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.
There are a few thoughts when it comes to armoring or protecting valuable assets — one is to lower the visibility of said asset, and the other is to armor it up. If an old dirty van filled with cash is the equivalent of a camouflaged sniper, then this bulletproof ATM is the Maginot Line. However, if you covered up the ATM signs, you could probably use this 6.0 PowerStroke diesel equipped beast as a sweet weekend/camping vehicle, and double as a zombie apocalypses survival vehicle too. Find this 2007 Ford E350 Van offered for $22,995 in Corona, CA via craigslist.
This next car comes as a tip from Cory who writes: This is the modern equivalent of the W123 and these W202 cars are all over Europe still to this day. Yup, the basic package of the W202 was rugged and durable, particularly when compared to the overly electronicated throw-away Daimler-Chrysler era cars. When the W202 becomes old enough to be collectable, expect oddball Euro imports like this one to demand a premium. Find this 1995 Mercedes-Benz 250C Diesel offered for $6999 buy-it-now in Columbus, OH via eBay.
This next Previa looks so familiar at first glance, but falls apart under scrutiny. What’s up with those headlights? Is that wing stock? Why is it so narrow and skinny? Why are the bumpers so trim and tight to the body? Why does it have a postal truck backup mirror and a bumper mounted parking pole? The engine starts with the glack-glack sound of a turbo diesel 4-cylinder? White curtains and seat cover doilies? But the steering wheel on the right side is what gives it away — this is a sweet Japanese Domestic Market version of the Previa, known as the Estima Lucida and it comes with Lexus rims, a 3C 2.2 liter turbo-diesel, 4-wheel-drive and a manual gearbox. Looks like fun. Find this 1993 Toyota Estima Lucida offered for $13,890 in Canton, GA via eBay.
This next car came in as a tip from BP who reminded me that Hemmings had gotten into the auction business a few years ago to compete with all the online auctioning that is springing up around web. Hemmings had been a big name in classic cars for longer than most people can remember, but it wasn’t until 2019 that they launched an auction service…and truth be sold, I almost never go look at it unless someone sends me the link. But a site that is flush with car sellers and light on buyers is a recipe for a good deal (and the opposite of certain other sites where people seem to think the local currency is Brazilian Reals) and I think this next thing might go for a reasonable amount of money. Find this 1997 Ford F350 XLT Crew Cab with Power Stroke diesel bidding for $2000 reserve-not-met with 6 days to go on Hemmings.com.
In Episode 2 of Season 9, the guys at Roadkill take a Ford Torino Wagon that is powered by a gigantic Cummins 6BT inline-6 under the hood… well… actually, it doesn’t have a hood. Anyway, the guys at Roadkill didn’t build it, but they did drag race it against another Cummins swapped classic American body-on-frame thing. You can find the episode on streaming on the Motortrend App, or you can watch this low-res bootleg version before it gets taken down. Anyway, that same Torino is now offered with the Cummins diesel and offered for sale. Find this 1972 Ford Torino Wagon offered for $9000 in La Habra, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
I’m very familiar with this next car…well not exactly this car, but the W123 240D/300D chassis in general. I’ve owned and driven quite a few of these old oil burners and I can say with some degree of certainty that they are not reliable like a 2005 Honda that’ll just chug down the miles, but they are rugged like a tank. There will always be something wrong with the car (probably related to the vacuum system that controls the door locks and other ancillary features, like shutting down the engine when you key off) but it won’t stop you from reaching your destination. I once had a 300D that experienced what can only be described as total electrical failure – no lights, no horn, no gauges, but the engine kept running and the wheel steered the car, so I drove home before it got too dark. Anyway, enough reminiscing, on to the subject car — what is that color? Wet cardboard? Duchess Kate’s hair? Any thoughts Kaibeezy? Find this 1980 Mercedes-Benz 240D diesel offered for $2950 in Sacramento, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Ford’s legendary F-series pickup has been available with a diesel for many years, but it has usually been an International, and lately, a Ford diesel engine. Ford even put a Perkins diesel in some cars sold in Argentina, but as far as I know Ford never put a Cummins diesel in their light duty pickup (although you could get a Cummins 6.7 liter in an F650/750 from 2010-2015..but that isn’t exactly light duty). However, just because the Ford factory never put a Cummins in an F250 doesn’t mean you can’t buy one, because just about every engine swap possible has been done or is in the works. Personally, I’m waiting until someone swaps a 2-stroke 3-cylinder Saab engine into a Tesla…but until that time you can own a Cummins 6BT 12-valve swapped F250 known as the Fummins. Find this 1984 Ford F250 Cummins Power with “manuel transmission” offered for $7500 in San Rafael, CA via craigslist.
Back before Volkswagen got in massive trouble for their diesel emissions cheating scheme, VW sold diesel powered Golf and Jettas that only cheated their owners out of performance. I’ve never owned a Mk 1 Jetta, but I did have a Rabbit diesel with the same 1.6 liter diesel lump of scrap iron and it was slow. Mind-numbingly slow. But the advantage of having an engine with the BMEP of a balloon animal is that the engine will last forever, or at least past 421k miles like this next thing. Find this 1984 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel offered for $2500 in Salem, MA via craigslist. Tip from ME.
This next car is an interesting piece of technology — it came from the factory with a M57Y twin-turbo diesel engine that pushed 265 horsepower and 425 ft-lbs of torque through a SCR system and who knowns what kind of diesel particulate filter. The result was a clean diesel that pulled like a truck, but todays example has had all of that backpressure increasing stuff removed and pushes over 300 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs of coal rolling black death into the air. Find this 2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d offered for $6600 in Rutland, VT via craigslist. Tip from Cory.