Back in the 1990s, if you wanted respect on the wild streets of Mira Mesa (a sleepy little suburban hamlet just North of NAS Miramar, which was the original home of Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School) you needed to take whatever base boat anchor engine was in your Civic/Accord/Whatever and drop in something with […]
The Triumph Spitfire was a small 2 seat convertible manufactured by the boys in the West Midlands from 1962 to 1980. It was a light, simple, low-power, little roadster that preferred winding roads to drag strips…but it wasn’t known for long term reliability. Enter the Mazda Miata — it took up where the MG and the Spitfire left off — open air motoring with durability and reliability. So what’s a British car enthusiast to do? Do you give in to the siren song of the MX-5 or do you shove all of those highly refined parts under the skin of a some old British piece and hope that rust doesn’t ruin your restomod dreams? Find this 1975 Triumph Spitfire with MX-5 power offered for $9,950 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist.
I owned and drove an SVO Mustang a few years ago and it was an interesting car, but too heavy to really enjoy the 4-cylinder turbo under the hood properly. Sure, it made as much horsepower as the V8 version, but it was lacking in torque before the Garrett turbocharger found its breath above 3000 rpm. So it probably would be fun in a classic lightweight 2-seat roadster like this next thing. Find this 1968 Datsun Roadster offered for $17,900 in Springfield, MO via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Tipper Cory sent this next car in with the following spring of seemingly nonsensical drivel; turbo ft swapped compact aqua colored mazda truck frame off restoration. I did a double take…because I’m pretty hip when it comes to model designations but this sounded more like the title of a Tom Wolfe novel than a description of a car on craigslist. So, let’s break it down. Turbo — yes this has a Garrett T3 turbo; ft swapped — which means this is a 2.2 liter turbo 12-valve SOHC F2T Mazda inline-4 that was only available in transverse front-engine MX-6/Ford Probe but bolts up easily to the B2200 that used the FE version; compact aqua colored mazda truck frame off resto — the rest now makes sense. Find this 1993 Mazda B2200 offered for $12,500 in Belmont, MA via craigslist.
There are two types of V8 swapped Jaguars out there roaming around the streets. The first is the carburetor fed Chebby 350 powered versions — these are built by sellers who are sick of paying crazy Jag V12 maintenance costs and can be fun. The second type of swap is the paradigm presented by KWE Cars, which is where you upgrade and make the entire package better with technology and a steady stream of cash. The sell claims $40k to convert it and if that is true, then paying less than $15k is a smokin deal. Find this 1989 Jaguar XJS V8 Swap offered for $14,500 in Wickenburg, AZ via craigslist.
After a 20 year hiatus from the Chrysler lineup, the Charger name was brought back to Dodge on a vehicle that had more in common with the previous generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class than it did with anything from the Dodge stable — 2006 was, after all, at the height of the unholy Daimler Chrysler alliance. Power might have come from an American HEMI V8, but the transmission options were limited to various slushbox autos from the Mercedes-Benz supply chain and if you wanted to row your own with a HEMI, you needed to downsize to a Challenger. However, todays next car has a 6-speed Tremec and 6.1 liter HEMI V8 from an 09 Challenger shoved into the 4-door Charger body, so you’ll have the only manual transmission Charger on your block. Find this 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 offered for $13,000 in Queens, NY via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
If you take the one major thing that makes the Cosworth Vega an interesting and unique car (namely, that Cosworth Twin-Cam alloy inline-4) and replace it with an engine that is in every conceivable way an upgrade, (except for originality) is that a good idea? Wait a moment. I feel like I’ve asked this question before…no not about the sundry V8 Vega customs we’ve featured, but I’m getting a sense of déjà vega here…yes…we’ve featured this exact car in July of 2018. Today’s asking price is less, but the car looks more sorted — it has a factory style airbox now instead of the drone-tube from before and a set of pink floormats. Find this 1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega EcoTech offered for $9,999 outside of Raleigh, NC via craigslist. Tip from Rock On (again!)!
Most of the modified/custom cars out on the street are poorly built piles of Pep Boys junk, but this next car is an example of when a car enthusiast takes the original OEM design and improves it with a few subtle alterations taken from other models from the same OEM. I call this OEM+. A manual gearbox wasn’t available in the USDM E38 7-series, the last 7 with a stick was the E32 735i. The central element of this custom is the 6-speed manual from an M5 mated to a limited slip diff, but the builder focused on the interior with a slick M5 gauge cluster install and an OEM style radio nav system. It is shockingly well done. Find this 2001 BMW 740iL 6-Speed offered for $7,995 in Wareham, MA via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
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.
This next car comes as a tip from Kester who writes: Why do I like this so much? Is it because it’s so wrong and makes no sense whatsoever? I even struggled to send this in, though I know if I bought it, my wife would have me sleeping in it for the next month (and I don’t think the seats recline far enough…) She banished me to the garage once after buying a rusty old 914, but promised to never do it again as apparently I enjoyed it too much. The answer is easy — you like the idea of a reliable MGB GT with Mazda power and the patina of a WWII era battleship for next to nothing. Find this 1970 MG B GT offered for $5000 in Boone, IA via craigslist.