Over the past 20 years since I obtained my driver’s license, I’ve owned six cars. That’s not a whole lot for someone writing on a car enthusiast site. So when it comes to ownership experiences, my scope is a bit limited. However, the Mercedes-Benz 400E is a car I’m familiar with, as my father owned one for a time during my formative years. Replacing a 1992 190E 2.6 that was totaled in an accident, the 1992 400E that found its way into our household was an altogether different beast. It had the same Mercedes qualities we had come to know and love over the years. This was Mercedes’ first crack at the V8, mid-sized luxury segment and while it might have looked a bit staid when it debuted, is styling has aged well. This 1992 400E for sale in Idaho comes to us from a longtime reader, Max, who has owned his fair share of impressive machinery. Sold new in Hawaii, this car has clocked 114,000 miles and is a rust-free, well-preserved driver.
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Last Saturday, I went to the local Cars & Coffee with fellow GCFSBer Craig. While there, we met a gentlemen who showed up in a Smoke Silver 190E 2.3-16. Being the Mercedes enthusiasts we are, we had a lengthy conversation about Mercedes we’ve owned and the car amongst us. But revisiting this vehicle in the flesh made me realize what a departure it was from Mercedes of the era. When this Cosworth engined W201 appeared, we were all getting used to the idea of a smaller Mercedes at the time, but were just emerging from the era of the W123 but were still in an age when you could pop on down to your local Mercedes forecourt and buy an R107 SL, a classic design that had been with us for over a decade at that point. So here comes a tuned version of the baby Benz along, designed originally for homologation purposes the rally circuit but wound up competing in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) instead.
These cars competed viciously against the BMW E30 M3 on the track and while the Mercedes wasn’t an outright speed demon in a straight line, they had respectable balance and poise that led them to be a success both on and off the track. These days, they are a downright bargain as compared to what we see E30 M3s pulling in the marketplace. This 190E 2.5-16 for sale by Gruppe H in the Czech Republic is a variant that we did not see in the US market. This engined offered a slight horsepower bump and double-row timing chains to fix issues surrounding the single chains on the 190E 2.3-16 model.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: Feature Listing: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 at Gruppe H
I’ve spent a fair amount of time documenting the importance of Porsche’s 924 model on these pages, but the first generation Volkswagen Golf was equally if not more important. Like the 924, it signaled the shift for the Wolfsburg firm from its tried and true air cooled roots into the modern age of water cooled, front-engine designs. Taking the design pioneered by the Mini, Volkswagen adopted a transverse engine layout driving the front wheels. To package their new platform, Volkswagen turned to Giuigaro, an ex-Ghia employee who had helped design the swoopy and popular Karmann Ghia. But the shift from air to water cooling needed a new direction, and capitalizing on the wedge designs he had pioneer in cars like the Maserati Merak and Lotus Esprit, Giugiaro made an angular but pretty design with a signature large greenhouse. While not a revolutionary design in either engine, platform or interior/exterior look, the first generation Golf hit the market at just the right time – in the midst of the OPEC-driven oil embargo. The effects were long reaching in the U.S. even though the embargo was lifted in 1974; we adopted a national speed limit, daylight saving time was invented to reduce electric consumption and small, efficient cars like the Golf became popular. Like the 924, in addition to being a sales success in its own right, the Volkswagen Golf was the platform which launched several successful other models. The Scirocco, Jetta, Cabriolet and third generation Passat all came from the original design, along with pretty much every single car VAG makes today. But unlike the 924, appreciation for the original design has been very widespread and the first Golf was even nominated for (and came close to winning) Car of the Century. As cars have become increasingly complex, fast, heavy and expensive, the this 1978 Rabbit brings us back that more simple time:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit L on eBay
We’ve often lamented on these pages about when enthusiast cars used to be more affordable. Pick your poison; there were days you could buy a pretty sorted E30 M3 for under $10,000, a clean 911 in the teens, a pristine W113 Pagoda for under $20,000. At least for the foreseeable future, those days have left us, and enthusiasts on a modest budget need to pick and choose between the few remnants of a once vibrant sub-$10,000 market. I’ve spent a fair amount of time predicting and watching the ascension of the 944 turbo – the understated, underrated giant killer from Porsche. It’s been no surprise to see soaring values on clean 944 turbos, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that once again another classic has been priced out of sight. But if you’re willing to prioritize driving over shows, there are still some great deals to be had out there: