I don’t necessarily like gold as a color for cars in general, but today’s featured vehicle might be an exception for me. This 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC up for sale in California not only shines from its golden paint, but it’s BBS RS wheels get in on the action as well. This European grey-market import has a shockingly low amount of miles in just 22,000 and change that probably explains why the condition is so great. The interesting thing is that I featured another gold SEC coupe with matching wheels a few years ago with a 1983 380SEC but that car wasn’t nearly as nice as this one and the price reflected it. The price for this pristine coupe? Probably what you would expect.
It probably isn’t a surprise that the ”Man in Black” Johnny Cash also liked in his cars in black. It might be a little bit of a surprise that the romantic outlaw musician liked his black car to be a Mercedes-Benz 560SEL. I have to admit I didn’t expect a man with an image like Cash to choose such a fancy car like a 560SEL, but I suppose the W126 will make believers of us all. Cash purchased this vehicle new in 1990 which meant he would have been 59 years-old at the time, so it’s not like he was in the prime of his lawless ways, but image is everything and I guess in the pre-internet days it was a lot easier not to be seen. Nonetheless, this is what is claimed to be his last car and now it is up for bid in Tennessee. Fair warning, if you are expecting a prime example 560SEL, you aren’t going to find it here.
Audi’s attention to detail in 1986 was…well, poor. Contrary to the never-wrong-Internet’s common belief structure and commentary every time an 80s Audi appears on a site, this had nothing to do with the quality of the cars they built. They were, in fact, very nice cars, and they have generally withstood the test of time as well as their countrymen and better in aggregate than the majority of 1980s cars.
So what was their problem with detail work? Well, notoriously Audis from the 1980s stood a good chance of being in some unusual specification which didn’t conform to what Audi claimed was available. Let’s take this 1986 Audi Coupe GT for example. According to Audi’s literature, if you bought the Commemorative Design 2-door in 1986, you got a special electronic digital dashboard with accompanying “Audi Electronic” oil temperature/voltmeter in place of the typical VDO 3-gauge center dash readout.
Except that wasn’t the only way to get the electronic dash. Because even though it apparently wasn’t an option you could select, Audi must have had a surplus or stock in ColecoVision, because they installed a bunch of these dashboards in a random selection of 1986 and some early 1987s. I know, because I have one of them. Here’s another, and this one only has 28,000 miles:
Here’s the second of my promised yellow 911s: a Racing Yellow 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, located in Bahrain, with 4K kilometers on it. This is a case of coming across a 911 that quickly catches my eye and then as I’m looking it over thinking to myself, “I really don’t see many in this color.”
Racing Yellow obviously is a rather eye-catching color on the GT3 RS. Yet, we almost never see it. We almost never see yellow on the GT3 RS in general. Why is that? Granted, yellow Porsches aren’t the most common to begin with so they’re always going to possess a degree of rarity, but given the wide variety of brightly colored examples of the GT3 RS we see I am surprised more of them aren’t yellow. There was the beautiful Signal Yellow example I featured previously, but nothing in this much brighter version and still that’s only one other. There almost certainly are more, but how many?
Every time the Mercedes-Benz W114 and W115 come up, basically the same thing is said over and over again: oft overlooked and somewhat forgotten. Not because these were bad cars or anything, but mostly because they predated one of the most legendary cars of all time in the W123. To me, these cars felt like sort of a dry-run for Mercedes when engineering the W123. Some things worked and were carried over to the W123, while other things were left in the past. One of the biggest things to make the jump to the new generation was the OM616 and OM617 diesel engines. Slight tweaks were needed, but the core of the engine was basically the same. They brought unparalleled reliability and toughness, but that came as a cost of being dreadfully slow. Still, it’s tough to complain about that when even now, some 40 years later, these engines are still kicking as well as the day they left the factory. This 1975 240D up for sale in Ohio painted in the lovely Cayenne Orange looks to be a real winner at first glance. But for as much as I wanted to love this car, some red flags have me thinking again about this one.
My 2002 Passat – the first of the B5.5s imported into this country – recently has hit 150,000 miles, and had to undergo some resulting maintenance. I did some preventative work; new OEM coil packs, spark plugs, and filters throughout, along with a new coolant tank, coolant flush, thermostat, temperature sensor and associated seals and piping, all new front brakes including calipers and lines, and a thorough suspension rebuild of the front end. In retrospect, I could have bought a whole other Passat for the amount I just sunk into this one.
But in part it’s a testament to how great the B5.5 is. It’s comfortable, capable, fun to drive, and it’s been dead nuts reliable in the entire time I’ve had it. Part of that comes down to history – I’ve got every receipt going back to day one and I bought it from an enthusiast who only had the dealership maintain it. But part of it also must be attributed to the stoutly built Passat itself.
It’s not unusual to see them kicking around with the best part of 300,000 miles these days. While nostalgic brand ambassadors insist it was the cars of yore that would run forever, the B5 seems on par with the best longevity of earlier Audi-chassis products like the B2. The other reality is that my Passat – built in 2001, so now 17 years old – is in much better condition and drives much better than my 4000CS quattro did in 2003 when I sold it at the same age. Everything still works, and though it’s not without idiosyncrasies (I have to pull apart the doors and seal the inner door panels from leaks, for example) it’s a pretty amazing car as “cheap” cars go.
So, you can imagine my delight when this very unique Passat popped up for sale:
I’ve got a couple more yellow 911s I’d like to feature. This one in particular possesses a strong resemblance to the Summer Yellow 3.2 Carrera featured Wednesday. This 1972 Porsche 911S Coupe would not be the same color (Limonengelb), but it’s still quite similar. We aren’t told the color code of this one, but I suspect it is either Lemon Yellow/Canary Yellow (Zitronengelb) or Light Yellow (Hellgelb). Two very similar colors and very difficult to distinguish in the shade. Both are very attractive as evidenced by this 911S.
It feels like forever since I’ve featured an early 911S and this is a particularly nice example for me to return to them with. It’s been fully restored and looks immaculate right now. It shows a black interior containing sports seats with houndstooth inserts. It doesn’t get much better than that for the seats and they complement the exterior yellow very well. Original mileage is unknown, but the listing states the current mileage as 500, which I assume is the number of miles traveled since it was restored.
An interesting counterpoint to yesterday’s GTI is today’s early 944. They were produced at the same time; the waning days of the normal A1 production, while Porsche was at the same time accelerating production of its watercooled transaxle lineup to meet the demands of the heady 80s. There are other similarities as well; the shape is iconic, they have an oversized (for their class) 4-cylinder and a manual transmission. Both are no-frills, relatively speaking; few electronic or power gadgets adorn the interiors here. And both are heralded as driver’s car, with intimate connection to the road and experience through each corner.
But while the A1 GTI is pretty much universally lauded as a legend, the 944 remains firmly an “also ran” for enthusiasts – even within the water-cooled arena. Perhaps that’s because there were much more potent versions of the 944 out there. Beyond the mid-’85 refresh, 1986 saw the introduction for U.S. fans of the new Turbo model, 1987 saw the 16V version launch and a larger 2.7 8V – and, of course, then there were the 944S2, Turbo S and 968 models. Early 944s, then, are about as unloved as the Volkswagen Dasher.
If you’re an enthusiast, though, that means great return on your investment. And like the GTI, it’s not just entry price that is relatively low on these 944s; compared to the 928 and 911, repairs are far less expensive and the glut of examples (nearly 57,000) brought to the U.S. means used parts – or even entire parts cars – are quite easy to find. So while all of them are worth at least consideration, every once in a while a really neat example pops up that is worth a longer look:
We don’t really do revisits of previous posts all that often anymore. It’s easier simply to update links as auctions or sales come back around. However, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. Certain cars deserve a second look. In some cases they have actually been off the market for a little while. With this car, both situations apply. This is a 1 of 1 Arancio Borealis 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. I featured it a couple years ago when it was first offered for sale. The price – $1.99M – was spectacularly high, but this is a spectacular car in as eye-catching a color as you are likely to find. It never sold and now the owner figures he’ll try again.
While not the fastest or the prettiest car Volkswagen ever made, the GTI represents the ethos of VW’s 1980s philosophy of cheap, fun-to-drive, and eminently practical cars for consumers. As they did when new, the first generation GTI also represented a car which gave much faster cars a run for their money. True, the 90 horsepower under the hood won’t scare a supercar. But what this car lacks in straight-line performance it more than makes up for in value.
You see, over the past few years we’ve watched the fan-favorites and driver’s cars from the 1980s increasingly price themselves out of the range of most enthusiasts. The esoterics are also forged in unobtanium today, and while there was a period where you could snap up cheap 80s products in Europe and import them, they’re going away, too. Sure, the M3 and 911 led the charge, but today a clean 190E 2.3-16 or Quattro will set you back some serious bucks. And then when you do get one, you need to worry about collector insurance, expensive and hard-to-source parts and whether you bought in a bubble.
The solution is still the giant-killer GTI. Find a clean one, and you’ll have a car that can be driven at 10/10ths still today and generate plenty of smiles, yet is relatively cheap to buy and very cheap to run. You’ll get thumbs up just like the 911 driver will. Maybe even more, honestly, because when was the last time you saw an A1 cruising around?