Homebuilt cars have a real special place in the automotive world. Take an ambitious enthusiast with a dream, a fat enough wallet and a dash of skill and the end result can be charming. Some builds are charming, confusing and incredible at the same time, like this “2011 Mercedes-Benz AMG C8 GTR” buried deep on Chicago’s Craigslist pages. Don’t stare at it for too long or else you might hurt yourself.
Lately, I’ve been searching for a weird convertible to replace the cooked and broken Chevrolet HHR in my shared fleet. My search has brought me to Chicago’s Craigslist, where instead of drop-top fun I’ve found what is perhaps the king of weird homebuilt cars for $75,000.
The seller says that this car is inspired by the Sauber C8, C9 and C11 Mercedes-Benz Group C prototypes. You can sort of see the general shape of a Group C prototype in there, but every proportion is far off. It’s like listening to a song where the singer manages to hit every note off-key.
The seller also says that this build is road legal, and mentions aspirations of racing down the autobahn or Circuit de la Sarthe. That makes me wonder what the top speed of this is, and what it feels like doing it.
The ad takes a weird turn part-way through, and begins to read as if it were written by a poetic bot:
It starts right up with these, has all the features of the modern cars, horn, heat, wiper, lights all functional. It steers with ease, all the wait is in the rear the car. This car is about 6 to 8 inches wider than your average car which makes it very easy to handle around the terns.
I like that it has heat. Chicago is effectively frozen for much of the year, so the addition of a heater allows the car to be hooned in the snow, should you be brave enough to give it a try.
Stare long enough at the exterior and you’ll find some interesting design decisions.
The massive hood scoop provides airflow to the radiator and if you look closely enough, you’ll see what appears to be BMW M color stripes on the grille.
The lower grille appears to come from a first-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV.
An obligatory AMG badge is slapped on the back, as is a big Mercedes star emblem on the engine housing.
Weirdly, a pair of Nissan Skyline GT-R badges flank the sides.
This car is said to be inspired by Mercedes race cars, but aside from the badging, it’s actually a soup of GM and Volkswagen parts.
Power is provided by a carbureted 350 cubic-inch Chevy small block V8 and that goes into a Volkswagen 906 6 rib four-speed manual transmission. That puts power down to 15-inch aluminum wheels with a staggered tire setup and it’s all held up with an independent suspension.
Swing open the gullwing doors and you’re greeted by alligator skin bucket seats, a carbon fiber dashboard and Auto Meter gauges.
The cabin is apparently pretty roomy, with the seller saying that big and tall people can fit with room to spare.
And they can enjoy some entertainment in the form of an aftermarket radio. There’s also a plaque giving thanks to various people and shops for their help, as well as to Sauber, Le Mans and the autobahn.
Safety comes in the way of seat belts, a three-point roll bar and nerf bars. What appears to be boxed steel makes up its frame. This rig isn’t crash tested, so I’d try my best not to crash it.
This car is probably one of the weirdest things you’ll see on Craigslist and even though it’s incredibly confusing, it’s hard to hate it. I bet it’s a blast to drive and the owner of this thing would probably become a local celebrity. I know I’d love to drive this around during a snowstorm just for the laughs.
If you want to own a caricature of a Group C prototype, it will set you back $75,000, unless you have a trade that the seller finds interesting enough. That’s a lot of money for a one-off homebrew car. That kind of money gets you a nice used Audi R8, or a pile of used V6 Mustangs. Still, I’m glad this incredible thing exists.