1981 Mercedes 230 Wagon: Row Yourself

Surprisingly, this 1981 Mercedes station wagon available here on craigslist is neither a diesel nor an automatic model. Instead, it sports a gasoline engine and a 4-speed manual transmission, a striking departure from the oil burning slushbox models we’re accustomed to seeing. Plus, it’s only $2,900 and doesn’t seem to have many issues beyond cosmetic faults. The seller says you’ll need new carpets and tires, two fairly basic/easy improvements for even the only-slightly handy owner. This car is crying out for some European glass headlights and H&R suspension, two modifications you can justify thanks to the low cost of entry and wise investment that is the W123-series Mercedes.

A Modern Classic: 1989 VW GTI 16V

Finding a second-generation VW GTI is no small feat these days, especially if you want one that’s unmodified and still retains its original 16-valve engine, the best choice of motor for a true hot-hatch experience. This stock MK2 VW GTI listed on craigslist in the San Francisco Bay Area is claimed to be a genuine barn find after the original female owner retired it from daily duties. With the exception of missing headliner (a common flaw of this generation), this car appears impressively stock with an excellent original interior, factory teardrop alloys, and its original front chin spoiler still in place. For only $3,989, this is a bargain-basement price of a likely appreciating modern classic.

1991 Volkswagen Corrado: Unfortunate Auto

The Corrado has always been one of my favorite cars. To this day, the styling is among the best I’ve ever seen come out of Wolfsburg, and clean Corrados still look surprisingly new when you see them on the road. This example here on eBay is a 1991 G60 model, supercharged from the factory. Sadly, it is saddled with an automatic transmission which is less than ideal for a car that relies on boost to make speed. It’s a shame, because this car appears to be a survivor-grade example when many have been extinguished from the roads either due to abuse or excessive repair costs. Of course, it could be that slow-shifting auto that kept it from such fates. The seller doesn’t offer much in the way of detail, which you’ll want before committing to buy – but for $3,900, you could likely make most of that money back by parting it out if it turns out to be a dog.

1982 VW Rabbit Truck: Clean Interior

Don’t judge this VW Rabbit pickup by its exterior. It absolutely has one of the best interiors I’ve yet seen on a VW of this generation, and rarely do you find these old work trucks with clean accommodations. Listed on craigslist for $4,000, the owner has worked on it for the last 3 years to make it a reliable daily driver and the interior a place you won’t mind spending some time. The drivetrain has received some significant attention, from a new headgasket, glow plugs and a transmission from a 60K mile example. Some fresh paint to address the primered areas that are merely controlling some surface rust spots would make this truck shine. And the MPGs can’t be beat!

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!

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 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 »

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 »

1991 Audi 200 Quattro Avant: Heartbreaker

Every now and again, I like to stick my head into the auction site Copart for some hidden gems. Mostly, you expect to find a car or two that may be appealing on some level, but overall, you can understand how it ended up on a salvage auction site. Then, there are cars that have no right languishing in a salvage yard, even with some modest damage. At Barn Finds, we were left scratching our heads over a seemingly-clean Buick Grand National that looked mere inches away from being a daily driver; well, this next one made me wince even more: a 1991 Audi 200 Quattro turbo wagon that’s been poked in the rear and slapped with a salvage title. Will this rare beast survive the scrap heap? Read more »