The second generation Chevrolet Bel Air (1955-1957) is so recognizable that it deserves its own spot on the Mount Rushmore of the automotive world. It reminds us of a time when Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were in their prime and most American families could afford a car to take advantage of the newly constructed interstate highway system. When I see this next car, I just want to take off with the family for places unknown…no navigation, no waze, no cellphones…just a car, a map, and time. Find this 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air offered for $8,500 in Monterey, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
The first generation Mazda MX-5 Miata (internal code NA) was launched in 1989 and sold a staggering 400,000 units through 1997. It was a surprise hit given its Skunk-Works style genesis and everyone from Mazda’s product planners to all the out of work former MG, Triumph, Fiat, and Alfa-Romeo employees were shocked that a cheap, reliable, fun, sports car could sell so well. Anyway, the good news for automotive vultures of the world (that’s us) is that Mazda sold so many that the market is flooded with cheap used examples and you get get them cheaper in bulk. Find these two 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miatas offered for $2,650 (both!) in Morgan Hill, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
The Oldsmobile brand was put to pasture after the 2004 model year, but the writing was on the wall when the personal luxury coupe Toronado was canceled in 1992. It wasn’t a huge surprise because the Toronado had been downsized from a V8 body-on-frame beast to a V6 unibody thing in 1986…but the Troféo version of the Toronado was unusually cool — it had funky hidden headlights, a sporty FE3 suspension, faux dual-exhaust, and a badass shifter that looks like a massive high voltage mechanical breaker switch that you’d use to light up a Christmas tree in Times Square or electrocute a condemned criminal…if you were into that kinda thing. Find this 1988 Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo bidding for $2400 in Sherwood, OR via eBay.
This next car is offered at a price that is typically reserved for wrecked or rusted cars…and it appears to be neither. The seller admits that the driver’s seat needs fixin, and the window handle (yes…this means it has manual windows – score!) is broken…but then admits that part of the reason the price is so low is because it won’t turn off when you turn the ignition/key off. You need to dump the clutch and hold your foot on the brake — and I know a thing-or-two about this problem because I had a W123 with the same vacuum related issue that causes the mechanical fuel shut-off valve to stop working. It won’t stop you from getting the car home and it could be as simple as replacing a few dried vacuum hoses…but with new tires/brakes/rotors/steering column/starter…this thing had its value in maintenance in recent times. Seems like a great first car for a kid or 17th car for CFlo. Find this 1981 Mercedes-Benz 240D offered for $2000 in Napa County, CA via craigslist.
I love a good challenge as much as the next guy…and I do enjoy assembling an occasional jigsaw puzzle with my kids…but this “Land Rover” is the jigsaw puzzle equivalent of taking 16 different 1000 piece-puzzles, mixing the pieces together, throw half of the pieces away, and stuff the remaining pieces inside of a raw turkey before baking to a crispy 165 degree internal temperature and then attempt to assembled the puzzle on a windy Thanksgiving afternoon wearing a blindfold and being pestered by a chimpanzee driving a skid-steer. However, I can’t think of a better way to spend 5 grand. I think I could rent a chimp and a skid-steer for that much. Find this 1973 Land Rover Series III offered for $5000 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist.
Back in 2009, the guys at MotorTrend called the Porsche Panamera a big, fast, and comfortable; a genuine four passenger Gran Turismo capable of loafing across continents in giant 130 mph bounds, leaving you relaxed and refreshed at the end of the day at the wheel. But that what you would expect from a $90,000 German Luxury sedan with a 4.8 liter direct injected V8 pushing out 400 horsepower into a 7-speed PDK dual clutch flappy paddle thing. Zero to 60 in 5ish seconds…and all the way to 177 miles-per-hour top speed is impressive until you see the REALLY impressive statistic…$70k in 10 years. Now that’s what I call unintended accelerated depreciation. Find this 2010 Porsche Panamera S offered for $21,980 via CarGurus.com. Tip from Jeff.
This next feature comes as a seller submission from Bill who told us that it is time to sell his “beloved Frankenstein.” He also describes it as a “1972 Porsche 914 with a small block Chevy wedged behind the seats…embarrassingly wide Carol Shelby Anaconda wheels, polarizing hand-laid fiberglass flares, Singer-esq interior.” The exterior is a bit rough, but the interior is better executed than expected and the wheels (Carrol Shelby Anaconda) have a nice vintage racer Minilite look to them. Find this 1972 Porsche 914 V8 offered for $7,200 buy-it-now or make-offer in Los Angeles, CA via eBay.
It really doesn’t matter that the Kelmark GT started life as a Beetle floorpan based kit car…and that it used a Ford Pinto windshield or that the side windows are inverted Chevy Impala rear windows. What matters is that the Volkswagen aircooled versions of the Kelmark GT were slow and made that characteristic Beetle putt-putt noise…yuck. But when equipped with a watercooled Chevrolet V8 mounted in the middle, the Kelmark was easily equal in performance to the legendary Ferrari 206/246 Dino that it was trying to copy. Find this 1978 Kelmark GT offered for $17,500 in Sonora, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
It might not seem believable, but driving a cheap used BMW M3 is not actually that expensive. Trust me, I’ve owned a few over the years and I still have both of my kidneys and all of my livers. The most expensive part of M3 ownership is depreciation and if you avoid that…then you’ll find that the regular 3-series bits (door handles, light bulbs, coolant caps) are cheap and the ///M specific stuff (hefty limited slip diffs, 8000+rpm V8s) are over-engineered. Yes, wear items are expensive (brakes, tires, bumper lips, con rod bushings), but not Ferrari expensive and you can do most of the maintenance yourself with a basic set of tools and a set of plastic ramps. But don’t believe me, buy one yourself and then report back here in a few months. Find this 2008 BMW M3 offered for $24,000 CAD ($18,320 USD) in Hinton, Alberta, Canada via Kijiji.net. Tip from Erik202.
I’m not sure exactly what it would cost to build a vehicle that would be competitive at a official SCORE (So Cal Off Road Enthusiasts) Class 5/1600 race event…but I have to assume it’d be a lot more than the asking price on this next vehicle. But that is the way the chip crumbles in used racing vehicles, and the builder’s loss is the buyer’s gain. This Baja Bug is only an awesome racing paint job (flames? numbers? stickers? — yes, yes, yes) away from getting you evicted from your condo association. Find this 1969 Volkswagen Beetle offered for $10,000 in Albuquerque, NM via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.