TVR Cerbera Speed Eight, Volkswagen SP-2, BMW Rockster: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

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Welcome back to Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness! As you know, working with cars is a dream, and it’s helped me amass a collection of weird cars and write fun stories. Somehow, my high-maintenance rides haven’t driven me to madness. And since I’m shopping for cars all of the time, I always have an evolving list of vehicles for sale to share with you.

This week, we have some incredibly fun and dangerous imports, a van with tons of swag, some beautiful classics, and even a couple of cool motorcycles.

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.

1997 Honda Stepwgn – $14,995

Stepwgn
Facebook Marketplace

That title isn’t a typo, Honda spells its “step wagon” minivan as Stepwgn. At its launch in 1996, opting for the Stepwgn got you a taller cabin and more seats than Honda’s own Odyssey. The Stepwgn–never sold in America–gives Japanese buyers a few novel features over a regular minivan. For example, you get benches that fold into a bed, seats that spin around to make a miniature living room and seats that fold individually into a table.

Later, the fifth-generation kept those quirks with the Waku Waku Gate. It’s a tailgate, barn doors, and individual doors all at the same time! Another interesting quirk is that the Stepwgn owes its really low floor to the fact that it’s based on the Civic.

It’s actually sort of impressive how many ways you can fold the seats in this thing. You can even fold them sideways so you could haul large items in the van. Power comes from a B20B 2.0-liter four making 123 horsepower and 134 lb-ft torque. And this one is notable for nice features like a full set of curtains and mods like a Mugen body kit and Rays wheels.

It’s $14,995 by Moses and Womac Motors in Athens, Tennessee with 86,000 miles.

1990 Volkswagen SP-2 – Best Offer

Sp2
Facebook Marketplace

One thing that I love about working with David and Jason is that they both have amassed an amazing database of facts about obscure Jeeps and Volkswagens. If I’m looking at an obscure vintage Volkswagen, I know that Jason has almost certainly written about it. And the Volkswagen SP-2 is no exception:

Most people in the U.S. have no idea who Marcio Piancastelli is, and few are really all that aware of his designs. But to either Brazilians or geeky VW-philes, the man is a design legend, penning both the VW Brasilia and the SP-2.

VW decided they wanted a sports car to compete with the also VW-based Brazilian Puma. Like almost everything VW Brazil did, this had to be accomplished using an existing VW platform. Piancastelli was up to the challenge, and on a stock Type III chassis he designed a low, sleek, dramatic-looking sports car called the SP, which some say stands for Sao Paulo and some say Sports Prototype. It really doesn’t matter, because the car looked incredible no matter what the acronym.

It may be the most dramatic sports car VW ever built on an air-cooled chassis. (Yeah, yeah. Keep your 911 jokes to yourselves, please.) Well, at least in looks — the SP, using the exact drivetrain as the stock 1600cc Type III, made only 65HP. It was writing so many beautiful checks its butt had no hope of cashing. After building 88 of these, VW Brazil adjusted their collective ties and put in a 1700cc dual-carb engine to make a staggering 75HP. They called this one the SP2. Better, sure, but still no monster.

Torch goes on to say that this car had the Portuguese nickname “Sem Potência,” which in English apparently means “without power.” I haven’t stopped laughing at that. Still, this is probably one of the best looking Volkswagens ever made, and you can have it here in America. The seller doesn’t say much about its condition, and I’m not sure if they want $7,000 or for you to make an offer. What I can say is that it looks beautiful inside and out and you can get it from Facebook Marketplace in Orlando, Florida with 50,000 miles.

1965 GMC 1000 Stepside – $19,500

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Hemmings

The first-generation of General Motors’ C/K line of trucks launched in 1960, replacing the Task Force series of trucks. When it comes to naming, “C” denotes rear-wheel-drive while “K” means four-wheel-drive. The GMC version of the truck was called the 1000 and K1000, respectively. Chevrolet describes other highlights with the C/K series:

Technological highlights available on the new C/K Series included a dropped frame, which allowed for a low loading height and a roomy cab interior, as well as an independent front suspension to further smooth out the truck’s ride on rough roadways. Still, this was very much a truck intended for use as a tool, as evidenced by other plaudits in the brochure. The truck’s improvements were said to enable “more money-making trips per day on even the tightest schedules,” for instance, and the truck boasted “many more work- and money-saving features.”

This GMC 1000 houses a 230 cubic-inch straight six making 140 horsepower and it’s believed to be original. Gears are swapped through a column-shifted three-speed manual. It’s $19,500 on Hemmings in Lake Charles, Louisiana with 19,788 miles.

1962 Jawa 250 “Panelka” – $5,750

Jawa
Facebook Marketplace

Jawa Motorcycles may not be a household name in America, but the brand has been around for almost a century. The company’s motorcycles are a throwback to cycles of decades past, not unlike what you’d find with Royal Enfield. The company is still around today, and tells its history like this:

František Janeček was born on 23rd January, 1878 in Klaster, a small village in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic). He studied mechanics in Prague, receiving his degree from the Berlin College of Engineering.

While serving on the Italian front during World War I, he developed a flurry of designs, patenting over 60 inventions – including an improved hand grenade which became standard issue for the Czech Army. After World War I, the demand for weapons fell, so the skilled workforce and factories of Europe focused their precision manufacturing techniques on the nascent world of motorcycles.In 1929, Janiček was lured in. Instead of starting from scratch, he purchased the motorcycle business Wanderer from German manufacturer Winklhofer & Jaenicke, along with the design and tooling for the new Wanderer 500 motorcycle.

Combining the first two letters from “Janeček” and “Wanderer”, the first Jawa motorcycle was conceived – the Jawa 500 OHV.

A year later, the company decided to downsize in an effort to serve the masses. Jawa took on G.W. Patchett, an engineer with racing experience, to build a smaller displacement motorcycle. Patchett created the Jawa 175, a motorcycle that the company notes became the most popular motorcycle in Czechoslovakia in 1933.

Jawa continued to advance, including making engine development in-house. And during World War II, Janeček secretly kept motorcycle production going under the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. The company notes that it did that by disguising its motorcycles to look like German motorcycles. Janeček died in 1941 of an illness, but the company continued on.

This motorcycle is a Jawa 250 Type 559. Power comes from a 249cc two stroke making 14 HP. It’s said to have been restored and it looks fantastic. It’s $5,750 on Facebook Marketplace in Seattle, Washington.

2004 BMW R 1150 R Rockster – $3,900

Rocker
Facebook Marketplace

At the heart of the BMW Rockster is a R 1150 R, a standard motorcycle aimed at commuters and tourers. As BikeSocial writes, the Rockster is essentially the R 1150 R, but turned up to 11 with bold paint choices and parts from the R 1100 S sportbike. Power comes from a 1,130cc flat twin making 85 HP.

The Rockster’s stanchion tubes for the forks, front fender, and rear wheel all come from the R 1100 S. Its headlights and flyscreen come from the R 1150 GS. BMW’s changes to the Rockster were small, but reviewers seem to love the ride. While I haven’t found production numbers, it’s noted that these are rarer than the regular R 1150 R.

This one appears to be in good condition and it looks like a fun way to end the riding season. It’s $3,900 on Facebook Marketplace in Anoka, Minnesota with 40,000 miles.

1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza – $9,800

Corvair
Facebook Marketplace

The Chevrolet Corvair is one of those cars that I think deserves a better place in history. Most people may remember the Corvair because of Ralph Nader, but these cars were actually pretty amazing on their own. I once wrote a snapshot about its history:

The Chevy Corvair was an innovative compact family car that had a cool trick up its sleeves. Instead of having the engine housed up front like the typical American car of the day, Chevrolet crammed an air-cooled flat-six powerplant in back. An American take on the popular little rear-engined imports from Europe at the time (Volkswagen wasn’t alone), the Corvair had independent suspension, unibody construction, and seemed like the car of the future. It was an instant hit and as Time notes, Chevrolet moved over 26,000 of them in the car’s first two days of sales.

Though it was big compared to genuine imports like, say, the Renault Dauphine, the Corvair was still a pipsqueak by American standards. To prove just how durable the Corvair really was, Chevy sent a trio of Corvairs, a duo of Suburban Carryalls, and a fuel truck on an epic road trip.

That road trip was through a roughly 60-mile patch of mountainous jungle, swamps, and rivers called the Darién Gap. There are no highways or roads through the Gap. Instead, the Corvairs had to plow through. Six vehicles entered the Darién Gap, including two Suburbans and a fuel truck. The trucks didn’t make it through, but two Corvairs did. That’s how cool the Corvair is.

So with that in mind, here’s one that may be a bit too nice to take through a jungle. The Monza is an upscale trim of the Corvair and this one is said to be so clean that it’s not even rusty. It has a 145 cubic-inch flat six putting 102 horsepower to the rear wheels through a manual. It’s $9,800 on Facebook Marketplace in Addison, Illinois with 64,000 miles.

1996 TVR Cerbera Speed Eight – $100,000

Tvr
Facebook Marketplace

Here’s a car that many Americans, myself included, have only driven in video games and seen on TV. These cars were never sold in America. Launched in 1996, the passage of more than 25 years means that these are finally becoming legal to import into the United States. And you’re getting a nice treat for your wait. Hagerty summarizes the Cerbera story like this:

Released on the heels of the Griffin and Chimaera, the Cerbera was the third car built by TVR under the leadership of Peter Wheeler and the first powered by a TVR engine built in-house. Up to that point, TVR purchased and tuned Rover V8s for its sports cars, but after BMW bought Rover, Wheeler wanted to avoid any future supply-chain issues if the engine were discontinued. It went to work designing a clean-sheet V-8 intended to power the Griffin and Chimaera, but production delays pushed it to be released in the Cerbera a few years later.

The result was the “Speed Eight,” a SOHC 16-valve 4.2-liter V-8 with a flat-plane crank and a highly uncommon V-angle of 75 degrees. As you can imagine, the Speed Eight sounds barbaric, but that’s fitting for a car named after Cerberus, the three-headed beast that guards the entrance to the Underworld. With 360 hp, the Speed Eight had one of the highest specific outputs of any naturally aspirated V-8 at the time with 83 hp/liter. By comparison, the C5 Corvette had 60 hp/liter.

Those specs are cool enough, but it gets even better. The Speed Eight engine powering this Cerbera weighs just 267 pounds dry. And the whole car weighs just 2,245 pounds. Keeping with Hagerty’s comparison, a standard C5 Corvette weighs in at around 3,218 pounds depending on options. The Cerbera weighs closer to a first-generation Mazda Miata, and dispatches the zero to 60 mph time in just 4.2 seconds. Meanwhile, the 345 HP, 5.7-liter V8 in a C5 Corvette took 5 seconds to reach 60 mph. Of course, when the Z06 came out, its 405 HP LS6 got it to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.

That’s to say that the Cerbera is a wild ride. You don’t get traction control or any of the fancy aids that cars have today. No, you had to reel in those 360 ponies all on your own. Hagerty notes sharp steering with just two turns lock to lock. The TVR has a reputation like the Viper does, being a car that punishes mistakes. It doesn’t even have airbags.

This 1996 Cerbera is a left-hand-drive example, and the seller says that it was given a frame-off restoration in 2011. Since then, it has been used for display. It sports a custom interior, a widebody, and a six-speed manual. It’s $100,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Chicago, Illinois with 26,000 miles. Listing courtesy of Obscure Cars for Sale.

1970 International Travelall 1210 – $9,000

International
Facebook Marketplace

International Harvester was arguably a pioneer in the SUV as we know it today. First produced starting in 1953, the Travelall was an R-Series truck featuring an all-metal wagon body. As the New York Time writes, it’s true that Chevrolet had a truck-based all-metal wagon for longer than International, however, the Travelall beat the Suburban to four-wheel-drive by four years. And the Travelall was closer in creature comforts to today’s SUVs than something like a Jeep was.

Normally, a Travelall has four doors. However, Stageway Coaches (now known as Armbruster-Stageway) offered stretched versions with seating capacities for 12, 15, or 18 people. This one has six rows of seating for 18 people, and the seller says that it served as an airport shuttle in Kansas. This thing has definitely lived a hard life. I won’t lie to you; there’s rust everywhere. But I love this wild thing. Power comes from a 345 cubic-inch V8 making 197 HP. Or at least it did. The seller says that the engine is a bit tired nowadays.

It’s $9,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Zeeland, Michigan with 100,000 miles. Hat tip to Opposite-Lock!

1942 Buick Century Sedanette – $38,000

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Hemmings

As General Motors notes, the first-generation of the Century holds a special place in Buick history. After over three decades of vehicle development, the Century became Buick’s first vehicle to top 100 mph. Thus, giving it the name Century, for 100, was appropriate.

These streamlined cars are hot rods in the classical sense, as they combined a smaller body with the same straight eight engine found in Buick’s larger models. Power comes from a 320 cubic-inch straight eight making 165 HP. No information is given if this vehicle is original or not, but it looks like an art deco masterpiece. It’s $38,000 on Hemmings in Galesburg, Illinois.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading.

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40 Responses

  1. Why would someone use the word ‘step’ in naming a vehicle? Is it to remind you that you will be walking?

    Then again, I never understood ‘stepladder’. Shouldn’t it be climb ladder?

  2. Sweet Zombie Jesus, I would buy half this list. The VW, the TVR, BMW, Corvair, Buick, and it would be a crime against fun and enjoyment not to buy that Travelall

  3. This post alerted me to the fact that C4 ZR1s in good condition with ~30,000 miles on them are available in the mid-$30k range.

    You get a flat-plane V8 making either 375 or 405 hp depending on the year, a six-speed manual transmission, a surprisingly practical liftback, and styling that, personally, I appreciate more and more as time goes by.

    And of course, since it’s a Corvette, it has basically unlimited parts availability and aftermarket options. That LT5 engine is a bit of a rare bird, but there’s a world of LS-based performance on offer if it ever craps out.

    You could do worse.

    1. They used to be in the mid-20s a few years ago but what wasn’t cheaper back then? The LT5 parts availability is getting to the point where it’s not really worth getting one. I would rather have a 95-96 Grand Sport. That blue with white stripe is nice.

    2. You do not get a flat plane crank in any stock Corvette engine prior to 2023’s Z06.

      The LT5 built by Mercury Marine in the C4 ZR1 is a crossplane crank engine.

      Still a great engine, but definitely not a flat plane crankshaft.

  4. Thanks Mercedes again for the great listings! I sent a message to the seller of that SP2 – I’m curious to hear back. I’ve wanted a Brasilia for years – it’s sort of my holy grail Brazilian car and I missed out on one a few years back when I was in Orlando visiting family. Obviously I’d like one of these as well, but I’ve never even bothered looking for one here. If I can somehow make this a part of my fleet it would be amazing to say the least!

    1. I’d be curious to know what you find out. I’m sure they’re not selling such a rare car in seemingly excellent condition (and with the prettiest steering wheel I’ve ever seen!) for only $7,000.

      1. That’s for sure – unless there’s a huge dent on the other side, the engine is completely toast, or some other issue that didn’t show up in those pics, I’m not holding out much hope. It does however look like she’s either imported cars from Brazil before and/or has a connection to some type of import/export business, so it could be a good contact for something in the future.

        1. Even in Brazil, decent SP2s go for at least three times that price. I’m pretty certain this was a scam, even if I don’t quite understand why they chose such an obscure car as bait.

          1. It was a weird one – the price certainly seemed too good to be true, but then it was tied to what appears to be someone trying to sell cars on behalf of a legitimate dealer. The pictures didn’t come up in Google image-searches either (like the too-good to be true Craigslist adds always manage to). And, I never did receive some kind of “send us x$’s to reserve perfect exotic low-mile car today” feedback (or any feedback).

            Facility Auto at 4950 S Orange Blossom Trail Orlando Florida 32839 ☎(407)289-9711 if anyone’s interested in going to check them out. I haven’t bothered actually calling, particularly since she/they blocked me from sending messages via FB messenger.

            Also interesting – I just stopped back by the original poster’s FB profile and most of the pictures she had of classic cars from Taubaté (“em Taubaté” was in the comments of each picture) have been scrubbed from her profile’s photo collection. There were pics of a Karmann Ghia, some type of Brazilian Willy’s truck, an Opala, and some different Fuscas (Beetles). Now there’s just pics of one Fusca along with the recent listings for cars from Facility Auto and several years worth of family photos.

            Whatever was going on, apparently it wasn’t on the up and up. I still want to visit that dealer though. And, I’d still like an SP2, even though it’s likely I’m going to have to retire and move to Brazil to get one.

      2. Well, that was fun while it lasted. As of a few hours ago, the add for the SP2 was scrubbed and it seemed that for a little while I was blocked from the person who had listed it (I’m not now). In the meantime, I’m pretty sure I geo-located those pictures to a city in São Paulo state called Taubaté – the seller seemed to have quite a number of classic car pics on their profile taken there and Google maps showed a number of apartment blocks there in Taubaté in the same architectural style, along with the same barbed-wire topped walls. Not sure what was going on, but it’s pretty obvious the seller doesn’t care to get back to me, so I guess I’ll leave it alone for now. I did learn about “Facility Motors” in Orlando, as it’s shown in a few of the seller’s other listings – it’s pretty obvious they cater to Brazilians, so I may have to stop in and say hi the next time I’m in town.

    2. I am fully on board with your quest, but wondering if the ad might be a scam. Hope it’s not, but the description was f the car is kind of lacking too. Never understood that with old cars, I mean, listing a three year old Toyota, not much to say. 50 year old car, there are so many more questions to be answered, starting with “does it run?”

  5. I am fully on board with your quest, but wondering if the ad might be a scam. Hope it’s not, but the description was f the car is kind of lacking too. Never understood that with old cars, I mean, listing a three year old Toyota, not much to say. 50 year old car, there are so many more questions to be answered, starting with “does it run?”

  6. Great stuff, the SP-2 really looks right on Fuchs wheels because it looks like something Butzi Porsche designed. If originality isn’t important then you get a lot more power out of a VW engine.
    Does the sticker price of the Stepwgn include a discount for the missing vowels? On a serious note small MPVs are an empty niche here made emptier by the departure of the Transit Connect

    1. Eh, the Cerbera is the better looking car, and I’m not sure what you mean by “porpoise display” since the car is old enough that the 25 year rule isn’t in effect here, meaning it can be daily driven if you choose to.

      Lastly, the Cerbera in the ad has a LHD conversion, which is probably contributing to the overall value.

      1. The original ad for the car stated that it was used for “display porpoises”.

        Yes the Cerbera is better looking, and yes the seller is probably banking on the conversion to fetch extra bucks, but the going rate for used Cerberas in GB seems to be in the 25k-35k range so the $75,000 premium seems a wee bit ridiculous.

  7. An acquaintance of mine had a TVR Tuscan with TVR’s own straight six which also went into the later Cerberas. He talked in terms of engine rebuilds every 25,000 miles. They made a lot more straight sixes than the V8 and it was considered the better of the two engines. For show and display that engine is probably fine, but if you want to use it to any extended degree an LS swap is probably the way to go. There is at least one company in the UK that does an LS swap kit for TVR’s.

  8. Both motorcycles are pretty amazing deals. I don’t know parts availability on old Jawas, but 2-strokes are usually easier to keep running.
    That TVR would have to be my “win the lottery” car.
    And dammit, now I’ve got “The Air Is Getting Slippery” stuck in my head because of that truck.

  9. Point of order – the ‘flyscreen’ on the Rockster is a unique item, and only the light beam units are shared with the GS (the supporting framework is unique to the Rockster).

    You also get a ‘shorter’ top gear, (shared with the 1150GS Adventure), so the Rockster will ‘rev-out’ in top, where the standard R1150R won’t, different length shock units (shared with the R850R oddly), and a slightly different map in the tuning (depending on global market area). There’s a few other peculiarities, but it’s not a huge list.

    I’m on my 4th Rockster (all bronze/black) – something about the way they ride just suits me perfectly, you can throw them around with aplomb, the wide bars help with that, although they hinder truly fast riding (track riding) because unless you have arms like a gibbon you can’t get off the bike for corners properly! The bike is are also all-day comfortable (just) and takes the excellent BMW pannier system of the period.

    1. Oh – and the price for that one looks about right – despite the after-market oil-cooler-covers, and a few other small amendments I can see in the photo. Trying to find a non-stock one at this point is an exercise is futility.

    2. Oh – and the price for that one looks about right – despite the after-market oil-cooler-covers, and a few other small amendments I can see in the photo. Trying to find a non-stock one at this point is an exercise in futility.

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  11. Damn you guys already knew about that SP2 joke! I’ll have to tell you another car-based Brazilian joke!

    In Brazil, the Ford Ka is kicknamed the Ford Cu (meaning “ass”) because it’s round outside and tight inside!

  12. The SP2 is cool, but if I want a South American VW coupe I would rather have a Puma. Among the many woulda, coulda, should as in my life was a Puma for sale on Craigslist within a days drive that looked very nice for $7k a few years ago.

  13. The first generation Corvairs were a little evil handling, but the second generation were pretty cool cars. I have always been pissed at Nader for killing them, but many of the safety items in modern cars are because of him.

  14. I recently bought a medium sized bulldozer and I completely understand what you mean about the sensation of “guiding” an unstoppable mass! It’s a great feeling, but controlling something that will crush you, your dog and your truck without missing a beat is a little unsettling. That said, before long the mind adapts to this new reality, and all of a sudden, trees are not obstacles, trees are traction!
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  15. Whenever I see a beautiful TVR I’m reminded of Clarkson quoting, “I always got the impression that TVR built a car, put it on sale, and then found out how it handled – usually when one of their customers wrote to the factory complaining about how dead he was.” Jeremy usually made a slobbering fool of himself driving any of these beasts…fast & deadly but you never feel so alive as the moment before you die.

    1. Totally not a real world comparison. But the Cerbera actually handled quite well in Gran Turismo 2. The Speed 12 on the other hand made a Viper with bald tires on ice seem like a slot car.

    2. IIRC Clarkson is supposed to have described the sound of a Speed 8 as “two butch lesbians making love in a bucket” and Aston Martin Vanquish as “Tom Jones dropping the soap in the shower block of Strangeways “

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