Cheap Craigslist Projects Roundup: August 2013

Well, I've been at it again...trolling Craigslist for strange stuff. I've actually found a pretty decent amount this time, and they're all oddball cars so I know they won't be everyone's cup of Earl Gray. Variety is the spice of life, and a crappy magazine, so without futher adieu....

Here are the oddball Craigslist project finds from Illinois this month.

Disclaimer: I don't know any of the following sellers, and I don't have any vested interest in them. I'm only sharing information and trying to keep old stuff out of the scrapyard. Don't sue me or anything. 

1. 1976 Mazda Cosmo 

This unique Japanese car was the first Mazda nameplate to receive the Wankel rotary engine back in 1967. It was only imported into the US in 1976, 1977, and 1978 as a luxury sport hatchback with Mazda's 13B motor. Looking at this car, its almost a cross between a Mazda RX-7 and a Toyota Cressida. The dude that posted the ad wanted $5K for the car and its no longer posted on the Craigslist Chicago I assume that he got it. When is the last time anyone has seen one of these?

I'm okay with not seeing another one again, since this US version is quite ugly.

The original posting has expired.

1973 Austin Marina GT

Speaking of awkward cars, this poor Austin Marina GT hatchback has been sitting in Michigan City, Indiana for quite a while. Nobody likes the baby poop color scheme, the obnoxious US-spec 5 m.p.h. crash bumpers (can't blame 'em for that one), or the fact that it was built during a time of great unrest at British Leyland. Labor strikes, quality control issues and financial woes plagued them and as a result the company was nationalized in 1975. This model is the first year of the US-spec version, which only was shipped here until 1975. With a few tweaks, these can be decent rally cars, but with such a low export number and a cheap $999 asking price, this should be preserved as the dodo bird it is.

The folks at Top Gear have killed many Marinas over the UK show's lifetime. I can't understand why...but I'm not British.

 1980 AMC Spirit

They're orphan cars. They have no power. I still want one. Look at how well preserved this early 80's time capsule is, right down to the two-tone brown decals and Cragar mag wheels! All that's missing is an 8-track of Billy Joel's "Still Rock and Roll to Me". An AMC 258 inline six backed by a Chrysler 904 automatic powers this beast and still commands respectable fuel economy. It appears that AMC's rust-proofing process on the Spirits really worked, since I can't see too much of it on the car from the photos. For the age and condition, the $2500 asking price isn't half bad, which naturally leaves plenty of leftover cash for your 401 engine swap.

 1986 Maserati Bi-Turbo Convertible

How much would you pay for an Italian roadster with a low-mileage twin-turbo V6, sport-tuned suspension, and supple leather interior? If you raised you hand and shouted "$4800!", then you're the high bidder on this little convertible that Time magazine called one of the "Worst Cars of 1984" and the BBC included in their book called "Crap Cars". Why all the hatred for these ultra-rare Europeans? Well, Italian cars are a finicky breed. But if you can deal with the temperamental nature of the Bi-Turbo, you'll be rewarded with spirited performance and an interior that would leave new car owners jealous. If you've seen the inside of one of these cars, the seat material looks like the nicest pair of leather gloves you've ever seen. The tiny V6 also sounds great at full throttle. Just buy a shop manual and a Triple A membership and you'll be fine.

1979 Plymouth Champ

I want to go ahead an apologize right from the start on this one. I never expected to even talk about the Plymouth Champ / Dodge Colt platform in my life. I always wanted to forget that they were ever made, but apparently I can't because there is one for sale 20 miles from my house for the paltry sum of one thousand smackers. When this version of the badge-engineered, FWD Mopar came out, they had the highest EPA mileage rating of any US car at 45mpg. That's even better than the Chevette! That was good news to consumers looking to rid themselves of gas-guzzling RWD domestic cars during another oil crunch.

The Champ / Colt platform was built by Mitsubishi and was the company's sneak attack ( second sneak attack, technically) into the US through Chrysler, who owned a 15% share of the company. The success of this model allowed Mitsubishi to expand deeper into the North American marketplace. Mitsubishi rewarded Chrysler by supplying turbochargers for their K-car engines and later V6 engines for their minivans. The Diamond Star Motors joint venture as well...all because of this ugly little egg on wheels. Pretty neat, eh?

While not the sharpest model on the road then or now, you could a 45mpg car for $1000? That sounds like cheap transportation to me no matter what decade you're in.



  1. Did this champ/colt have the infamous "twin stick" transmission? Anyone else remember this high low range. It was almost like the front sprocket on a road racing bicycle.

  2. Hi Kevin,

    I honestly can't recall if this one had it or not. What a strange little option though. I did come across an old advertisement that featured a little more detail on this.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hello Kevin,
    Yes this car had a shifter labeled High and Low. I know this because when I turned 16 it was my first car. It was a fun little car with a 4 speed manual transmission. I could fit a lot of friends in it utilizing the hatchback! The 4 cylinder Mitsubishi engine took a beating and wouldn't stop. It always started no matter how hard I drove it. I would buy this car again in a heart beat!!


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