Project Car Hell: IROC Volvo Bertone or Mazda 808?

Illustration for article titled Project Car Hell: IROC Volvo Bertone or Mazda 808?

Stop the presses! Italy has just won the First Ever Jalopnik Project Car Hell Superpower Showdown, with the 1JZ-powered Portuguese Barn Find '59 Maserati beating the Subaru-powered 4CV in a 55-45 split. Today we're going to look at two cars that don't fit neatly into a common category, yet give off about the same number of counts per minute on the Jalopnik Coolness Geiger Counter™.


I've been scouring Alameda for a Down On The Street Volvo Bertone for months now, and it's maddening that the only one I can find is in a driveway (dead for years, with a blue tarp over the windows) and thus off-limits to DOTS. Sure, they came with the not-so-great PRV V6, but just look at that reet chopped top! Obviously, an engine transplant is the way to go... and looky what we got here: Why, it's an '81 Volvo Bertone 262C with a Chevy small-block already installed! (Go here if the ad disappears). Sure, it's the not-so-exciting mid-80s IROC Camaro 305, good for something in the neighborhood of 200 horses, mated to the snoresville 700R4 automatic... but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the car is already set up for the ubiquitous small-block Chevy, which means you have engine options sufficient to drive you completely mad. Oh, and speaking of complete madness, this car has a few somewhat troubling issues. First, you can tell from the photographs of the engine compartment, with wires draped higgledy-piggledy, that perhaps the engine swap was not performed with the utmost attention to detail (the seller does allow that the wiring might be a bit funky: "it all works but it looks sloppy." See? It just looks sloppy! Then there's the body and interior, which are probably icky enough for their images to leave a grimy residue on your computer monitor. And are the factory brakes and suspension up to the doubling or quadrupling of horsepower you no doubt have planned?

That Bertone looks like some truly punitive fun, all right, but how can you resist a vintage Mazda? And not just another RX-7; as cool as the classic RX-7 may be, parts obtainment is just too easy! Even RX-3s are too common- but how about the piston-engined version? Yes, a '73 Mazda 808M (go here after the listing gets flagged out of existence as well-deserved punishment for the keyword spam in its headline, hint hint) can be yours for just $1500. It has no engine or transmission, but that's good news. See, it's a crime for an Early Malaise Mazda not to have a rotary engine, so here's your chance to have a who-the-hell-ever-heard-of-it 808 without that pesky reciprocating mass. If you view the additional photos of the car, you'll see that there's some rust, and some missing parts, and a whole bunch of empty spaces where damn-near-impossible-to-find trim pieces once lived. Imagine how you'll feel driving that rotary 808, though, and the years weeks of indescribable agony headaches and tens of thousands hundreds of dollars invested will be worth it!

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Raphael Orlove

This reminds me of my friend's dad (see who builds and races both old volvos and mazdas. He built Volvo1 - the car of the Volvo Club of America, the fastest Volvo in North America, races in first gen RX-7s, is fixing up a 2nd generation M3, has an early red Miata for the daughter, a host of Volvo wagons to tool around in, a 544 wagon, an P1800 shooting brake, oh, and a blue with neon green decals (like those rad-ass 917s) RX-3. I could go on about his huge garage/workshop, craftsman farmhouse on the edge of town, dozen or so rides and comfortable from-home job, but I'd probably start crying from jealousy. Thanks Jalopnik. Thanks for reminding me.