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Mid-Engined Rat Rod Pickup Gets an A for Concept, C+ for Execution

1935 mid engine rat rod pickup for saleWe try not to be in the business of too much mockery or negativity here at Hooniverse. It’s not that we’ve got no teeth, but that we do Car Stuff (writing, wrenching, racing, driving, etc) for fun. The world’s a serious place with enough serious business going on; we use Car Stuff as a refuge. When we run out of awesome stuff to talk about we can traffic in outrage and cynicism.

That said, there’s room for commentary and critique. The idea of a mid-engine-ed (sigh…) rat rod pickup is an attractive one. Plenty of room and frame rail to mount up a bitchin’ powertrain for the world to see…or maybe better hide it under a toolbox or something like these guys from this year’s Thunderhill LeMons. With so much room, one could drop in a cool I-8, a gnarly industrial/aircraft/marine powerplant or a unique FWD choice like a Cadillac 472/500. Alas, the (sadly, deceased) builder of this car elected for a more obvious choice: Chevy 350/350 combo on a big box-steel frame attached to a Jag IRS.

But maybe we can salvage it to something a dash more creative. First off, we need to fabricate a functional frunk. There’s ample room up front for luggage or kegs. The radiator’s currently in the grille, but were it relocated to the bed a much more aggressive chop could be taken out of the grille/hood area. That, or replace the grill with a solid “shield” of polished or die-rolled metal or something cool. Out back, we need to lower that IRS some (looks like it’s trying to avoid being kicked in the nuts), ditch those fuel tanks (for a single unit up front?) and fab some semblance of a bed. If you wanted to get really “theme-y” with it, you could add an engine stand/hoist and make it look like it’s hauling its own engine as cargo. Put the radiator in there askew to add to the effect. goofiness aside, this thing could probably be made into a decent performer. Also, can you think of any other vehicle with independent rear, but solid-axle front suspension?

Anyway, the current bid’s $4,000 with the auction ending Friday afternoon.

1935 Rat Rod Mid Engine Pickup for sale – eBay Motors

Topless Tuesday: Fiat 124 Spider is the Best $1800 Bad Decision You Can Make

1976 fiat 124 spider for saleOk, look: $1,800 isn’t pocket change, but it is the kind of money you might be able to make available for the right cause. This is the right cause. We’re talking about a gorgeous Italian roadster in functional shape with no major bodywork issues. This is a car you could buy now, enjoy before the weather gets too wintery, spend a few hours sprucing up over winter and sell on the first gorgeous day of spring next year for a tidy profit.

“Oh, it’s Italian! It’s rare! Fix It Again Tony!” Bah! The Fiat twin-cam motor ran from 1966 to 2000, putting it on-par with any of your favorite Detroit-sourced motors. It powered numerous Abarths over the years as well as the epic Lancia Delta Integrale. The Spider itself remained in production from ’66 to ’85 (From ’83-85 Pininfarina took over), meaning parts shouldn’t be all that hard to get. Plus, it’s gorgeous, in an understated ragazza della porta accanto kind of way.

Some argue that the Miata perfected the sporting roadster of years gone by, that any money you want to spend towards a cheap, fun sports car should go to the best Miata it buys. These people aren’t wrong…but they live too comfortably.

Auction ends Thursday morning!

1976 Fiat 124 Spider for sale – eBay Motors

Weekend Edition Quick Hit – The Irrational Want for this 1979 Chrysler Newport Sedan is unexplainable…

Chrysler Newport Sedan  eBay - Google Chrome 10252014 22144 PM.bmp

Welcome to a belated edition of the Hooviverse Weekend, and let’s start things our this way… Can anyone explain why anyone would want this particular Chrysler R-Body Newport, let alone why I have this insatiable want for what is probably one of the worst Chrysler products of the late 70’s and early 80’s? I can’t explain it, I can’t rationalize it, it’s just there… So what do you think of this very red, very rare piece of Chrysler history?

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Malaise Showdown: Cosworth Vega Vs 4-Speed LeMans

1975 cosworth vega for sale1975 cosworth vega for sale

With six divisions and 50% market market share, GM of Old could afford to offer a variety of flavors of “sporty” cars. The “Colonnade” styling of the A-body midsizers, introduced in 1973, embodies so much of the Malaise Era: overwrought and overweight, housing large but disappointing powerplants, a desperate hollow ploy to hang onto what made the 60s great. Meanwhile, on the communist side of town, the Vega represented the new reality of Diminished Expectations: America was going to have to make due with less. Smaller, lighter and more advanced was the future, and the Vega was here to show us the way.

But if you’re reading Hooniverse you already know all that. The Vega was about 3/4 done when launched and the Colonnades are almost lovable if properly overhauled to be more beefy than porcine. Such is the case today. Our Pontiac’s been blessed with a warmed-over 389 from a ’66 GTO, backed by a four-speed Muncie M22. The interior’s decent (as ’74 Pontiacs go) and the paint’s good. I’d do the details differently: wheels and tires that fill the wells, no hood scoop and probably one four-barrel instead of two. However, overall the package looks like a fun machine for parking lot donuts and some decent drag passes. The reserve’s unmet at $3,150, but I’d guess this is a $7-10k car.

“One Vega for the price of two”, the Cosworth Vega is arguably the more Hooniverse car here, in that it’s a crappy platform that might just have some potential courtesy of some choice upgrades. Wait…I just said that about the Colonnade. Ok, anyway, the Cosworth Vega came equipped with a 2.0L motor checking all the right boxes: all-aluminum, DOHC, EFI, stainless header, and a decent-for-the-time 6500RPM redline. Alas, in production trim it only managed to deliver 110 net horsepower.

Our example’s in damn good shape—from 20 feet away. The paint’s original, faded and rusted in only one spot according to the seller. Otherwise the listing’s pictures show the interior and engine bay to be in great original shape. With a $2499 opener and $3600 buy-it-now, this actually looks like a damn good deal for the Best of the Worst.

Malaise Light or Original Flavor?

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Weekend Edition Quick Hit – Here is a US market 1974 Opel Manta 1900 with less than 24,000 miles…

Opel Other  eBay - Google Chrome 10102014 123600 PM.bmp

Let’s take a look at an original 1974 US Market Open Manta 1900. The Mantas I remember from the time period was in the Luxus trim package, meaning that they all had a higher grade plush interior fabric, AM and FM Radio, some fake wood trim on the dash, and Rallye Wheels instead of hub caps and trim rings. Well, this car has none of that, but is it still desirable?

… Continue Reading

Chase that Waning Summer Sun in a Celica Sunchaser

Tim Odell October 9, 2014 eBay Insanity, For Sale

1981 Celica Sunchaser for saleFrom about 1978 to 1994, Toyota was a seriously bitchin’ company. Specifically, they made funky versions of their mainline cars (4wd Tercel Wagon? Turbo 4Runner?) and still used tons of shared engineering so almost anything bolts to almost anything else. In line with the former, we have this 1981 Celica Sunchaser pseudo-convertible. In line withe the latter, it shares its 22R and W-series transmission with the 9 humillion Hiluxes of the era. Parts will be available right up to the day we all evacuate to Alpha Centauri. The Sunchaser was actually a third party special made by the Griffith corporation, but sold through Toyota dealers (Toyota did a similar thing with the Trekker proto-4Runner and Winnebago). The roof was modified with a removable middle section and soft rear.

toyota celica sunchaser for sale (1)toyota celica sunchaser for sale (3)toyota celica sunchaser for sale (4)

This particular Sunchaser is a rare “normal kinda old” condition for a funky special edition car like this; usually your options are “perfect as-new” and “hopeless beater“. I suppose the ambitious among us could swap in an angry motor from LC engineering and an 8″ LSD rearend from a Supra or Truck to make a really weird sleeper. I’d probably re-skin the seats and spend my time fiddling with that awesome graphic equalizer.

Seller’s asking $3,400 obo, listing ends Friday!

1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser for sale – eBay Motors

Bad Idea Porsche Showdown: Neglected 928 or 350-swapped 944?

Tim Odell October 7, 2014 eBay Insanity, For Sale

v8 porsche 944 for sale

I see the 928, more than its contemporaries at the quintessential high-end 80s car. The 911 carried too many quirks for a high-powered double-breasted suit wearing 80s Business Guy. The 928 was supposed to be the high-tech grand tourer that so many 911 buyers really wanted. Paralleling the imagined owner, I only find myself appreciating the neglected, rough, “fallen” examples longing just to go for a drive from time to time. Spare me the near-new condition, it hasn’t aged well. To that end, this Euro-spec five-speed 1979 928 that’s mostly been sitting has me intrigued. The seller did complete some basic maintenance, which had it in good enough shape to go “see 38 Special in Wendover last year” (…?). It’s also had a crappy “carbon fiber flame” wrap inflected upon it that even the seller admits didn’t come out too well.

In contrast to the 928, the 924-944-964 lineage never managed to carry any prestige, despite the legit performance credibility of the latter two. That’s what sharing Audi/VW parts and only having four cylinders gets you, it seems. This one’s suffered the all-too-common carbed 350 swap, but might still be worth a damn. Thankfully the seller’s used a Renegade Hyrbids kit to adapt the 350 to the original transaxle. The seller says “NOT equipped to do burnouts”, and I’m trying to gauge if he means that’s a drawback or to discourage quarter-milers from asking about line-locks and 9″ rearends. He admits he dropped in the 350 because he had a cheap one available, but an LS would pretty much bolt in its place after that whole swap’s gone through. Probably worthwhile to start collecting spare transaxles as a precautionary measure.

So, the 944’s most certainly the better option here, and the unmet reserve at $1,625 versus the $1,000 price on the 928 reflects that. Maybe the 944 will perpetually fall between stools of a proper German sports car an a bitchin’ camero, while the 928 just needs some maintenance to be a fun cruiser. What say you?

1979 Porsche 928 – eBay Motors

1985 Porsche 944 with 350ci V8 Swap – eBay Motors

How do you take your V8 front engined Porsche?

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Found on eBay: Lada-powered Soviet Formula Vostok

Eric Rood October 3, 2014 eBay Insanity, For Sale


In the past, this writer has occasionally found some worthy racecars for sale on eBay: a vintage Elva, a bright-green Challenger, and one of the last IMSA GT Porsches, to name a few. They’ve all been interesting in their own ways, but nothing—and I mean nothing—has ever come from so far out of left field as to puzzle this Hooniversal Hoonitarian. Until I stumbled upon this Formula Vostok open-wheel racecar, I simply had not ever considered that the Soviet Union would have held a Bourgeoisie affair like motor racing. Yet, here lies the evidence to the contrary: a Soviet-era racecar powered by a 1.3-liter Lada engine.

Sure, the driver’s feet protrude well out in front of the front axle—Even if “crash boxes” had been well-developed in 1987, the Soviets surely wouldn’t have built them in race cars for another decade—and a tall pilot like that pictured will feel the air of dozens of kilometers per hour on his or her shoulders, but how great would it be to casually pop in to the local HPDE next to Corvettes and M3s with a racecar built and raced by Mikhail Gorbachev himself?









OK, I made up that last part. Nevertheless, this is a unique opportunity to purchase and import a weird car that, unfortunately, currently resides in Riga, Latvia. The seller claims the car was fully restored in 2012 and modified to accommodate a tall cosmonaut (Soviet for “wreckless human being”). Information on the web seems hard to come by regarding Soviet motorsports so I have little to offer by way of explaining what this car is, but the starting auction price of $13,000 seems a tad steep, especially if a potential buyer wanted to ship it stateside (eBay’s shipping cost estimator seems to have melted down at the suggestion of shipping a car from Latvia to the U.S.).

But can you really put a price on a weird piece of motorsports history here? Surely, this is a racecar that can be fixed at a Siberian racetrack (Those exist, right?) with a crescent wrench and a blowtorch, like most robustly engineered marvels of Soviet spartanism.

Estonia 21M Soviet Formula Vostok



“Just Add Sweat” I-6 to V8 Ranchero Might be a Great Project Car Deal

Tim Odell October 2, 2014 eBay Insanity, For Sale

1965 ford ranchero for saleWouldn’t it be awesome if Ford made a compact pickup using the Mustang chassis? Might be a little tough with the 2015’s IRS, but the previous 50 years’ iterations would work just great, right? Oddly enough, a more accurate description of the original Mustang is a Ranchero-based sports car. Anyway, if you’re more likely to transport material than third or fourth passengers, a Ranchero gives nearly all the performance potential of a classic Mustang with the utility of a light-duty pickup. Sounds like a great entry-level project car to me.

Today’s example is borderline for my First Project Car Rule of always buying a runner (or close to it). The current 200c.i. I-6 and three-on-the-floor drivetrain is “said to run”, but hasn’t been started by the seller, who’s listing for a deceased friend’s family. The big selling points on this one are it’s dry Arizona location and a pile of V8 drivetrain parts. There’s a 302, V8 motor mounts, aluminum radiator, C6 and 8″ 5-lug rearend included. The rough condition of the interior upholstery, weatherstripping and trim are the biggest deterrents, though most would be easily sourced from Falconparts.com or the like.

The best way forward would be to get the current drivetrain running and at least as “weekend driver” grade functionality. Then, in the background put together all the parts to swap in the V8, a four or five-speed, 5-lug disc brake front end and 8″ rearend. With the right garage, tools and friends that could be a one month swap. In reality, it’s probably more like a whole winter or summer, but still time well spent.

Bidding’s at $1,125 as I type this, but the reserve’s unmet. I’d say this car’s a $2500 example and the pile of parts maaayyybe $1000. We’ll see if a bidder and the seller agree when the auction ends Saturday.

1965 Ford Ranchero – eBay Motors

Weekend Edition – What would you do with this 1976 Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia?

Mercury Other Ghia Edition  eBay - Google Chrome 9272014 92258 AM.bmp

Welcome to another Hooniverse Weekend Edition, and I thought I would start out with this eBay listing of a 1976 Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia Sedan… Wait, what is a Mercury Grand Monarch? Well, these cars were built as a near top of the line model to bridge the gap between the Luxury Imports being offered during this time period, and yet offer all the comfort and plushness expected of the full-sized domestic Ford Models. Make the break, and I will fill you in…

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