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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

The Best Guy on Craigslist: Packards, Hudsons, Lincolns and a Trio of Fieros

A couple weeks back I started what was supposed to be a trio of posts about The Best Guy on Craigslist with a quartet of Imperials and a pile of big-engine Caddies, but before the third post could run all of his ads disappeared. Now that they’re back, I figured I’ll highlight everything this guy has to offer, rather than rope you along. In totality, this guy’s collection/accumulation/hoard/junkyard is in pretty sorry shape (as many of you noted on the previous posts). However, if you look past the dirt and grime, there are a number of great powertrains to be donated or LeMons/low-budget builds to be made. Hit the jump for a collection of (what used to be) classy, heavy hitters

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Does it Get More Early 80s Than an EXP?

1983 ford exp for saleLate Malaise Era Ford earns points in my book for trying a bit of everything. They milked the ancient Falcon chassis all the way out to 1980 while simultaneously giving us the Fox and Panther platforms and threw the 2.3L turbo all over the place. With neither Henry the II or Iaccoca to lead, things got a bit wacky. The sporty-ish 2-seat EXP was apparently designed with stylish, childless singles or couples of early 80s in mind, though it’s hard to imagine the prototypical yuppies taking it seriously. That front end is giving me a some bad feels, man.

1983 ford exp for sale (1)1983 ford exp for sale (3)1983 ford exp for sale (4)

Today’s example deserves a serious look from anyone looking to pick up a relatively cheap sporty(ish) car that only car geeks can identify. Reserve’s already met at a little over a grand. There’s already one in LeMons, campaigned by the RUN EXP team, so at the least you’d need to come up with a new theme. They’re mechanically identical to all other first-generation Escorts, so parts are still available for cheap, possibly even an Escort Turbo swap is in order? Then again, this one’s got only 41,000 miles, and is said to be in near-pristine condition inside, with recent mechanical service. Tempting…

1983 Ford EXP (Escort) for sale – eBay Motors

The Best Guy on Craigslist, Part 2: Four Early-’80s Imperials for $2000

1981 chrysler imperial for sale

Unfortunately for me, I’m resigned to believe that a solid-axle, rear-wheel-drive Detroit V8 powered car can only be so bad. I’m just a notch too young to have experienced the contrast between a humble but reliable late-70s Honda and a corpulent, shoddily assembled contemporary Buick. With that in mind, The Best Guy on Craigslist’s fleet of 4 Imperials for $2,000 seems like a recipe for an incredibly successful and classy LeMons squad.

While the early and late cars spring to mind most quickly, we must remember the Imperial name graced the graced one of Chrysler’s last RWD cars until recent times. Sharing a platform with the Dodge Monaco and (non-Corinthian) Chrysler Cordoba, the early-80s Imperial came with a TBI’ed 318 V8, 904 transmission and a ton of cheesy early-80s luxury touches like fake crystal and over-padded velour seats.

While these seem to be run-of-the-mill Imperials, a good theme might be to construct one into each version of the special editions they were available in, most notably the Frank Sinatra SE, which came with a box set of 16 Sinatra tapes.

Check out all the slant-nose glory right here: Four 1981-83 Chrysler Imperials for sale – SF Bay Craigslist

We’ve got one more post from this seller, but that’ll have to wait for Thursday…

The Best Guy on Craigslist, Part 1: 1472ci worth of Cadillacs for $1600

1976 cadillac eldorado for sale

Yours truly, fellow Hoon Eric Rood and Murilee Martin aka Judge Phil spent the weekend sweating our undersides off dispensing justice at the World Record Setting* Vodden The Hell are We Doing 24 Hours of LeMons at Thunderhill Raceway, which means I’ve got LeMons on the brain. Scheming some ideas for ridiculous LeMons cars, my mind circled in on using the Cadillac FWD architecture of a massive V8 mounted longitudinally over a mutant TH400 transmission with CV shafts exiting east-west. Uncovering a pair of Eldorados on craigslist was just the tip of the LeMony iceberg. Noticing the cars in the background, searching the seller’s phone number uncovered a septic tank treasure trove too awesome to be contained in one post.

To lead off, we’ve got a fleet of Fleetwoods Eldorados for a distressingly low price. The Seller has a pair of ’76 Eldos in one Craigslist ad, with a ’69 in another. the ’76s are 500ci-equipped convertibles, while the ’69 is a 472ci hardtop. Don’t let the displacement fool you, the smaller ’69 is definitely the most potent of the trio, but the low-compression ’76s could be freed of their emissions controls and still deliver torque by the ton at the low end. Those low compression lumps will run on our crappy California gas without begging for octane booster. Besides, the lower CR leaves open the possibility of running some mild turbocharging for an even more ridiculous setup.

Oh yeah, that ridiculous setup…I know the Scrubbing Bubbles VW is looking for a new home. If not “Scrubby”, a VW Van probably provides ample room to nestle that powerplant in the rear. Not to impugn the 70 year old Volkswagen design, but maybe something more recent like an Astro Van would work better. Or (duh) you could just run them in their FWD Boss Hoggian drop-drop glory!

Pair of 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertibles for sale – SF Bay Craigslist
1969 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible for sale – SF Bay Craigslist

Tune in later for 2 more posts of awesomeness from the same seller…

*pending Guinness certification, which might take nearly forever.

You Could Do a Lot Worse than this 1987 Fiero GT

1987 pontiac fiero gt for sale I’m curious what cars my kids will think are awesome classics. “Fearful” might be the more accurate adjective, given how uncool my dad finds the station wagons I love so much. If I hear a post-millennial kid talking about a “sweet classic Fiero”, I could probably wrap my head around it if it’s as cool as today’s example. This 1987 Fiero GT sports a 2.8L V6, manual transmission and aftermarket digital dash conversion. It’s nearly as 1987 as you can get (still a little short on neon accents).

1987 fiero gt for sale (1)1987 fiero gt for sale (3)

The car has 114k miles, but received a remanufactured motor from Jasper about 20k ago and 15 years ago. He drives it 600 miles from Pittsburgh once a week, which is nothing to sneeze at in a 27 year old orphan GM vehicle. I’ll admit to having never driven a Fiero, so I can’t comment on whether the Citation suspension this ’87 sports is as awful as contemporary reviewers stated or if it gets a free pass on account of its age. The $2,200 OBO price, black over not-vinyl with a V6 6MT combination has my interest piqued, but thankfully tragically it’s far away in Ohio. Any midwesterners wanna take a look?

1987 Pontiac Fiero for sale – eBay Motors

I’m Thinking of Flipping this Jeep (but not in the typical way…probably)

1966 jeep cj5 for saleIt’s long been my goal to have my car hobby pay for itself, but probably never become a day job. Over five years, Hooniverse has helped towards that goal, but I’m also looking to get into a little more of a hands-on approach. I recently took a friend’s car from non-starting, non-running basket case to decent cheap commuter and made about $1200 in the process. The Missus is encouraging me to roll that forward…

Which is how this ’66 CJ5 caught my eye. Yes, it’s a total basket case. However, the seller’s asking $800. With a negotiated discount, that’s about the part-out-and-scrap value of the collective parts. Meanwhile, a crappy running CJ5 is worth around $3k. This one’s ugly, but has potential to get some attention with the 350 swap and…well…the 350 swap. There’s next to no information about whether that motor’s seized or an afternoon of work away from running. Same with the rest of the drivetrain. Might be little more than a lawn ornament for all we know.

1966 jeep cj5 350 motor

Assuming there’s a salvageable drivetrain in there, the nice part about a rough CJ5 is that expectations are low; more typical cars have failure points like A/C, stereo, doors, windows, glass or a roof, but not here. If I can get it running, turning and stopping, it’s already doubled or tripled in value. While I’m at it I might throw the wheels and tires (and maybe axles) from my Wagoneer under it as an excuse to get new ones. Oh, and I’d need to get a replacement title.

Would it be a well-sorted “buy it and drive it across the country” grade vehicle? No, but it’d be one cool 4×4 saved from the scrapyard and a good starting point for someone else’s fun project driver.

1966 Jeep CJ5 for sale – SF Bay Craigslist

Summer Holiday Souvenirs – 1977 Zastava 101 on the Nürburgring

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Let’s say you go for a vacation on an island in the Adriatic sea. What would you bring back home from there? A suntan? Some handicraft? Two of my friends went for something with a local flavour, and went halves on a 1977 Zastava 101. You could do worse.

Beni, the guy who drove to my town a couple years ago with a blue Miata via Norway, is no stranger to wrenching on older, quirky cars, as he also owns an X1/9. This pretty much means he wasn’t afraid to set off to Germany, crossing the Alps, in the pea soup green 1100cc Fiat derivative. The thing even managed a comfortable cruise on the revered Autobahn. Joe Isuzu was nowhere in sight, though.

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