1983 Jaguar XJS: Anglo-American

There’s that old saying of loving a car for its beauty but hating the thing for its dodgy mechanics. I’ve always thought the Jaguar XJS of the 1980s was a superb looking car and a great choice for a grand tourer, if not for the fact that its British heritage made for less-than-stellar reliability. This 1983 example on eBay addresses that issue with an engine swap in the form of a small-block Chevy mill, and it says to be a running and driving example for only $2,800. While the seller says it’s in overall good condition, it will need to be trailered – so that leaves some questions as to the extent of this Jag’s needs. With the classic good looks of the XJS combined with reliable SBC power, this appears to be one example of British engineering anyone can turn a wrench on.

1983 Volkswagen Golf GTI: The Rare Spec

While there’s always excitement surrounding the discovery of a GTO or Challenger, some of us get equally excited about the unveiling of an ’80s hot-hatch with an abundance of period-correct tuner goodies. This 1983 VW Golf GTI (eBay calls it an ’80, but the seller labels it correctly in the listing), also known as a MK1, is located in Greece, but can be found here on eBay. It might be a bit out of our typical price range, but it is just too interesting to overlook! Now, for those of you who don’t follow the import circuit, this car is stacked with period modifications from German tuning company Oettinger, which includes lots of cosmetic add-ons and a few engine tweaks, including upgraded camshafts and an engine oil cooler. The Zender body kit is equally desirable as are the Zender Turbo alloy wheels; all in all, this MK1 GTI is a mobile parts catalog for the 1980’s German tuning scene. When done correctly, that’s not a bad thing. I doubt this car will end up stateside, but considering how hard it would be to re-create, you never know.

1983 BMW 633CSI: On Schedule

In the world of BMW maintenance, respecting the various fluid change intervals and routine maintenance is considered part of the aptly-named “old-school” maintenance schedule. Although the way this system is described changes with each owner, it’s refreshing to see a classic like this 1983 633CSI here on craigslist still receiving the proper treatments as if it were a new car just going through the motions of earning stamps in the maintenance booklet. These older 6-Series always looked a little bit unfinished to me, compared to the later editions that came with factory air dams and spoilers, but this particular example appears better than most – and the newer BMW alloy wheels look pretty sharp. Throw in working A/C and you’ve got a great classic daily for not much scratch. This one will go fast, if everything in the ad checks out – but the day is coming when prices for good E24 6-Series won’t be this cheap. Special thanks to Robert R for this tip!

1989 Alfa Romeo Milano: BMW Alternative?

When I think about what I could have purchased in 1987 as a competitor to my 325is, the first car that comes to mind is the Mercedes-Benz 190E. In fact, I owned one of these many years ago and it remains one of my favorite highway cars. Next I might think of the Audi 90, though I don’t believe it was ever positioned as a true rival to the 3-Series; the point is, I don’t think Alfa Romeo. But the Milano sedan was designed to be a cheaper alternative to the E30 3-Series, complete with impressive driving dynamics, a standard manual transmission, and six-cylinder power. Credit finicky maintenance as a reason why it doesn’t have the legacy of the BMW, but that doesn’t mean cheap projects don’t exist: check out this 1989 example here on eBay listed for $4,800 in Michigan. Read more »

1984 Volkswagen Scirocco: Back to Basics

Over the years, my emphasis on what matters most in a car has changed greatly. It used to be an obsession over exhaustive mechanical records and an ownership history paper trail above all else. And while that’s important and valuable, I’ve learned more often than not there still end up being a host of repairs needed even on cars with lots of records. That’s why I’ve adjusted a bit, now taking into consideration more often the car’s interior condition as well as mechanical needs. When an interior is mint, it tells you a lot about the care that’s been taken elsewhere – which is why this 1984 VW Scirocco on the Samba classifieds caught my eye for $2,000. Read more »

1981 AMC Eagle SX/4: Outdoorsman’s Coupe

One of the lesser known tales of the automotive industry is AMC’s reinvention of itself from a company known solely for producing the Jeep to one that introduced a segment that is one of today’s hottest markets. Although we typically see the negative side of the energy crisis that stripped many vehicles of any performance credibility, the birth of the AMC Eagle was a bright spot: the company created a reliable, affordable vehicle with good power and 4-wheel drive capabilities. While the AMC Eagle is most recognized in wagon form, the SX/4 was a variation on the theme that combined the rugged AMC powertrain with a lifted coupe body. One of these rare variants is available here on craigslist in Michigan for $2,000 – would you consider it for your next hunting vehicle? Read more »

1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SL: Cheap Class

If there was ever a car that at one time was the must-have of the elites and is now frequently entrenched in “beater” status, the Mercedes SL springs immediately to mind as a luxury vehicle fallen from grace. The mass produced roadster at one time graced driveways and the silver screen, becoming synonymous with wealth and class; now, it’s an affordable entry into classic ownership – but often times, still carries with it the pitfalls of buying an expensive car cheaply. But is this 1981 example found here on eBay in Florida cheap enough to justify the investment? For $2,699, it just might be. Read more »

1991 Jeep Wrangler Renegade: Flared 4×4

There’s a buddy of mine I haven’t seen in years. He was my best friend in high school and we shared a passion for all things automotive. He was a Jeep guy and I was into the foreign stuff, but we respected each other’s interests equally. One vehicle we always achieved consensus on was the Jeep Wrangler Renegade, which even to this day we email each other about whenever one pops up for sale. Isn’t it amazing how a vehicle can forge a bond like that, even when the rest of life’s business doesn’t provide the opportunity? As you can see, this 1991 Renegade edition listed here on craigslist for $5K in Roanoke, Virginia brought back more than a few memories for yours truly. Read more »

1984 BMW 528e: Q-Ship Ready

Today marked a milestone in my 1987 535is’ road to recovery: most major mechanical items were buttoned up, allowing me to finally drive the thing as intended. Since the day it arrived, it had some maladies that prevented me from really understanding what it was all about, first due to frozen struts and then a rumbling driveshaft. With those and other ailments fixed, it finally drives like it should. All in all, it wasn’t a terrible list for a car that was largely neglected for the past 3 years. If you want to join me in my crusade, Credit Card Classics reader Jim S. sent in this 1984 528e that he found here on eBay for only $1,750 – a relative steal for a running, driving E28. Thanks Jim! Read more »

1980 Mazda RX-7: Rotary Classic

Although I rarely go autocrossing these days, one of my favorite memories is of a track-only example of the first generation Mazda RX-7. Driven by one the fastest drivers in the Fairfield County Sports Car Club, the car blatted out the distinctive (if not ear-shattering) noise of a rotary-powered mill as it hustled around the course. Copper in color with wide racing slicks, it routinely dominated the day despite its power output being modest in comparison to almost everything else on the course. That’s where my mind wandered while looking at this first-series RX-7 available for $3,950 here on Knoxville’s craigslist. Read more »