The first car to wear the Oldsmobile 88 badge was a car introduced wayyyy back in 1949. It was a Olds Rocket 88 that was the car to beat in NASCAR back in the day…but by 1988 the 88 was on its ninth generation and lived on the front-drive H-body shared with the Buick LaSabre and Pontiac Bonneville. Something had to be done to save the 88 because the optional voice alert system wasn’t doing it…but the marketing geniuses at Oldsmobile at the perfect solution — change the name to the Eighty Eight. Sigh. At least today’s example is equipped with the sporty FE3 performance package. Find this 1989 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight offered for $3,200 in Lansdale, PA via craigslist.
This next car comes from a time when steel was cheap, gasoline was plentiful, and trucks were beasts. I’ve really been impressed with the way modern trucks drive on the road because there was a time when trucks (like this International) were uncomfortable, clunky, bumpy, and terrifying to drive. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting an old truck…because with all of that beefy mass comes ruggedness, easy repairs, off-road prowess, and go-anywhere fun that won’t be matched with a new car that you are afraid to scratch with a tree branch or bash with a boulder. Good luck changing the starter in a 2019 F-150 without some specialized tools and a free weekend, but you could swap the starter on a Scout with a cresent wrench in a muddy field on the way to work. Find this 1975 International Harvester Pickup offered for $6000 in Long Beach, CA via craigslist. Tip from MikeD.
The third generation “global” Ford Focus (2012-2018) is known for a few things — primarily it gets a bad rap for its dual-clutch automatic “powershift” transmission, which has dry clutches that judder and shudder like Elvis’ hips, and the 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine is known to cause fires when coolant isn’t circulating properly…but this next car will have neither of those problems because it has had an engine/transmission swap from a Focus ST hatchback. More power, more fun, less shudder, less fire. Win win. Find this 2013 Ford Focus ST offered for $16,500 in Mason, OH via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
They say you should never buy a car in the rain…(which is good advice because you can’t tell paint condition in the rain and the water noise masks potential issues on the test drive)…and this begs the question; should you buy a car with pictures taken during a wash? The answer is no, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking at that car in person and making an informed decision on the condition of a W115.. Personally I like the fact that this car has a 4-speed gearbox and I don’t mind the blingy wheels or the lowered suspension. Find this 1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D offered for $5,600 in Dublin, CA via craigslist.
The other day I witnessed a late model Crown Victoria driving down the road that was so low it grounded out on a small bump in the road — something that would have barely been noticed in a stock 65 Buick. And it got me thinking that the modern slammed stance stuff is strange…and then I remembered that there was a time when a modified car would have been jacked up and was probably equally annoying to drive…which takes us to this next beast which is a sweet ode to the stance of the 70s. Find this 1974 Ford Gran Torino Elite offered for $7000 in Thomaston, GA via craigslist. Tip from Jeff.
There is no hallowed ground in the world of automotive swaps, but there are some swaps that make you say “why?”. And this next one is a real head scratcher — not that putting an OM617 Mercedes diesel into a small pickup would make for a bad vehicle…it is just strange. It’s not like you are going to increase your towing capacity or beat the torque from a Magnum V8…but that flapper valve tipped exhaust stack certainly has some style. Find this 1989 Dodge Dakota diesel swap offered for $2000 in Cazenovia, NY via craigslist.
The convertible pickup might have seemed like a novel idea when the Dakota Sport was released in 1989…but then you start thinking about the horse drawn wagon…which was pretty much a convertible pickup since man first domesticated horse in the Bronze age, and then you think about the first mass produced vehicle..yup, the Ford Model T Runabout was a convertible pickup. So…yeah…nothing new is really ever new, just rebranded and adjusted for inflation. Find this 1989 Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible offered for $8,500 in Dallas, TX via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
The second generation Chevrolet Corvair (1965-1969) is one of the cheaper ways to get into a rear-engine aircooled classic with a flat-6 out back…but when people see them on the road they probably assume it is another V8 powered American car. So why not conform to their delusions with a little custom beast like this next car. Find this 1965 Chevrolet Corvair offered for $16,000 in Gloucester, MA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
This next car might look like something that Jim Rockford would have chased down the bad guys (with a paint color change, of course) and done some serious J-turns or Bandit would have evaded Buford T. Justice across scores of county lines…but with the base (Buick sourced) 231ci V6 mated to a 3-speed auto, this car would have a hard time chasing down a kid on a bicycle, much less evading some baddy with a Pontiac LeMans or a full sized Ford. Despite that…I can appreciate that someone looking to get into the classic car hobby with an affordable and approachable classic could do much worse. Find this 1980 Pontiac Firebird Esprit bidding for $3600 no-reserve in Tempe, AZ with less than 1 day to go on BringATrailer.
It wasn’t long ago that you could find a stock 240SX on your local craigslist for a few hundred bucks and turn it into your canyon carving drift monster..but several decades, hundreds of LS swaps, and thousands of wrecked telephone poles later, the stock 240SX is as rare as rocking horse manure. This next example isn’t in perfect shape, but it doesn’t look like it’s even been on the Hakone Turnpike or the Usui touge. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be the first to push the tail end out. Find this 1993 Nissan 240SX offered for $6950 in Ontario, CA via craigslist. Tip from Art.