Classic car prices have been through the roof in the past few decades…or perhaps inflation has been more aggressive than anyone could have imagined…but any way you look at it, a shiny and good looking mainstream classic will cost you a pretty penny. So if you are financially challenged, or just a tightwad, and you want a classic, you need to dig deep into obscure makes/models and find something like this next thing. Find this 1952 Morris Minor offered for $10,900 in Belchertown, MA via craigslist. Tip from ME.
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!
I’ve driven a vintage 60s sedan with manual drum brakes all the way around and I would have said it was terrifying to drive except that the single-barrel carb equipped inline-6 barely made enough horsepower to get you into mildly excited speeds, much less so to sphincter clenching speeds. But upgrading to dual-power brakes is easy, and swapping to Mustang spindles with disc brakes is a weekend project, and swapping in a mildly tuned V8 is just another few days, and soon you have a Super Sammy. Why do I feel like all of my automotive project planning ends with a car that needs wheelie bars? Anyway, maybe grandma’s car should stay stock. Find this 1965 Ford Falcon offered for $6,500 in Ft Lauderdale, FL via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
This next car might be right for you, if you’ve ever thought that you needed a car in your life that needs a bike lock to be used as an anti-theft device. Or maybe you enjoy the thrill of 25 miles-per-hour with your foot to the floor as you are passed by kids on powered electric bikes (those things are a menace on the sidewalks of beach communities these days!). But if you are in the market for a micro-car — it don’t get much cheaper than this. Find this 1987 Cushman Vanster offered for $800 in San Francisco, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
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.
I have strong memories of an 81/82 vintage Toyota Corolla and let me tell ya…they ain’t good memories. The car was owned/driven by a friend of mine and it was slow, an ugly shade of jaundice, handled like crap, and saddled with a recalcitrant slushbox. Did I mention it was slow? But here’s the thing…with the all other cars from that era, I remember having to find a payphone to call someone for a ride, or needing a quick fix on the side of the road, but that stupid Corolla just kept running and running. It is no surprise that Toyota sold 44 million Corollas from 1966 through 2016 because they figured out how to make a car that, although soulless, was reliable. Perhaps an injection of horsepower could make this thing fun, but then would you need to remove the custom clutch pedal extender? Find this 1982 Toyota Corolla offered for $6,350 in Philadelphia, PA via craigslist. Tips from ME and Cory.
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.
This next yellow thing comes from tipper JB1025 who writes; Toyota Corolla super low miles Cleaner then Skeeter’s Peter. Is it worth this money ? Hard to find this clean! I’ve answered this question before, but I’ll ask again; Why is it that the nicest preserved classics are always equipped with automatic transmissions? Because the […]
The basic designation “300” has been used by Mercedes-Benz over the years in a number of vehicles including some humble sedans (like the W115) all the way up to their W198 Gullwing equipped super sports car 300SL…so it might be confusing to people when they see a 300D compared to a 300SD, but make no mistake, this next car is part of the high-end W116 S-Class and should be given proper reverence and distance. Reverence because it is a sweet piece of machinery and distance because you might otherwise get a bad case of the black lung from the diesel exhaust. Find this 1980 Mercedes-Benz 300SD W116 offered for $6000 in Los Angeles Valley, CA via craigslist. Tip from Mike D.
Do you know what car on the road is slower than a vintage Rabbit diesel? Nothing. These things make the Benz 240D feel like a cruise missile…and I should know because I owned one a few years back. The non-assisted steering setup is surprisingly easy to turn — probably because the tires are borrowed from something with a banana seat — and feedback is communicative. Don’t worry about the fact that the car doesn’t have traction control, because even the most vigorous clutch dump in damp conditions results in smooth traction…trust me…I should know…because I owned one. To call the Rabbit diesel glacially slow is an insult to glaciers because they actually move — call it Washington Monument slow, because this Rabbit is probably in the exact same spot these pictures were taken despite the best intentions of a team of drivers…trust me…I should know. Despite all that…I still have fond memories of that pile of German metal..and get that narcotizing waft of nostalgia when I see this 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel offered for $5900 with 2 days to go, located in Lynwood, WA via eBay.