1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia TC
South America, particularly Brazil, has a love affair with the air-cooled Volkswagen. Production there lasted considerably longer than it did many other places in the world, such as the United States. It was also home to various special-bodied VWs like this Karmann-Ghia TC. Styled by Italian design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro, the TC was based on the Type 3 platform shared with the Fastback and Squareback, and is powered by a 1.6-liter version of VW’s famed flat-four, air-cooled engine. Although the rakish exterior profile of the TC is quite different from the conventional Karmann-Ghia, the interior appears little changed. This one appeared to be offered in solid “driver” condition and sold for about the same amount as an early conventional Ghia would in similar shape. A unique car for the price.
1995 BMW M3 Lightweight
We’ve been keeping an eye on the E36-series M3 Lightweight market, especially since the record-detonating prices paid for the five ex-Paul Walker Lightweights at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction back in January. Those cars ranged in price from $385,000 for a sub-5,000 mile car down to $165,000 for a 32,000-mile example. This car on Bring a Trailer had been used more, showing 93,000 miles, but its generally excellent condition, recent service, and clean CarFax make its $80,063 sale price look market-correct to us. Just 126 of these Lightweight cars were built and while the driving experience isn’t five times that of a base E36 M3, with so many standard M3s built, BMW buffs are always looking for something unique.
1969 Triumph GT6
In the 1960s, if you couldn’t come up with the scratch for a Jaguar E-Type, a Triumph GT6 was the next best thing. Based on a modified four-cylinder Triumph Spitfire platform, the GT6 boasted two E-Type traits: a sleek coupe body style with a lift-out rear window for cargo storage, and a straight-six engine up front. This car was treated to a full restoration with an uprated 2.5-liter engine and immaculate cosmetics. The seller says the bodywork and paint alone was a $29,000 proposition. It’s tough to find GT6s in good shape these days, owing to their long-affordable price and propensity to rust. This must have been one of the nicest in the country, and it appropriately sold for about what a scruffy E-Type coupe would. Frankly, we’ll take the Triumph any day. Very well presented and sold, though we’ll bet the seller took a loss on their total restoration costs.
1995 Chevrolet Corvette
Don’t look now, but you just missed one of the better BaT bargains in a while. For less than eight grand, this second-to-last year C4 Corvette with 300 hp, a rare six-speed manual transmission, and 76,000 miles on the clock could have been yours. Yeah, it’s got a damage report on its CarFax and the removable roof panel has a small crack, but this car looked terrific and ready to go. The C4 doesn’t get a lot of love at the moment, but these were fairly groundbreaking cars at the time, with nearly 1.0 g of lateral grip right out of the box and 0-60-mph times in the 5.0-second range. In fact, C4s were so dominant in SCCA racing that they were banned for a time, forcing them into the Corvette Challenge spec series (in which our resident hot shoe Andy Pilgrim competed). At least one bidder was paying attention and stole a nice summer toy.
1987 Mercedes-Benz 280GE Cabriolet
We never got these two-door, drop-top G-wagens in U.S. dealerships, but they look like the more masculine SUV equivalent of the Volkswagen Cabrio of the same time period. This Euro market go-anywhere luxury ute’ looked to be in strong shape with an indicated 22,000 miles (true mileage unknown), a 2.8-liter inline-six and a four-speed manual transmission with two-speed transfer case. Most of the two-door G-wagens we see come up for auction are the coupe variety; this Cabriolet version brought about 30 percent more than the closed versions typically do. Sounds about right to us, especially with the four-speed. A perfect vehicle to keep at your Rocky Mountain cabin or Southern California surf shack.
1989 Citroen BX 16 Valve
Is there a more futuristic-looking 1980s four-door hatchback out there? We certainly don’t think so. This Citroen BX would have fit right in as an automotive extra in Back to the Future Part II, but it didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 2017 when an American imported it from Portugal. Besides the sweet 16-valve 1.9-liter inline-four engine and five-speed manual transaxle transmission, this car has Citroen’s famous self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension. Condition looked to be good, but we suspect finding parts for a BX—and a willing mechanic—will be adventures for down the road. An interesting, unusual car for ten large, to be sure.
1991 Nissan Figaro
The Nissan Figaro is a sub-compact (but not quite kei-sized) Japanese car with retro styling, similar to today’s Fiat 500. Somewhere around 20,000 were produced (all in 1991) with turbocharged 1.0-liter engines making 75 hp backed by three-speed automatic transmissions. Sporty? Not really, but a Figaro is still a hugely fun car to drive with the roll-back canvas roof and retro-timeless styling. These have been age-exempt from federal importation laws for several years now, and often prove to be unique and affordable, two words that don’t often go together. This one is a great around-town runabout at a fair price.