TVR Tuscan S, Chevrolet Blazer Chalet, Namco Pony Super: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness

Blazertop

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. 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 an import from Greece, a sweet K5 Blazer-based camper, and maybe a Volkswagen that you’ve never seen before.

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.

2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10 – $25,000

Dodge
Facebook Marketplace

What’s better than a pickup truck that can slay sports cars? That pickup truck comes with the soundtrack of an 8.3-liter Viper V10’s engine. The Ram SRT-10 is an evolution of what was then Dodge’s Performance Vehicle Operations taking regular Dodge vehicles and making them seriously quick. Motor Trend compared stomping the accelerator in this beast to the feeling of firing a 12-gauge shotgun. 60 mph is dispatched in the low 5-second range and the 500-HP V10 keeps your heart racing.

Not much is said about the one for sale here, but the seller says that it functions well. It’s $25,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Fresno, California with 66,286 miles.

1997 Toyota Corolla Spacio – $9,195

Spacio
Facebook Marketplace

Back in the 1990s through the mid-2000s, Toyota buyers in select parts of the world could get a Corolla made into a people carrier. Toyota explains:

Launched in January 1997, the Corolla-based minivan Spacio was designed as a fun-filled multi-purpose personal space on wheels. The Spacio name derives from the Italian word “spazio,” meaning room or space.

The Spacio mounted a wagon body on the Corolla sedan platform, becoming 235 mm taller than the sedan. Initially available either as a 2-row 4-seater or a 3-row 6-seater, the Spacio added a 2-row, 5-seat version six months later. Diverse seating arrangements were possible due to the versatile seats, including those that could be instantly turned into junior seats. It was also possible to create more legroom for rear passengers than was customary in larger vehicle classes, and to stow the rear seats to provide plenty of luggage space.

A regular Spacio got a 1.6-liter four making 108 horses and driving the front wheels. But there was an option for a bigger 1.8-liter four making 120 horses. That’s what you’re looking at here, and it’s driving all four wheels through an automatic transmission. This JDM minivan has features like power-folding mirrors and even a center locking differential.

It’s $9,195 on Facebook Marketplace in Athens, Tennessee with 49,008 miles.

1985 Namco Pony Super – $7,900

Namco
Facebook Marketplace

NAMCO (National Motor Company of Greece) is a low-volume manufacturer that has humble origins in building utility vehicles. The manufacturer states that the Kondogouris family collaborated with BMW and other companies to build a utility vehicle:

In 1956, the ancestor of NAMCO, INTHELCO Munich, in cooperation with FAHR AG, MASCHINENFABRIK Gottmandingen, completed the Research & Development (R&D) of the motor vehicle FARMOBIL BMW, a very advanced and complete vehicle, when in 1956 BMW produced a simple vehicle, the ISETTA and an 8-cylinder limousine, almost hand-made and with wooden moulds!

The Farmobil was a simple, low-cost vehicle. It used a BMW Isetta Engine 697cc (0,7 liters ), and a patented, four-speed manual gearbox from Porsche.

The operation was acquired by Chrysler in 1963. Unfortunately, the Farmobil wasn’t a hot seller, and NAMCO blamed import duties and the vehicle’s high price for its failure.

But that didn’t stop the Kondogouris family, and in 1972, NAMCO was established to build low volumes of specialty utility vehicles. A year later, the company released the Pony, a utility vehicle aimed at being a people’s car. The first-generation Pony was developed with Citroën and riding on a Citroën 2CV platform. As Greek news Ekathimerini writes, almost 30,000 of them were sold between 1974 to 1983, with Citroën exporting them to different countries.

In 1985, NAMCO released the little truck you see today. The Pony Super was the next generation of the Pony. It ditched the Citroën bones for Ford running gear. And it was developed with German company Inthelco to be more sophisticated than its predecessor. Sadly, it is noted to be such a failure that just a few hundred were built.

This one is said to be the very first Pony Super. Sure enough, the VIN does suggest that it is the first in its series. No details are given about the engine, but power figures are said to have ranged from 45 hp to 69 hp. These trucks weigh about 2,000 pounds, so that’s not horrible power ratings. One thing is for sure, it’s a rare beast. It can be yours for $7,900 on Facebook Marketplace in Akron, Ohio. Ad courtesy of Grey Market Cars For Sale – North America.

[Editor’s Note: A Greek truck for sale in Akron? Our pal and car collector Myron Vernis has to be involved here. This thing is fantastic. – JT]

2004 Honda Valkyrie Rune – $20,000

Bikess
Facebook Marketplace

In 1996, Honda released the Valkyrie, a cruiser with the heart of a Gold Wing. It was a muscle bike sporting 1520cc of Gold Wing flat six power coupled to enough brightwork to make a Harley-Davidson blush. These originals made 100 horses at the rear wheel and sped on to a top speed of 131 mph.

While the original Valkyrie died in 2003, Honda kept the concept going in 2004 by releasing the Valkyrie Rune. This wasn’t so much a muscle bike like the original, but a custom cruiser from the factory. It was targeted at riders who want a custom bike with loads of power but without having to make their own chopper. Housed in the frame is a Gold Wing’s 1832cc flat six that’s pumping out 118 HP. As Hagerty notes, unlike the original, speed is not a priority. The Rune is seven feet-long and weighs 878 pounds. That makes it over 80 pounds heavier than the Gold Wing that gave its engine to the Rune.

They were about $26,000 new, but reportedly cost Honda $100,000 each to make. Depending on the source, anywhere between 800 and 3,000 of these were made, making them pretty rare. These seem to hold their value, too. This one is $20,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Park Ridge, Illinois with 16,000 miles.

1978 Volkswagen Hormiga – $15,000

Hormiga
Facebook Marketplace

As with many weird vintage Volkswagens, our Jason Torchinsky has written a delightful bit of history for the Hormiga:

[T]he VW EA489 Basistransporter, also known in Mexico as the Hormiga, and in Finland as the Teijo (well, that one’s a close variant), and in Indonesia as the Mitra. That’s a lot of names for something that VW never sold in the developed world (well, and Finland), and that they made only a bit over 6,000 copies of from 1975-1979, which is minuscule in normal VW numbers.

The Basistransporter was a VW experiment in making the most basic utility vehicle possible. And boy did they succeed. The chassis was a simple ladder-frame that mounted a normal 1600cc Type I VW flat-four up front, in a new location and orientation for that engine, with torsion bars up front and a solid, medieval era-cutting-edge beam axle at the rear.

The Mexican Hormiga variant accounts for 3,600 copies of that over 6,000. This one is dolled up like a vehicle from the U.S. Army, with what appears to be black and gray camo decals. But look past all of that and it appears to be really clean. The seller doesn’t say, but it looks like it was restored at some point in its life. It’s $15,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Winchester, California.

[Editor’s Note: Holy crap! – JT]

1977 Chevrolet Blazer Chalet – $59,900

1977 Chevrolet Blazer Chalet
Garage Kept Motors

As enthusiast site Silodrome writes, the Blazer Chalet was the result of a collaboration between General Motors and Chinook Mobilodge Inc., the maker of those fabulous fiberglass Class C campers. At the time, America was going through a period where people wanted to do things outdoors and sleep in an RV. GM and Chinook wanted to seize the opportunity.

A Blazer Chalet starts off life as a regular Blazer before being sent off to Chinook. There, the Blazer loses the rest of the passenger compartment and in its place, a fiberglass camper shell with a steel frame is lowered into place. It was built to be an RV, so the camper shell is not meant to be removed. However, Silodrome notes that it is possible.

Inside, you get amenities like seating and bedding, but facilities are largely limited to a cooking unit with a sink and an ice box. Thankfully, the original owner of this Chalet got the optional refrigerator and propane heater. Unfortunately, it does not have a bathroom of any kind, so you’d have to install an outdoor shower and a cassette toilet somewhere to truly go off-grid with it.

This particular example is said to have an exterior in original shape, owing to having been in the same family for 34 years. It comes with all kinds of documentation, including the original window sticker. Inside, the camper has been restored to what it should have looked like back in 1977. Up front, a 400-cubic inch V8 drives all four wheels.

It’s $59,000 from Garage Kept Motors in Grand Rapids, Michigan with 49,000 miles.

2004 TVR Tuscan S Targa – $69,999

Celeb
Celebrity Cars Las Vegas

Here’s a car that should be forbidden fruit, but the selling dealership claims was legally imported through a loophole before the loophole was closed. It’s unclear what that loophole is, but the result is that apparently, there’s a TVR Tuscan S for sale in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The TVR Tuscan Speed Six launched in 1999, joining a lineup of unique and fast TVRs built in the 1990s and 2000s. The TVR Car Club in the UK gives us a nice and short history on the Tuscan name:

TVR got rather fond of the Tuscan name, first used in the 1960’s for a V8 and V6 car. It was later used for the Challenge Race Series cars with both Rover and AJP V8 power. Various road Tuscans were announced but the near final form was shown at the 1998 Motor Show. There were ultimately five versions of the Speed Six engine made available over the years; the initial 3.6 litre and four versions of the 4.0 litre.

Evo Magazine goes on to call the Tuscan not just a great car, but one iconic of the British marque. A regular Tuscan already has healthy stats like a 4.0-liter straight six making 360 HP pushing a car that weighs just 2,425 pounds. In the S version, that power gets bumped up to 400 horses. And TVRs aren’t just about power, but about style, too. These look unique inside and out.

This one is noted to be a Targa version, which means that you can pop the top for open-air enjoyment. It’s $69,999 by Celebrity Cars Las Vegas with 9,000 miles.

1996 Honda Integra Type R – $24,995

Yes
Facebook Marketplace

Japanese enthusiast cars from the 1990s have seen a surge in popularity. They sell for almost unfathomable amounts of money on auction sites and even folks on Facebook demand a pretty penny for them. Here’s one that’s still expensive, but cheaper than many.

Honda has this to say about the Integra Type R:

Integra Type R brought Type R performance to a wider audience. The second vehicle to wear the Type R badge and spanning two vehicle generations, Integra Type R also was the first Type R model sold in the U.S.

Extensive modifications in the Integra Type R included a hand-built engine with hand-polished intake and exhaust ports, high-compression pistons, revised intake system, a retuned exhaust and a helical limited-slip differential.

Chassis modifications included suspension, tire, wheel and brake upgrades, and the body received additional bracing and seam welds for added strength and rigidity. Weight reduction measures included the removal of sound insulation, a thinner windshield, lightweight wheels, and the removal of the air conditioning and audio systems.

What you’re looking at here is not a U.S. model Type R, but one imported from Japan. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four making 197 HP. That punches the power through a manual and the front wheels. This one appears to be in exceptional shape and can be had for $24,995 on Facebook Marketplace in Englewood, New Jersey with 112,000 miles.

1993 Autozam AZ-1 – $19,800

Zam
Japan Car FL

The Autozam AZ-1 was the Mazda subsidiary’s delightfully weird gullwing mid-engine kei car. Designed under the direction of Toshihiko Hirai (who is often credited as the father of the Miata), the car took three years to develop. The car originally had a tube frame skeleton before Autozam reportedly redesigned it for more rigidity. By the time that it was released, Japan was in a recession, and in the end, only 4,392 were built.

These things don’t really fit tall people, but the 657cc F6A turbocharged triple redlines at about 10,000 RPM. It’s making all of 64 horses, too. Kei cars aren’t really fast, but they’re so small that 100 kph certainly feels like 100 mph. This one is a fresh import and looks to be in good shape. It’s $19,800 by Japan Car FL in Oldsmar, Florida with 82,000 miles.

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

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38 Responses

  1. I had forgotten how short the front end of the SRT-10 is. Must be a nightmare to do any work under-hood. I really like the Namco: it perfectly fits my idea of a cheerfully cheap vehicle. But I’d rather have the early version with 2CV chassis-the yellow one on their site with the VW Thing-like ribbing looks like happy-if slow-fun. The Spacio is cool too, but the lights & grill seem very Daiwoo-like. I’d love to have a $10-15k version of the Blazer: this one is just too damn perfect to use it as intended. Never heard of the Hormiga-is it 4wd? But, again, wouldn’t want it because they’re too rare to tear up on the trails

    1. Hi!
      I worked on an SRT-10. No joke. It’s actually incredibly easy, because someone took notes at the spark plug change procedure on F-bodies. (Step 1: drop the fucking engine and no I am not joking.) Even the rear-most plugs are completely accessible with the engine in the truck. I won’t lie and say it’s easy, because it’s not, but I’d describe it as “GM 3800 rear plugs” hard at most. (Basically you have the brake booster in the way on the d/s, and you have A/C in the way on the p/s, but with more than enough room for a wobble socket.)

      The problem is if you need to do anything on the front of the engine. Because they had to find the space somewhere. Changing the accessory belt was very, very obviously a ‘radiator removal is required’ situation. I think there’s like an inch of clearance to the front fans.

      1. Noted, thanks. But I’ve never worked on a 3800-what is that on the early 2k Stratus V6 rear bank scale? Like, only minor profanity (profane, but not scatological), or straight up bloody knuckles?
        I guess I just assumed the block was under the cab because of the era I grew up in: every longitudinal engine has LTD amounts of space in front of it in my head

      2. “GM 3800 rear plugs” isn’t so horrible Had you said “3-liter Duratec rear plugs” I’d be scared, because I still have PTSD replacing those in a Mercury Montego that ended up being a CVT money pit for my brother.

  2. Mercedes, it seems you’ve struck quite a nerve in the spambot community. The bot density on this particular article is significant. They must suspect you are growing too powerful.

  3. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is where i started

  4. I am a tall-ish people — 6’2″ — and I fit the AZ-1 pretty well. Or did, when I was more limber. Getting in and out, however, were something else. But as long as no one was watching….

    But boyoboy, was it fun! Felt like a tiny Porsche 917, and even made tiny 917-like noises: as Mercedes suggests, it would rev forever and lift throttle brought a racy “Wheenk!” from the wastegate. Handled like an oversized go-kart, too.

    I know nothing about the seller, but have looked at detailed photos of a few for sale, and have concluded that Japanese car owners aren’t necessarily any neater or kinder to their cars than their American counterparts. They get rust, too. So I would look this over VERY carefully before ponying up the scratch.

    The Spacio grabs me. Would rather have that than my Corolla…. The NAMCO or Hormiga would work well for running around my small town.

    1. We had a two-row five-seater 4WD Spacio from new and kept it until its worsening oil-eating habit and the acquisition of a second Rottweiler made it no longer practical. Until then it was everything we needed in a DD, campmobile and dogmobile, and on snow tyres it was unstoppable on ski trips, even in heavy snow.

  5. Man, that Blazer is Peak 70s in the best way possible. Aside from the aforementioned lack of bathroom facilities, it is just perfect. $60,000 is a little rich for my blood, but I can see why they want that much for it. It looks absolutely fantastic, and would make for an overlanding rig that’s both stylish and capable.

    1. Some friends-of-friends went in on a really rough Blazer Chalet about a year ago; they plan on restoring it. Right now it sits un-touched because the top (just the bit that goes up and down) was missing upon delivery, despite being present when it was loaded onto the shipping truck. Last I heard they were still in a legal battle since those things aren’t cheap.

      Anyways, these are the same guys that will get drunk, one guy will buy out the other guy’s share for an outrageous price, and they’ll laugh about it the next morning as they nurse their hangovers. Only to repeat the whole thing two weeks later, sometime trading cars in the process.

  6. Ha, that comment about 100 kph feeling like 100 mph reminded me of someone a friend & I met at a Cars & Coffee who had brought her early 90s NSX; she also had a mid-60s MGB. My friend asked her which she liked driving best; she replied that she loved both for different reasons: in the NSX if she was doing 100 mph it felt like she was doing 50 mph but in the MGB if she was doing 50 mph it felt like she was doing 100 mph.

  7. Fifty-nine thousand dollars and they couldn’t even bother to match the spare tire that they mounted on the nose of the Blazer to the tires the mounted on the axles? Sorry Garage Kept Motors, that is an inexcusable oversight.

  8. Mercedes, I’ll have you know that I entirely blame (thank) you, and this feature for the car I just bought. A few weeks, heck probably months at this point, back, you had a Peugeot 306 featured. While I had 0 interest in the one you posted, it led me down a rabbit hole where I discovered the wonderful car that is the 306 GTi-6. Then I found an awesome example for sale in England, and it should be on a boat headed my way any day now. Keep it up. While I’m sure this thing will be a financially terrible decision, I’m quite excited for it haha.

  9. I like the Dodge SRT pickup.

    As for the Blazer, I am not carrying a s**tcase aka cassette toilet around. Black tanks on RVs are bad enough but carrying around a box of crap…NOPE!

    1. Receiver hitch-mounted 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it, perhaps a pop-up screen for privacy. They make them. Take the liner out and throw it in the garbage. Or dig a hole AFTER you’re done.

  10. I saw an Autozam at the Lane museum a couple weeks ago and was smitten. The TVR is awesome in all ways. The Blazer is…interesting, sorry, lives through the malaise era, have no nostalgia for underpowered brown cars. The Honda bike, just no, the idea of horsing around a bike that weighs over 800 pounds sounds like absolutely the opposite of fun to me.

    1. “For $60k and they cannot even put on a fresh spare tire for that Blazer?”

      Ha! When do you think you are, 2019? $60k is just the start! That’ll be another $5k, just for kicking the tire. What, you haven’t thrown ALL your monies at it yet? You snoozed you losed! The price just went up again and will keep doing so on every tick of the clock.

      Tick tick tick…

      Oh look, the seller’s ask just passed “more than you can afford pal” and it’s gonna keep doing so every hour till the seller is swimming in sweet, sweet cash + crypto + freshly harvested, medically sound human organs + first born children + all the other things the pool of buyers in the ever expanding automotive time share group could cobble together. Maybe if you’re really nice they’ll let you join the timeshare…for $60k. Better hurry though, the slices are only getting thinner.

      Welcome to the used car market in 2022. Or so the many laments I’ve read here and elsewhere have lead me to believe it to be.

  11. Perfect timing, mu wife was talking about off grid camping and I had mentioned the Blazer Chalet but hadn’t looked one up for her. I have actually been in one because back when they had a car display in the GM Building in Manhattan they put a Blazer Chalet on the floor. The GM building was great for young gearheads since they had stacks of literature, new cats and trucks and no salesmen. Plus FAO Schwartz was across the street, and later took over the showroom space.
    I need to check my boxes of old stuff because I had a Chevy Astro 95 brochure back then

    1. The GM Building was great fun! The AutoPub downstairs was also a blast. Sit in an old car to have lunch with a rail dragster upside down on the ceiling. There was also the NY Playboy Club across the street on the 59th Street side. One of my friend’s father was a “card carrying” member.

  12. 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10 – $25,000
    What’s better than a pickup truck that can slay sports cars? That pickup truck comes with the soundtrack of an 8.3-liter Viper V10’s engine.

    Facts. And at a very reasonable price. $25k seems a little high post-collapse but not completely out of line if the interior’s in good shape (which almost never happens because it is a Dumber-Chrysler,) and $22.5k is an automatic “fuck yes.” The Ram SRT-10’s motor is slightly detuned so it’s extremely durable too.
    Comps are still asking $30k for over 90k miles and curbstomped wheels, or $21k for twice the miles and shitty aftermarket wheels. And these will eventually resume appreciating if that’s your concern.

    1997 Toyota Corolla Spacio – $9,195

    No. Just no. It’s a wheezy people-mover. JDM does not magically make it worth that kind of money, especially in this market.

    1985 Namco Pony Super – $7,900

    This one, I dunno. Myron’s local so I’d run it by him honestly. First VIN smells fishy (also note that VINs are not necessarily sequential; it’s NOT a requirement!) But it absolutely could be legit.

    2004 Honda Valkyrie Rune – $20,000

    You know why you never see any of these on the road any more? Because they suck. They truly suck.

    1978 Volkswagen Hormiga – $15,000

    … Unimog money for something that tries to look like a Unimog but can’t even hit highway speeds? Uh, no.
    Even my VW expert friend spit out his beer at that price. The top speed of this thing is a whole 53MPH and that’s assuming you got the 50HP engine.

    1977 Chevrolet Blazer Chalet – $59,900

    I’m sorry, WHAT?! No. Malaise-era motor with malaise-era interior quality? Look. I’m an expert in making things that sucked ass from the factory not suck, particularly inside. But there’s only so much you can do. And tacking on this much weight with this much interior malaise baggage? No way.
    And it’s not even close to in line with the market for a ’77 Blazer. We’re talking full-on crack pipe distant. This is nowhere near concours. It should be half the price.

    2004 TVR Tuscan S Targa – $69,999

    Just yes. Period. Pending a PPI of course, but assuming reasonable results there, this is a steal. (I’d expect the paint needs corrected and some stone chip repairs.)
    Do not ask what TVRs sell for. Let’s just say that I went with an ultra-rare Porsche because it was the cheaper option.

    1996 Honda Integra Type R – $24,995

    This one feels very fishy. My gut says hard pass on that basis solely. If it’s legit though, that’s a damn fine price depending on condition. But my gut also says there’s no way the condition supports it. Japan also super does not like giving up their Integra Type R’s regardless of the cost to keep them on the road, so the only way it ended up at auction cheap is if it’s got major problems like structural rot.

    1993 Autozam AZ-1 – $19,800

    Nope. Just… nope. With that kind of mileage, they need to knock $5k off the price minimum. This is another seller who insists that the glory days of flipping cars right off the lot will never end. Too many miles and far too rough. (Where are the wheel dust caps? Uhhuh.) It looks to be a solid $15k example any day of the week though.

    1. The price for the TVR is excellent, but in general cars “imported through a now-closed loophole” have a history of actually being straight-up illegal and eventually getting crushed. Definitely a gamble.

      1. Yeah. There’s a lot of rose-tinted glasses where folks are buying them and going “this isn’t as cool as I was led to believe,” but I’ve seen the ones coming out of Japan and they are done. They might look extremely clean aesthetically, but that just means what made them fail Shaken is BEYOND severe. Like torn welds or a failing engine.

  13. Oooh, good batch.

    The TVR if I had the money and place to put it, no question.

    I have always wanted an Autozam. They just look so fun.

    That Honda is made of bad decisions.

    Unrelated, is there a way to sign in and go immediately back to the article? I keep getting shot to a landing page and have to renavigate to whatever I was reading.

  14. As always, I’d be sorely tempted by some of these if they were closer. I have no need for the Hormiga, except that look at that Hormiga! And I’d love that Autozam as a commuter car.
    Really, the only one I don’t want is the motorcycle, and only because that is far more bike than I need/want. It looks great.

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