In part 1 we talked about what made the InterMarque show particularly special, the things that many other shows miss the boat on, the ambiance of the show, the lot of it. We didn’t spend much time on the cars themselves though. Some shows, that would be entirely permissible because just about everything that needs to be said about an Evo X has been said. InterMarque though, every car could have an article written about it, so lets take a look at some of the highlights that we noticed in the show.
Since Mercedes was the featured Marque of the show this year and we really didn’t talk about them in part 1, it’s probably right that we spend some time looking over the silver stars in show. One of the cars ubiquitous to the glitz and glamour of the 70’s and the 80’s was the R107 SL. Due to their popularity during their era, the used car market was saturated for decades, and it can be argued that it still is today. That means, you can get these for pennies on the dollar compared their predecessors and successors, yet still have a car more reliable than a modern SL.
I stand by the belief that the Euro bumper R107 is currently one of the best classic Mercedes purchases you can make right now. For about $13,000 you can get yourself a well sorted driver’s car. While the American front ends look a bit on the homely side, the european front end really makes the car come together. The Euro R107s make me wonder, why did anybody buy the C3 Corvette when this was around?
This cocaine cowboy AMG Widebody 560 SEC was, without any doubt, my favorite Mercedes in show at InterMarque. Like the R107, there are endless C126 examples floating around the world, drive though Edina in June and you’ll find at least a half of a dozen octogenarians scooting down to the bingo hall or country club in them still. Their prevalent existence makes them easy to overlook but if you were a new money yuppie in the 80s, this was the car to have if you wanted a GT car.
Of course, like today, most new money types weren’t ones to leave well enough alone. If you wanted something with more power and aesthetics to standout from the regular crowd, to “flex” if we shall be so bold to use the parlance of our times, then you would go to one of the coachbuilders of the era to take your car to the next level. The car shown above was a widebody AMG example with color matched deep dish wheels and grille. Before becoming part of Mercedes, AMG was at the forefront of quality for these coachbuilders and managed to stay tasteful while doing so.
While the R107 and C126 cars above are both very good Mercedes products, there were several Pagodas in show as well. While Pagoda is the adapted nickname for the car, the technical term is W113 Mercedes SL chassis. A very strong argument could be made that this is the best Mercedes ever made. The highest technology of the era being only outshined by the extremely high build quality, the Pagoda deserves an article in of itself.
This may be one of the most perfectly proportioned cars ever made. It was designed to not only have a beautiful form but to be perfectly functional as well. One of the best features of the pagoda is that is is surprisingly affordable. Note I didn’t say affordable, but surprisingly affordable. They’re still in the $40k range for a good one but given that there are six R107s for each pagoda ever made and then accounting for their reliability, beauty and quality, it begins to be rather shocking that they’re only that much.
While we’re on the topic of affordability and quality, InterMarque also had one of the largest showings of Scandinavian made cars outside of going to a Volvo specific meet. You can really point to any of the Scandinavian brands and find a litany of collector cars that are ready to blow up in value but none strike a chord as much as the Volvo P1800 did. Styled under the tutelage of Pietro Frua, this car took the sports coupe form factor and built it to Volvo’s rigorous reliability standards. It seems to have worked because the highest mileage ever attained on a car was in a Volvo P1800 with 3.2 million miles on it. The P1800 has Carbitrage’s highest Buy This Now ratings because they’re almost all under $20,000. Beautiful, reliable, cheap and fun; how could you not want this for that price?
The P1800 was one of those cars where Volvo got a bit wild, but going into the complete opposite direction was this Volvo Duett. Designed as a delivery truck, this was the only Volvo to sport a ladder frame chassis. This allowed the truck to have custom bodywork put on with ease, so it was commonly used as a pickup, ambulance and as the general workhorse of 1950s Scandinavia. It isn’t much of a surprise to see these floating around still when you combine Volvo’s build quality with one of the most durable chassis designs available. Jana couldn’t get over how cute this truck was and I couldn’t get over it’s patina. 60 years after production, it’s still unrestored and trucking along. These plucky little Volvos really could get through anything.
Another Swedish brand was in show as well. Saab, another one of those brands that are vastly undervalued. For some reason, people forget about these cars and I can’t seem to figure out why. To the engineering nerd car collector, the Saab 96 is like a wet dream. The car was front wheel drive and had double wishbone front suspension with a trailing U-beam axle in the rear. The transmission was column shifted and they had an overrunning clutch which allowed the transmission to spin faster than the engine. Early models had an water cooled 2-stroke inline three cylinder engine with the radiator located behind the engine which was weird. Of course you can only make something so weird before it doesn’t sell so they eventually moved to four stroke four cylinder engine.
Of course not to be confused for a normal company, they didn’t do an inline 4, but they used a V4. The exact engine they used was the Ford Taunus V4. This engine is one of six V4 configurations ever put into a car. I can actually list all of them in one sentence without creating a run-on list; Ford, Porsche, Zaz, Lancia, AMC and the Christie GP Car. With both the inline-3 engine and the V4 engine, Saab cleaned up in rally racing. It won the inagural 1973 WRC championship, again in 1976, a litany of individual races and currently holds the landspeed record for production 750cc engine cars. Along with the Lancia Fulvia and Morris Mini, the Saab 96 is considered one of the greatest 2WD rally cars of all time.
There was so much to see at InterMarque this year, to take it all in you just have to be there in person. This show proved to be absolutely stellar and regardless of your distance from the Twin Cities, it is worth every second of the drive there. Needless to say, we will be marking InterMarque as a must see next year.