1965 Plymouth Valiant 200 – $900

“I am selling Jim; he is a ’65 Plymouth Valiant 200 four door. It has a 273 V8 and 904 transmission. It has good tires and a four barrel carb. I drive it everyday. It needs some bodywork. It’s been lowered three inches in the back and two in the front. I would maybe trade for a 4×4 full size or a Jeep…. maybe a Mustang or Fairmont or a Toyota of some kind. Just tell me what you have.”

If there’s one brand that really didn’t deserve the ignominious fate it endured, it’s got to be Plymouth. Sure, Pontiac is equally easy to mourn over, having produced their fair share of cool automobiles, but at least Pontiac got to go out with a bit a bang in the form of the ultra-cool Solstice, Solstice Coupe, and G8. Plymouth, on the other hand, went out with a silver Neon. But, long before that accursed car ever infected the Chrysler Corp., or rather DaimlerChrysler, Plymouth got to build cool cars, like the Valiant. Kissing cousin to the Dodge Lancer and later Dart, the even more stylish Plymouth product filled the same compact car niche that goddamned Neon later would, and was credited by contemporary scribes at Road & Track with being one of the best domestic automobiles of the day. In its second generation by 1965, the Valiant made big news in 1964 as a result of the introduction of the solid-lifter 273 cubic-inch V8 engine engineered specifically for use in the diminutive Chrysler compact cars. Churning out 180 horsepower, the V8-powered 1964 Valiant was the most affordable V8-powered car in the world at the time, and followed that act up with a particularly potent Commando 273 for the following year. Making an almost ridiculous 235 horsepower, the Commando version of the 273 cubic-inch motor introduced a four barrel carburetor, higher compression, better exhaust, and a performance camshaft to the Valiant lineup, and made the little car quite the performance machine.

Which, of course, begs the question: does the four barrel under the hood of this Valiant 200 indicate the presence of that infamous Commando V8? Not necessarily, but it does bode well. Lending further credibility to that is the unquestionable presence of a 904 TorqueFlite automatic gearbox, a vinyl roof, and the 200 option package (which included a rear window defrost, seatbelts, carpet, variable speed wipers, and a host of other features), this car was obviously ordered by someone for whom money wasn’t exactly the chief concern… at least not when it came time to tick the option boxes on their Valiant order sheet. Another daily driver, this one’s ad may not be as lengthy and detailed as the Fargo from yesterday, but it’s probably in pretty fair shape, if the photos are any indication. Also, being a damn sight more common than the Fargo and with a pretty strong community behind it, this Valiant should be a pretty easy car for a potential buyer to own as well.

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1972 Mercedes Benz 280SE – $1500

“1972 Mercedes Benz 280SE for sale. This is a GREAT city vehicle with a tonne of character. 5spd automatic transmission, gasoline engine, sunroof, and power windows. New battery. Has a bit of rust on the front bumper as well. Car runs well, but would run great if someone wanted to put a little elbow grease into her. Currently in underground storage, covered. “

I will confess, I’ve never been a big fan of Mercedes Benz’ automobiles. With the exception of a few of their classic roadsters, I’ve always found their vehicles, both new and old, to be a bit too Germanic for my British-tuned tastes; when you’ve whetted your appetite on lithe Jaguars, there’s little room for a brand that put out a car who’s styling earned it the moniker “Pagoda,” officially. But, regardless, I must admit that they do have an undeniable presence on the road, especially the late sixties/early seventies sedans. This ’72 280SE is exemplary of the most common Mercedes’ of this era; large, luxurious, and stalwart. Among the first Mercedes Benz vehicles to really be manufactured in any great number, they were available in almost innumerable configurations ranging from spry short wheelbase coupes and convertibles to long wheelbase 6.3L V8 powered monsters destined for the garages of third world despots and dictators. This one, being a sedan endowed with the uber-common 2.8L inline six, is somewhere in the middle of the pack, trading the entry level 280S’ dual downdraft carburetors for fuel injection. This raised the horsepower level to 160 and allowed automatic transmission-equipped cars such as this to hit a surprising 185 kilometres per hour (manual gearboxes pushed that figure to an even 190), with 100 kph being surpassed in just over ten seconds.

Now, whether or not this particular example is capable of that performance is another matter entirely. Being both German, and one of the earlier examples of fuel injection extant means that this is one complicated car. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate into this being an unreliable car. Typically extremely well designed and beautifully executed, older Mercedes Benz’ like this offer a unique challenge for the tinkerer as they often don’t require the same degree of constant maintenance that many other classic cars do… but can prove difficult when things do go south as parts can require some diligence to find. Look for rust around the doors, both on the body and the complex joins that form the rear doors’ shape around the latch (as well as all the usual places around the trunk, floors, sills and fenders), but if the ad is telling the truth, corrosion won’t be a problem. Finally, considering most people that bought these cars were established older folks looking for a good, reliable car, check for issues stemming from disuse rather than abuse. These aren’t Mustangs and Camaros; many lived in covered garages, were cleaned regularly, and kept maintained, but a lack of exercise has led many of these cars requiring some mechanical exorcisms.

1973 Dodge Dart – $900

 

“1973 Dodge Dart Slant 6 – 225, runs well but not aircared at the moment. Low km as I can tell (80,000). Only 1000km on tires. Some spare parts included.”

If the Ford Fairlane was the darling poster child of the American sedan before 1970, the Dodge Dart has to be numbered among the same in the post-fuel crisis era of the early ’70s. Currying much favour with American car buyers thanks to its relatively small stature and thrifty, reliable, and famous slant six engines, the ’73 Dart was the perfect car for an America starving for fuel and buried under excessive insurance costs. As if that wasn’t enough hardship for the contemporary car buying public, an increased level of safety awareness led the American government to require all passenger vehicle be fitted with bumpers the size of small boats, and the result was the complete and utter ruination of the entire American auto industry’s various styling departments. A step that would even ugly up the indomitably attractive Jaguar E-type, the poor Dodge Dart never stood a chance. But, even with an overture to safety hanging off the front end, it wasn’t a bad car. Revised disc brakes, electronic ignition, a better starter motor, and a new engine subframe meant the cars were easier to maintain, while a different rear end kept costs down. Under the hood, the 225 cubic inch slant six made an advertised 105 horsepower and 185 foot pounds of torque; figures that were artificially deflated due to the then-new requirement that engines be tested with all ancillary accessories attached. Just two years prior, before the passage of that particular law, the same engine had been producing 145 horsepower and 215 foot-pounds of torque.

Undoubtedly, however, the passage of a few years’ time will have let a few ponies out from this particular Dart’s stable. Looking like one of the lower-spec trim levels (clicking through to the ad will undoubtedly surprise many new car owners who didn’t know seats could look so spartan!), potential buyers shouldn’t be dissuaded by the cars age, these things run forever. The ad doesn’t specify which transmission is behind that little slant six, but the smart money’s on an automatic, which will make for one easily maintained ride. Additionally, as long as rust hasn’t taken a hold in the trunk, floors, or quarter panels, most of these old Dodge’s come with a pretty thick coat of paint that, although typically heavily oxidized, will come up to a pretty good sheen with a little polish and wax. And although it’s once-handsome visage might have been pillaged by the safety police, a cleaned up ’73 Dart sedan would still be a pretty slick looking ride… especially when it’s just $900!

1940 LaSalle – $2300

“1940 Cadillac Lasalle for sale by owner, needs some love and attention…see pictures and email for more information. $2300.00 OBO” 

First off, I feel like I must apologize for neglecting the blog as of late. It’s been pretty hectic, but to make a long story short, things have finally gotten squared away and regular readers can once again look forward to regular updates.

So, to breathe a little like back into the blog, I thought I’d start with something pretty special: a 1940 LaSalle. A brand created to fill a perceived gap in the General Motors lineup, LaSalle became Cadillac’s companion, conceived by styling magnate Harley Earl as a more lithe-looking and agile counterpoint to the big Cadillacs of the day. By 1940, they had grown a wee bit, and although being universally praised as excellent vehicles, suffered the same fate as Pontiac and Saturn have as of late… and for the same reason. Never quite recovering from the recession that slowed sales in 1938, LaSalle was officially pronounced dead in 1941, when it was replaced by the then-new Cadillac Series 61. But with 130 horsepower and great styling, the 1940 LaSalle made sure the brand went out with a bang.

It also ensures that although it may be one of the older cars to appear here, this 1940 LaSalle will be more than capable of handling the daily chores demanded of it by its contemporary owner. However, it’s impossible to make much of an informed decision with such a spartan advertisement. But, if the pictures are any indication, it seems as if it’s in relatively good shape.

1969 Mazda 1500 – $1700

“Moving, must sell! Any reasonable offers accepted, cash sale. Vintage Mazda 1969 model 1500. The car was originally designed by Italian design-house Bertone. It is a very gorgeous little car, in excellent original condition. All lights original in working order. White with black interior , one small tear in back seat at windshield. 4 cylinder, New Voltage regulator, new rebuilt water pump–well maintained DAILY DRIVER. Minor body rust on front hood. As with all vintage vehicles, will need ongoing work.”

It’s always a little odd when you stumble across old Japanese cars. I mean, when it comes to cars from the summer of love, you always expect to find a Blue Oval or Bowtie on the hood… not a Mazda emblem. Subsequently, they make for intriguing and interesting collector cars that, to be honest, aren’t without their own challenges. And so it is with the Mazda 1500. One of the largest sedans Japan produced during the period, the 1500 served as a good stop gap measure between the smaller import cars like the Mini, and the bigger American-made six-cylinder sedans like the Falcon and Nova. Available in two trim levels, the 1500 could be had in standard and deluxe trims, with the deluxe models receiving folding armrests, a power antennae, and a clock in the dashboard. Performance was middling from the 82 horsepower four cylinder, but the car curried favour with drivers looking for a true mid-size sedan with reasonable fuel economy and good safety features.

Being a very uncommon car, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect when walking up to one such as this. Undoubtedly, being made of Japanese steel circa Creedence Clearwater Revival, there’s going to be some concerns of rust, as evidenced by the ad’s admission that the hood is apparently rusty… although that’s a pretty weird place for rust to appear. However, if the car is indeed used as a daily driver, there shouldn’t be all that much wrong with it… but my concern would be fixing what is wrong with it. Like so many other little known Japanese classics, parts and support will prove the largest hurdle for any potential owner, and all that one can really hope for is to find at least a couple good suppliers. Then again, if the running gear or suspension is one its last legs, perhaps it would be a great vehicle with which to experiment with Miata/rotary parts swaps?