The Gambler 500 is like LeMons for people who like to get more than just their hands dirty. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Volvo is a past Gambler participant but is now ready for a new adventure. What might you pay to tag along?
Which of the superheroes do you think has the best toys? Is it Batman who needs to overcome his inherent mortal nature with machines and protective gear so he doesn’t get smoked by the bad guys’ fists and bullets? Or maybe, it’s Superman’s cool X-ray vision and super ripped calves that allow him to leap tall buildings with a single flex.
The debate could go on for ages, but we don’t have time for all that since we need to wrap up the discussion of a superpower-giving toy any of us could wield. That, of course, was the WCM Ultralite “Seven” we looked at on Friday.
With an aggressive power to weight ratio, and a promised zero to sixty time in the hyper-car realm, that Honda-powered manic pixy would be a toy that could get you into all kinds of trouble. At $30,000, it was the kind of trouble that few of you are eager to go looking for. That price proved too much and the Ultralite dropped in a not-so-ultra 55 percent Crack Pipe loss.
Hey, do you like the great outdoors but also can’t get enough of chap-ass cars and a bit of automotive theatre? Well then, have I got a deal for you.
The Gambler 500 is an off-road navigational rally designed specifically for cheap (around $500 values) cars and trucks, ideally those never intended for such adventures. The first event took place in Oregon in 2014, but since then, the madness in the muck has expanded to other states and even overseas.
This 1991 Volvo 240 wagon was a participant at the Southern Indiana Gambler, an event that, well… it apparently survived. Of course, a stock Volvo wagon would be hard-pressed to be pressed hard in an off-road environment. As you can plainly see from the pictures, the “Fire Ants” team did a damn-good job on making sure it got in the mix. Remarkably, it made it out as well, although apparently not without losing a few bits and breaking a few more along the way.
The mods to the car include the obvious, which include big-ass tires and both intake and exhaust that rise to the occasion. That exhaust, in fact, punches straight through the hood with nothing more than a glasspack to quell the not so mighty B20’s belches. Adding a little visual excitement to the noise, there’s a spark plug just below the stack flap that can ignite the unburned elements of the exhaust gasses and make for a satisfying flambé should you be a pyro or something.
The other side of the coin is a safari snorkel that snakes its way up the fender and A-pillar for eye-level air, which as we all know is the best kind of air when fording a river.
Other updates for Gambling include a light-duty winch up front, a roof rack to hold coolers, lights and a spare, as well as some team-denoting stencils. Overall, this is exactly the kind of thing you’d see at a LeMons race, only prepped for dirty trails instead of the track.
The interior looks surprisingly clean and unmolested, save for the crazy number of switches and stuff added to the dash. That is a CB radio up there, good buddy. And yes, there is a horn that plays Dixie. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a switch you don’t ever have to push from here on out.
The ad notes that the car runs and drives and that all the tires are new, albeit retreads. All the power windows and locks work, and there are no leaks—a major plus if you’re into water sports.
On the downside, the car lost its rear bumper on the SIG and broke a shock on the same run. The brakes are said to be a bit wonky and there’s some fiddling with O2 sensors and fuel pumps that needs to be sorted out. Perhaps most concerning to a prospective new Gambler is the first-gear of the five-speed stick, which is said to be problematic when the gearbox gets hot. There are some other, minor issues with the car but geez, just look at it. I mean, what would you expect?
What the seller is expecting is $1,900 to transfer the title. That gets you a clear registration and 190,000 miles under the Volvo’s belt. Seeing as this is a 240, that second bit is about as concerning as saying it has a bug smushed on the windshield.
Okay, let’s start off by saying that no, this is not for everyone. And while you might be digging the idea of running a car like this in your own local Gambler event, you’d certainly want to mod it some more to make it your own. The question then is whether $1,900 is a good price for that new beginning.
What do you think, should someone pay that much for this sort of off-roader Volvo? Or, is that price, and its condition, just too big a gamble?
H/T to Matt Neagli for the hookup!
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