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Forgotten Kit Car: Gazelle Mercedes SSK Replica

The appearance of a dusty, forgotten car can make most of us want to own things we didn’t previously covet. I’m a victim of this, personally, spying an old car that’s been forgotten by everyone but me, and wanting to give it a chance at re-birth; sadly, you can’t save them all. This forgotten Gazelle kit car, hiding somewhere in Multnomah County in Oregon, has the trappings of a car that most of us have no desire to own, but one that also would be incredibly rewarding to haul out on a trailer given its seemingly undisturbed condition. And what else is it parked near? Find the Gazelle here on craigslist for $6,000.

Now, that’s a lot of money for one of these, but I find it interesting that the Gazelle looks largely intact save for its interior and that it appears to be one of the most complete examples I can recall seeing that hasn’t been previously restored. It looks as if it was constructed to a decent standard after being removed from its shipping crate and then hardly messed with since. The foggy backdrop of a Pacific Northwest morning adds a degree of secrecy to the whole thing, as if it’s preserved state is due in part to being peacefully isolated from cheap project car owners who would do this car a great deal of harm should they get their grubby paws on it.

I’m not suggesting this is some sought-after rarity that’s worth much more than $3,000 or so but you have to admit, seeing a Gazelle with all of its chrome bits still attached and an interior that has leather door panels and a classy three-spoke steering wheel can help you forget about its humble underpinnings. To me, the Gazelle is a curiosity that has become more attractive over time, especially as the truly trashed kit cars are removed from circulation after the last cheapskate owner releases his grip. This one actually looks like it’s been in good hands, or at least the kind of hands that haven’t gone too far in some sort of failed rejuvenation effort. Throw in some thick-pile carpeting and a set of Recaros and this one will look even more tantalizing to anyone who can appreciate a period-correct curiosity such as this.

The fake exhaust chambers coming from the engine compartment always emit a chuckle from me, partly because, well, they’re fake, but also because even if they were more convincing, the proportions of the car are so far off from the actual Mercedes-Benz SSK that they make the attempted copy-cat conversion more of a joke. What we need to focus on is that this Gazelle looks very complete and well-constructed, and that the experience of extracting it and seeing what other cars are on the property is worth the price of admission by itself – assuming the price of admission drops by a few grand.


  1. Howard A Member

    I believe the author completely missed the mark on this one, the Gazelle was no joke. It was the poor persons Excalibur, something I doubt the author has any love for either, and not to be harsh, but perhaps the staff could’ve assigned this to someone that’s more familiar with these. Nothing is mentioned about that it was a kit and at $1995, it was a “glider”( truck term) meaning, it was complete except for the drivetrain, that you and your kids could complete. Just about any motor worked, mostly Pinto, that this has, but any 4 cylinder, MG was popular too or some V6s worked. Whatever was lying around. For a couple grand, okay, it wasn’t an Excalibur, but provided the same fun, on a budget. BTW, the tail lights look like off a Renault 4CV. And also, when equipped with a V6, I believe the outside pipes could be used. ( 3 on each side). It’s a great find, I say.

    Like 13
  2. Troy

    This one actually makes me wish I had the garage space for it, I don’t know much about these cars if I recall Barn finds profiled one still in its crate just a few days ago. I think it would be fun to play with and just enjoy it. And with today’s smaller more powerful engines you could really get a fun car.

    Like 4
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Would’ve been nice to see it cleaned up and outside to see what it looks like. Have seen a VW powered example and also a Pinto powered unit. Not bad looking and as said, would be fun to clean up and drive. As presented I sure don’t see 6K worth of car though.

    Like 4
  4. eric22t

    many many many moons ago dad bought one of these on the cheap or in trade for work that someone didn’t have the cash for.
    it languished in the barn for a year or two, until he finally asked me to make it happen.
    a ton of pre internet research found it was as howard a said pinto powered.
    after informing dad that i needed a donor car to make it go and would not even uncrate it till he ponied up said donor he had a kaniptchon fit. weeks later it was gone.

    i truly would have loved to build it for him. it was a sweet looking ride

    Like 3
  5. jwaltb

    Oh barf.

    Like 3
  6. jwaltb

    “SSK replica” by Jeep, judging by the photo of the back. What a piece!

    Like 3
  7. Big C

    The owner just couldn’t ante up that 99 cents for a tarp, back in the day?

    Like 2
  8. John decker

    In flawless shape these are worth $4500. The one shown here is worth $2500.

    Like 1
    • Lance

      Oh it’s so nice to hear from a Gazelle Expert like you. How do you know so much? I have a Deluxe Model in perfect condition. I might just as well give the thing away. Right?

      Like 2
      • jwaltb

        If you can find anyone to take it.

        Like 3
      • Big C

        Will you deliver it for free, too?

        Like 0
    • Brakeservo

      I think your pricing is quite generous, most actual sales that I know of are for lesser amounts.

      Like 0
  9. Chinga-Trailer

    These are not so much replicas, of either a 1927 Mercedes or Excalibur, but rather parodies of these cars. The proportions are way off, the parts such as the grill are very cheaply made and most “car guys” cannot take them seriously. I had a good friend who owned a VW powered version of this car (he also had a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud) but he endured no end of kidding and joking regarding the Gazelle. I drove it once up I-205 from Portland to Vancouver and the aerodynamics are so bad that the little 1600 dual port VW motor could barely propel it to 70 but then the side winds made it so unstable it wasn’t safe at that speed anyway! After months of trying, he finally sold it via Craigslist to a local individual. Then about a year later he was contacted by one of the local TV “Consumer Affairs” reporters who relayed an incredible story. It seems the guy who bought the Gazelle from my friend resold (flipped?) it to a guy who knew nothing about cars. The new seller manufactured a remarkable story and history that was completely bogus – he told the last buyer that the car was actually a Paramount Studios Prop Car and it had been used in quite a few movies, most famously by Paul Newman in “The Sting.” Not only had it been used in this movie, but when he bought it, he opened the trunk and there was an old “flat cap” hat which he told the buyer was the actual hat used by Paul Newman in “The Sting!” The hapless new buyer went to the local video store (that’s how long ago this happened) and rented each and every movie the car was alleged to have appeared in, watched them all frame by frame and not one image of the car ever appeared. He feared he had been duped, so the called the TV station to complain and tip them off. In their research, the TV reporter found my friend’s name in the chain of ownership and wanted to know if he knew anything about the Paramount Studios ownership and Paul Newman’s hat in the trunk. He got a good laugh out of it, had to tell the reporter who presumably told the newest buyer that the entire story was bunk, and obviously entirely fabricated by the latest seller! Moral of story – if a seller offer’s you Paul Newman’s hat with the car – RUN!

    Like 1
  10. james m summerville

    Its a gazelle it can run away if it wants to.

    Like 1

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