I’ve told you about its legendary buses a lot, but the company has made some really cool trucks, too. In 1981, General Motors pulled its heavy duty Bison, Bruin and Titan trucks out of the market. And in the same year, it launched a new medium duty truck line, the TopKick. These first TopKicks got a 10.4-liter Caterpillar 3208 V8 diesel and GVWR ran as high as 50,000 pounds. With GM no longer in the heavy duty truck game, the GMC TopKick and Chevrolet Kodiak were the company’s biggest trucks.
The truck here is a second-generation TopKick. If you were a kid in the 1990s, you may have ridden on a school bus powered by one of these. And if you moved, you may have rented a U-Haul that was one. These trucks adopted smoother, rounder styling than their predecessors and the trucks were available with a number of gasoline and diesel engine choices. A second-generation TopKick/Kodiak could even be equipped with the massive 8.1-liter Vortec L18. U-Haul 26-foot JH trucks had these beasts in them.
If you’ve ever wanted to drive a big commercial truck as a pickup, you’re in luck. Sometimes, someone decides to slap a bed onto the back of one of these, making one monster of a pickup. That’s what’s happened to this TopKick C5500, and the addition of the graphics, tires, and rack make it look so perfect. It’s like 1990s America as a truck.
Power comes from a Vortec 7400 L21 V8 making 270 horses and that’s backed up by an Allison automatic. The thing sits on huge 40-inch tires. It’s $13,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Roseville, Michigan with 126,000 miles.
2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 Wagon – $7,500 – $9,900
For fans of the Piëch era of Volkswagen, this rare wagon can be a unicorn. The B5 generation of the Passat was available with a surprisingly long list of engines from 1.8-liter turbo four to a V6 and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four. When Volkswagen wanted to give the Passat even more power, it ran into a problem: VAG’s corporate V8 was too long to fit. In typical Piëch era fashion, Volkswagen made an engine just for the Passat. I’ve written about these before, and I’ll detail why they’re special:
These Passats feature a unique W8 engine that, loosely speaking, consists of four banks of two cylinders each; it makes 270 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with 273 lb-ft torque peaking at 2,750. (It’s said this engine was made by combining two VR4 engines, but Volkswagen never made a VR4 in a production car. So to make the W8, VW deployed tech it hadn’t previously used.) All this is run through a glorious six-speed manual and transmitted to the mechanical full-time AWD 4Motion system.
I makes just 270 HP, less power than the aforementioned corporate 4.2 V8, but it still turned the Passat into a little bit of a sleeper. And it makes absolutely glorious sounds. If enthusiasts tracking the production of them are to be believed, then there are only 424 Volkswagen Passat W8s in America with manual transmissions, and a scant 95 of them are wagons.
This wagon has been lightly modified with the addition of a body kit, air bag suspension, and big wheels. If you like that, you can get it (without the wheels) for $9,900. But if you like your rides stock, the seller is willing to sell you the wagon in stock form for $7,500. It’s on Facebook Marketplace in Brunswick, Ohio with 170,000 miles.
2009 Moto Guzzi V7 – $4,500
As Web Wide Piaggio Group Magazine writes, the origins of the Moto Guzzi V7 come from the Italian manufacturer trying to find a way out of a motorcycle sales slump. In 1961, the popularity of the car meant slower motorcycle sales, so Moto Guzzi sought to branch out into other markets.
It wanted to get into building cars, too, and engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano designed a 90-degree V-twin meant for a hot version of the Fiat 500 [Editor’s Note: Um, I wanna know more about THIS – JT]. The plan to put it in a Fiat fell through, and the engine would find a home in a 3×3 military vehicle. I’ll let Piaggio take it from there:
Meanwhile, a ministerial tender was launched for motorcycles for Italy’s Highway Police; the winner would be the bike that could cover 100,000 km with the lowest maintenance costs. It was the ideal occasion to mount Carcano’s twin-cylinder engine on a motorcycle, the Moto Guzzi V7. The innovative project combined the reliability of automotive standards with an unrivalled level of comfort and mechanical affordability, which also attracted the interest of foreign police forces, beginning with Los Angeles. The commissioning of the new V7 700 began in 1964. The bike had a 703.3 cc engine which developed 40 HP, and it weighed 230 kg. In 1966 mass production began, for the police and foreign markets, and the following year the V7 700 was distributed in Italy at the competitive price of 725,000 lira, much more affordable than the German and English competitors.
Piaggio notes that the V7 came right at the perfect moment as motorcycles regained traction. The V7 was popular not just with riders and racers, but with government fleets, too. Original production ended in 1974, but Moto Guzzi brought it back in 2007 for the 2008 model year.
This 2009 V7 looks like those older bikes, but has some modern tech. The 744cc longitudinally-mounted V-twin makes 48 horsepower and is fed from fuel injection. This one comes with two OEM seats, one for the cafe racer look and another, more standard seat. It’s $4,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Lincoln Park, New Jersey with 10,000 miles.
That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading.