Monthly Archives: January 2012

Garage Corner: 1993 Mazda MX-5 Miata – Sound off!

In sum the TTS team has owned four Miatas, and while each has had a distinct personality of its own (believe it or not), they all had one failing in common: their horns. Miatas came from the factory with a weak little “meep-meep” horn that car barely be heard over the radio of any car, including the Miata whose horn it is. So despite the fact that there is still a cockpit brace sitting in my garage waiting to be installed, today’s Garage Corner is all about being heard – in the interest of both ego and safety.

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1972 Fiat 130 Coupe: Boxy Italian Beauty

The Fiat 130 is among our favorite 1970s coupes: they were styled along the same lines as the Lancia Gamma and Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2, and much later the Bitter SC. That is to say they are boxy and very likely designed by the same folks at Pininfarina as the Lancia and Ferrari. They are also manly in an Italian Job or Steve McQueen kind of way, although McQueen could handily afford the Modena version. 130s – both coupes and sedans – are very rare Stateside, but can be found in varying states of repair on the continent. We happened across this example, which the seller reports is mechanically sorted but clearly needs at least a little interior help, while trolling mobile.de. The fact that it is an Italian car for sale in Italy (Turin, to be exact) by Italians makes it all the more appealing. As it stands, even with shipping this car could be a deal for the right buyer at €3,367, or about $4,400.

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Garage Corner: Let There be Sound – Speakers in the Mazda MX-5 Miata

So first things first: the MX-5 Miata is still here. Despite the fact that I went through the trouble and expense of listing the car on eBay, I decided to end the auction a few days early because I decided that I really do like the car too much to just flush it right away. Besides, as my (older than her years) 10 year-old daughter told me, “it’s the wrong season to sell a convertible. You should really wait until the weather is nicer.” Smart aleck. The main factor in the decision, though, was that I realized that I like Miatas in general, and they really are some of the most fun you can have for the money. Beyond that, I won’t soon find another in the same condition for the same money.

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1985 Jaguar Series III XJ6: Bargain Brit Luxury

There is something utterly compelling about classic British cars. It was the Brits, after all, who really introduced America to the affordable sports car with the MGTD, Austin-Healey, MGA/B/C, Spridget, Lotus Elan, and a host of Triumphs. And those are just the regular production cars, never mind specialty cars from the likes of TVR, Morgan, and Ginetta. For many enthusiasts, however, the best British sports cars are unattainable due to price or rarity, while the affordable cars may not suit from a reliability or practicality standpoint. Enter the Jaguar XJ6. Taking the same basic venerable 4.2 liter XK inline-6 that dates back to the early XK120, the XJ6 represents an interesting bridge between the classic British sports car and a modern luxury sedan. Find this affordable example here at The New England Classic car Company in Stratford, Connecticut for just $3,500.
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1986 Mercedes-Benz 300E: Extraordinarily Clean Everyday Merc

Two Mercedes in one day? Come on, TTS, where is the variety? Truth is, this car is nearly the polar opposite to the 450SEL 6.9, at least as far as Mercedes-Benzes go. Where the 6.9 was a super sedan for the elite, the 300E was the “family” Mercedes. With production numbers in the multiple hundreds of thousands, this was basically the Camry or Taurus of the Mercedes lineup – but a much better car than either in my opinion. The W124-series cars were released in Europe in 1985 and made it to American shores for the 1986 model year, making this clean example a first year U.S. market car. There are many Mercedes enthusiasts who count the W124 as the last of the over-engineered Mercedes, at least those that the DIYer has a hope of wrenching on. Find this clean, one-owner example here on Craigslist in Alpharetta, Georgia for $4,390.
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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9: No Replacement for Displacement, German Style

I came very, very close to buying this car. In fact, the only reason I didn’t buy it is that by the time my offer was accepted, I’d moved on to something else. That was only a couple of weeks ago, and I still think that this car will make someone a happy owner. I’ve been a member of the International M-100 Group since 2003 when I first attended one of their annual meets and found that most M-100 (the designation for Mercedes’ 6.3 and 6.9 motors) owners were certifiable Car Geeks like me. I also love the cars – the Grosser 600, the original “Banker’s Hotrod” 300SEL 6.3, and the car you see here: the 450SEL 6.9. Find this clean example here on Craigslist near Sacramento, California with an asking price of $9,500.
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