You’ve got two empty spaces in your garage, barn, dirt lot…whatever, and you need to fill it with two classics. Obviously one needs to be red and the other side green — an automotive salute to the little red/green sign you have on your table at an all-you-can eat churrascaria. You might not be able to eat either of these next four cars, but they all look like they’ve been barbequed over a charcoal fire for the past few decades. Which pair goes in your green field? The pair of Triumphs TR7/TR8 for $4k or the pair of NSU Prinz 40s for $1100CAD? NSUs are a tip from Erik.
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The Paul Bracq designed E23 generation BMW 7-series was released in 1977, right in the middle of the malaise era, but it was far from a floating slow boat that induced thoughts of suicide, particularly with a manual gearbox. Domestic cars might have offered luxury in the form of a vinyl top or total isolation from the road, but the German version of luxury involved a properly fast ride with a manual gearbox, taught suspension, and rear-wheel-drive. The only thing you couldn’t get in a late 70s/early 80s BMW was a beverage holder for your giant American big-gulp. Life is full of compromises, I guess. Find this 1985 BMW 735i E23 offered for $4500 in San Rafael, CA via craigslist.
The Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel is the slowest car you will ever drive. It will get you something near 50 mpg in fuel economy, but the 52 horsepower 1.6 liter diesel is such a gutless pile of scrap iron that you will have a hard time beating a UPS truck to 60mph. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from enjoying a driving experience that is as pure as they get — unassisted power steering and pizza cutter tires keep you completely informed of the road conditions. Find this 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel offered for $4,500 in Alameda, CA via craigslist.
I’m not a big fan of the whole finding cars in barns movement where people pay disproportionately large amounts of money to have the pleasure of pumping more money into restoring an old heap of parts…but sometimes you find a car that might be worth the cost of restoration because the asking price is so far below the going rate of decent version. The subject car might have been stored in the barn, but the reasons for ownership has less to do with the emotional aspects This next car fits into that paradigm, but will depend on the condition of the frame that sits under the fiberglass outer panels. Find this 1966 Chevrolet Corvette 427 4-Speed offered for $16,500 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.
I have to feel some empathy towards the seller of this next vehicle…because I’ve been there. He says that it “RUNS A LITTLE RICH CAUSING CHECK ENGINE LIGHT TO COME ON” which is not an uncommon experience with older vehicles (yes, this is a 30 year old car folks), but the part that pulls on my heartstrings is the next part “VOLVO EXPERT CHECKED OUT THREE TIMES AND CAN’T FIND ANYTHING WRONG.” This is rock bottom for the modern classic loving car guy. When you’ve got a problem, but you can’t fix it because you can’t figure out what’s wrong. It is the worst. The only logical conclusion is to sell the car and move on. Find this 1991 Volvo 240 Wagon offered for $3000 in New Cumberland, PA via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
This next car is a real unicorn and is probably the last chance to drive a manual gearbox wagon if you believe all the Voltswagon hype these days. Electric SUVs and dual-clutch-17 speed transmissions might be the future, but BMW sent the 5-series wagon off with a bang with the E61 generation (2003-2010). They put the twin turbocharged N54 inline-6 attached to a 6-speed manual and sold a car that was a few turbocharger upgrades away from being as fast as the European M5 wagon. The only thing they forgot to include was a set of rear facing jump seats. Find this 2010 BMW 535i XDrive offered for $11,000 in Dover, MA via craigslist.
The 1965-1967 Buick Special was an intermediate sized thing built on the body-on-frame platform known internally at GM as the A-body, shared with the Skylark, Chevelle, Cutlass, and LeMans. If you find one of these cool wagons with the raised roof with the vista windows, it is known as a SportWagon, but without the crazy glass roof panels it just a Special. Find this 1967 Buick Special Wagon offered for $18000 in Scottsbluff, NE via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
If you try and shove a giant V8 into a little car and find that the engine’s air cleaner doesn’t fit under the hood, you’ve got a few options. The cleanest look is to find an intake snorkus that allows you to run the stock hood, but you can also add a scoop or a cowl induction hood…or…you can bust out the sawzall and hack an opening in your hood. Find this 1963 MG MGB V8 offered for $8000 in Corning, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Sometimes I see a car and think “what am I going to say/write about this next car?” It can take some time to get properly motivated to say something funny, pithy, or not-funny. But this next car, I knew instantly. It had a face that was instantly recognizable. It’s not a Dodge, it’s a Doge, or possibly Bob the minion. Find this 1972 Jaguar SS100 Kit Car offered for $3000 in Santa Clara, CA vi craigslist.
There are a few things that we can debate about cars, but there are a few givens that are unarguable. First is that the manual gearbox is better than the automatic. Next is that the lap belt is cooler (but less safe) than the shoulder belt. And thirdly, is that 1965 is the best year for automobiles. Ever. No caveats, no jokes, just the basic fact that cars in 1965 were better than older cars from before that year, and every car since 1965 have been uglier and less cool. Anyway, this next car is undeniably cool, even if you can’t see the outside in one photo, but just check out those gauges — that speedo! HOT! Find this 1965 Ford Thunderbird offered for $6,500 in Vallejo, CA via craigslist.