Craigslist Crapshoot

The World’s Worst Car Is For Sale On Craigslist
Welcome to Craigslist Crapshoot, our weekly search for the most bizarre, awesome, and/or terrible vehicles that the online classifieds has to offer.
Last week we went looking for some cool kit cars—and yes those people who think kit cars are cool are a special breed. You still came up with cars that bred some pretty cool discourse. We’ll get to all that in just a minute, but first this week’s quest.
In case you haven’t noticed by the cold temps and hot toddies it’s winter in the northern hemisphere. That’s an especially rough time to be a car, owing to the icy roads, de-icing salts, and in some areas snow that needs to be shoveled off before you can even get out on the road. That’s why it’s a good idea to pack your regular, good-weather car away and pick up what is the object of this week’s attention: a winter beater. Let’s see if we can’t find the best deals in cars to get us through the dark days of winter, and maybe have some fun while we’re doing it. Money is no object.
As always, we want your finds to go down in infamy and not in the site’s spam filter. Since we’ve changed commenting systems, you may need to update your commenter account. Make sure you have a Disqus account – they’re free and easy to get – and then comment away.
Got that? Good, now let’s get our kit on!
The term kit car was broadly interpreted last week. At one end of the spectrum we had expected cars like the Alfa Romeo kit, offered up by ptschett. At the extreme opposite end was a Mazda Miata found by engineerd that, while not originally a “kit car” now came as needing some assembly owing to its having been rendered unto its base elements. Both were pretty cool projects, but perhaps not as cool as the Batmobile molds dug up by 1977ChevyTruck. Think of the possibilities with those!
OA5599 dredged up a one-off special that was sort of a kit car, and one that I have had the (honor?) of actually seeing in person. Yes, it’s really that horrific. A palate cleansing Fiberfab MGTD kit was found by tonyola, and is one that I used to have a major jones over. At a little over $1,600 for the fiberglass, that’s not such a bad deal either. Also not so bad was salguod’s find of an entire kit car company up for grabs on the eBay. Looks like a sound business decision to me, shall we go in halves?
If that’s a little too rich for your blood then Kiefmo came up with a Laser 917 project for a grand, with pics taken in a Walmart parking lot. That’s a real deal kit car, the kind that really let you get the looks of an exotic without the stigma or provenance of performance. Our winner however gives you both. It also brings to light the conundrum over what is a kit car and what is a continuation car. The Bill Thomas Cheetah submitted by Andrew_theS2kBore could be considered to be both.
Congrats to Andrew_theS2kBore, and thanks to everyone for the marvelous contributions. Now, let’s beat it.
1964 Bill Thomas Cheetah recreation

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36 responses to “Craigslist Crapshoot”

  1. Kiefmo Avatar

    You say price is no object, but to me, the definition of a Winter beater is whether you care if it survives the winter intact. I need to be able to walk away from it after rolling it into a tree on a snowy road and feel no regrets.
    That said, this $850 Escort with a whole lotta miles will have enough power to get into trouble in the slick stuff with the meek 2.0L four, and keep it entertaining with the 5-speed.
    Also, someone please buy my damned van so I can get out of the doghouse:

    1. salguod Avatar

      That’s exactly what my daughter drives – ’98 SE 5 speed, but she’s “only” at about 165K or 170K miles. I can tell you at that mileage it feels done.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Winter is not the time to be buying a winter beater – that being said, my needs for a winter beater: MUST have 4 wheel drive (I don’t need a lecture from you urbanists living below the Mason-Dixon line, for me, it is a must). It’s also really damn cold here, so the quicker a truck warms up the better – big motor, little cab area. Bonus of a manual transmission so you can control the shift points, and not have to wait for an hour for an auto to warm up. This big block powered 1 ton ticks all the boxes. Bonus points for a Boss V-plow. Price isn’t necessarily beater money, at almost $8k, but you’ll make it back plowing driveways or selling off the plow.

    1. Guest Avatar

      Mmm…. I agree, this one checks all the boxes.

      Living on a farm in central Alberta, I can definitely appreciate a pickup with 4×4.

      Personally, I’d prefer a GMC from the next generation, since I’ve had good experiences with them, but I definitely wouldn’t turn this one down. (My dad has a 2000 (2500, 6.0L, 4×4), and it’s been low maintenance since day 1.)

    2. Ol' Shel' Avatar
      Ol’ Shel’

      The rubber looks a bit wide for plowing work, no?
      Call me old and cynical, but I’m as wary of 4Xs with aftermarket wheels as I am of WRXs owned by young males.

    1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
      Wayne Moyer

      It’s all in the winter clothes you wear. Otherwise you won’t get stuck.

  3. ptschett Avatar

    I like 4wd, good ground clearance, comparable interior space to my fair-weather vehicle (ruling out a regular cab), and garage-parkable to be able to take advantage of a block heater and the inherent warmup advantage of not being exposed to the depths of space on those clear cold nights when it’s -30. So, something like this…
    (I miss mine. Still waiting to hear back whether the insurance company thinks its totalled or fixable…)

  4. engineerd Avatar

    Up here in snow country it’s a good idea to get AWD for surefootedness in the often insane traffic. Generally, people shy away from expensive cars because of the salted roads. However, I think you should look good no matter what. Therefore, I would totally buy this 2004 Bentley Continental GT to use as a winter beater. Permanent Torsen AWD, a 552 hp V12, and gorgeous body lines will make those suckers in their rusted out VW Jettas dream of being a 1%er.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Does the engine put enough heat into the cab to overcome the lack of windows?

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        By the principles this was build after, I’d expect an extra torrent in the fuel tank just for the heater.

  5. mdharrell Avatar

    By the way, I went to look at this last weekend (because of course I did) and still don’t know quite what it is. The design and build quality both seem to be remarkably high, although of course the condition is rather poor now. The only identification is a California-issued ID tag. It also appears to have been plated for street use at one point. Anyone recognize it?

    1. Guest Avatar

      If you can’t recognize it, I’d be surprised if anybody could!

      I agree with your summation though. For such a simple, boxy VW kit, the build quality definitely looks impressive.

      It’s a shame that it’s so far gone, I’d love to see it, or one like it, fully restored.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I was thinking more along the lines of skipping the restoration and running it in a LeMons Rally.
        The guy selling it got it from a guy who brought it from California who got it from a guy who… well, you get the idea. The vague story accompanying it is that there’s a touch of aerospace in its background. It has that flavor to it but it still seems like something’s missing.

        1. Guest Avatar

          With the rivets, tube chassis, and aluminium panels, I can see where the aircraft stories come from.

          You’re right though, it doesn’t quite fit.

          I would think an aircraft manufacturer, or even a race car builder would try to integrate aerodynamics a bit more, and would have the ability to create the necessary curved panels.

          The main “problem” I see is its intended function. It does’t look like it has the moderate off-roading ability of a Meyers Manx, and it certainly isn’t trying to be sport like a Fiberfab or Bradley. It looks cool, but not in a mass-appeal sort of way.

          My best guess would be a prop for some low-rated space film, but even then there should be some information on it.

          Like I said though, I like it.

          It reminds me of this VW based “truck” I found a while back.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            The seller and I discussed the possibility it was a prop, but we both think it’s just too well put together for that. The amount of work in hidden areas, such as the complex of supports for the pedals, brake master cylinders(!), and so forth, is staggering. It also, for example, has dash gauges to monitor the temperature of each cylinder head. Nobody would have gone to that much trouble for something that just had to look okay on camera.
            It seems to have the supports for what may have been a tow boom at the back, but that just raises more questions.
            Interesting truck. The guy with the mystery, um, machine, also has a VW-based homebuilt sports car that he said was designed and constructed locally by a Boeing engineer and his son. The tubular chassis and aluminum body (with simple curves) made it a reasonable story. He offered the two vehicles as a package deal.

          2. Guest Avatar

            I’m getting more intrigues the more I hear about it.

            It seems reasonableto conclude that it wasn’t built for looks, or at least that wasn’t the main idea. So it must have had a purpose. But what on earth could that be?

            The plot thickens…

            That sports car sounds pretty neat, as well. Do you have any pictures of it?

          3. mdharrell Avatar

            I didn’t take any photos but it was a car I’d seen on Craigslist before and, I believe, posted here several months ago. Its most distinctive feature is a horizontally mounted spare tire that projects from the “grille” to do double duty as the front bumper. That doesn’t necessarily make it sound appealing, but it is a rather handsome vehicle with very much a scaled-down late ’50s or early ’60s custom look.

          4. Guest Avatar

            Ah, so basically a reverse Healey Silverstone?

          5. mdharrell Avatar

            Now that you mention it I want to say that comparison was made at the time, too.

    2. gerberbaby Avatar

      Looks like it started out life as a street sweeper.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Aside from the VW powertrain and suspension, it looks to be all custom fabricated.

    3. Victor Avatar

      That is the only one I have ever seen!

    4. Alff Avatar

      Not surprised you don’t recognize it, as they were likely gone before you moved to Seattle. This is one of the original toll booths for the 520 bridge.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I see the resemblance, but if that were the case then it would already be in my driveway.

        1. 0A5599 Avatar

          True. A toll booth is a lot easier to move than some of the contents of your driveway.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            Plus I could make a fortune by charging myself for each vehicle.

          2. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            Ah. The power of lateral thinking.

  6. joshuman Avatar

    Relatively cheap 1992 Audi 100 Quattro with a manual transmission. It has miles on it but who knows how many? It’s missing one of the fog lights and the radio is broken. Maybe the stuffed animals are included.

  7. mfbseth Avatar

    “…sounds like a Subaru…”
    It’s stick, 4WD, cheap ($400.00), and may only make it through the winter. That’s my definition of a winter beater.

  8. mrh1965 Avatar

    Call it a winter beater or just a beater but this 95 Camry with rebuilt engine might be just the thing. The driver’s door lock does stick so.. don’t lock it. Nobody gonna steal it anyway.

  9. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    Geez, I’m kind of surprised how many people demand that four wheel drive for a winter beater. When I think winter beater, I think Volvo. Here’s a ’89 244 with a five speed for just $900.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      These make GREAT winter beaters with a set of legitimate winter tires on them and a little weight in the trunk. In fact, in snow I’m more comfortable driving a RWD with snow tires than an AWD on all-seasons.

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