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Weekend Edition: Cheap 1992 Peugeot 405 Mi16 is a winterbeater find


What is the best justification for a car purchase? Buying one out of need, want, or nostalgia? This 1992 Peugeot 405 Mi16 combines all of those three, and I got it home last weekend.

I’ve found it funny for a while, that despite having several cars, I’m constantly lacking a honest-to-god daily driver that does it all. It’s already late November, which means that my MX-5 is going into winter storage, under cover, freshly inspected and washed and waxed. I won’t daily it like I did last winter, as it needs some rust work and I’d hate it to develop any more rot than it already has on its rockers and rear arches.

The 205 will also go off the road, as I have purchased a lot of interior parts for it, and the seats will be taken out and refurbished. The torn driver’s seat is the single biggest blemish on the car at the moment, and it needs to be put right. My humble VW Polo is on its way to be finished, but it’s hardly a highway car. And the Sierra? The less said, the better, but it’s been out of use for the best part of 2015, and motivation to put it right is dwindling along with little, insignificant parts breaking.

So, there you have four cars that necessitate the purchase of a fifth. And here, you have the fifth one. Four cylinders, four doors, 16 valves, 600 euros. A perfect recipe.

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Retard vers la futur: DMC-ized Citroën BX for sale


There’s a few good possibilities for a DMC replica build, if you’re extremely fond of that Giugiaro folded paper design but lack the wherewithal to get an actual, legit, crowd-pulling DeLorean DMC-12 just in time (groan) for October 2015. You could start by dressing up a Volkswagen Scirocco, or if you’re into the more obscure, you can get a LeMons-grade Isuzu Piazza and slap some ducts on it.

This guy who will remain anonymous, but lives at the post code 50400, has built his own DeLorean that’s both closer and further from the original, using a Bertone-designed Citroën BX diesel. Hey, if you’re going to build a DeLorean out of a car, why not do it with style?

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Weekend Edition: The Lure of the 800 Euro Car


I’ve decided I won’t be buying another beater this fall. It’s an easy decision to make, since I still have four cars under my ownership: the Miata, the 205, the Sierra and the Polo. The Volkswagen is going to be reassembled by someone else, as it’s painfully apparent I won’t be fixing the engine together myself (or haven’t done it over the past two years); the Sierra needs a bit of welding to pass MOT, and then it’ll either perform winterbeater duties or get sold altogether, albeit I’m still tempted to Merkurize it to the best of my abilities. The 205 will stay and get improved on, and the Miata will be taken off the road for the winter so the rusting will be at least slowed down.

Yet, the market is full of AMAZING DEALS for 800 euros, as the summer is inevitably ending and people don’t know where to put their cars. Everywhere I look, there’s a dead end waiting there’s something that needs rescuing for 800 euros – or less. The Miata was cheaper than that in Germany, originally; the Sierra was cheaper than that, the Xantia I used to own was priced right there: with a loose grand, you can pick something up and even fix one or two of the initial problems. Let’s take a quick look at some of the stuff I’ve seen for sale recently in this beautiful used car country.

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Project Regretmobile Dodge Magnum, Part 1: An elegy for sensibility


This is Kevin. Kevin doesn’t know why he’s agreed to help me.

I am not a smart man.

We must get that out of the way here because it will make understanding the rest of this story so much easier. This is going to be a long build story about me, Eric Rood—a complete idiot whose mushy brain is filled almost entirely with Bad Ideas—and my struggles with building a $200 1979 Dodge Magnum XE to race in the 24 Hours of LeMons. Naturally, I’m already two months behind on telling the story of this Personal Luxury Coupe.

This Last of the B-Bodies.

This Malaise Era Mopar Orphan (Mop-phan).

This rusting 3,900-pound albatross.

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Someone Rescue this SAAB 96 from an Oakland Tow Yard

1968 saab 96 for sale

Who among you failed this quirky brown machine? I’d argue there can’t be more than three degrees of separation between myself and the person who owned this ’68 96, allowed it to be towed, and then failed to claim it. Quirky and ambitious Oakland resident, I AM DISAPPOINT.

 1968 saab 96 for sale (1)1968 saab 96 for sale (2)1968 saab 96 for sale (3)1968 saab 96 for sale (4)

Anyway, let someone else’s screw up be your gain: this thing’s on eBay with a $700 obo price, but a $295 lien sale mandatory fee. What does a grand get you? Looks like someone’s very much in-progress project: the interior’s mostly removed, but the body’s straight with sections that look like new or super clean old and the engine’s present. The after the jump, the Yard’s eight-plus minute walkaround video probably shows it better than I can…

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Who Needs an Early Celica for Cheap-as-Free?

1973 Toyota Celica for sale (1)

Not long after Ford (or, arguably, Plymouth) pioneered the “sporty car on a mundane sedan chassis” pony car formula, even Toyota got in on that action with the 1970 Celica. They based the Celica on the Carina chassis, but with bigger engines and cooler styling. I’ve no hands-on experience with 70s Celicas, but I see a compact longitudinal-layout vehicle with parts interchangeability reaching into the late-80s, and there’s a lot to like about that. While this one lacks the “Japanese Mustang” looks of the ’77 liftback, it benefits from a pre-smog year of manufacture. With a curb weight just over a ton, there’s no shortage of engines that’d make this thing scream.

1973 celica for sale (1)1973 celica for sale (2)1973 celica for sale (3)

Condition wise, this one’s a “side yard car”, to be sure. The seller just wants it gone and a puzzling mix of parts (the pedals and steering wheel) are missing. One fender’s mis-matched (a ’74), there’s typical rust around the front/rear windshields and the hood is “not salvageable” (though it’s unclear why). As much as I dislike seeing relatively rare cars get all hacked up for drifting or hardcore offroading, if ever there was a candidate for box flares and a welded diff, this is it. We’ve gotta hand it this seller: he started the auction at $1 with no reserve. True Adam Smith free-market pricing in action, which (as I type this) places the value of this car somewhere around $285 after 24 bids. Auction ends Wednesday afternoon, so we’ll see how much it climbs by then.

1973 Toyota Celica for sale – eBay Motors

This 1971 240Z is Pre-Lightened for LeMons Domination!

For those of us looking to broaden our automotive skill set, the biggest fear is attempting some a first-time job on a car we care about and screwing it up. Some hippy named Janis said “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, but let’s apply the converse and claim this car’s truly free as it’s got nothing left to lose. Specifically, it’s been sitting since the late ’80s and has severe rust issues. If only there were a way to reinforce that unibody by bracing it with heavy-gauge metal tubing…hmmm. If the thing’s gone so spongy a cage won’t have anything solid to mount to, who’s to stop you from tacking in new sheetmetal as needed? There are no concourse judges in this vehicle’s future.

Mechanically speaking, well, it’s all there. Whether it’s “all there” in a cosmic sense that all the original iron, aluminum and carbon molecules are still present but with their locations more, well, randomized (i.e., scattered about the bottom of the oil pan) or “all there” in a change the oil, plugs and gas for re-ignition sense. It was parked back in the late 80s for a reason, after all.

The seller’s asking $700 obo, which puts it in perfect range of LeMons pricing, particularly once you unload the various OEM trim bits this one won’t need while trading paint/rust with a Cerlist-diesel-powered Fiesta or Slant Six e30. Auction ends Friday afternoon, get on it! (but not too hard; you’ll fall through the floor)

1971 Datsun 240z for sale – eBay Motors

1959 Ranchero: A LeMons Car that Can Haul its Own Parts?

1959 Ford ranchero for sale

2015 might mark my return behind the wheel of a LeMons racer. The hope is to find something that’s pre-smog to allow for street legality without worrying about regular emissions testing. Also, old cars are kinda terrible, so they don’t get too much scrutiny in BS inspection. The actual goal is to find a three-pedal 1960-1965 Ranchero and milk the Mustang parts interchange for all it’s worth. Having a trucklet around might actually prove kinda handy, too.

But then there’s this thing: even older and more terrible than the engineered-to-the-cent Falcon platform: a full-size Ford based 1959 Ford Ranchero. According to the tiny sidebar in the Craigslist ad, it’s got a V8 (would be a 292ci Y-Block if original) and an automatic. It “just needs a carb”, which might mean the current carb is in wretched shape or might mean it’s been sitting in a field with the intake and half the cylinders open to the elements since the Carter administration. There’s (literally!) a truckload of extra parts to sell off to abate the current $1500 asking price, which will in turn free up the bed for a (literal) truckload of bribes. My understanding is that late-50s Fords were early NASCAR/Dirt-oval favorites, which suggests there might still be some old-timey cheats suspension upgrades to be thrown at it. I’m thinking a gardener theme, with everyone running around the paddock with annoyingly loud leaf blowers.

Source: Gold Country Bay Craigslist

If this were an Action Movie, Someone Would Hotwire this 50 Year Old Landcruiser and Drive to Safety

1964 toyota land cruiser fj45lv wagonToday I lamented to a co-worker that our labs (at my day job) never look like movie science labs. In place of all glass-and-steel rooms, they’re typically the drop-ceiling-and-fluorescent-lights ambiance of every other cubicle farm. Similarly, a decrepit 4×4 like today’s 1964 Toyota Land Cruiser tends to miraculously come to life after a an hour of fiddling. Alternately, there’s something needed (gas, part, oil, etc) that sends one or more people on a mission that results in death, discovery of some new fact or revealing of secrets (“I’m not sure I trust Steve…”), then it starts right up just as the bad guys arrive.

Now, in fairness, if any vehicle could be resurrected in the span of a plot point it’s an F-powered Land Cruiser. This one’s got a three-speed, power nothing and most of the parts needed to make a driver out of it. Leaving the Zombie Apocalypse behind, we applaud the seller on a no-reserve auction and no claims of five or six figure valuations “if you can put in the work”. It’s $750 as I type this, which is still below the part-out value.

First step is to put that “new owner” energy to use and install/mend all the simplest items available, with a fast track towards driving it around the block. Clean out the carb, flush the fluids and feed it off of a gas can if you need to. Long-term, there’s a case to be made for a more modern, but still in the family drivetrain swap (pushing horsepower into the triple digits!). Upgraded brakes might come in handy as well. I’ll do what the seller’s too good to and point out that FJ45 wagons are actually quite valuable, so taking this one from “abandoned side-yard special” to some form of project driver could well be a cash-positive venture (provided you assign $0/hr to your own time).

1964 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45LV 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