Donated Econobox: 1988 Nissan Stanza Wagon

The seller states this 1988 Nissan Stanza is being donated to "showyoucarecharity". The seller name is also "showyoucare", but they don't have an ebay-sanctioned charity clause in their listing, so I would question exactly how they are processing the vehicle and what percentage goes to an actual charitable cause (not to mention exactly what is the charity "show you care", care about what?).

The Stanza was a Nissan nameplate used from 1977-1992.

This is a T12 series, made from '86-'90.

Styling-wise we have a typical mid-'80s Japanese econobox, which means a compact body and hyper-efficient and frugal boxy design. Greenhouse glass appears larger than the body, for excellent all-around visibility. Backing up is no issue in these.

It looks good in this coffee brown paint. The purple tinted windows add an odd, cheap-o charm that I would strongly dislike on any other vehicle, but feels appropriate here.

The seller says it is a one-owner vehicle that was passed from parents to daughter before being donated. The seller says they have driven it and it runs fine, including working a/c. They also say the 83,821 miles are original, making this a survivor. They say it has no rust, leaks or signs of body damage. They do note the passenger side mirror glass is missing, a minor fix.

Inside we have a equally boxy and angular interior bathed in tan plastic. All you get is manual a/c adjustment, radio and steering wheel.

It's also nice this is a 5-speed manual transmission for a little more driver participation. It's mated to a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine.

Gas mileage is probably excellent.

Snatch this for cheap and you can have a vintage Nissan for many more miles.

Find it here on ebay for sale in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mirror Image: 2011 Opel Insignia

I usually don't post cars this new, but this warrants attention and is likely just 1/1 in the U.S. right now (and probably will be for the next 24 years).

It's a 2011 Opel Insignia.

If it looks familiar, that's because General Motors is currently selling it as a fifth generation Buick Regal in the U.S.

Opel is GM's European division and is based in Germany. They are not sold here anymore, but some Opel cars were imported to North America in the past, like the '68-'73 Opel GT.

The Insignia is a front-engine, front-wheel drive family sedan developed and sold from 2008 to the present. GM then decided to sell it as a Buick under the regal nameplate in the U.S. from 2009 onwards.

This isn't the first time an Opel was used as a basis for a GM brand car. The Cadillac Catera and Saturn Aura were both based on Opel platforms, just to name a few.

Since the U.S. government only allows cars 25 years or older to be imported, the presence of this 2011 Opel right here in the States is peculiar to say the least.

The seller explains it was imported from Germany and that the title has been converted and can be registered in all states without issue. They don't say how this is legal, but if it has a clear U.S. state title, it could be ready to register as your own. Why anyone would take the time to import a car so similar to another car here is anybody's guess.

The advantages of owning this over a comparable 2011 Regal are few but still noteworthy. Rarity is obviously a major factor. Also, the Regal is a heavier - but only by about 13 lbs. more than this Insignia because of added strength to the b-pillar to meet U.S. rollover safety regulations. 13 lbs. isn't much but any alleviated weight is welcome to help make a car move faster.

The seller says it has desirable Opel traits of suspension and lighting, but does not elaborate. Just from looking at the pictures I do notice the headlights are different from the U.S. Regal, so they are probably advanced units not legal here yet, unfortunately.

Since a 2011 Regal retailed for $26k-$28k, the seller's asking price of $23,200 could be considered a fair deal. The car is like-new with only 3,250 miles, is extremely rare, and has upgrades over the U.S.-spec Regal. Let me put it this way: if you like the Regal, you'll probably love the Insignia.

Just be sure to get the whole story on importation. It wouldn't surprise me if the seller was or still is a government employee who got it through a loophole.

Find it here on ebay in Bridgeview, Illinois.

Turbo Transplant: 1990 Porsche 911 AWD Turbo

It can't be easy modifying a Porsche. Nevermind the immense cost. Just making sure it looks, feels and performs right is where the battle is. The shape is already so classic, changing it just the slightest bit can throw the whole thing off.

This seller is offering an extremely interesting modification that looks to pass muster.

According to them, the previous owner was a wealthy doctor with deep pockets who spent $50,000 putting a 1991 3.3-litre turbocharged engine into this 964 body Carrera 4, complete with whale tail rear wing and composite fenders.

I love the results, cosmetically and mechanically.

The current seller claims he was told the transplant has now boosted power to an astonishing 425 horses. The 964 was already an athletic performer. With these upgrades, it's got to be a rocketship. The wide tires, all-wheel drive, and massive rear spoiler must keep it glued to the pavement like nothing else.

The performance stats wouldn't be so sweet if the body wasn't done well.

Fortunately the mods exhibit restraint and good taste. The 1990-94 964 body is my favorite 911 of all time. It still retains the classic shape and spirit, but without the ugly bumpers and black plastic of the '70s and '80s models, and before the 993 body which tweaked things a little too much.

The dark metallic green over sand interior is a classic '90s color scheme that is different but appealing.

The spoiler is pitch-perfect and jives beautifully with the rest of the body, even mimicking the slope of the lower seam line before the rear wheels. Porsche spoilers can get ridiculous and ruin the profile, but this one is just the right look and size.

Even the slightly tinted windows are ok.

The aftermarket wheels also surprisingly work well. They retain a Porsche emblem in the center, and are simple and sporty enough to be noticeable but never distracting.

The seller states the odometer clocks in at about 141k miles, but the engine transplant only has about 70k on it. I wouldn't be intimidated by the relatively high miles. The more a Porsche is driven, the better, especially if it has been cared for. The seller backs that up to by saying that there are receipts to prove regular maintenance over the years, including a recent cylinder compression test with results coming in at 125. The receipts are key and make this more and more seem like a really right piece.

The seller has bidding starting at $20,000 and a buy it now of $29,995. Given that real 911 Turbo prices are sky high and will continue to rise, that could be a good deal, but it's still a lot of money. This build was a good concept and seemingly executed very well. If it can be proven the car was well-maintained and it is ready to go again, this is going to make the next owner very happy. Rear-engine, all-wheel drive, turbocharged doesn't get much better.

Find it here on ebay in Phoenix, Arizona.

Decommissioned Cab: 1979 Checker Marathon Taxi

Watch any movie from the '60s, '70s and '80s set in one of America's major cities and chances are you'll see a classic Checker Marathon taxi cab being used.

The Checker Marathon was THE taxi cab on the mean streets of New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and many other cities for a good chunk of the late 20th century period.

I love these things.

Checker Motors Corp. was an auto manufacturer based in Kalamazoo, Michigan from 1922 to 2010.

The Marathon was their range of full-size, rear-wheel drive sedans and wagons produced from 1961 to 1982, which is quite a long time. It went largely unchanged for years, except for government mandated bumpers added in 1974 and various engine refinements.

The styling must have been considered already dated for a 1961 debut. The car looks more like it's from 1955, but that's part of the charm and perhaps a key to its longevity. Was it the first intentionally retro-styled car? I'm not sure, but the designers definitely crafted a memorable instant classic.

This 1979 example was produced toward the end of its run. The Marathon came with either a 6 or 8-cylinder engine. The seller doesn't state which engine this has, but it looks like an inline 6-cylinder from the pictures. By '79, the I6 produced between 110-155 horsepower, depending on the number of carbs. That's not a lot of power, especially for a large and heavy vehicle. But these weren't supposed to be racecars, so power is beside the point.

The seller is located in Illinois so this thing probably prowled the streets of Chicago for years before ending up on ebay now. The patina is incredible. It's a good thing rust is red-brown, because it blends perfectly with the bright taxi yellow body paint. The roof looks scorched from sun and rain.

The seller states the odometer displays 26,360 miles and doubtless turned over given how much these were driven. They do say the engine runs and drives, which is great news. However, they say the speedometer isn't working correctly, steering feels hard, and door handles are missing.

Cosmetically, there are also a number of issues. Rust is just the least of the problem. The seller says there appears to be several previous attempts at painting and repairing the body.

Inside, they say the headliner is sagging, door panels are coming off, the floor is rotted and the seats are slashed.

In short, this Checker Marathon has seen some wild times.

Can you imagine all of the crazy passengers and incidents that happened in this thing?

This has been run on ebay dozens of times over the past few months and I've been dying to spotlight it here. It's back again this week, but with only a couple days left. The seller must have a certain figure they want for it. Current bidding is at $1,175. They may have a point. The Hemmings CPI Value Guide places the value of a 1973-82 Checker Marathon at $2,400-$11,500, with a 3% increase in prices. The value of these are rising, and they are definitely a collector car. Although many were made over many years, most used as cabs were junked, for obvious reasons as newer cars replaced them and the old ones were usually beat. Finding any Checker Cab is seeming like a hard thing. That makes this one, despite the poor condition, still a good find. I kind of like the condition, too, it's perfecting fitting their gritty utilitarian usage.

Actually owning one could go either way. The car begs for a full restoration to glory, or could be a vintage piece to just let sit, as-is, and imagine all of the loony antics, rainy late nights and long kisses goodbye this car must have witnessed.

Find it here on ebay.

Mid-Engine in Maine: 1976 Lancia Scorpion

The Lancia Scorpion was called the Montecarlo for the rest of the world. It was a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car that was made from 1975 to 1982, during what I like to call the Disco/New Wave Era.

Movie buffs may remember the Scorpion as Giselle, a "luscious little Lancia" which was the object of Herbie the Love Bug's affection in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977).

Apparently, only 1,801 were called "Scorpion" and made for the U.S. market. I had no idea it was so few.

That makes this a very rare car. Who knows how few could be left. Probably only a couple hundred by now, and even less in use.

Unfortunately, the U.S.-spec car wasn't all that it could be.

The Scorpion was only sold in the U.S. for two years, from 1976 to 1977, at the height of the Carter Malaise Era regulation strangulation. As such, a number of changes had to be made to sell the car here. The engine was decreased in size from 1995cc to 1756cc, and when combined with added smog equipment, resulted in just a pathetic 81 horsepower, down from 120hp the Euro-spec Montecarlo produced.

Cosmetically the vehicle also had to be altered. Handsome rhomboid single-unit Euro lamps were replaced with foolish small semi-pop-up lights that were doubtless inferior for night vision. The front and rear bumpers were made larger to pass crash tests. The rear buttresses were made solid, instead of glass.

The results were not appreciated. Road & Track said there was "little joy listening to the wheeze of an emission equipment-stifled 4-banger".

All that said, they sure do look pretty, thanks to Pininfarina's talented design house, who were almost at the peak of their powers during that time. It has an aggressive forward leaning stance, long flat hood, squared off corners, sloped back and handsome rear taillight arrangement. It's a tiny car but the proportions and shape are respectable and cool looking.

The Scorpion was a classic case of all-show, no-go.

This '76 model is up for sale in Maine, of all places. The seller states it runs and drives fine but needs a restoration, and they don't have the time to give it the attention it probably needs. They give little other info. One of the most important questions will be about rust. As in, does it have any. Lancia Scorpions have a horrible predilection for rust, like a lot of other Italian cars of the '60s, '70s, and '80s. This one currently being located in cold, wet coastal Maine, it could be a bona fide rust bucket. Maybe that's the "restoration" the seller refers to it needing. If so, it could be a deal-breaker. The car is not terribly impressive to start with, so a complete restoration with rust repair isn't going to feel good and worthwhile after it's finished not to mention being very expensive. I would insist on inspecting it in person and have it hoisted above to see the underside completely. If you find any rust, you'll have the ball in your court in terms of pricing.

The seller's photos are small and they have no pictures of the interior, which is irritating but not unusual for craigslist. I did however note two possible damage areas:

If there is no rust or irreversible damage, this thing would be fun as an inexpensive acquisition to bomb around locally on twisty roads. I'm sure it handles well, but with only 80hp highway traveling isn't going to be fun. It also would be extremely costly and time consuming to convert to Euro-standards, but that could still be an option for those with deep pockets and a special passion for this car.

Find it here on craigslist in Norway, Maine for $2,500. The seller wishes interested parties leave their names and phone numbers so the seller can call potential buyers. I say, try bagging it for $1,000 or less.

Sleek: 43k-mile 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde 3.0

The Alfa Romeo Milano was a front-engine, rear-wheel drive mid-size sedan produced from 1985-1992.

It was only known as the "Milano" in North America. Outside the U.S., it was called the "75" (probably due to the misguided marketing philosophy that thought Americans don't like numerical-based car names, completely disproved by the immensely popular BMW 3-series and various Mercedes over the years).

This is an '88 Verde 3.0.

The introduction of the 3.0 6-cylinder engine in 1987 was a big step forward for the Milano, finally giving it the power needed to stand out in a crowded field of European rear-wheel drive sedans of the late '80s and early '90s.

This example looks gorgeous in glossy black over black cloth interior. The body was not penned by Pininfarina but by in-house designer Ermanno Cressoni and it's still arresting, all hard angles and lines. These had excessive black plastic per European cars of the '80s, including an intriguing plastic cowl line that ran the length of the body above the door handles and around the back into a small spoiler, but it's all well-hidden with black paint.

The alloys are also quite nice.


Inside we are treated to an equally stark and angular interior with a factory three-spoke pre-airbag steering wheel. Though not as artful as the Alfa 164, it's still good looking and highly functional. Note what appears to be a double-bar lever hand brake around the armrest. Must be fun to slam that down!

The seller states this vehicle has only 43,743 miles and it shows. The exterior looks excellent with no major damage or even blemishes. Inside I do see either some stains or tears on the passenger side seat, which is unfortunate but not a deal breaker. Mechanically, the seller states it has been serviced, with new brakes and an ABS accumulator. They provide no explanation or history about the unusually low miles, but seem to have it ready for the next owner. I would ask for maintenance history and check the vehicle for rust, as Alfa Romeo are known for it.

This Milano could be a better deal than finding a clean 164, which was a bigger car but had front-wheel drive. With 6-cylinder power, a 5-speed manual transmission and low miles, this could be a great find for vintage Alfa enthusiasts or lovers of boxy '80s cars. The seller states just 883 were imported to the U.S. I'm not sure if that's a total number or just for 1988, but it's not a lot, and you can bet there are only a fraction left as they have no inherent value and were usually just junked when they got older. Many others sit dilapidated.

Find it here on craigslist in Boston, MA. The seller is asking $5,999 but say "no reasonable offer will be refused", another plus.

Short Box Driver: 1958 Chevrolet Apache Pickup Truck

I think the Apache is my favorite of all classic American pickup trucks.

It has the look down to perfection: quad round headlamps, white front fascia and bumpers, flare-side bed. There is a feeling this gives that no other type of vehicle else can come close to replicating.

The seller states the body needs work, obviously. The paint is fair to poor, but I like the patina. The dull blue is low-key and nicely vintage feeling, and the wear is in all the right spots, enhancing the ruggedness. What I don't like is the rust, and fortunately the seller is honest and up front about it. He states there is rust on the cab corners, floors, fenders and eyebrows.

Just from looking at the pictures I can see a large hole at one corner:

Usually rust is a deal-breaker, but I'm not sure it matters too much on this, depending on what you do with it. The seller also states the 235 inline 6-cylinder is in running order, as are all major lights and gauges except the temperature. They say the glass is good except for one crack, and that a few new things like brake lines and shocks have been added. The seller says it could be driven home. So this could easily be used as an everyday work driver, which I like, and which you can't say about many of these.

The interior looks better, and possibly original, especially the dash, which is clean and simple. The seller says they added new seat covers and they don't look half bad.

These things are usually either field fixtures or pricey showcase pieces, so it's rare and somewhat comforting to find a beat-up runner that could continue to be a useful hauler for someone. I love old, un-restored runners because they can be enjoyed right away, then restored later, or just driven into the ground for maximum usage. Either scenario would be acceptable and in the proper spirit of this.

Find it here on ebay in Minnesota with no bids, $200.00 starting price, and a $4,100 buy it now.

60 Miles Per Gallon: 1999 Volkswagen Polo Wagon SDI

This car has a lot going for it.

It was never sold in the U.S., has relatively low miles and gets terrific gas mileage according to the seller.

It's a '99 Volkswagen Polo Wagon SDI.

SDI stood for Suction Diesel Injection (versus today's TDI - Turbocharged Direct Injection) and was Volkswagen's trademark range of diesel engines. They are legendary, revered and admired by consumers for their durability, frugality and longevity.

The Polo nameplate was never sold here in the U.S. Like a lot of European automakers, Volkswagen made dozens of cars that were never offered in the U.S., including the Polo. It was to our detriment. The Polo was a subcompact and supermini range of vehicles that were just as good as the Golf and Jetta we got here.

This is a Mark III Polo, which was produced from 1994 to 1999. It features Volkswagen's typical conservative and simplistic styling, which has aged very well and is now refreshing and almost classic given how awry car design has gone today.

How did this get in the United States then?

The seller explains it was owned by the U.S. government for use at an Air Force base in Greenland, and was then imported here. It was then purchased by the previous owner at a U.S. Surplus auction. It is now in the hands of a dealer. The dealer/seller says it is fully legal and has all EPA and DOT documents. They say it came with an Ohio title, which is a good sign, because an established title should be transferable to any state.

A similar vehicle and story was also on ebay a month or two ago. It was a Opel diesel wagon that the government used in Greenland that eventually made its way here and was acquired at a surplus sale. One of my favorite car blogs, Just A Car Geek, spotlighted the vehicle here.

This is also the same seller that advertised a Volvo I spotlighted back here. They are based in Staten Island, New York and seem have unusual and low mileage European cars. I like their listings too because they give a lot of information and have a ton of high-resolution photos. If only every seller could be as thorough.

However this car came to be here, it's a pretty cool item. Since the U.S. government exempts itself from its own laws and can apparently import cars newer than 25 years old (resident citizens can only import cars 25 years and older), this could very well be 1 of 1 in the U.S., increasing the novelty factor and overall value.

On top of that, you are treated to extreme frugality and practicality, assets in a vehicle anytime, but especially in a chaotic era like now. The seller says the 1.9-litre SDI engine will get you at least 60mpg, which is a pretty big claim. Combined with the 5-speed manual transmission and bare-bones package, I believe it. The car has manual windows, manual door locks, cloth seats and a tape player. It's a small metal and plastic bucket. In your face, Prius! It's truly remarkable how many of yesterday's cars already solved the fuel-efficiency problem, without being pretentious, overpriced and counter-intuitive.

With only 32,742 on the odometer, this thing is just getting broken in, especially for a diesel engine, which typically see 300,000-400,000 miles before a rebuild. 

Find it here on ebay with a buy it now price of $11,400. Not a bargain, but not outrageous either, and perhaps it's negotiable. Let me put it this way: there are no other new diesel wagons for sale at that price. The closest vehicle would be a 2012 Jetta Sportwagen TDI which starts at $25,540. For less than half that price, you get an arguably better car that gets better gas mileage.

Track Cred: 1974 Chevron B27 Formula II B27-74-10

Here's something you don't see everyday.

A 1974 Formula race car up for sale. Not a replica, tribute or clone. The authentic, genuine article.

The seller's description is brief but they state the car is an original racing car from the '70s, driven by people like David Purley and Bobby Brown.

They say it has been preserved and has extensive known history, including the original shop manual.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the seller states that a new 4-cylinder Cosworth YBM engine and Hewland F400 transmission have been added. I think a 'Cosworth YBM' engine is a derivative of the Ford Sierra Cosworth racing engine specifically made for formula cars. While perhaps slightly disappointing the original racing engine is gone, it might have been toast by the time this hit the shed and the new engine is in keeping with the clean exterior. In addition, the new engine looks immaculate.

Inside we have a beautifully simple and basic interior, complete with worn foam steering wheel, analogue gauges and a manual stick shift right near by.

After some searching, I found more information, including a prior listing for a similar or possibly the same vehicle here, where it was listed for $47,500 in New York. They stated it was driven competitively by David Purley for wealthy Hong Kong businessman John Harper during the European F2 season and finished as high as 2nd at Pau and Rouen. Apparently only 16 were built. This one was acquired by a dealer, brought over as a rolling chassis and restored, which explains the color and number changes from these original racing photos.

If these are the same cars, that would make this one a restored piece, not all-original. Still, you rarely see this, and for vintage formula enthusiasts this is something to check out. The restoration is clearly a professional job. The yellow color was kept along with the sponsor decals below the cockpit, give or take a few. The gold cross-spoke wheels are very cool and keep with the vintage racing vibe.

I have no idea how to place this value-wise. It's something that is worth as much as you love old formula cars. While it wasn't raced here in the U.S., it was a low-production car that apparently did hit the lanes in Europe. The seller states it will be sold with a bill of sale only, so it is probably not a street legal vehicle and can't be registered as one. It would be useful as an amateur weekend racer on a professional course or as a museum piece.

Find it for sale here on ebay in Bedford Hills, NY with 3 bids at $21,100.00, reserve not met and only 1 hour left.

All-Original: 1984 Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo 5-speed

I'm not sure if I've ever seen one of these on the roads. If I did, I probably didn't know what it was. But given that I'm in the northeast, were salt and snow destroy cars over time, it's probably a good bet to say I've just never seen one.

The best place to find obscure Japanese cars of the late '70s and '80s is in out west, especially California, Oregon and Washington, all along the Western seaboard and closest to the island of Japan. These cars were first imported to those states and they managed to survive there, thanks to an agreeable climate and communities of enthusiasts. This car is located in arid and dry Arizona.

This biggest selling point on this is the apparently all-originality of it. No cheesy aftermarket mods, no over-sized chrome wheels, LED taillights or racing stripes.

Instead, we have the essence of the car still intact.

The Cordia was a compact hatchback produced by Mitsubishi from 1982 to 1990, and sold here until '88. It was a front-wheel drive platform. Four-wheel drive was also offered in '84.

It was one of the first cars sold here without Mitsubishi's then-partner, Chrysler.

This is a front-wheel drive model.

Engine-wise there were a 1.4-litre,1.6-litre, turbocharged 1.6, 1.8-litre, and turbocharged 1.8, all four-cylinders.

This is the turbo model. The seller states it's a 1.8-litre turbo, but some sources tell me the 1.8 was introduced in 1985 onward. The 1.4 turbo produced 112hp and the 1.8 turbo produced 135hp.

It also has a 5-speed manual, an extra bonus for driving enthusiasts.

Styling wise, we are treated to a prototypical early-to-mid '80s Japanese hatchback, ready for the set of Blade Runner. A boxy, angular shape, clean flat sides, quad-square front headlamps, bulging bumpers and of course black plastic louvers covering the rear hatch window. Also note the squared-off rear wheel wells. It's all quite charming now, as we know in retrospect, with fwd and only 100-something-hp, that it's not the rocketship it looks like and wanted to be, but is instead an aggressive looking, reliable street bomber, nothing more or less.

I also like the factory mudflaps, half-body color molding and half black rubber with "Corida" printed in white on them.

Note the off-set Mitsubishi logo for a little bit of quirky Japanese zen that you never see anymore.

Inside we have a Citroen DS-like single-spoke steering wheel, and the usual box-housed instrument cluster. It's all grey-plastic business but it's extremely functional and has aged just fine.

The hatchback body provides great space with the rear seats folded down.

Cosmetically, vehicle seems fair to poor. In keeping with the all-original nature, everything seems worn from 28 years of use. Exterior paint and plastic trim is faded. Inside, the cloth seats are stained and torn.

The seller mentions the front plastic air-dam is gone, a common missing piece on older '80s cars as most are damaged from hitting parking curbs and usually discarded.

The seller states the car is indeed all-original except for some upgrades to keep it going like metal air intake tubes, and HELLA headlights.

Mechanically, they say it starts and runs fine, but may need new struts as the existing ones feel soft. They also say the a/c doesn't work.

They state the vehicle has only had one adult lady owner. They also say it is mostly rust-free (above all their photos they state "RUST FREE" but then below the photos they say "90% rust free, so I would definitely demand an explanation). The odometer in the pictures displays 189,819.9 miles, which is high but somehow comforting to see it still going.

This car would be great for either continued daily driving as-is or a full-restoration back to original glory, as long as you get it for under $5,000.

Find it here on ebay in Tucson, AZ with 6 bids at only $676, reserve not met and 2 days left.