1998 Mercedes SL60 AMG ? Rinspeed or a lesson in how not to sell a rare car

We see a lot of rare German cars. Some of the best gems from tuners the likes of AMG or Alpina bring the buyers out of the wood work and as such realize high prices. The one common theme that we see in big ticket sales of tuner cars is documentation.

Now documentation on cars like these is not always easy. It is well known that trying to find specific records of modifications done to a car from some place like AMG can end in a dead end. In some cases if you really want to be sure about an engine modification it takes opening up the engine and looking at stampings on internals. That said there are often other clues that can help you back up a story about a one off vehicle. Scanning in any documentation you have is the obvious first step, but then adding pictures of data plates, the VIN, or other unique features is needed.

A seller should never make any rock solid claims about the vehicle without being able to back them up. At the very least give some indication of a reason as to why you are making a claim. If you aren’t sure about something it is much better to say so up front or even to ask for help in identifying a feature or modification within the text of an advertisement. Enlisting the help of enthusiast out in the world can help in two ways. You might get some helpful information back and the up front nature can prevent a listing from seeming cagey and turning off the very community where your potential buyers reside.

Ok deep breath, what’s all that have to do with this particular car. Here we have a Mercedes listed as a 1998 SL60 with modifications from Swiss firm Rinspeed, the car has 71,000 miles.

The car looks good with the Benz Designo style red interior complete with dash accents and soft top contrasting with the black. The seller states the car started life as a SL500 Special Edition and that it was then bumped to AMG spec with the 6 liter V8. The car has period correct 18″ AMG monoblocks. Nothing about that seems out of place. Mercedes did produce a “special edition” of the R129, one of several R129 editions. Rinspeed did have a history with AMG, they worked as an agent for AMG in Switzerland.

So what are the red flags with this ad? The painfully slim description provided in the advertisement with this car is the first thing that catches you. There are so many wannabe “badge engineered” Mercedes out there that just because a car has the badges a seller has to do a lot more than give one sentence and expect people to accept it as fact. The AMG badge on the engine does match up to what can be seen on documented SL60 Benzs, there is some variation in how AMG badged these engines. The seller offers to talk to potential buyers over the phone about the car or have the guys at the local Mercedes shop talk about the car, which is good. If the guys at the shop know something about the car it should be stated so in the auction. Buyer’s in the real exclusive small production AMG market are often buying as collectors with investment in the back of their mind. Collectors of this type will not touch a car with such thin description.

Other things that make you question the integrity of the seller include the car being sold out of Portland Oregon with photos showing it with Florida plates. Not a huge deal, but it does make you question how old the photos are. The bigger sin though is placing a picture from a sales brochure in your ad and not disclaiming it as such. The overhead interior shot is from Benz sales literature and is not the car being sold, its the last photo in our gallery on this page.

The seller states “DO YOUR HOME WORK ON THIS CAR”, yes buyers should do research on perspective purchases, but unfortunately in this case searching for info about the car yields several threads discussing how shady the seller seems.

The ask on the car is $22,950, which is line with other genuine AMG engined cars of the era, but without more info this price will never be realized. There is just two much to question and no one wants to drop $23k and end up with a slightly more than standard SL500. If I was selling this car and couldn’t pull together documentation I’d find the nearest dyno and take a few pulls and post the results. There would be no question as to whether the car was packing a real deal 6.0 then. That small investment could mean a $10k swing in what the market will bring for this car.

Despite the warning signs I actually am leaning towards suspecting this is the genuine item, but wouldn’t even think about buying it the way things stand and I really don’t like the sales brochure photo mixed in with the others. A seller that is ok with that is probably ok with not disclosing flaws. I open it up to you readers, what’s your take on this ride?

1998 Mercedes SL60 AMG ? on eBay

~Evan

1998 Audi A8

Big Audis have always been the dark horse of the large German sedan clan. Audi first sold this all aluminum sedan in 1997 as a replacement for the Audi V8, sales of which ceased in the US in 1994. Not many people took notice as the big Audi bowed out of the market, but the A8 made a splash at the time as a very advanced and capable luxury cruiser.

The seller states:

Up for sale is my 1998 Audi A8. I’ve owned this car for about 5 years or so. It has extremely low mileage for the year and I’ve always kept it in excellent condition. My wife and I are downsizing a bit, which is the reason for the sale. We have 2 other vehicles and don’t need a 3rd in this economic climate. I’ve tried to include pictures of every possible square inch of the car so you get a good idea of what you’re purchasing.

As far as the exterior goes, the paint is good. It does have a few light scratches here and there and some rock chips on the front of the car. Nothing out of the ordinary for a 12 year old car. It has 3 nearly brand new tires and 1 tire that will need to be replaced soon. 3 out of 4 of the wheels are in great shape. 1 of the wheels, as seen in the pictures, has what appears to be some oxidation. On the front left part of the bumper, one of the clips is broken. You can see it in one of the pictures. It doesn’t affect anything, but a small part of the bumper is detached from the car just in front of the front left wheel. I would imagine it’s an easy fix as it just needs a new clip.

The interior is really in top notch shape. The leather is still soft and in truly superb condition given the age of it. There are some lines in the front seats, but that’s it. No cracks, just normal wear from sitting. The rear seats are in like new condition. Everything works inside. All the power goodies. The sunroof works beautifully, power seats, windows, etc. All 4 seats are heated and they all work great. The center console has a tape deck and there is also a factory CD changer in the trunk which is obviously operated up front. It’s never been smoked in. All the wood grain is in perfect condition. Headliner is perfect.

Mechanically it’s great. The car runs strong, very powerful. It’s been my daily driver around town and we’ve taken it on a few day trips around Maine and New Hampshire. Very comfortable ride. Gas mileage is so-so. It’s decent on the highway, usually getting around 20-25 mpg. City driving is more in the 15 mpg range.

This particular A8 could use a bit of TLC, as there is a scratch here, a scratch there, and a few of the wheels are scuffed and/or missing center caps. Nothing a little bit of money wouldn’t fix. For much less than $10k, this all aluminum wonder could prove to be a useful all weather companion.

-Paul

1998 BMW M3 Sedan for sale

As I’ve said before, the E36 and I go way back and they always strike a chord in my heart. Especially when it’s a sedan, and especially when it’s Estoril Blue. So blah blah blah, one of the best handling cars of the 90s, 240hp inline-6 that sings, yeah yeah. These cars are just dead sexy, end of story.

This 1998 sedan on eBay is painfully similar to the M3 that gave me my first taste of speed, down to the unparalleled Estoril/Magma combo and M Double Spoke IIs.

The lights and M3 Lightweight vinyl wouldn’t have been top priorities for me, but I don’t hate them.  Mostly this looks like a nice stock M3, devoid of the overblown modifications or packed-on miles that plague many E36s.  The interior isn’t top-notch, and it’s a shame to see those great Magma seats scarred up.  Also, can’t NOT mention the salvage title, but it seems well-explained and properly taken care of.

Bottom line:  This is an imperfect example of one of my perfect cars, and it could end up being a great deal with bidding starting at about $7k.  Just remember how much fun these cars are and ask yourself if ~$10k is worth it.  I think so.

-NR

Impeccable, Individual E36 M3 Sedan for sale

A brief switch away from our Budget Theme Week to highlight an exceptional car recommended by reader/commenter Bob…

I believe I’ve recounted it before, but the E36 M3 Sedan was the first fast car I ever got to drive after receiving my license.  My best friend’s dad was a high-powered lawyer who lived modestly but loved his toys, hiding an Estoril Blue M3 4-door and 6 Ducatis behind his unassuming 2-car garage doors.  With carefully timed and worded requests, we were allowed to take it out on occasion and entered active car enthusiasm for the first time after years of reading and dreaming.  The car purred, growled, and clawed its way around the island we grew up on, and thus firmly planted itself in my automotive genetics.  It is essentially why I write for this blog.

Bob alerted us to this exceptional M for sale on eBay.  It’s covered a relatively low 73k miles and is claimed to be “shockingly nice.”  From the photos and description it looks it, an excerpt of which follows.

At EuroWerkz we have bought, sold, owned, maintained, built, modified, showed, and won with some of the nicest BMW M3’s in the country. We are 25+ year members of the BMW CCA. I am a long time member of the E30 SIG as well as an active member of several BMW forums and groups. We love BMW’s we know BMW’s and M3’s and this is one hell of a nice M3.

It took me over 2 years to buy this car from the prior owner and I have enjoyed it for a while so it’s time for the next more permanent owner to enjoy. We would really like to see this car go to a BMW enthusiast who can appreciate it and continue it’s over the top care and maintenance as I see this car as one that will represent the breed 10-20-30 years from now. If your looking for a track car candidate, please not this one. You don’t have a garage space? Please find another car. Live in a big city with sketchy parking? Well, you get the point. There are plenty of excellent condition M3’s out there. This car is just soooo… much nicer than that.

This car looks, runs, and drives like a 30k mile 3 year old M3. It is in fantastic condition for any age and mileage but it is a 12 year old car with just 73k miles. Quite honestly it is the nicest car I have for sale right now and that is saying quite a bit considering our spring inventory of European beauties. You can read below about it’s history, options, and maintenance. Call or e-mail me and we’ll talk about it all day if you want.

Sounds like they mean it!  The custom Calypso Red from BMW Individual is gorgeous and unique, though I’m still partial to Estoril.  I understand that it has been very well taken care of and they hold this car in extremely high regard, though I’m not quite sure why they are SO enthusiastic and think it deserves well over Blue Book.  At writing there’s 2 days left with bidding at $11,400 and reserve not met.  If it’s truly as nice as they claim, I’d say it deserves $15-17k.  Regardless of what forms their opinion, I’m certainly on board in hoping it goes to a true fan and enthusiast with the time and resources to keep it nice.

-NR