1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

I go back and forth on whether or not I like the R107. I just think they stuck around way too long and those that want to sell them have grand illusions of what they are actually worth. I think sellers have some kind of mental formula in their head that goes “Mercedes + old + convertible = valuable” when we all know that none of those factors matter unless someone actually pays for it. But every once in a while a R107 comes along that I actually think represent good value for the money you would pay. This 1981 280SL, which looks to be a grey-market import, really represents what I think is the R107 to buy — if you really want one in the first place.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL on Mercedes Heritage

Year: 1981
Model: 280SL
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 186,000 miles
Price: $12,500

Very well cared-for German-engineered classic. I am the second owner and have owned the car for 31 years. It was 5 years old when I purchased it with 36,000 miles, current odometer is 186,000. It was always garaged but certainly driven and enjoyed over the years although with careful consideration to weather and other road conditions. I have all maintenance records and do the oil and filter changes myself every 3,000 miles. In short, this one’s been “babied” and if you have ever wanted one, this is the one! Too many attributes to list, so just enjoy the pictures and if seriously interested, let me know. As you can see, I have the original rims as well as the OEM pictured in some of the images. The soft top will need replacement soon although I had it done 8 years ago…..beginning to see some dry-rot.

The quick rundown on this R107 shows 186,000 miles which is high for one of these, but it has been with the same owner for the past 31 years. That is an insane amount of time in the car world as people who usually buy luxury cars are itching for something new around the four-year mark. If anything, it tells me that this car was taken care of as it actually was a long-term investment (I don’t like using that word) for the owner and they didn’t skimp on upkeep. The seller mentions that he has all the maintenance records but it might need a new top in the not too distant future.

Here is why I really like this car: it is a 280SL. That means proper European bumpers and headlights with the M110 straight-six under the hood. Yeah, those foglights next to the government mandated maker lights really ruin the front end of this car but it is nothing that can’t be fixed in an afternoon. This 280SL weighs almost 300 pounds lighter than a later 560SL — the R107 most will tell you is the one to buy. But my argument is that you might as well go for the smaller 2.8 liter because it isn’t like you are buying a R107 to go fast in the first place. These cars are top down pleasure cruisers, not 0-60 runners. No one cares about how much power you are making with these. A new Honda Accord makes more power than a 560SL, who cares if you have the inline-six? For my money, I’d rather have the most aesthetically pleasing car that gets slightly better fuel mileage than the range topping V8 that costs way more.

How much more? This 280SL is listed for $12,500, which isn’t that crazy. I say that meaning that I think all R107s are overpriced, but I am only one man and don’t control the market. If this was a 560SL, I’d wager you’d be asked to pay many thousands more for what is basically the same car. Yeah, you get 50 more horsepower and 100 more lb·ft of torque but you gain those 300 pounds and ugly bumpers and headlights. So while the 560SL still might be king, don’t look down on the 280SL if you can find one. There is no reason to.

1999 Audi A4 2.8 quattro

Emerging from the sales slump brought on by the recession and actual fake news, Audi solidified its position in the small executive luxury market with its brand new A4 model in 1996. While in truth the car heavily borrowed from the evolution of the B3/4 series and started life with the same flaccid 12 valve V6 that had replaced the sonorous 7A inline-5 for 1993, the A4 was exactly the model Audi needed to redefine its image.

And redefine it did, going from near zero to hero in just a year’s time.

Car and Driver immediately named the A4 one of its “10 Best” cars, a position it would repeat in 1997 and 1998. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the perennial favorite as the BMW 3-series was for the magazine, but still, that it was mentioned in the same breath was impressive. New sheetmetal was smooth and tight, full of great angles and well-placed curves. The bumper covers were finally integrated well again – something the U.S. specification B4 had inexplicably failed miserably at. Inside was evolution rather than revolution, but the cabin looked and felt upscale and modern. And the market responded to this instant hit; consider, in 1994 Audi sold 12,575 cars in total. In 1996, some 15,288 of just the A4 models were sold. That was before the many variations and improvements Audi rolled out in the B5, too.

Seemingly every year new changes offered refreshment and redesign to the A4. In late 1995 and 1996, you could only get one specification – the 2.8 either with or without quattro. But ’97 saw the introduction of the 1.8T, while ’98 gave us the Avant and more potent 30V V6. Okay, it didn’t pack a knockout punch, but new wheels and a sport package, along with a subtle refresh to the tail lights, gave the model a more sporty look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Audi A4 2.8 quattro on eBay

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Barn Find: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SE

For every 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante Coupe that Wayne Carini finds in barn, there are hundreds of other cars sitting in barns — usually for a reason. The thing about the barn find is that the hunt is usually the best part. Once you actually find the car, reality sets in and your left with a ton of unknowns with maybe a handful of logistical issues. It’s tough to separate the emotions of finding a gem and really stepping back and thinking through whether or not you should actually buy a barn find car. This 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SE in a barn outside of Jackson, Mississippi isn’t a ’38 Bugatti but it’s not exactly a Chevy Chevette either. So lets take a look to see if this W108 is worth saving.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SE on Jackson, MS Craigslist

Year: 1972
Model: 280SE
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 81,288 mi
Price: $5,000

$5000 OR BEST CASH OFFER WILL GET IT!!!
True Barn Find! Discovered in an abandoned shop, this beauty has been untouched for over 20 years! It will be sold AS IS, where is, and you must arrange for your own pickup. Inspection before purchase is welcome, but remember this is an AS IS auction, and there will be no refunds after the sale. It appears to be complete, and all original untouched not restored. The only visible flaw is the front driver side headlight casing is missing, see pics.
We have not attempted to start the vehicle, but I’m certain it won’t take but a simple service to fire it up. We were told by the family that owned the property, that the owner passed away some time ago, and his children left it untouched as you see it. According to them, it was in running condition when it was parked!
A thick layer of dust covers the whole car, but I can just tell you from close inspection that the body appears to be flawless! If there is any body damage, it is minor if found at all. The only visible defect seen on the exterior is the front drivers side headlight casing to be missing. It may be in the shop/barn still, and we will continue to look, otherwise it is missing. The car does appear to be a shade of brown, with leather brown interior.
The interior seems to also be pretty dusty and dirty, but nothing a good cleaning can’t solve! The tires are all flat, but should be able to be aired up for transport when purchased,
If you have any questions prior to buying, please ask us and we will respond quickly. Bare in mind we are NOT mechanics, and will NOT make attempts to move or work on the vehicle. We can assist in setting transport up with you with local tow truck companies, that is it.
Clean clear title in hand!

This 1972 looks free from any obvious rust but it’s really tough to tell with it being covered in a layer of dust and dirt. Being a Mississippi car surely helps its cause but there is a lot of work to be done here. Molded over interiors always scare me and this one doesn’t look too bad, but again, you can’t make any kind of judgement without seeing it in person. As far as mechanicals go, this one will take some effort. All the fluids (if there are any left) would need to be drained and the motor would need to be turned by hand to see if it’s free. I’d probably even go as far as pulling the valve cover to see if there are any sludging issues before even thinking about throwing parts at this car. Usually cars that find themselves deep inside a barn are there because there is some kind of issue with them. With 20 years of sitting, there is just so many things that could be going on with this car.

In my opinion, $5,000 is a pipe dream. You have to assume that this W108 will never run again and is a parts car given it’s current state. It would be really easy to dump $10,000 into this car to get it road worthy and you’d be left with a $12,000 car at best. I’d be surprised if this thing could even be rolled if you put some tires on it. It’s probably closer to $2,000 and that would even make me uneasy.

– Andrew

1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC

With a bit of nostalgia, it’s sad to reminisce about a market segment which has all but eroded from the automotive landscape. In the 1970s and 1980s, small coupes were the rage; they offered sporty looks and a bit of driving fun for the commute, while still being effectively economy cars underneath. But through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, those economy roots were altered in an ever increasing amount of brinkmanship to the point where the lines between a true “sports car” and the “sports coupe” evaporated. Yet the market was still ripe with plenty of options at the beginning of Bill Clinton’s Presidency; the Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe GT continued to share underpinnings with slightly different style, while the Diamond Star Eagle Talon/Plymouth Lazer/Mitsubishi Eclipse offered technological and performance prowess that really lifted the segment. There was also the Nissan 240SX – not as sporty as the others, but still a popular option. Honda wasn’t left out with its popular Prelude and screaming VTEC motor. There were others, too – even the aging Dodge Daytona IROC R/T offered some 224 horsepower – impressive for the period.

All of them are long gone.

Gone, too, is the Volkswagen Corrado. It didn’t have all-wheel drive or the popular for the period “Turbo” badge stuck everywhere. It was refined, smooth and clean looking. The styling wasn’t exotic or futuristic, and the recipe was simple – especially when it came to the VR6. Quite simply, Volkswagen built the best Mk.2 Volkswagen they could, but compared to the competition in period, that wasn’t quite good enough. Nearly all of the competition had new-for-the-90s styling and chassis, and the VW felt decidedly 80s in comparison. And it was expensive, clearing $23,000 before options in 1993. So even though it was really as good as the 80s VW got, it was a soft seller (as most VWs were). Fast forward to the first of these cars about to be antiques, and suddenly a new light is cast upon the model; it doesn’t look as dated, gimmicky or used up as any of the others, and unsurprisingly has become one of the market stars as a result:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC on eBay

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC

I go back and forth as to whether or not I like the C107. It was just a R107 with a fixed top, 14 more inches added to the wheelbase and some small rear seats. The biggest thing that really turns me off to this car are those window louvers. My eyes are always drawn directly to them and how awkward they look. I understand they needed to differentiate this car enough to sway buyers from the SL and probably couldn’t engineer a window regulator to fit in that space with a large piece of glass, but there had to be another design option on the table. Now that it’s 2017 and I very rarely even see a C107 in the wild, I’m starting to soften my harsh opinion on them. Today’s car, a European market 280SLC in Goldbraun, is certainly helping that cause.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC on Seattle Craigslist

Year: 1980
Model: 280SLC
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 107,500 mi
Price: $5,500

1980 Mercedes 280 SLC (Euro)owners manual in German all original second owner 107,500 miles. Good shape, runs fine, solid car. Was grandma’s car and always garaged and maintained. New tires, new transmission, new exhaust, only maintained by Mercedes dealers, no rust. No rust. No rust solid floors and no rust oh and there isn’t any rust $5,500

Having been accustom to the standard 450SLC with the giant diving board bumpers and those awful chrome wheel arches, this C107 is a breath of fresh air. The M110 twin-cam engine is no powerhouse with only a 185 horsepower, but it should be adequate for this car. Inside, the plaid cloth interior,  manual climate control and Becker Grand Prix 470 radio are all welcome as what I think is an improvement over what came in the U.S. 450SLC cars. Outside the Goldbraun paint is very rare and look great with clean Bundts and those amazing slim European bumpers.

For $5,500, this is a really good price. If I wasn’t on the other side of the country I’d be on my way to check this thing out in person. For the price you can’t really go wrong given the seller says this is a two-owner car that was dealer serviced its whole life and doesn’t have any rust. This car probably needs the standard $500-1,000 in repairs when you buy it but I still think you’ll come out ahead on this car if you pick it up. I’m not suggesting the C107 is or will be any kind of collector car, but this specific car checks all the right boxes for a desirable car.

– Andrew

1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6

7/3/1017 Edit: This car has reappeared with a few more miles and a new seller at $9,500 HERE!

I think I’ve made my gripes with the used Volkswagen market abundantly clear in prior posts. Fuzzy photos, “feelers”, lack of information, failure to wash the car, only posting photos of the car in a carwash covered in foam, junk-strewn interiors, massive miles and broken odometers, poorly executed swaps, maintenance skipped in favor of dubious modifications. We’ve seen it all on these pages; well, a “no thank you” helping sample of “it all”. But once in a while a Volkswagen comes along that really debunks the stereotype of typical VW owners. Today’s GTI VR6 is one of those myth busters:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1992 Volkswagen GTI with Supercharged VR6

It’s hard to say which is more popular – S50/52 swaps into E30s or VR6s into everything Volkswagen. But there’s a reason they’re so popular; they’re relatively cheap and they work. Can you achieve VR-power levels in a 9A 16V? Sure. Will it cost you and be a pretty compromised road motor? Yes, so suddenly the appeal of the ubiquitous VR-swap makes a bunch of sense. The results here turn what was a butch looking but relatively slow 8 valve GTI into a performance machine. That’s helped by a dose of performance parts including a trick Schrick intake, but it’s the supercharger that will really motivate you here. With over 100% more power the ride should be exhilarating!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

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1995 Audi A6 2.8

Along with the switch in nomenclature that came with the 1995 A6, there were visible changes. New headlights, all-red tailights and a revised grill stood over smoothed, monotone bumper covers. Gone were the wide black plastic rub strips that had been the signature of Audi products for more than a decade, and in their place were more discrete color-coded units. New wheels from Speedline were the standard 15″ option for both quattro and front-drive models. Outside of that, there were few mechanical changes to either drive configuration and the interiors remained unaffected. Despite this, Audi rolled out one more new name for its lineup that most have forgotten; FrontTrak. What did the fancy name get you? Well, perhaps when being sold it sounded more special than just saying “Oh, you’re not opting to buy a quattro-equipped model? Well, the consolation prize is FrontTrak, so everyone leaves a winner!” The reality is that it was still basically just an open differential front-drive sedan, and so ubiquitous was the name Audi with quattro that many have forgotten the popularity of their front-drive models even into the 1990s.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi A6 2.8 on eBay

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1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe

For those bewildered at the fact that M Coupe prices are skyrocketing, here’s a pleasant surprise. A Z3 coupe with a 5-speed manual for right around $10,000. While it has over 100,000 miles on the clock, it looks tidy enough. It might not have the grunt of the 3.2 liter inline-6, but the 2.8 liter engine with its 190 horsepower is certainly no slouch in such a small package. This example for sale in Houston may be unassuming in Arctic Silver over black leather, but one go in the twisties will have doubters signing a different tune.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe on eBay

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Drop-top Double Take: 1996 and 1997 Audi Cabriolets

Every semester at the culmination of my teaching experience with the college students who have selected my course rather innocently, I let them in on my super-secret double agent identity as your author here. Having suffered through a few too many of my lectures already, most treat the news with about the same amount of enthusiasm and interest as they do when I tell them about the Sudanese Kush Pharaohs – which is to say, none (seriously, it’s a very interesting topic. Egypt basically denies they existed!). But occasionally I get a student who is much more interested in my double-life than in my lecture notes. One such student passed through was perhaps as unexpected to me as I was to him. He nonchalantly aced the class with seeming little difficulty, but upon seeing my announcement regarding German Cars For Sale Blog, he excitedly emailed me about his shared love of Audis. He revealed that he owned a ’97 Cabriolet, which proves two things: first, smart people buy Audis, and second, Audis turn up where you least expect them. And the Cabriolet might be the least expected Audi Audi made – coming from a manufacturer renowned for turbocharged inline-5, manual all-wheel drive coupes, sedans and wagons came a front-wheel drive, automatic only (in the U.S.) V6 2-door convertible. Expensive, a bit slow and soft compared to the competition, the Cabriolet sold slowly with only around 1,000 units moved per a year during its availability here with a total of 5,439 imported through 1998. I think a fair amount of fans view the B4 Cabriolet as the least interesting of the Audi lineup in the 1990s, but to me it’s always been a very pretty and underrated car. In particular, the rear 3/4 view is very attractive and the shape changed little with its progeny. But the unusual nature of the Cabriolet has generally meant that it’s been a pretty big bargain in the used convertible market for the past few years – if you can find a good one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi Cabriolet on eBay

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