Early Bangle: 1996 Fiat Coupe Turbo

Utter the name of designer "Chris Bangle" among auto enthusiasts and a collective shudder will ensue. Bangle is an American who was hired as a stylist for BMW, and beginning with the 2002 E65 7-Series, radically altered the look, tone, and feel of all BMW vehicles, much to the public's disdain. During the late 20th century, BMW designs under Claus Luthe were always evolutionary, building carefully on each predecessor. These cars, like the E30, E32 and E34, were also built extremely well and when combined with the conservative styling, became seared in the minds of drivers all over the world as superior products. Bangle broke the evolutionary chain in favor of revolution. It backfired. The E65, with its bloated proportions, ridiculous trunk, overly complex electronics and unintelligible "iDrive", was a step in the wrong direction after the beloved E38 it replaced.

So what was Chris up to before he "bangled" up BMW? He worked for Opel and then Fiat, and this '96 Coupe bears his mark.

The Coupe was produced from 1993-2000. Bangle designed the body, and Pininfarina did the interior. Bangle's work here isn't half bad. It's quite in line with that Italian designers were striving for in the 90s, moving past the chiseled-from-steel edges and lines of the Eighties and into soft curves and minimalist panels. The unorthodox wheel arch shapes are interesting but give it an odd look from certain angles. The round taillights are nice. It's kinda futuristic, kinda pretentious. I also appreciate the rear wiper.

Inside, exterior color flows in and wraps around the dashboard to brighten things up.

Like Alfa Romeo at the time, which Fiat owned, the Coupe is front-wheel drive. Fortunately, under the hood of this example is the later 2.0-liter 20-valve 5-cylinder turbocharged engine. It pumped out around 217 horsepower and propelled the car from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, not bad. This one is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

The car is located in Canada and the seller says it has only 69,999 kilometers on the clock, which is only about 42k miles. They say it's in "perfect" condition inside and out. The also say it's one of just a handful ever imported to North America. The US currently doesn't allow cars newer than 25 years old to be imported for road use, but there are exceptions. Perhaps this could be made into one of them? The seller warns however if you are a US bidder and you don't have a concrete plan on getting the car across the border, don't bother bidding.

Available here on ebay with no bids starting at $6,000 and a Buy-It-Now of $12k.

1 of 1: 1986 Toyota Camry Custom Pickup

I've been intrigued by the first generation Toyota Camry lately. Is it a classic? I loath what the car has turned into today: a bloated, overpriced and unreliable front-wheel drive vanillamobile. But in its first year, the original Camry was this lean and compact ultra-utilitarian vehicle for the calculator watch-wearing Reagan era commuter. Sure, it was fwd, but it was also cheap, simple, and extremely well built. It helped the body was a clean cut three-box shape of straight lines and zero pretensions.

So you can imagine my delight when I found a Camry that epitomizes the 1st gen's thrift to the max: a customized two-door pickup version, one of only one in existence to my knowledge (unless this was a common customization).

The seller has seemingly taken an '86 Camry four-door and done one heck of a chop job, removing the entire rear roof, seats, trunk and doors and replaced it with a pickup bed. I think it looks amazing, and the craftsmanship is extremely impressive. The cabin looks natural thanks to the b-pillars and side window slivers. There is no fold-down rear gate but the car is low enough that throwing items over the bed is easy enough.

Adding to usability is a 4-cylinder 2-liter turbo diesel engine putting out just 85 horsepower. Camry turbo diesels were offered by the factory briefly so they are rare. I'm assuming this was one such sedan before the transformation. There haven't been many complaints about Toyota diesels except that people wish they made more of them.

The seller doesn't shed much light on exactly who did this, how they did it, or why. But the pictures speak for themselves. Mechanically, they say the odometer reads 163k miles and it has new tires, brakes, belt, water pump and seals. They also say it's running well and turns heads. Toyota made diesel pickups, and there are also those Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickups, but there probably isn't another Camry Pickup out there, and this one seems ready to go for many more miles of dutiful service. Just check for rust and get the full scoop on the transformation then decide for yourself.

Available here on craigslist in Raleigh, North Carolina for $4,500.

Shipping a Classic Vehicle

Unless you are buying and selling vehicles on a regular basis the question about car transport and the costs does not come up often. You need to be prepared and know what to do if you are about to ship a car, and especially if it is a vintage or custom automobile. A classic car requires special attention when shipping and thus you need to find a car transport company with experience.

Find an Auto Transporter or Broker

Finding auto transporters is not hard today. All you need to do is go online and do a search for car shipping companies or services. Most established companies have their websites listed and optimized to give you the information you need. Find a few car carrier companies and a few brokers as this way you will have better chances of finding an affordable rate. 

Read Customer Review

When you find a few auto carrier companies online, how do you decide which one to go with? What most people will rely on customer reviews. You want to dig deeper and find out what other customers say about the companies you have chosen. Today most of us are willing to go and write a review when we buy a product or a service, especially if we are not happy with what we got. We voice our opinions all the time online now. So, before you decide on a company read the auto transport reviews online. 

Get Multiple Car Shipping Quotes

Once you have done your research and know the auto transport companies you are considering it is time to collect car shipping quotes. Getting multiple quotes will give you the opportunity to compare the cost of shipping a classic automobile. The car shipping rate will depend on the type of vehicle you are transporting, the distance, the type of transportation method and on how flexible you are with your pickup and delivery dates. Custom vehicles usually call for custom quotes so, often you will find yourself calling the auto transporter for a customized quote. 

Open or Enclosed Auto Transport


antique cars transport

Most auto transporters offer both open and enclosed car shipping service, which is good because that way you can choose. Enclosed auto transport is in general more expensive as it offers a better protection for your vehicle. Classic and custom car' owners prefer enclosed car shipping service because it preserves the car from weather elements, possible flying objects and from dust accumulation. It is more expensive so you will need to consider the level of service you want relative to your budge.

A Good E32 Is Hard To Find: 1992 BMW 735i

When I started looking for an alternative to my beleaguered and disappointing '08 Civic Coupe, I originally wanted an E32. I relished the idea of trading a flimsy late 2000s Japanese econony car for a bank vault-like 80s/90s German sedan. What I didn't realize was how few E32 there are left in reasonable condition, especially in New England (where I currently reside). It's basically impossible. And when I did stumble on a clean example, the seller wanted absurd top dollar.

Not that I entirely blame them. The 1988-1994 E32 remains a high point in BMW history. True, it marked a shift towards the "Lexusization" of the brand, when it grew in size and weight from its predecessor the E23 and abandoned manual transmissions. But it was also before the overly complex E38. The E32, then, is the best of both words: contemporary size and space and operable on a manageable budget.

The most desirable E32, in my opinion, are the early 6-cylinder versions which BMW stopped offering in 1992 and replaced with the infamous Nikasil-plagued V8. Sure, you'll get more power with the V8, but worse fuel economy and the possibility it could die at any time (slight exaggeration but still). The 6-cylinder is no drag racer, but it will get the job done and last you a long time.

The exterior styling by Ercole Spada working under Clause Luthe is another highlight. It is an absolute masterpiece, a sculptural icon of the late 20th century, combining industrial form over function, classic BMW cues, and slight art deco-esque flair. The L-shaped taillights, where the trunk lid seemingly cuts into the taillight form to emphasize closure, have been copied many times by dozens of manufacturers. Spada and Luthe took everything that was good about previous BMW designs and leaped into the future, but kept a firm hand on tradition. How they were able to do this balancing act is still a mystery to me, especially as designers are utterly failing to do so today.

Inside is one of BMW's best interiors. The instrument cluster consists of crystal clear white-on-black gauges that illuminate red at night. It's also got a nifty analog fuel economy gauge tucked under the tachometer, a remnant from the fuel crises of the 1970s when consumers and automakers alike paid special attention to thrift and conservation. The center console is a stack of rectangular boxes angled towards the driver for ease of reach. And everything tactile is black to deflect from stains and wear.

This particular survivor is looking unusually clean and crisp in rare light metallic pale blue over tan leather. The seller says this is a one-owner car that was given up due to health issues, and has a 144,200 miles on the clock. They also say it has the premium and cold weather packages, but make no mention of the mechanical status of the vehicle. I'd give it a rigorous test drive and ask for any and all maintenance records. Since it's located in Colorado and wearing Colorado plates, I'd also check for rust. The mileage is high, but this could easily hit 200k without any major problems if it's well cared for. You're getting a solid, stylish, and comfortable cruiser for under $5k. Not bad.

Available on the dealer's site here in Greenwood Village, Colorado for just $2,500.

JDM Snow Days: 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser LX

Although my E46 325xi is performing sufficiently in inclement weather (as it did this fine slushy winter morning), there are occasional moments when I wish I had something with even more traction like this Land Cruiser that was never officially offered in North America, but is here now.

The Land Cruiser is up there with the Land Rover Defender 90 and Mercedes-Benz Galendenwagen as classic off-road vehicles of the 20th century. They are not only extremely capable, but as aesthetic masterpieces of form over function, they are stylish, too. I have no doubt the Land Cruiser is considered by some to be the best.

The J70 Land Cruiser replaced the legendary J40 series in 1984 and is still in production to this day. This is the short wheelbase model with a removable fiberglass top. These are extremely rugged and heavy cars, weighing about 2 tons to keep them planted to the ground. Body plates were made 1mm thicker than the J40 for extra strength.

Underneath the hood is a 4-cylinder diesel engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The seller says the engine should be good for 500k miles before a rebuild, which could very well be true given Toyota's build quality from this era. They also say it gets about 21-25 miles per gallon and is fun to drive even at high speeds.


Cosmetically, the seller says the underside of the vehicle was rust-proofed. They say the rocker panels were also replaced. There are some lingering spots of surface rust around the doors and windshield, however. They also say a carfax report regarding rear accident damage may be from having the rockers replaced and rear bumper being powder coated, and they have checked for dents and bondo and found none. Inside, occupants meet a no-nonsense, hyper-utilitarian interior of square angles and hard grey plastics. The seller says it has been treated with a wax/clay bar, and the carpets and seats have been shampooed and cleaned.

This is an extremely rare vehicle that seems to have had attentive ownership to date. The seller says it was brought here from Japan 100% legally by Outback Imports and they have a title and registration in hand. They say it now has about 86k miles, and could be ready for many more, despite the minor cosmetic flaws.

Available here on ebay in Kent, Washington with bidding starting at $14,600 but no takers so far and a Buy-It-Now of $15,950.

58k-Mile 1998 Lexus SC400

Lexus's original lineup - the LS, GS and SC - were instant classics when they debuted and 24 years later they keep gaining critical appreciation, even as their prices bottom out. Lexus touched upon every facet of automaking - engineering, efficiency, design, build quality, and marketing - and revolutionized each as well. All of their cars were stylish, extremely well built, and (initially) competitively priced. The brand was a high water mark for the entire industry.

The SC was the crown jewel in the arsenal. As if taking on the legendary Mercedes-Benz W126 with the LS400 wasn't enough, Lexus decided to cut into the premium coupe segment by launching the SC400 in June of 1991 as a 1992 model.

As fundamentally Japanese as Toyota and Lexus are, they are quite American, too. Lexus specifically designed their cars with the American market in mind. Styling of the SC was even transferred over to an American team at Calty Design Research Center in California. The original lineup were lean on the outside, spacious on the inside, had powerful V8 engines and automatic transmissions. They weren't exactly sporty but they were great long distance highway cruisers. In essence, they were super sleek and hi-tech reinterpretations of American cars of the 60s and 70s for the New Age 90s. The Japanese, having risen like a phoenix from the ashes of Hiroshima in 1945, had come to better understand what Americans wanted than Americans themselves.

Chief designers Denis Campbell and Erwin Lui said the SC body was based on "emotion and feeling" and possesses almost no straight edges. It is a complete rejection of the angular Blade Runner look of the early 80s, and even the slab-sided techno-industrial look of Bruno Sacco's Mercedes-Benz designs. Instead, it almost starts to recall the soft curves and slopes of cars from the 30s and 40s, but without the excess. The jellybean look became a trend for the rest of the decade and was almost parodied by Ford's ridiculous looking third generation Taurus, but on the SC it works beautifully.

Underneath the hood is the same 1UZ-FE V8 engine from the LS400 that pumped out a very healthy 250 horsepower to the rear wheels. Only an automatic transmission was available. A 6-cylinder version was also offered and with the option of a manual, but the added power of the V8 is preferable, even if you sacrifice the ability to shift manually, which isn't in the spirit of the car anyways.

Inside is classic early 90s Japanese design. In the same way that Mercedes-Benz and BMW mastered interior design of the 80s, the Japanese keep the same overall simplicity and functionalism but soften the edges, lighten the colors and smooth out the tone and feel of everything for the ultimate tactile and visual experience. It's like a spa or a vacation, but without the frivolity. It practically beckons for a Kenny G disc to be blasting in it.

The SC400 was produced until 2000 with minimal changes over the years - a testament to the success of the original design. Plenty were produced but they are often scooped up quickly and modified in the second hand market, making immaculate and low mileage examples like this rare. The seller says it has just 58,547 miles on the clock and that everything works. A carfax report and any maintenance records will fill out the rest of the story. Otherwise this thing could be ready for another 50k-100k miles.

Available here on ebay in Pennsylvania with a Buy-It-Now of $14,950 and the Make Offer option.

In the US: 1996 Alfa Romeo 155

North America missed out on Alfa Romeo in the 1990s. They stopped selling cars here in 1995. The last memory most US consumers have of Alfa Romeo is the big, expensive and front-wheel drove 164. While quite a looker, the platform threw a lot of people off. How could it possibly compete against rear-wheel BMW and Mercedes? It couldn't, and not surprisingly not many were sold.

A car that made a lot more sense was the smaller 155, which replaced the 75/Milano in 1992, but of course it was never offered here. Sure, it was front-wheel, but it was smaller, lighter and cheaper. I'd take this any day over a comparable Camry, Accord, Saab or Volvo from the same era.

It also looked amazing thanks to styling genius Ercole Spada (he of the BMW E32 and E34 masterstrokes). Spada's vision of a sedan is essentially a four-door version of the classic wedge shape of the 70s and 80s: squinty, narrow, tapered front-end, grooved sides, and a high chunky rear. It's a temple of form over function philosophy: the small front helps air over the car and the high rear forces it down again, not to mention providing ample trunk space. It all just makes sense. Refrigerator white only shows off the hard, crisp and clean lines and angles.

The seller of this example says they bought it in the US from a dealer, and assume it came in over a special rule that allows servicemen to import one car from overseas (new to me). Otherwise, it's illegal to import any vehicle 25 years and newer. They do say it has a valid Maine title however.

Cosmetically, the seller says it was repainted after an accident, and the steering wheel and shif tknob were stolen as well. Inside, they say there is some wear and stains on the seats.

Mechanically, they say they recently spent $1,500 nursing it out of a slumber, which includes a new fuel pump, rebuilt calipers, new master cylinder and one new brake line. They also say the fuel gauge is malfunctioning and the a/c needs a recharge.

The seller says they now need to get rid of it after tensions with their spouse (too much information). This car has clearly been through quite an ordeal and is far from perfect. But it's extremely rare and seems overall well kept, if a little unlucky. This is a fun collector car that will be a hit at the local Italian car show - but only for the right price, given the unsavory history and current incomplete interior.

Available here on ebay in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina with bidding at $2,137, reserve not met, and a buy-it-now of $5,200.

1989 Isuzu Impulse Turbo

This is a collector car in the making that nobody is watching, so there are ample chances to snatch one up for relatively cheap now.

Few were made, fewer were sold, and even fewer survive today. But the car's credentials, history and design are impressive and intriguing. It was conceived and engineered by Isuzu, designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro and tuned by Lotus. How many cars boast all that? None that I know of.

The Impulse was known as the Piazza outside North America and was produced from 1981-1990, but only sold here from 1983 onward.

Underneath the sleek two-box styling is a 4ZC1 turbocharged, inter-cooled 4-cylinder engine that powered the rear wheels. The seller of this example says it has a 5-speed manual transmission, cloth interior, sunroof and a "technics" radio. Cosmetically it seems to be missing a front grille and the clear coat is fading. Mechanically, they say the driver's side window and power steering pump have issues, but those could be easy do-it-yourself fixes for the knowledgeable.

In a few years there will be a real appetite for the Impulse. Their pedigree speaks volumes, and numbers of survivors have dwindled. On top of that, the rear-wheel setup and turbo boost also make them fun drivers, so they are usable and practical too.

Available here on craigslist in Des Moines, Iowa for $3,500 or best offer.

1990 Dodge Monaco

The Monaco was a clone of the Eagle Premier.

The Premier holds a special place in automotive history. It was the last car produced by American Motors Corporation before being acquired by Chrysler. The body was designed by Giugiaro (yes, Giugiaro).

When AMC realized people who bought their Wagoneer truck chose European cars for sedans, they set out to create a American car that could bring those buyers back. But with Renault parts, front-wheel drive and poor reliability, that effort failed. It was more on the level of a Camry or Accord (although it looked way cooler than both), but didn't sell nearly as many units.

The Premier was produced from 1987 to 1992. In 1990, Dodge decided to re-badge the car and sell it as the Monaco alongside the Premier. The car was identical inside and out except for some small cosmetic changes. If any examples of the Premier are hard to find today, the Monaco is even rarer. I don't have sales figures but given the brief production time and fact they get trashed then scrapped has to make them on the verge of extinction, if not so already.

The body by Giugiaro is one of his lesser known classics. Just as he set the standard with the wedge shape of the 70s, he createed the prototypical four-door family sedan shape of the 90s with the Premier/Monaco. It's a masterpiece of form over function, all clean straight lines and hard angles. No nonsense, but some people like their cars that way. I do.

The seller of this example says it has less than 94k miles on the clock, and is mercifully the V6 version. They say it was always stored in a garage, but, like a lot of craigslist ads, are scant on details. How many owners? Is there any rust? Is it even running?

Auto snobs will never accept the notion of a front-wheel drive four-door sedan as a classic, but the Monaco screams to be saved and recognized. How few examples have to be left for bells to start ringing? There's just too much history and style to be ignored.

Available here on craigslist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for "best offer takes it". First time I've seen that.

Blue Plate 1970 Renault R10

The Renault R10 was a more upscale version of the R8. Both featured a rear-mounted engine powering the rear wheels. Production of the R10 last from 1965-1971.

The overall length of the R10 was increased from the R8, as well as luggage space but the interior size remained the same. Power came from several four-cylinder engines.

French cars are quirky and this Renault is no exception, especially with the engine in the rear. Still, it's easy to forget that rear engines were once the norm, even on economy cars. Will the auto industry forever collude to keep us starved with front-engine, front-wheel drive, or will rear engine ever make a widespread comeback?

The seller of this example says it is a two-owner vehicle that wears its blue plates proudly. Cosmetically, they say it is "99%" rust free but does have some dings, dimples and dents that would be expected from a decades old vehicle. They say the interior is in good shape.

In the rear is the larger 1300cc 4-cylinder engine that the seller says doesn't leak oil or smoke and and runs well.

The seller says there are a stack of receipts that come from day one of purchase.

This is a charming little car that you don't see often in the U.S. It could be further refined to become a show car, continue as a daily driver or errand car, or both.

Available here on ebay in Ventura, California with bidding at $200.

33k-Mile 1987 Honda Civic DX

Seriously? Do I need to start a whole new blog dedicated to low mileage econoboxes?

This is like the third in the past couple months. It's a running joke here - why are the immaculate low mileage survivors the cheapest of cheap cars? There's usually no explanation other than lack of use.

But the beauty is that since they were cheap cars, owners trashed, thrashed and abused them, so clean examples are had to find, which in turn makes the low mileage survivors very notable. Suddenly, bells start ringing. How many are left? Is this the lowest mileage '87 Civic in the US? The world?

This particular survivor is a third generation Civic, which were made briefly from 1983-1987. The best of all the bodies was the nifty two-door hatchback. Space, style and versatility. You can get 30-40 miles per gallon, handle curves well, and fit a lot of stuff in the back. Nice.

A four-cylinder engine powered the front wheels.

The seller says the 33,080 miles are original and the car is beautiful inside and out. This being the DX, it is refreshingly free of modern comfort and conveniences, and has no air conditioning, power steering, radio, speakers, passenger side mirror, power windows or door locks. That's pretty amazing. All you do is get in, drive, and then arrive at your destination. Form over function in its purest expression. But it transcends that somehow to create some soul the Japanese cars just don't have anymore.

The seller also says it has no rust, new tires and was never smoked in. They say it's ready for the daily commute, and I couldn't agree more. You can easily get this up to 200k-300k miles with minimal maintenance. Grab it before it's too late.

Available here on ebay in Providence, Rhode Island with bidding at $3,950 and a Buy-It-Now of just $6,500

17k-mile 1977 BMW 633 CSi

The BMW E24 was the first 6-series. 86,216 examples were built between 1976-1989, before it was replaced by the better looking but more complicated and expensive E31.

Along with the E23, it earned the nickname "sharknose" for the forward leaning front end and narrow twin grille that mimicked animal nostrils. Sadly, BMW has since completely erased this memorable look from their entire lineup. It's a mistake, as it instantly identified their vehicles and set them apart from the crowd.

Legendary designer Paul Bracq penned the sleek shape and compact sheetmetal, moving the company forward while paying great respect to their past designs, as great designs should do. Note the thin pillars for plentiful greenhouse glass and superior visibility in and out.

This example is blessed with the slim European bumpers that transform the look and feel of the vehicle as it was meant to be. It does wear U.S. import side markers and jutting turn indicators, but those are minor gripes. The grey metallic flatters the shape even more.

Inside is one of BMW's best interiors, techno-business no-nonsense, with controls angled to the driver, pre-airbag three-spoke wheel, white-on-black gauges, and horizontal lines everywhere.

Underneath the hood is a 3.3-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that pumps out a healthy 194 horsepower to the rear wheels. The automatic transmission will turn off most buyers, but it's not a deal breaker.

The seller of this example says it has acquired just 17,400 miles and is in "impeccable" condition with an extensive history file. With mileage under 20k, this should really remain a sparingly used musuem peice, but it's tempting not to hit the road with it as a daily driver. Parts could be expensive, but it might be worth it. This is a classic motoring coupe from the 70s, and is an example of BMW near the height of their design and engineering powers.

Available here on ebay in Needham, Massachusetts for $22,800. For about the price of the average new American or Japanese econobox, you can have a classic German car that looks, handles and feels worlds better.