Although its titled as a Mercedes-Benz, this neat little Gazelle is a bit more affordable and probably every bit as much fun to drive. Famously constructed from kits, they were a pretty successful way for the enterprising hobbyist to give himself something to do on weekends and end up with one of the better-proportioned replicas of the period. And its still a blast to drive!
Based on humble Chevrolet Chevette mechanicals, the Gazelle is the antidote to the more familiar inexpensive British and Italian sports cars of the period. It offers neo-classic styling that most folks will at least admire as it drives by, even if they dont know quite what it is, and with rear-wheel-drive and a featherweight curb weight, its entertaining on the road. This one was built in the late 1980s and shows quite well, as its only been driven about 7700 miles. For a fiberglass kit car, fit and finish are remarkably good, with even door gaps, a snug-fitting trunk lid, and glossy paint that is familiar to anyone who has driven, built, or even seen another Gazelle. This one is highlighted by a lot of pinstripes that accent the distinctive shapes and honestly, the long hood and sweeping fenders do look pretty good; the guy who designed this car got the proportions just right. Other details like the chrome grille, rubber running boards, and exposed side pipes are all part of the vintage illusion and everything remains in very good condition, so you know the car was loved and treated right.
The seats are pure 1980s cool, one-piece buckets that look futuristic, even in the vintage-looking Gazelle bodywork. Theres a matching rear seat thats probably best reserved for children or your briefcase, and a luxurious wood-rimmed wheel gives it an appropriate upscale feel. Yes, theres some wear and tear, mostly on the drivers seat and carpets, but overall everything is in good order. The custom-made wooden dashboard carries white-faced gauges that proudly spell out that they are "Vintage Reproduction" and theres an AM/FM/cassette stereo over there on the passengers side. Weather protection consists of very 1929-esque folding cloth top and side curtains, but they actually give the car a very trim appearance and seal up better than a lot of cars of the target era. Theres a narrow trunk out back, big enough for a few tools and supplies, and it, too, is nicely upholstered with matching tan carpets.
Basing the Gazelle on the Chevette was a smart move. Everyone else was using VW Beetles or Ford Pintos, but the ever-reliable Chevette was a sturdy, well-built, rear-wheel-drive chassis that delivers decent performance. The engine is a 1.6 liter inline-four, which wont win any drag races, but its bulletproof and you have to remember that they took about 800 pounds out of the car when this body was dropped on top. Parts are plentiful and its easy to service, with good access under the tilting hood. A 3-speed automatic transmission makes it easy to drive and youll quickly find that it starts when you turn the key and zips through traffic with ease. Disc brakes have decent stopping power and with the light curb weight, power steering isnt needed. As a ground-up build, the undercarriage is quite tidy and theres a new muffler that gives it a muted sound that doesnt give away any secrets. Shiny chrome wire wheels really dress it up and carry 205/75/14 whitewall radials all around.
Inexpensive fun that stands out in a crowd, thats all the Gazelle wants to be. If thats your kind of fun, give us a call today!