31k-Mile 1979 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan

The seller of this immaculate Alfetta describes it as an "early Christmas present." While I'm not sure I'd go that far, it sure is delightfully crisp and clean looking. This could be the lowest mileage Alfetta on the planet.

These were produced from 1972 to 1984, before it was replaced by the 90, which was then replaced by the large, heavy and front-wheel drivel 164, a far cry from this relatively compact rear-wheel drive car. The Alfetta were only sold in the US from 1975 to 1977, and then from 1978-1979 a mildly restyled version sold as the "Sport Sedan" was offered. This is one such example.

Alfa also housed the clutch and the transmission in the rear for more balance. The engines ranged from four cylinders to six. This one has a 2.0-liter twin cam four-cylinder. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The seller says it is stock other than a modern catalytic converter and electronic ignition.

Styling was done in house by Centro Stile. The Italians are masters of both classicism and modernism, but the Alfetta definitely leans towards the tight sheet metal and hard angles they adopted in the 70s and 80s. It's executed well and the cream paint flatters it further.

The interior is remarkably tidy and seems to support the low mileage claim. The seats are in brown cloth and look cozy and fit the whole earth tones theme.

Cosmetically, the seller says the vehicle has never been in an accident and has no rust. They say it still wears the original paint. They do mention it has a dent on the hood and a light scratch on the windshield, however, but those are minor flaws.

Mechanically, they say it runs as well as it looks and has a lot of low-end torque.

This is easily the nicest Sport Sedan/Alfetta I've seen. It's in great shape, it's the later improved version, and there just aren't many left, and most likely none that had this kind of careful ownership.

Available here on ebay in Midland, Michigan with bidding at $2,075.

Somebody Buy Me: 1986 Subaru XT Turbo 4WD

The XT is hurdling towards new classic status, so now is the time to grab these while there are still good cheap ones left.

These were only sold from 1985-1991. The styling is befitting of the set of Blade Runner or Total Recall. Subaru designed the greenhouse inside and out to resemble the cockpit of a fighter jet. The XT has as much glass as possible supported by blacked out pillars. The front has hidden headlights. Grooves run along the side of the car that form the taillight taillight strip. The whole thing is sleek and stealthy, especially when painted black like this example.

Of all the XT trim to appreciate in value, the 85-87 Turbo 4WD models like this one stand the best chance. These were produced very briefly and feature a 1781cc turbocharged H4 engine producing 112 horsepower with multi-port fuel injection and two single overhead camshafts. The four-wheel drive system was part-time and activated with a push of a button on the dashboard. When coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, these were fun and grippy cars.

The seller is a dealer and has only provided two photos and no details, so I can't give you much more. But the car looks clean and and the tires slick with Armor-All. They do list the mileage as just 110,343, so this puppy seems to have been modestly driven over the years, which is more good than bad. Find out if any maintenance records are available, and check for rust. Other than that, it deserves a caring owner who knows what they have and can maintain and preserve it further.

Available here on carsforsale for just $3,999. Me want!

1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4.5 V8

I absolutely adore these old Mercedes-Benz sedans. There is just something so perfect about them. Classy but not stuffy. Cool but timeless. They are strange in that Mercedes designed them in an engineering-first manner, as reliable and efficient as possible, with styling supposedly an afterthought, and yet they are undeniably a fashion statement first and foremost.

The W108 were produced from 1965-1972 and replaced the legendary W111 "Fintail". French designer Paul Bracq (who later helped BMW) was responsible for squaring off the corners, increasing greenhouse size and lowering the stance, and in the process ever so subtly created the modern Mercedes-Benz shape. Braq was brilliant and knew the enormity of the task at hand, and like all Mercedes designers, he passed the torch carefully but steadily.

These were offered in a variety of engines and trim levels. This one, the 280SE 4.5, is the best for the money: it's the short wheelbase with a huge 4.5-liter 8-cylinder engine under the hood. The long-wheelbase W109 are unnecessary for all but collectors as these are large and comfortable enough inside in normal body length.

The name is a bit of a misnomer, and was a problem for Mercedes until they devised the alphabetical class system in 1993. "280" initially referred to a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder, and "SE" is means "Super Einspritzung", or super fuel injection. Yet, the engine is much larger, so they tacked on the 4.5 at the end, negating the whole 280. Oh well. The actual car, in all its aesthetic and mechanical glory, more than makes up for it.

The seller of this delightful example says it has 150k miles on it. I'm fairly sure these had only 5-digit placeholder odometers, so any mileage claims would have to be an estimate. What's more important is what's been done and what hasn't over those miles.The seller says this one has always been garaged, and has new brakes, new tires and a recent service. They say it now runs well.

The only lingering questions are rust and rot, which seem to be a non-issue given it was "always" garaged. I'd see how many owners it has had and any maintenance records proving it was cared for.

If it checks out, you have my sincere envy. These are classics, and the 4.5 gives plenty of power to keep up with modern traffic, and look damn good doing it. Not many classic cars are this comfortable, reliable and useable.

Available here on craigslist in Carlisle, Massachusetts for only $3,900.

$700 Project: 1986 Mazda 626 Coupe Turbo

Mazda was putting a lot of effort into their 626 of the 80s. This was before it became the dumbed down low quality rental-fleet mobile of the late 90s. But back in the 80s, the Japanese mid-size sedan segment was still wide open. Anyone could become what the Accord and Camry are today (which isn't so say much, as they are both now overpriced, poorly styled and cheaply made front-wheel drive cars). Japanese automakers rose to the competitive challenge and put their best designs and engineering innovations forward.

To distinguish the 626, Mazda was refreshingly open to ideas. This included offering the 626 in a variety of body styles like a 2-door coupe, a 4-door sedan, and a sleek 4-door hatchback. They also added an intriguing array of driving systems from four-wheel steering to four-wheel drive.

This is a 2-door coupe from the "GC" generation, which was only sold from 1983-1987, the briefness of which is evidence Mazda was watching the competition closely and felt the need to change the vehicle yet again. This generation 626 were once a common sight on American roads but have all but vanished now. I can't even remember the last time I've seen one.

Underneath the hood is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that produced 120 horsepower. Sure, they were front-wheel drive, but the turbo is a really nice addition. Neither Toyota or especially Honda were fond of turbocharging, at least on their sedans, so this is a pleasant surprise.

In the 80s, Japanese designers has a penchant for forward leaning instrument displays and this 626 follows suit, with a nifty horizontal tachometer and (presumably) digital speedometer, which is unlit. The Germans wouldn't touch this kind of edgy, almost kitschy gaucheness, and always stuck with analog displays, but these are real conversation pieces and are a unique insight on the mind fame that assembled the vehicle at the time.

Unfortunately this is a project car. The seller says the engine was given a thorough rebuild 1k miles ago at a price of $1,100, but then the turbocharger blew and has been left to sit since. The seller says they have a stock turbo from a donor car, but haven't installed it and won't let prospective buyers do so, understandably. They also have a bunch of extra parts that will come with the sale of this vehicle.

Honestly, for $700 you can't go wrong. This is a rare car that deserves some time and attention, inside and out. Get the turbo working, see if it needs anything else, give it a glossy re-paint in red, and then just drive it and take it to Japanese shows.

Available here on craigslist in Des Moines, Iowa for just $700.

Under $15k: 1979 Porsche 911SC Targa

Want to catch some fresh fall air before it gets too cold (which is happening very fast for us New Englanders)? Try on this 911 Targa for size.

The Targa body is still the unloved child of the 911 range. The coupes and convertibles are about equally desirable, but no one seems to want a targa. I'm not sure why. It's the best of both worlds, with some of the structural rigidity of a hardtop and some of the open air pleasure of the convertible. And yet maybe that's exactly why they still haven't taken to collectors, a car with such a strong personality as the 911 shouldn't be ambiguous and undecided as to what the nature of its roof is. Or should it?

I like the them. Since collector's don't, the targa versions are often priced lower for those looking to get into the rear-engine Porsche world.

The seller of this example says it is mostly original except for a whale tale, front spoiler with integrated fog lamps, steering wheel and other items that enhance the car, even if cliche.

911 look good in white and this is no exception. The red interior contrasts nicely, and the seller shows matching red seat covers protecting the leather.

Most importantly, they say it has no rust. Mechanically, they say it runs and drives nice and everything works including the power windows. Under the hood is Porsche's tried and true bulletproof 3.0-liter 6-cylidner air-cooled engine. The seller says there is 107k miles on it.

This seems like a relatively well cared for example. I would inquire about ownership and accidents, and look into more maintenance history. If it checks out, stash that targa top away for a blast of cold air.

Available here on craigslist in Salem, Massachusetts for $12,400.

Long Lost Sedan: 32k-Mile 1989 Maserati 430

It's really hilarious how Maserati cars from the 1980s have plummeted in value and are staying there. Any given day on ebay, there's at least 3 or 4 Biturbo Coupes with under 100k miles for under $5k. Why? I guess they weren't driven much by their initial yuppie owners, then when they broke (as they usually did) the expensive repair costs (as they usually were) made the notion of storing it in a garage more attractive than fixing it and using it.

What you don't see everyday is the rare sedan version. Even if the rest of the story is the same.

Only 1,000 430 sedans were ever built, making this car an extreme rarity. I think it's better looking than the Bi-Turbo coupes, which were too short and stubby. The four doors of the 430 fill out the length and heighten the sharp edges and clean lines. The grooved taillights recall the Mercedes W116 and R107. This one looks particularly nice in two-tone red and grey and futuristic full-faced alloys.

The real beauty (or should I say beast?) is underneath the hood. Maserati put a 2790cc twin-turbocharged V6 engine that pumped out a very respectable 225 horsepower to the rear wheels. A lot of them were also mercifully given stick shifts as this one has. I really can't quite picture what it must be like to drive, but it's got to be fast, and could have smoked a similarly powered BMW or Mercedes-Benz from the era. Four exhaust pipes peak from the rear. You can picture it hustling the presidente del consiglo to and from court.

The luxurious black leather interior is a nice place to be, although there are some odd details, like a weird brown-burgundy plastic steering wheel and blue-faced instrument gauges. Still, everything is where is should be and it manages to look both comfortable and a little sporting at the same time. Note the trademark ovaloid Maserati clock in between the air vents.

The seller is a dealer and provide absolutely no back story but list the mileage as just 32,116. It could very well be original. The Italians had mastered speed and style but not yet build quality and innovative engineering, so these cars were plagued with electrical and mechanical issues. Ask for any history and maintenance records, then have it checked out by a reputable vintage European car specialist. If it's all set to go, by all means enjoy. You'll have my sincere envy.

Available here on ebay in Longwood, Florida with bidding at $2,280 and a Buy-It-Now of just $4,800.

2003 Suzuki Transrover

I love micro trucks! Why aren't we privy to these here? All of the major Japanese automakers offered "kei" cars in their domestic market. A couple of small vans were officially imported to North America, but I'm pretty sure we missed out on the micro pickup trucks, which are awfully well-built, fuel-efficient, and practical. Oh, and cute. But therein lies the problem. Try to win over the F-150 crowd with a cute pickup.

What I haven't seen before is a Suzuki variety, almost identical looking to what Honda and Toyota put out.

Although there are no badges I can make out on the vehicle, it appears to be an eighth generation Suzuki Carry, produced from 1985-1991, although the seller calls this a 2003 "Transrover" (which sounds cool at least). The year could very well be true, as these were sold under a variety of nameplates for a long time. They also say it is from the Philippines, so production could still be going on there. The Carry also hold the notability of being the only car in history to be sold as a Chevrolet and Ford at one point.

The seller says it has only 28,561 kilometers which is only about 17k miles. They say everything works great, and they are just getting rid of it because it was used in a scrap yard and they don't want to ruin it. It most likely has a small three or four-cylinder engine under the hood powering the rear wheels.

Unfortunately, having bought the vehicle in the Philippines and never used it on the road, the seller seems to have never registered it and do not have a title. But they have "all the papers from the Republic of the Philippines." Who knows what that means. But if you check with your DMV and see how they process vehicles that seemingly weren't properly imported, you may have an opening. Otherwise, this will only be good for use on your own private scrap yard lot.

See? It may be cute, but it was used for tough work after all.

Available here on ebay in Lebanon, Oregon with no bidders and a Buy-It-Now of $3,550.

62k-Mile 1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6

What is the Volkswagen story? Maker of people's cars? Innovators? Leaders? Followers? Forever indebted to national socialism? Regardless of personal opinions they have been extremely influential in the automotive industry since their formal inception in 1937. For most of the late 20th century, they pushed a fundamental philosophy: the sophistication of rear-mounted engines available prices farmers and peasants could afford. There's a lot to respect there.

This all shifted with the 1974 Golf, however. Sure, the angular styling by Giugiaro was superb, and it was still affordable, but it was otherwise a front-wheel drive economy car. The same consumer money that was used to buy rear-engine technology was being used to buy simplistic front-wheel drive. That is not a fair exchange anymore. You're getting less.

To add insult to injury, their front-wheel drive cars grew more expensive than comparative American and Japanese offerings. Suddenly, the people's car was a snob's car. This fate was sealed by the late 90s and early 2000s.

Their Passat of the 80s and 90s did make some practical sense, however. Given the choice of a 1994 Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat, I'd choose the Passat. For starters, the 1988-1996 "B3" generation is really good looking, way cooler than the Camry or Accord. For mid-size sedan money, you got very neat and clean German design the Japanese and especially Americans just couldn't imitate. The grille-less front and minimalist headlights are a nod to the company's rear-engine past when grilles weren't necessary, and look to the future with influence from their super low drag coefficient concept car. So the aesthetics were nailed down well.

The other neat thing about the Passat was the range of engines, from four and six cylinder gasoline engines to diesel engines. Their diesels are legendary. For those who want more power, however, there was the VR6, which stood for "Verkurtz Reihenmotor". This was a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine whose two banks of cylinders were offset and titled from each other at smaller angles than on traditional Vee engines, so it is not quite a Vee, and yet not quite an inline. It gave the B3 Passat 172 horsepower.

The seller of this example says it only has 62,130 miles, qualifying it as a low mileage survivor. Volkswagen sold a ton of Passat, but most were in Europe. It still lagged behind in sales to the Taurus, Camry and Accord at the time. I can't remember the last time I saw a B3 Passat, but I'll take notice next time I do. This one looks good in a dark exterior color, and comes with top-of-the-line goodies like a factory rear spoiler, alloy wheels, fog lights, and heated leather seats.

Available here on ebay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with bidding at $1,075.

New Classic: 1994 BMW 530iT

The E34 is an emerging new classic as BMW shifts more radically away from these designs and good examples becoming harder and harder to find each year.

The styling by Ercole Spada working closely under Claus Luthe is nothing less than brilliant. They took everything that was good about BMW in the past and looked into the future, ending with a statement that is timeless, which was no doubt their secret goal. The E34 was a monumental feat in that it leaped beyond the outgoing E28 yet it still retained a core BMW identity of post-industrial Euro-Germanic technology. It's aggressive but restrained, flashy but conservative, formal but sporty.

The E34 debuted in 1988 and lasted until 1995, becoming the standard issue upper-class mobile of the developed world during that era. Along with the E32, they marked a new chapter for BMW as they went toe to toe with rival Mercedes-Benz for the first time. The E34 is every bit as competent and good looking, if not more so, than the comparative 1986-1995 Benz W124.

A lesser recognized wagon version was also offered. Mercedes already established a strong reputation for wagons in the U.S. with the W123 and the W124 continued doing so. It was hard for the E34 wagon to beat. Since the E34 is primarily an ultra-functional car designed for speed, comfort, and reliability, the idea of a wagon is especially sensible, and the design is handled very well.

This is the 530, which was only offered in 1994-1995, the final two years of the E34. It featured a brand new 32-valve DOHC 3.0-liter V8 engine producing a healthy 218 horsepower directed to the rear wheels. Only 37,292 were produced, and even less were V8 station wagons. The larger 540i was also available. In a rare slip up from BMW, these suffered from the infamous Nikasil problem, but if this example has made it to 150k, the block was either replaced or it was never affected.

It's important to note that even Mercedes-Benz never offered a V8 in a wagon. The V8 wagon segment is so small I can't even think of anything similar. A Chevy?

These also came with an over-sized sunroof that opened from both ends, so front and rear passengers could enjoy air and sun from above.

The seller is a dealer and report the odometer as reading 150,562. They do mention an accident appears on the Carfax in 2007, but there is no visible damage, so it was hopefully repaired. They also note some wear and tear on the body, paint, and interior.

Honestly, the condition actually strikes me as slightly better than typically seen and the car looks good overall from a distance as a lot of BMW do. This is so much car for so little price that most flaws can easily be overlooked.

Available here on ebay in Orlando, Florida with a Buy-It-Now of $3,995 and the Make Offer option.

Twin Spark: 1997 Alfa Romeo Spider

The 1990s were a transition time for Alfa Romeo. They left the U.S. market in 1995 after years of dwindling sales. The moved most of their cars to simplistic front-wheel drive, much to the disdain of enthusiasts. And yet their designs started returning to the artful, sensuous curves not seen on their cars since the 1950s and early 60s.

The Spider was introduced in 1993 but the design by Enrico Fumia dates back to 1987. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it does mark a change in Italian auto styling trends away from the harsh edges and angles of the late 70s and 80s and more towards softer corners, flat planes and minimal detail. Sex appeal was back. It was was sophisticated then, and it still looks fresh today.

This particular example is especially crisp in blue over tan leather with black top. I especially like the holed alloys.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder twin spark engine that produced 147 horsepower mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

The seller of this example says it has just 84,200 kilometers which is only about 53k miles. Cosmetically, they say it has no rust and no "bondo".

Mechanically, they say it drives good and just had a timing belt and water pump replaced at 78km.

These were never sold in North America, but this one had managed to find its way to Canada, so it's one step closer thank importing one directly from Europe. I can see it humming alongside vineyards in Napa Valley, California if you can get it here.

Available here on ebay in British Columbia, Canada with bidding at $2,824 and a Buy-It-Now of $7,800.

1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turbodiesel Wagon

If you thought old Volvo cars were durable enough already, this ultra-rare diesel version takes that notion to new heights.

After the fuel crises of the 1970s, automakers scrambled to present consumers with fuel-efficient alternatives. One solution European automakers brought to the table was diesel power, which doesn't require spark plugs and lasts longer than gasoline engines thanks to their inherent construction and the nature of diesel fuel.

As the economy stabilized and gas prices came down diesel was no longer all the rage by the mid 80s but some automakers were still making odd contributions, like the BMW 524TD, the Cadillac Seville diesel, and the infamous Lincoln Continental diesel, which used the same engine as the BMW 524.

Volvo chose to briefly put a diesel in their 740 body. The 740, of course, was already well on its way to becoming a middle class yuppie classic of suburban America, a masterstroke of form-over-function utilitarianism that was infinitely usable and strangely stylish in the most muted and anti-stylish way possible.

The diesel engine was actually sourced from Volkswagen and was used primarily in their trucks. Most Volvos were four cylinders, and most diesels were five cylinders, so this relatively large 6-cylinder turbocharged engine must provide a healthy boost. Refined? No. But these rear-wheel drive cars were surprisingly fun already, so the extra torque will go a long way.

The seller says this example runs and drives, and the engine was rebuilt in 2005 and now was about 151k miles, still low for a diesel. They do say the radiator leaks some fluid, however. Cosmetically, it has a bunch of visible damage to the rear, sides and corner. But there's something kind of rugged about it. The flat planes and boxy shape handle dents well, dare I say.

This thing seems ready to go, but I would like to see it end up with a diehard collector who can remedy the cosmetic needs and give it some real love. I have no idea how many were made and sold, but it couldn't have been much.

Available here on ebay in Nashua, New Hampshire with bidding starting at $2,600 and a Buy-It-Now of $2,999.

1950 Sunbeam Talbot Mark 1 Convertible

Just like there are some people that are so charming they are irresistible (however few and far between), there are some cars so charming you can't help but like them. This happens a lot to me with cars from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. As a twentysomething millenial generation y-er, I have no real connection to these cars, as they were long gone by the time I was growing up. So when I stumble across them today, they stick out because they either remind me of something I've seen in an old film, or just plain look good.

File this Sunbeam under "just plain looks good". This is one of those few cars that is both cute and beautiful.

Sunbeam is a British company better known for their Alpine roadster that appeared in Dr. No. The Talbot was a more substantial offering from the company, however, and was produced in both a four-door saloon and two-door convertible bodies from 1948-1954.

This particular example is a late Mark I, based on a modified Humber chassis. The seller says this one has the 1944cc engine producing just 64 horsepower. It's mated to a column shift 4-speed transmission.

The odometer reads 91,097.

The creme over red color scheme is pitch-perfect post-war class, and the condition looks excellent. The seller says the paint, interior and top have been redone, but the rest of the car shows no signs of abuse. I guess that would classify this is a "restored survivor".

Only a total of 4,000 Talbot MK I were made, less were convertibles, and even less were left-hand drive and made it to North America, making this a very rare car. It won't win any races, but it will catch a lot of eyes.

Available here on ebay in Saint Louis, Missouri for $34,500 and the Make Offer option.

1976 Lancia Scorpion

Ah, the Scorpion. This car had everything going for it on paper - mid engine, Pininfartina styling - but it was an utter disaster on the U.S. market.

The Scorpion was actually known as the Montecarlo elsewhere and was produced from 1975-1981. It was a reasonable little sports car, with a straight 4-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels and producing 120 horsepower.

Unfortunately, when Lancia decided to import it to North America in 1976, it was a very different automobile. The headlights were changed to inane government regulated pop-up units. The bumpers were larger and heavier to comply with 5 mph impact rules. The engine was de-tuned and strangled by emissions equipment that lowered output to just a pitiful 80 horsepower. All U.S. versions has canopy roofs that made the unrefined engine seem even louder. The bodies rusted badly. These were not pleasant cars, and they don't even sound safe to use on the highway.

This example is claimed to have just 57,021 miles on the odometer and is all-original. The seller says its always been maintained by a specialist, and has no rust. The do mention the paint is a new coat of "Verde Metelizzato", but don't mention whether that was an original 1976 color. They do say it has no rust, however.

There are just two types of Scorpion survivors I recommend buying if you really want one: either one that has been stripped of the emissions equipment and heavy bumpers, or one in extremely good and clean condition. This one seems to be the latter. They just don't seem to be worth it as projects.

Just 1,801 were manufactured and sold for the U.S. market between 1976-77.

Available here on ebay in Studio City, California with no takers at $5,000 starting bid and a $7,600 Buy-It-Now.

Post-War Blues: 1946 Packard Clipper Coupe

Packard built automobiles from 1899 to 1958. American automakers put new models on hold during WWII, so when the war ended they continued producing designs from 1942 with some subtle changes.

The Clipper series was introduced in 1941 as just a sedan, and although 34,000 were sold, production quickly ceased when priorities shifted after Pearl Harbor. The Clipper (and to an extent, Packard) never really recovered. By the time they rolled out the Coupe after the war, stiff competition from Studebaker, Kaiser-Frazer and Cadillac had outpaced Packard, and their 1946-47 coupe fell to the wayside. Only about 600 post-war examples are known to be built.

Styling is quite pleasing. Since the early post-war cars are essentially designs from the late 30s and early 40s, it still has a cool, minimalist art-deco design before tail fins and excess chrome took hold.

This one looks particularly fresh in flat grey over green and tan interior and Coker Classic white wall tires. The seller says that the exterior was repainted and the chrome is showing some pitting, but the insides and engine look better.

Mechanically, they say it starts and runs but has not been test driven, although they suspect it would shift well. They say the odometer shows 53,000 miles and is believed to be original.

Under the hood is a 6-cylinder engine.

The seller says the vehicle was in a storage unit for years until it was given to the facility after years of unpaid rent, and say the current owner is only the second officially recorded owner.

Although it's not the rarer V8 version, this is still a lovely piece that has fortunately been garage kept over the years and seems remarkably intact.

Available here on ebay in Phoenix, Arizona with bidding at $24,766.