The seller of this rare Fiat says they personally imported it from the original owner in Europe and still have the registration papers from there.
Fiat launched the 128 in 1969 as their standard issue compact car. Production continued until 1985 after over 3 million units were made. Foreign markets continued making the car until 2001.
This car marked a new era of front-wheel drive from Fiat, good for the company's bottom line, bad for driving enthusiasts. Fortunately what the 128 does do, it does well. The engine is transversely mounted and unequal drive shaft lengths allowed Fiat to place the engine and gearbox side by side, now an industry standard in compact cars.
The sheet metal is also innovative, squeezing in a hood, four doors and a trunk in a tiny shape that's also quite charming. The flat mustard yellow is period but works.
This example is not entirely original but is most likely in better condition than it was before. The seller says the car had rust and was stripped down, treated and re-painted in the original color. Inside, they replaced the door panels, headliner and carpets. Underneath the hood the seller replaced the timing belt and gave it a tuneup. They say it has less thank 96,000 kilometers which is about 56k miles.
The 128 is one of those cars where a ton were made, then simultaneously wiped out through use and rust. Finding a relatively low mileage and refreshed version like this is difficult, especially in the US.
Available here on ebay in Sanford, Florida with bidding at $6,200 and reserve not met.
With Saab gone, there's never been a better time to reflect on their contributions to the auto industry over the second half of the 20th century. One of the best was their full-size top of the line 9000 hatchback and sedan.
The bigger sibling to the 900, the 9000 actually came later in 1984 as a way to bring in more buyers to the small Swedish brand. It worked. The 9000 took all the things that made the 900 great - space, styling, versatility and turbo power - and did it better. Over 500,000 units were produced until 1998.
The body by Bjorn Envall and Giorgio Giugiaro is an unrecognized classic. Using the Type Four platform that several automakers agreed to share at the time to reduce costs, the designers created a simple but handsome shape that is ever so slightly more conventional than the 900 but makes up for it in bounds more maturity and class, while still being uniquely Saab. We like the early pre-facelift versions for their rarity, cleaner lines, blackened rear pillars and larger hatch glass.
Although the front-wheel drive platform was disappointing when it was selected for the Alfa Romeo 164, it makes complete sense with the 9000. Saab was never a performance-oriented brand and had always employed front-wheel drive. They were not at the level of the German cars, and yet they had much more character than American or Japanese cars. Underneath the hood of this example is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that produced about 130 horsepower. This one also has a 5-speed stick.
Saab has always done interiors well and the 9000 is no exception; in fact, it's one of their best. The wrap-around dashboard cloaked in black is as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional, with all gauges and readouts crystal clear, simple and easy to use. I remember reading that the dials and buttons were also designed to be usable with gloves on when those frigid Scandinavian winters hit. We also love the pre-airbag three-spoke steering wheel.
This example is the cleanest we've seen in a long time. The seller says it's in excellent condition, runs great and everything works. They say the miles are low but don't provide the actual number. From the photos the body looks remarkably clean and straight. The subtle burgundy paint with a hint of pink-purple is also very flattering to the shape, and is a color nobody has done right since. The alloy centers seem dull but can easily be refinished or just re-painted in spray can silver.
With four doors, big cozy seats, plenty of room in front and back, a huge rear hatchback and turbo power, this is one of those seemingly rare cars that is both fun to drive and extremely useful. The build quality on these old Saabs was also rare in that the doors shut with a satisfying heavy clunk. It's too bad the door was shut on the whole company, but cars like this 9000 are positive reminders of their better days.
Available here on craigslist in Inland Empire, California for a mere $1,700.
There's a running joke on COTC about low mileage econoboxes: exactly that. They're low mileage econoboxes, as opposed to low mileage rare and exotic sports cars. Just what prompts someone to barely drive and then store an immaculate '87 Corolla? Sometimes it's not even intentional. The seller says this vehicle has had just one elderly owner who recently passed but always kept the car garaged.
The E80 was the fifth generation of Corolla and the first to implement front-wheel drive, although the AE86 hatchback versions still retained rear wheel power for a few more years. Purists will scoff at the switch, but it was inevitable and the car still retains a its core values of hardcore thrift, reliability and simplicity. Fwd just means it's even cheaper.
This body lasted until 1987 and was a huge success, with 3.3 million units sold. Despite that, you never see them on the roads anymore, at least not here in wet and salty New England. Styling is classic rising sun economy car of the 80s, all straight lines, hard angles, clean planes and minimal detail. Underneath the hood is a 1.6-liter SOHC 4-cylinder that produces a mere 90 horsepower.
Having accrued just 18,921 miles over the past 26 years, the seller says this Corolla is "exactly what it appears to be"...which is an unusually low mileage survivor Corolla in pretty good shape. Cosmetically, they say it has no rust and still smells new. They do say there is a small crease on the hood and some typical scratches. Otherwise, they say it's ready to hit the road.
What do you do with this? Try to get it into the Toyota USA museum? Keep it stored for another 26 years? Drive it as the daily commuter it was meant to be? Somehow, all seem acceptable.
Available here on ebay in Norristown, Pennsylvania with bidding at $3,325 and a Buy-It-Now of $4,499.
The Beetle is usually overlooked but we can always appreciate a good example. It's legacy is so conflicting: they're collectible, yet over 21 million were made, they're triumphs of engineering, yet intended for everyday use, they were promoted by fascist Germany of the 1930s, yet later embraced by North American counter culture of the 1960s. Is there any corner of 20th century life the Beetle hadn't touched?
The best and most sought after examples of course are the purest, earliest, and cleanest. This fits all three bills.
Only 331,847 cabriolet versions were officially built from 1949-1980 by huge manufacturer Karmann. Styling is pitch perfect and the loss of a roof seemingly created a second new classic in its own right. The design is also handled well with the top up. Chrome window frames roll up to support the roof when closed. The black paint is a little eerie but still really cool, and the mirrorball wheels add some playfulness although we would do without the white mudflaps. Inside, the grey and white interior brightens things up.
Underneath the rear latch is 1200 cc flat four-cylinder air-cooled engine that produced a mere 36 horsepower. It won't be winning any drag races, but, as the seller says, "its appeal is in its reliability and thrift, making this a hobby car without compromises". Couldn't have said it better myself.
COTC has showcased two other impeccable vehicles from this seller before and their Beetle is no different, with dozens of clear photos of every angle inside and out, and a better than average writeup. They say this Beetle is restored, but has been done so in a careful, quality, and period-correct manner. They don't mention whether it is matching numbers but do say the engine is a correct '56 unit and everything was rebuilt to original specifications except for a new 12-volt electrical system cleverly hidden inside a vintage generator.
The asking price is really high, but the restoration must have cost a lot too. If you're looking for a refreshed Beetle in better than new condition that is ready for a new life, take notes. Even if you don't plan on considering this, it's great inspiration.
Available here on ebay for a $39,995 and the Make Offer option.
The MX-6 was essentially a coupe version of the 626 sedan. Mazda sold only two generations between 1987 and 1997. The first generation was based on the Mark 3 "GD" platform 626, and only lasted until 1992.
Mazda is one of those on again, off again brands that have not been able to steadily build momentum like Toyota and Honda have (although both are currently teetering on the edge of slipping indefinitely). Mazda has had some moments of widespread appreciation in the industry (their refinement of the rotary engine) and in pop culture (the goofy but catchy Zoom Zoom ads), but nothing that has permanently stuck in the minds of consumers enough to make them a huge sales success, and, more importantly, iconic.
That doesn't mean they haven't made some great products however. To the contrary, they have a lot of modern classics under the belts. One of their lesser known gems is this '89 MX-6. In the 80s, Mazda was still competing on a relatively even playing field with Toyota and Honda for the no.1 Japanese car spot. Their 626 was arguably way cooler and better equipped than the comparable Camry and Accords of the time. To stick out from the competition, this MX-6 has a 2.2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under the hood. The thought of turbo power on an otherwise sedate front-wheel drive car makes it infinitely more appealing, and Mazda understood this.
The seller says a couple of times it's "very fast". They also mention it has a Zombie SS chip and boost controller, but I have no idea what that is or how good it is. What they don't say is whether it has the legendary four wheel steering, which was only offered in the U.S. on 1989 GT models exactly like this one, making it an extreme rarity. Essentially, turning the steering wheel turned all four wheels. The rear wheels were electronically controlled to pivot no greater than 5 degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels under 35 miles per hour and in the same direction for any speed faster. This allowed for both agile parking and greater maneuverability changing lanes and taking corners. Honda experimented with this too, before all automakers abruptly pulled it from the market and never offered it again except on a couple other rare and expensive high performance cars. Why this lost but significant technology is being repressed is still a mystery. It could easily have become a standard feature on all cars in the same way that disc brakes and airbags have become.
The body clearly has some flaws and the seller says there is some rust. They also say it needs a wheel bearing and engine mount. Gross over-sized aftermarket exhaust aside, it's good to see the original wheels still intact. This thing is begging for an impeccable restoration. Be the first to do it, then tell me all about it!
Available here on craigslist in Minneapolis, Minnesota for $2,000.
Bentley cars weren't always the super cool and sexy hi-tech mobiles they are today. In the 80s, the company was stuck with just two bodies, one of which was the dull and angular Mulsanne, and the other was the ancient Corniche, which had been in use since the 60s. Both were also shared with Rolls Royce, lessening the exclusivity even more.
With the Mulsanne-based Turbo R, however, the company sought to spice things up a bit.
'R' stood for road holding and referred to various tuning and suspension changes Bentley made to the Mulsanne to make it sportier. Wider tires and alloy wheels were also added. Underneath the hood was a huge 6.75 liter turbocharged V8 engine that pumped out nearly 300 horsepower to the rear wheels, very respectable for the time and still healthy today. If the goal was to blow the Mercedes 500SEL and BMW 750iL out of the water, Bentley succeeded, and it caught the attention of the press and upper crusters, too.
The only drawback is that reliability will be questionable. For a long time, expensive British cars were made with a lot of pride but not much practicality. I have absolutely no idea where you'd have this serviced and how much it could cost, but the huge engine and turbo boost is going to put a lot of stress on things, and it isn't going to be cheap when something does break.
This example is the cheapest I've ever seen, and could be the lowest priced example ever on the market, save for salvage and wrecked ones. The seller says they acquired it from a family friend and the car wears its original paint, has never been wrecked, and is in good running condition. They list the odometer as reading just 60,953 miles. It also looks good in lesser-seen grey, as so many were red.
I'd love to just have it for a Sunday to drive fast on the highway then show off driving slow around town.
Available here on ebay in Long Beach, California with no bids starting at $14k and a Buy It Now of $18,500.
Merkur was Ford's short-lived import brand from the late '80s. In a rather roundabout way, Ford decided to market their German-made cars in the U.S. market. So we were getting a product made in Germany, owned by a U.S. corporation, intended for the European market, but modified and branded to sell here. Sheesh! Why they couldn't just be honest about it and call it what it was - a Ford - is one of automotive history's minor follies.
Since the brand was discontinued in 1989, it made one wonder whether all the trouble on Ford's behalf was worth it (they even once held press-conference to clarify the pronunciation of "Merkur"...note to marketing executives: if you have trouble saying the name of your brand, the whole brand is in trouble).
Fortunately, the XR4Ti wasn't half bad. It was based on the European Ford Sierra. A 2.3-litre inline turbocharged 4-cylinder engine sent up to produced up to 175 horsepower to the rear wheels.
Styling-wise, the translation from European economy car to U.S. yuppie-mobile was mostly successful, and at least very memorable. The grille-less front takes getting used to, but the overall shape is nicely proportioned, and the rear quarter window is something rarely, if ever seen on vehicles. The double-decker bi-plane rear spoiler was also-controversial, but when they toned it down for a single level spoiler in the final year or two, the double-decker was somewhat missed. Did it really keep the car weighted down? Who knows. But it was unusual, looked good, and harkened to the car's distant rally cousins in Europe.
Inside, things work relatively well too. The dashboard is un-pretentious and deliciously bland, and is more '80s American than '80s European, but has held up well, mainly due to the fact it's wholly more functional, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing than American interiors of the '70s. This one looks totally fresh in light grey bolstered leather seats.
The seller states the vehicle has only one previous owner that accumulated just 94k miles on the car. Finding a low mileage Merkur isn't difficult. 42,464 were made, and they have a cult-following here, so most owners are trying keep them preserved. The rest of them are junked, trashed, and abandoned.
There is no real value in the XR4Ti and nobody expects them to rise, though I am sure they will someday in the distant future. Hemmings estimates the value of an "excellent" example at only $3,000. They are a relic of the '80s that failed not because they were a bad machine, but because they were marketed poorly by humans.
Available here on ebay in El Cajon, California for $4,999 and the Make Offer option.
The Cressida was Toyota's flagship sedan until Lexus took over that duty. Toyota offered four generations between 1976 and 1993. This is the final "X80" generation that debuted in 1988.
These are notable for their slender Camry-like proportions, 6-cylinder power and rear-wheel drive, rare on a Toyota today. With cars like the Cressida, the Japanese offered something the Americans and Germans didn't: luxury and comfort that was affordable and built well. It was this advantage that left a distinctly positive impression on consumers' minds.
The Cressida's body is classic late 80s Japan, heavily influenced by (and influential on) the Lexus LS400 which was developed alongside and launched shortly after. It smooths out the hard edges that were dominant at the start of the decade, but still has a carefully restrained and minimalist look that was lost by the late 90s. Note the slim pillars for maximum visibility in and out. We also love the crisp alloy wheels and factory body-colored mud flaps with rubber ends. The '91 facelift only enhanced matters.
Inside, occupants are treated to soft plastics and a driver-oriented dashboard. The pre-airbag steering wheel is funky and refreshing, and the cloth seats look cozy and keep things feeling simple and frugal. Passengers in the rear can enjoy their own headrests. Although we dock a couple points for those wacky automatic seat belts, the amazing array of buttons on the center console more than make up for it.
Underneath the hood is a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine good for a very healthy 190 horsepower, making sure this will be a smooth and strong cruiser on and off the highways. These Cressidas also shared a double-wishbone rear suspension with the Supra. 23 miles per gallon fuel economy was also decent.
Just 9,415 Cressida were sold in the U.S. in 1991. This particular example has just 77,132 miles on the clock and seems to have been extremely very well kept. The seller says it has had just one owner from new and no dents, damage, or rust. They say everything works, including the power antenna and it runs and drives fine.
Sleek looks, V6 power, rear-wheel drive, cheap parts and stellar reliability make this one desirable cruiser. The low miles and good shape are just icing on top. Never has the melding of comfort and practicality been so well executed.
Available here on ebay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where an amazing 39 bids have put the price at $3,605 so far with 5 days still left.
COTC does not favor project cars. They're usually a waste of time, energy and money. Why buy in pieces when you can buy whole and running? The answer is that a lot of people think projects means the seller will let it go for cheap, but cars like this Lamborghini show that's not always the case. Consider this a cautionary tale, then. COTC is watching out for our readers wallets when possible. Cars are the worst investments made, so they should be in the best possible condition when buying used, and at the very least have major parts intact.
The seller says this '83 Jalpa is rare (true), but then estimates about 50 are left (pure conjecture).
Then they say it has no engine or transmission. This basically eradicates any value the seller thinks it has. All that's left now is a shell, and a shell in very very poor condition, with sanded down sections, mismatched paint, uneven panels and missing parts.
They do say it has shocks, suspension, interior, glass and "rare taillights".
But is that enough to justify a purchase? The body is going to need a ton of work, and a new coat of paint at the very least (please someone do it in either black or white). Then there is mechanical sorting, and worst of all, electrical connections on a 30 year old Italian car. The seller says it would be good for fitting a Fiero transmission and MR2 engine, but you have to find those parts first, make sure they are in good shape, then install everything. This is basically an experts-with-deep-pockets-only car, and even when you're done, it still won't have the Lamborghini exhaust note.
Available here on ebay in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with bidding already too high at $3,350.
You be the judge.
Shortly after becoming infatuated with the XM one pops up on ebay to taunt COTC with its seductive shape, nifty technology and utilitarian hatchback.
The XM replaced the CX in 1989 and followed a long line of four-door hatchbacks from Citroen. It was, in many ways, their ultimate vision realized. On paper, some of the statistics are misleadingly banal: front-wheel drive, cloth seats, four- and six-cylinder engines. Yet, like the French themselves, there was much more to the XM than meets the eye. As Citroen's flagship vehicle, they loaded it with sophisticated technology they had refined over decades like the Hydractive suspension where electronic sensors monitored dozens of impulses on the car and adjust the suspension accordingly within milliseconds, resulting in the famous smooth Citroen ride. The suspension could also be lowered for high speeds or raised on poor surfaces
The sleek four-door wedge body was courtesy of Bertone and is truly awesome, building on both past Citroen shapes and themes while moving the company firmly into the future. The low belt-line makes the windows huge and the greenhouse is supported by no less than 12 blackened pillars for a stealthy and futuristic look. It usually contrasts nicely with lighter colors but this looks sharp in black.
Although the turbo-diesel versions are most in keeping with the car's character, this example (VIN VF7Y3AG0004AG5872) has a 12-valve 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine good for about 170 horsepower.
Inside, occupants are treated to spaciousness and comfort with large leather seats. The trademark single-spoke steering wheel is intact, and although the rest of the dash is unusually subdued for a Citroen it fits the overall theme of hi-tech elegance.
The seller is scant on details but say they have owned the car for 19 years and that it has 78k miles (or kilometers?), new tires, and is "very fast". The rest of their ad is the entire wikipedia file on the car copy and pasted.
Citroen stopped officially selling cars in North America since 1974, and although some importers managed to bring in some over the years, very few XM were sold here (or, more importantly, understood), making this car an extreme rarity and and in seemingly great shape too. If you've been dreaming of owning an XM (and I know I lot of people have), this could be a great opportunity to buy one already here.
Available here on ebay in Virginia with bidding at $5,600, reserve not met, and a Buy-It-Now of $14,500.
Ah, the Unimog. No other vehicle can make a driver fearless against cold and harsh winters. And look good doing it, too.
There are the classic 404/406 series of the 1950s, and then there are the more angular and industrial-techno 424 series introduced in 1976. This is one such 424. In some ways, it's every bit as classic as the 406, and even slightly cooler, with the big grille and headlights mounted in the bumpers. It's got this ultra-stern, almost minimalist look that the Mercedes designers reserved for their most capable truck.
It also helps this one looks terrific in orange with everything below the belt line in black. It practically begs to be driven in a blizzard. The bed is huge and provides versatility and use.
The seller says they bought it from Volkswagen AG and it was owned by them as a track patrol vehicle. They then swapped the old bed for a better unit, welded some rust and re-painted the exterior, no crimes on a big truck, where function and and overall appearance matter more than details. Besides, it's a German guy doing it. He must know what he's doing.
Underneath the hood is a 6-cylinder diesel engine producing just 95 horsepower, but you can bet it has a lot of low end torque for overtaking the worst inclines and terrain.
The seller says it is equipped with power steering and brakes, and runs, drives and starts fine, even on cold days.
Although the vehicle is in Germany, the seller says they used to export vehicles and have friends in the US who have imported, so they can offer some assistance.
These can be found in the US, but they are expensive and in varying condition. If you're going to plunk down the chunk of change they command, why not just import the right one straight for Europe? This is one time where importing does make more sense. And this example looks great and seems to have been cared for, with some interesting ownership history to boot.
Available here on ebay with bidding at $15.5 and less than a day left.
If there are any classic front-wheel drive cars, the Scirocco must be one of them.
After Volkswagen launched the K70 it was clear they were intent on heading away from their air-cooled rear-engine glory days of the Beetle and Karman Ghia and into a new era of water-cooled, front-engine front-wheel drive cars. To soften the blow, they managed to clothe the setup with some nice sheet-metal thanks to Giorgetto Giugiaro, who penned the Golf and Mark I Scirocco.
In 1982, Volkswagen launched a second version of the Scirocco. Although it was based on the same platform, the body was entirely different, more stark, low, lean and angular.
This kind of simple two-box shape has been erased from the market, despite being so visually and functionally successful. It's form over function, and yet it's undeniably fun and sporty. Just how do some simple angles and clean lines evoke so much? It's a powerful reminder that less is more in car design, something totally lost on virtually all of the major automakers today.
Underneath the hood is a small four-cylinder engine. It's not big and powerful, but it's mated to a stick and you can bet it feels fun driving along looking out from the cockpit.
The seller of this example says they purchased it from the original petite female owner and that it has only 118,000 kilometers, which is only about 73k miles. They say it was a short distance commuter car and was not driven in the winters. Inside, they say it is spotless and all gauges and instruments work. On the outside, they say the paint still shines well, but there is some surface rust. Mechanically, they say it starts, runs, shifts, and stops fine.
Volkswagen sold nearly 300,000 MK II Scirocco but they have seemingly vanished from US roads, as their original owners usually drove them into the ground and they often succumbed to rust. Finding a good clean example of the MKI generation is extremely difficult and the second generation is getting harder too.
Available here on ebay in Ontario, Canada with bidding starting at $2,000 and no reserve.
Let me start by saying that I'm not the biggest fan of motorhomes. I work for a company that (among other things) tries to find sustainable solutions for end-of-life motorhomes, and it is not easy to say the least. Most motorhomes are extremely expensive when new, consume a lot of gas when driven, take up a lot of space when parked, and then depreciate like heck by the time you try to sell them. They are contrary to everything I believe a good passenger vehicle should do. They were an unfair deal to good but gullible folk of the 60s and 70s, when so many seemed to been made by GMC. Today, they are impossible to get rid of in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner.
Despite all that, I definitely admire the idea of seeing the country by road, so if you have the urge, COTC recommends this rare Vixen to do the job. By the 80s, an emphasis on aerodynamics, aesthetics and efficiency took widespread hold on the auto industry and eventually trickled down to recreational vehicles as well. The solution to those unsightly, bulbous and poorly made motorhomes of the 70s was the hi-tech and progressive Vixen of the 80s.
Even the name "Vixen" suggests a departure from other brands. Only 578 were built between 1986-1989. The sleek fiberglass body was designed by Bills Collins and stood at slightly over 6 feet tall so that it could fit in garages. The body was wind tunnel tested to create the smoothest and most aerodynamic shape possible, resulting in a drag coefficient of less than .30 on early models like this one.
Helping even more was a BMW-sourced 6-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, most notably used in the E28 524td. It made the BMW the fastest diesel-powered passenger car of its day, and although the engine has several thousand pounds more to move with the Vixen, it still provides ample power while getting a remarkable 30 miles per gallon. Combined with a low center of gravity and wide stance, these were capable of speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Clearly, a lot of thought and engineering went into making this a "driver's RV" if there ever was one.
The seller of this example has owned it since 1993 and says it is a fully contained 21ft. long version. The roof tilts up to increase headroom to 6'6", so most adults can walk around standing. They also mention it has the Air Ride suspension for comfort and composure over the worst road surfaces.
If you have to have a motorhome but want the coolest one possible, this is it without question.
Available here on craigslist in Skagit, Washington for $23,000.
The 80s were a roller coaster for Audi. At the beginning of the decade they seemed poised to overtake BMW and Mercedes as the no. 1 German luxury car maker. But then the U.S. media came out with a fabricated report on unintended acceleration in their 5000 model and their reputation and sales plummeted. Only by the new millennium did their sales return to per-acceleration debacle levels. Today, they are just another fancy and expensive brand, fully revitalized and emboldened.
The 4000 was otherwise known as the "80" B2 platform. It was offered in North America from 1980-1987 with either gas or diesel, and either front- or four-wheel drive.
This is a rare diesel FWD version. Audi put a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine under the hood, most likely a Volkswagen unit.
The styling is also sourced from Volkswagen. This was when Audi was still borrowing heavily from them, so the 4000 can easily be mistaken for a Fox or Passat. That's not a bad thing, as these were angular, sparse and lean looking in a good way.
The seller of this example say it has a 4-speed manual transmission. Early Audi are known for their horrendous reliability, but that was mostly related to automatic transmissions, so the stick shift and relatively simple diesel engine are a relief. But the seller does say this has electrical lighting issues. Fortunately, they say it's otherwise in working order, and welcome test drives. If you're looking for a fuel efficient commuter car with flaws, this could be it.
Available here on craigslist in Klamath Falls, Oregon for $1,500 or best offer.