Tuner Tuesday: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500CE AMG

Pre-merger Mercedes-Benz AMG cars always seem to have a bit of mystery to them. Lots of times they pop up and don’t have any kind of documentation other than what you can actually see on the car and an overzealous seller shouting how it is an AMG car. The majority of the time the car just had some à la carte body parts and maybe some wheels, but was missing the big things like the AMG-modified engine and the actual AMG workshop building the car. Today’s car has none of that guessing. This is a car so unique and important to AMG that it had magazine features written about it and was even used in the brochures for AMG at the time. This is the 1983 500CE AMG.

This W123 Coupe started life as a standard 280CE before it was sent to AMG to be totally transformer into the best they had to offer in 1983. Everything was modified from the engine, the suspension, the bodywork and even the entire interior was changed to make this car a true one-of-one example. A M117 5.0 liter V8 was borrowed from the 500SEC and dropped into this car but not before being tweaked by AMG. The power number was raised from 230 horsepower to a little over 280 horsepower that propelled this car to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. At the time, that was enough to hang with almost every exotic on the market. Inside, nearly everything was changed including installing a crazy Pioneer stereo system and wrapping everything that was normally plastic or vinyl with leather. There is so much more to highlight with this car, but the photos can do all the talking.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500CE AMG on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1983 BMW 635CSi

I count myself lucky that my formative BMW experience was in an E24. Around 1990, my father finally gave up riding motorcycles and decided it would be more fun to have company on his trip. He traded his RT1100 for a much older BMW, but this one had doors. The shape was outrageous to me; coming from a family that had almost exclusively owned Toyota products to that point, the low and long 633CSi he purchased had so much more presence and so much less plastic. The interior was lined with rich carpet and supple leather, and it just oozed class and style. It just felt special.

A few years later, he picked up a second E24. It was a 1985 635CSi, and the character of the two cars was remarkably different. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was in part thanks to the mid-82 swap to E28 underpinnings. Dynamically, the ’85 was a much better driver, and while the revised M30 only had 1 more horsepower, it felt gutsier and revved more freely. It was Arctic Blue Metallic with Pearl Beige leather, and it was just a beautiful car. It only had one real downside – it was an automatic, and after a few years my dad decided he’d have a lot more fun in a M5.

While that would certainly be hard to argue, I wonder if he would have been so motivated if today’s E24 Feature had been his original purchase. There were several distinct advantages to the European model, not the least of which was of course the lack of the DOT bumpers. But one thing that always really bothered me about the U.S. E24 was the front corner lights. They stuck out a strange amount while the European units smoothly followed the fenders. But that was minor niggles, really. The big news was under the hood, where the M30 was allowed to breathe a bit more freely. The result was while the U.S. B34 produced 182 horsepower, the same motor in Europe ran higher compression and hit 215 according to BMW, plus they were a bit lighter as well. This particular 635CSi puts all of those things together in a beautiful color combination and has been fully reconditioned as well:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 635CSi on MyE28.com

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1983 Porsche 944

Update 6/7/18: The seller has increased the price again to $8,944 but with a no reserve $5,944 opening bid auction.

Update 5/23/18: The price of this Euro 944 has dropped from the original $9,440 ask to $6,944.

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Porsche 944 on eBay

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1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SE

It is all about the details for me. I have seen enough of the same cars day after day that all look they pretty much look the same to me. Unless of course a car sticks out for one reason or two. It could be a unique color, it could be a rare-spec with interesting options or it could be the entire car is something I haven’t seen pop up for sale. Today’s car, a European-spec 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SE for sale in California, has the entire package of coolness that I just have to take a close look at it. Judging by the photo above, you can tell this one is going to be good.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SE on Santa Barbra Craigslist

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1983 Volkswagen Rabbit LS

Update 6/1/18: The seller has dropped the price from the original $6,995 asking price to $5,995 today.

Continuing on the Volkswagen theme, and with the Roman Catholic-based holiday also in mind (our Orthodox friends celebrate next week!), let’s take a look at Volkswagen’s first foray into water-cooled products. The Golf was, of course, not marketed as the Golf in the United States, but the Rabbit. Ostensibly, the ‘Golf’ name followed in the convention of VW’s other wind-based products (Scirocco, Passat and Jetta) since Golf is German word for “Gulf” – it has nothing at all to do with the game, though a set of clubs would fit nicely in the back. But Volkswagen still won’t tell anyone why they changed the name to Rabbit in the United States. More concerning, they changed the name to ‘Caribe’ in Mexico. That’s a Piranha. At least our market had a more friendly mascot?

While the Beetle was certainly a tough act to follow be sold alongside of, the modern, convenient and completely practical Rabbit sold in droves at a time when fuel-conscious Americans were looking for solutions to their 19 foot long Lincoln Mk. V’s inability to clear 6 mpg. It’s 7.5 liter V8 with a 4-barrel carburetor managed to squeeze a massive 208 horsepower out of all that capacity. And that was the optional upgrade engine. Standard was a 6.6 liter version of the Cleveland V8 rated at only 166 horsepower, yet not really getting any better fuel economy. Of course, the Mk.V needed these giant motors as it was itself a giant. Curb weight was close to 5,000 lbs. So while the Rabbit seemed fairly insignificant in its stature by comparison, the reality was that it was a much better choice for most motorists.

To capitalize on the popularity, Volkswagen moved production of Rabbits from Germany to the United States for 1978. The move was signified by a shift towards rectangular square-beam headlights, just as we saw with yesterday’s early A2 Golf. Sales soared when gas prices did, too: between 1980 and 1984, Volkswagen sold over 620,000 Rabbits from Westmoreland. The sold a further 77,000 Rabbit Pickups – a creation solely aimed at North America, and now sought by some Europeans.

Because there were a lot of Rabbits produced, finding examples for sale even today isn’t all that hard. But low values have meant that restoration is really out of the question unless it’s your labor of love. However, things are beginning to change…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit LS on eBay

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1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe with 7,769 Miles

Alright, a crazy-low-mileage 911. We see these from time to time and they’re always a marvel in their own special way. Seeing a 911SC with this sort of mileage is almost bewildering as I wonder how it is we got here. I certainly wouldn’t have considered these a collectible at the time, but the buyer of this final-year 1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe certainly must have. Either that or some peculiar circumstance lead to it rarely being driven early on and then after a number of years someone packed it away in storage hoping for long-term profits. Apparently that time has come.

The exterior color is Platinum Metallic, the same color Porsche used for the special Weissach Edition released in 1980. It became a standard color in the years following the Weissach’s release. Unlike the Weissach, the interior of this 911SC is a fairly standard Black. But this 911 isn’t about the color, as nice as it may be. It’s all about condition and mileage, which appear excellent and extremely low. There may also be some interesting options. More on that below.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe on eBay

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1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe

In Washington, we were experiencing some sort of weather condition classified as freezing fog this morning. It brought a lovely and slippery icy glaze to just about everything. I imagine it’s the type of thing we might see rising off a glacier in the South Atlantic while David Attenborough tells us about the journey of a penguin. This 911 would be right at home.

This is a Glacier Blue 1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe, located in North Carolina, with Black (or is it Navy?) interior and 134,671 miles on it. My question about the interior color should be apparent in the pictures. We don’t see enough to really tell the color though the seats definitely look black. However, the seller has referred to it as a navy interior and we can probably assume the seller has more familiarity with it than we do. Regardless, it’s the exterior color that is (mostly) the attraction here. It’s a rare color and one that shows quite well on the SC.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe on eBay

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1983 Mercedes-Benz 300TD

It is amazing what a color can do to a car. You could have identical cars, one with a really desirable color and another with a not-so popular color, and have their values be dramatically different. Today’s car, a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300TD for sale in California, is a perfect example of that. Regardless of color, the W123 300TD is no slouch in terms of desirability and people willing to do anything to keep them on the road. But paint it in a color that everyone loves and suddenly you’ll be a little shocked to see what kind of money these can bring on the open market. This 1983 painted in Labrador Blue isn’t a perfect example by any means but that is the appeal of an example like this. You can enjoy it without obsessing over every single thing that might happen to it. But seeing as this is a 300TD and it is in Labrador Blue, how high could the price be?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300TD on eBay

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1983 BMW 528e

My recent coverage of the 5-series BMWs seems timely. Just last week, I looked at a 1982 BMW 528e. Since it’s been so short a time, I won’t reiterate the major highlights of the model again – click HERE if you’d like to read those details. So why look at what many consider the least excited E28 so quickly again?

Well, in part it’s because of what occurred this past weekend. If you weren’t paying attention, a stellar 1988 BMW 535i came up on Bring a Trailer. It was probably the most impressive older 5-series I’ve seen in a long time. So it was expected to bring pretty big numbers when the auction closed, and like looking through the picture gallery, it didn’t fail to disappoint. The final bid was $50,000 – unfathomable to this point for most of the E28 lineup.

Admittedly, the example I have today isn’t as nice. But it shares many things in common. First, it’s not a top-flight model, though again the Eta motor isn’t what many would prefer. So what does it have going for it?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 528e on eBay

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1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL

A few months ago I checked out a 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC AMG Widebody that had everything and a price tag to match. Today’s car is styled similarly, but unlike that 560SEC, this one doesn’t have the same punch and thankfully no where near the same price tag. This is a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL. You are probably asking right now ”This is an AMG car, right?” Well, not really. See, this is a really nice European-spec 500SEL with some AMG body parts, AMG wheels and an AMG steering wheel. You might of noticed I left out the part about a massive engine. This car looks every bit the part of a really good pre-merger AMG car, but without the heart. The thing is, I’m totally fine with that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL on eBay

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